ELIJAH BERLE INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY ACOSTA
You push as a kid, into something you dig, not sure of the outcome, but no one is… Continuing with will, fire, courage and love… Not allowing anything to get in your way… you push on… Then it happens… Progress, luck, determination… The doors open… What happens next? Read on, you’ll find out… Excelling towards the purpose, never stopping, persistence… Pushing to the next level, going beyond beliefs. The payoff… proving them wrong. Traveling the world… making it happen… This is a lil part of Elijah’s journey… What happens next? We shall see… Slick it back… Go, man, Go!!! – INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
Elijah, is that you? Where are you?
Yeah. I’m at home. I just moved to Del Rey. It’s pretty much Marina del Rey. You know what’s funny? I was driving the other day and I saw all of these old station wagons parked in front of this house and I was like, “Who is this dude?” Then a buddy of mine was like, “Jeff Ho lives right near you and he’s got all of these old station wagons.” I was like, “I knew there was something up with that house.” I heard another rumor that he’s got the holy grail graveyard of boards in his backyard, so I’m always driving by slow to see if I can see him and work my way back there.
Right. Wait. Where’d you grow up?
I grew up in Santa Monica on 4th and Alta. It’s crazy because that street was filled with really nice big houses. For some reason, it was the smallest house on this football field of property. My mom was renting it at the time and the landlord had split it, so the upstairs was ours and the downstairs was somebody else’s, and we shared the yard. It was pretty cool because we lived in that nice neighborhood for half the price.
That’s a nice area.
It’s a very nice neighborhood. Bob Dylan lived right down the street, or so I heard.
So you grew up in Santa Monica as a kid? Did you go to Lincoln and those schools?
No. I jumped around to a lot of schools. My parents put me in a couple of different private elementary schools and it was just going terribly wrong.
Was that because you didn’t like school?
No. I was just surrounded by kids that I wasn’t on the same page with. My parents weren’t rich, but they were trying to surround me with rich people. I was like, “Oh, come over to my house. I share a room with my little brother and we have a little condo.” They would be like, “Oh, yeah, come to my house. I have a driver and a private pool and a huge play room and movie theater.” I was like, “Whoa.” It was not really my scene. I was also the only skater in every school that I went to, which means things were also a bit tricky to navigate.
There weren’t other kids that skated?
No. There weren’t, not really, until I went to third grade. My parents pulled me out of the school that I was at because I was miserable and then I started going to Kenter Canyon Elementary with the famous skate yard. That’s when things started to turn around. I was like, “This is sick.” There were people that were a little bit more on my same page and I started to find my groove more and more there. I had a couple of buddies that skated there. They were better than the kind of the brats that I was going to school with before. So I went there for the rest of my elementary school years, from third to fifth grade. Then one of my parents’ friends was starting up this new school. It was a new kinda break-through really hip private school, so I started going there. It was pretty cool and I had some good friends there. Then there was the Boys and Girls Club on Lincoln when it had the skatepark there.
I know it well.
Yeah. I would go to school and then go skate that skatepark afterwards, so it worked out good.
When did you start skating?
I started skating very young. There are old school photos of me skateboarding before I have any memories of skating. I was probably five years old. My uncle or my mom got me a board from Rip City when I was like three, so that was always there. I started to pay more attention to it when I was five or six years old.
I know your mom. Didn’t she get her first board at Rip City?
Yeah. My mom got her first board at Rip City in ‘78. I think they opened that year. Then I got my first board at Rip City in ‘99. Hopefully, they’re not going anywhere, and we can make it three generations, but not anytime soon. They better stick around for a while.
They tried to get rid of it at one point.
Yeah. They’ve tried to get rid of it multiple times. Before COVID, this big developer was gonna go and swoop out the rest of that block. There’s Carl’s Jr. and a little dog spa and Rip City and then this empty parking lot. They were gonna come in and tear that whole zone out and build a big apartment building. I think, because of COVID, the developers pulled out, which is sick. If anything good is gonna come from COVID, it saved Rip City. They’re pretty stationary now, as far as I know.
When you started skating, you were just a kid pushing around, yeah?
Yeah. I think I started just kneeboarding around and then I have vague memories of doing ollies and kickflips in my driveway. It starts to be a little more familiar when we would wax the curb. You know how everyone has a curb on the side of their house, like the little stairs that go into the side door or backyard. My first memories of skating is just waxing the shit out of that thing and trying to learn 50-50s on it. Then we figured out that red curbs grinded good, so we would paint our back stair red and then wax it. That’s when things started from what I can remember.
Right. Did you have some friends of yours that you just skated diehard with?
For sure. I had homies that slept at each other’s houses and skated and took the bus everywhere. That’s when I got a little older and I was able to break away from my parents a little bit, and they weren’t taking me to the skatepark and babysitting me. At age 12 or 13, I was able to start taking the bus with my little crew. We were taking the bus to downtown L.A. or east L.A. I’d tell my parents, “Oh yeah, I’m just on the other side of town.” Once you figured out that bus system, it was on. You were going everywhere. That’s how we started making our skate crew. We’d be like, “Let’s go skate with our buddies in the Valley.” We’d skate the Valley and go to Inglewood and skate with the Inglewood homies. It was just chaos building day by day.
I’m wondering about the chaos on the bus because sometimes there’s chaos.
I mean, you’re just so stupid when you’re a kid. You’re tagging the bus and messing with people on the bus. We got on the bus one time and we had gotten into a little scrap with these kids at the skatepark and they got their older brothers to come chase us. We thought we were all good and we got on the bus and we could see them running after us. We were like, “We got away!” They were running up and trying to get on the bus and we’re driving away. We were flipping them off like, “Fuck you!” They were a bit older and they had cars, so they just drove to the next bus stop and got on the bus at the next bus stop. There were like 10 of them, and we wrestled around on the bus and then we got our asses kicked when we got off the bus and then we just continued on with our skate day.
Exactly. When did you start surfing?
I started surfing around the same time that I started taking skateboarding seriously. I was maybe 10, 11 or 12.
What do you mean when you started to take skateboarding seriously?
Well, before that, my skateboard was sort of like a toy, and then it started to become less of a toy and more of an obsession. That’s when I started thinking, “Oh, surfing is pretty cool too.” My mom was into surfing, so she took me surfing and then I would go to Malibu Makos Surf Camp and then surf camp in Santa Monica. I’d do that all summer and then skate. I was talking to somebody about this the other day. They grew up in Venice and I was like, “Do you notice that smell when you’ve surfed a lot at Breakwater” I’m not saying it smells bad. but I’m just saying it smells different.
It has a distinct smell.
It smells different than any beach break I’ve been to and that smell brings back a specific memory of your childhood because I would always go and surf the Venice Breakwater before the last little light before dark. It had this distinct smell that brings back such a vivid memory of just being a kid.
I know that all too well. Where I grew up surfing, it was the same deal, at a riverbed cape, with the drain in it.
Yeah. It’s like a scientific concoction of whatever is happening that is generating that smell. Those are good memories, for sure.
Yeah. So when did you realize you could skate? When did you start getting your confidence to make something of this?
I mean, before that, it wasn’t even a thought. I was just like, “Oh, yeah, I can kickflip. Yeah!” It was just kickflip, kickflip, kickflip… I was not even thinking twice about it. All I could think about was kickflips. Then I would go to my friend’s house and I’d be like, “Check it out. I got a kickflip.” They were like, “I don’t even know how to ollie yet.” I was like, “Okay, I guess I’m better at skating than my friends.” When you’re a kid, you’re always trying to be better than your friends at whatever you’re doing.
Yeah. It’s friendly competition, I think.
Yeah. Then one of my friends would have a mini ramp and I would go over and skate their mini ramp all the time. They would not really know what they were doing, and I was learning all these tricks. I was really into it. It was fun doing kickturns and I just wanted to keep learning tricks.
You skated the Boys & Girls Club a lot too.
Yeah. I’d skate the Boys & Girls Club a lot. Then my grandma took me to a skate contest. I don’t even remember what contest it was. This is such a weird memory that it almost doesn’t seem real. It feels more like a dream than something that actually happened, but it did happen. My grandma took me to this contest on the beach somewhere and I couldn’t even tell you where it was. There was a younger kids division and an older kids division. I was not old enough to skate in the older kids contest, so I was in the younger kids division. I started skating and they’re like, “You definitely can’t be in the little kids division. You have to be in the older kids division.” So I’m like, “Okay, fine.” So I was in the contest and I broke the shit out of my elbow. I remember being in the backseat of my grandma’s VW bug, with a snapped elbow, and going to the emergency room, and I just had the coolest feeling about them being like, “Yeah, dude, you’re too good to be in the little kids contest. Let’s get you in the older kids contest.” I was totally broken, but I was still feeling good. It was almost like a small little victory for me.
Right, of course. You were bumped up into the harder division. That’s good.
Yeah. These are vague memories. All I remember is that it was on a beach somewhere. Maybe it was in Huntington Beach. I’m not sure. It’s such a vague memory that I feel like it’s a dream I had.
How did you your grandma know about this skate contest?
She was the type of grandma that, when the news was on, she had a VHS and she’d record it if there was anything to do with surfing or skateboarding. She’d be like, “Oh, I recorded this thing for you on the news I saw today.” Then she’d hand me a VHS that she had recorded the news on. She would cut ads out of the paper and be like, “Check this out. This is happening this weekend. We should go down there.”
That’s a cool grandma.
She was the raddest. We would always go over to her house and she would be like, “Let’s go to Home Depot and you guys can get wood to build ramps in the front yard.” We were putting stuff together and trying to ollie over whatever was in the garage. We would build a kicker ramp and just stack shit from the garage. We liked to try to ollie over as many things as we could, doing rocket air ollies.
Don’t you have a brother that skates too?
Yeah. I have a little brother. He’s super gnarly. He rips. He was always right there. He’s a few years younger than me, charging right there behind us. He was the little stinky baby at the skatepark, with candy all over his face, doing three-foot frontside stinkbug airs. It’s just sick that we get to share that together. He still skates and he’s still ripping. and it’s just rad. What most brothers have in common is they play golf or something. Me and my brother can go and slappy some curbs and skate. It’s sick.
“My parents pulled me out of the school that I was at because I was miserable and then I started going to Kenter Canyon Elementary with the famous skate yard. That’s when things started to turn around.”
I have the same deal with my older brother.
It’s a good thing to share.
Yeah. It’s completely different than what most people get to experience. How did you become so gnarly?
Honestly, I always was the least good out of all my friends. When we started taking the bus around to go skate, it was serious.
What age were you then?
I was 12 when I was like, “Let’s do this.” I wanted to get sponsored and try and film tricks. That’s when I was with my crew who was taking it a lot more seriously than I was. I was not the worst, but I definitely wasn’t the best. I was looking up to my friends like, “He’s so gnarly. I want to be that good.”
Was that motivational?
Yeah. I was always trying to keep up with them and constantly pushing myself. They were better than me. They always won the little contests that we skated in and they were the first ones to get little flow sponsors. Around age 14, they stopped taking it as seriously and I stuck with it. Then I filmed this video part for this local skate company. They had a little shitty office by the Santa Monica Courthouse and I put a video together for them. I went over to give it to the dude to see if he would be down to give me some boards or whatever. I went to drop it off with him and he just took the CD and plugged it right into the computer right in front of me. I was like, “Oh, fuck, are you gonna watch this right around me?” So we watch this little video part and then he takes it out of the computer and puts it back in the case and gives it back to me. He’s like, “Yeah, right on, man. You got pretty good. Keep skating.” It was pretty much a no. He fully denied me and I was all bummed out. I was like, “I just got fully denied to my face!” Then I was skating back to the skate shop that I would go to called Nine Star. We would go there all the time because it had a ramp and they didn’t care if we hung out there all day and skated. So I was skating there and I was all bummed out. At Nine Star, there was this older dude that I knew that worked in the shop. He’s a really good skater and he was skating the ramp with this other guy. I was like, “Hey, what’s good?” I skated the ramp with them for a few hours and, at the end of the session, the dude I didn’t know came up to me and said, “Hey, I work for Foundation Skateboards. Do you have any footage?” I was like, “Well, actually, I’ve got this CD in my backpack.” It was the same footage that I just had gotten denied with, but I didn’t tell him that. So I gave him the CD, and then he called me a few days later. He was like, “We want to send you some Foundation boards.” So they started sending me boards and then they invited me to San Diego. I was so nervous that I was skating shit that was way out of my comfort level, but it was working and I was landing the tricks. It was eye-opening to see the next step that I could take things to, so I kept pushing my comfort levels.
Was this primarily street skating?
Yeah. I could always skate transition because I grew up at transition-influenced skateparks, but I was more gung-ho street. I just wanted to skate handrails, stair sets, gaps and that kind of stuff.
Where did you start getting handrails and gaps and stair sets?
That was all just whatever you would find skating up and down Wilshire Blvd. From Santa Monica to downtown, you would find rails and stair sets and hit every single one that you could. The first handrail I did was in Century City. I don’t know if it’s still there or not, but I definitely remember that. I went and did a crooked grind on it. I think it was like an 11 or 12 stair.
How was it? That must have been insane.
It was insane. I thought I was a pro. I was like, “I’m a pro skater. I just crooked grinded a handrail in the street. I’m the best skateboarder ever.” It was a huge confidence boost. Then I slowly started to realize that people are doing a lot more than that, so I wanted to catch up. It’s always about catching up.
Right. As a little kid, to land something, you’re like, “All right! That’s it! I’m in!”
It was full addiction. You’re rolling away from tricks like nothing in the world could be better.
Rad. So you used to hang at Nine Star on Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica?
Yeah. They always had a sick ramp and we would skate there every day. We would go to the Cove Skatepark a lot too. We would go to Nine Star after school and stay until the sun went down because that ramp didn’t have lights, and then we would go to the Cove because the Cove had lights. Except, on Thursdays, there was a bike session, so we never went there on Thursdays. I spent a lot of years at those two places for sure.
When you started getting flow from Foundation, that was probably another huge come up?
Yeah. That was when I started taking the Surfliner train down to San Diego every Friday, and I would stay with the team manager for the weekend. My parents met him and thought he was responsible, and he was. We weren’t doing anything but skating at that point. Drinking wasn’t part of my life. It was just strictly skating, so that was cool. I would go down there and skate for the weekend, and try and film and then come back and go to school. We did that for a few years. Then they were starting to ask me about travel. I couldn’t really travel and do school, so I convinced my parents to let me do homeschooling. Then that wasn’t working and they let me take a year off of school. I got my first chance to go to Europe, so I was like, “Let me just give this a try. If I don’t start getting paid, then I’ll go back to school.” Then it just worked out and I started getting paid and I went to Europe and things escalated quickly.
How old were you when all of this was happening?
I was 16. I turned 17 on my first trip to Europe with Vans.
So you were on Vans early too?
Yeah. Well, I was on Foundation and Osiris first. I was pretty young and stoked to have any sponsors. Then I got older and started being a little bit more opinionated and I realized what I liked more. I was not satisfied with the people that I was surrounded by, so I tried to reach out to other companies. I ended up riding for Chocolate Skateboards and then Vans shoes. That’s when things started to get more serious. I was like, “This could be legit. They want to take me to Europe, and they want to pay me this amount of money. Okay, this is working.”
So you didn’t have to do school?
Yeah. I just never went back. I dropped out in tenth grade, so I got one year at fuckin’ algebra.
It wasn’t like you think that you’re better than all the other students. You were just doing something you like.
Yeah. You go to school to find your career, but I had found my career already. My parents weren’t too hyped. I conned my parents and said, “I’ll get my diploma myself.” That was before homeschool.
So it worked out. I really like the fact that the one guy denied you and was like, “Yeah. That’s cool, just keep skating.” Then you went and got onto a real deal. That is so beautiful to me. I love those kinds of stories.
Yeah. It just worked out as it was meant to be, and then I was out of the gates.
Right. At the beginning, when you were on Foundation, who were you skating with? Who were the other cats that were pushing you?
Corey Duffel took me under his wing and was kind of like a Mr. Miyagi to me. He was looking out for me the most. I would go with him up to Walnut Creek and we would skate together and he would take me to spots. He was the kind of dude that knew the whole deal, so Corey Duffel was a huge influence on me when I was on Foundation. We were pretty close and I just wanted to be like him and do what he was doing and skate the kind of shit that he was skating. I was like, “This dude is fuckin’ cool.”
He’s super nice too.
Yeah. He’s the nicest dude. I’m this 13 or 14 year old kid and he doesn’t need me staying with him for the weekend, but he was down. He just wanted to skate. He’d take me to spots to see what I could do on the spot. That was a cool time and everything was so exciting.
Then you get on Chocolate and you go through the transition from Foundation.
It was easy.
Chocolate was closer too, being in LA.
Yeah. It was a lot closer. At that point in time, I was a huge fan. I was like, “I’m not even good enough to skate for those guys.” Then I got semi-kicked off of Foundation and Osiris. It was like, “Yo, if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be here.” I was like, “Okay.” So I didn’t have a sponsor for a few months and then I was skating a lot with that dude, Mike Mo. He was like, “Come and skate with me in Simi Valley.” So I was spending a lot of time out there skating with him. Then he was like, “I want to introduce you to these guys at Girl and Chocolate.” So I went down to their skatepark at their place in Torrance and I was skating with them. Then Aaron Meza was like, “Hey, do you want to film something for the website?” The next thing I know, Rick Howard is coming down to meet me and Mike Carroll came down, and Sam Smyth, the team manager. So I film this thing for them. I wasn’t sponsored yet, but I was rocking their gear because I had been getting it from Mike Mo. I was wearing Vans, because I was buying Vans. After I made a little video for Chocolate for their website, they said, “Do you want to skate for Chocolate?” I was like, “Fuck yeah!” After the video came out, Jamie Hart from Vans called me and was like, “Hey, I saw you were wearing Vans in that video. Are you buying Vans?” I was like, “Yeah. I don’t skate for Osiris anymore, so I’m skating Vans.” He said, “Well, let us send you some shoes.” It was like, “What is happening right now?” It was too good to be true. I connected with him really well, and he said, “Come down to Costa Mesa. Let’s meet up and you can skate this contest and I’ll give you shoes.” I felt like I might as well have been wearing a mink coat. I was like, “I’m skating with Vans on a Chocolate board now in a contest and I didn’t buy this stuff!” It was just another one of the times where I felt like the man. I was so hyped.
Thanks again to that guy at that first little shitty skate company that said, “Yeah. Go ahead. Just keep skating.”
Yeah. I found out later that dude also hustled fake IDs out of his office. It was a ghetto-ass skate company. It wasn’t a real company. So it was just all meant to be.
Then you started traveling. Did you travel with Foundation and Osiris first?
No. We would go to Woodward and then we would go to San Jose. It was real low budget and local. We just went to whatever was close. I think we got to Arizona maybe. When I started getting on planes, I was with Vans and Chocolate.
Right. How was that?
It was a bit overwhelming, honestly. The first trip I went on, it was Eric Koston and Guy Mariano and Sean Malto. Alex [Olson] was there, too. It was all these dudes that are like my idols that I watched in Fully Flared. It was like, “What?! What am I doing right now? This is weird.” Luckily, there was a few other younger kids that caught on at the same time, so I cliqued off with them really well. Everyone on the team was really cool. Everyone was like, “You guys are so rad!” Then we went to Florida for two weeks and we were at the Kona Skatepark and we did a whole tour. Ty Evans was filming and I got a bunch of tricks. I dislocated my shoulder and popped it back in myself and kept skating. I was like, “Whoa, this is getting pretty gnarly.” I was so hungry for it. If I popped my shoulder out now on a trip, I would be like, “Oh, I’ve got to go home and do physical therapy and go to Erewhon.” Back then I was just like, “Aw, I’ll just pop my shoulder back in. Let’s go.” It was really good times. I try not to ever not appreciate those times. I always want to hold those times very preciously.
“We were at the Kona Skatepark and we did a whole tour. Ty Evans was filming and I got a bunch of tricks. I dislocated my shoulder and popped it back in myself and kept skating. I was like, “Whoa, this is getting pretty gnarly.” I was so hungry for it.”
Right. It sounds like it was the beginning of your whole deal. Foundation and Osiris was your introduction, and then all of a sudden, it was Vans and Chocolate. Now you’re in the majors. I’m not shitting on Foundation or Osiris…
No. It was just like, if I were to have graduated high school, I would have gotten a shitty job, and I would have gotten a better job and a better job, and then you get your dream job. I think that’s just how it goes. Instead, I was a skateboarder.
When was the first time that you went to Europe to skateboard?
I turned 17 on my first Vans trip in Europe. They took me to Germany to Munich and then we drove to Austria and went to Innsbruck and Vienna. That was on my 17th birthday and that was insane. It was just total culture shock because I’ve never been out of the country. I might as well have been on a different planet.
As a 17 year old kid, all of a sudden, you knew you were part of the world.
Yeah. I didn’t even know places like that existed.
What was it like for you to be skating outside of the U.S.?
I just wanted more and more and more. I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted more. I just wanted to skate anything that you’d take me to.
Then you’d get some video parts as well.
I’d try and do whatever I could to make it happen.
Do you have anything that pops out in your memory that was just crazy and heavy?
There were so many times where it was a lot, but it was never enough. You think you’re at your top and then you find yourself doing something even crazier. It’s a snowball effect. You’re never gonna be like, “Oh, yeah, I’m good enough. I’m just going to stay where I’m at.” You always want to do more.
What about getting hurt on trips?
I would get hurt, but nothing too crazy. I did hurt myself pretty bad on a trip one time and I had to spend a week in the hospital. That was by far the worst I’ve ever been hurt. I fucked my kidney up on a trip in Detroit and I had to go into surgery. I had internal bleeding and it was just a shitshow. It was pretty bad, but I was fine. All I wanted to do was just heal up and get back on a trip to travel as much as I could.
So you ruptured your kidney and had to stay in the hospital for five days?
I was there for a full week. I got surgery and it sucked. It was terrible.
How did that happen?
I just fell randomly. It wasn’t even a crazy fall. I was just warming up and I fell and put my elbow right in my gut. I was like, “Oh, I just broke my rib, I think.” Then it just felt not right. I continued to feel not right. Then I was like, “I don’t think I’m good. I think I’ve got to go to the hospital.” The guy was like, “There is an Urgent Care right down the street. Let’s go there.” We walked in and this lady behind the desk was looking at her fingernails or something. She’s like, “Sign the sheet, sit down, and we’ll call your name.” I was like, “Oh, I’m fucked up.” She’s like, “Well, we’ll get to you.” I said, “Okay, can I use your bathroom?” She said, “Yeah. It’s down the hall.” I went to the bathroom to take a piss, and I looked down and it was just dark red thick blood. I was like, “Oh fuck.” I ran back out and I was like, “I just pissed and it is really bloody!” She’s like, “Okay, you need to go to a real hospital. Get out of here.” Then I went to a real hospital and they rushed me into surgery. I was pretty fucked, but I was trying to be tough like, “I’m fine.” I’m all good now.
So it was hectic. Did you rupture your kidney?
Yeah. I had two holes in my kidney and it was filling my stomach up with blood. It felt like there was a balloon in my stomach and someone was blowing up the balloon. It was the weirdest feeling.
Wow. That is weird. Did you have to enter contests when you started riding for those companies?
A little bit, but not really. They didn’t push me too much. I did one Tampa Am and ended up winning and they were like, “Oh, you’re a contest guy.” I was like, “I am not a contest guy.” I just felt like I got lucky. I tried to skate a few contests after that, and didn’t do very well and then they were like, “You don’t have to do contests if you don’t want.” I just want to skate street and film tricks.
Yeah. What was the breakout video for Chocolate?
Pretty Sweet. I started filming for that video when I went on that first trip with Chocolate to Miami, Florida. Everyone was there to film for that video.
So is filming for videos a part of the job description?
Yeah. Then I went straight into filming for the Vans video, which was literally back to back. I didn’t stop. I went straight from filming with Chocolate straight into filming with Vans.
What were your parents thinking?
They were stoked that it worked out for me. They were like, “Okay, where are you now?” I’m like, “I’m in Jacksonville, Florida.” They’re like, “Okay.” Then I was like, “I’m in Innsbruck, Austria.” They were like, “All right. When you are coming home?” They were super proud and stoked. I was making my own money and paying for myself and they were like, “Okay, good for you.”
That’s nice when that happens. How long did you ride for Chocolate? You still ride for Vans, yeah?
Yeah. I still ride for Vans. I’ve been riding for Vans for around 10 years now. I rode for Chocolate for six or seven years. I was skating with AVE and Dill a lot and they were always like, “Why don’t you come skate for Alien Workshop?” I was like, “I’m not gonna quit Chocolate. That’s insane.” They were always teasing me like, “Come on! Come skate for Workshop.” I just couldn’t picture myself quitting Chocolate. Then, around the time those dudes left to start FA, there was a different vibe. It’s not that I had a falling out with anybody at Chocolate, but things just started to change.
You were good and you were becoming older and becoming who you are.
Yeah. Everyone was. Everyone was just growing up. Around that time, a lot of the older dudes started to quit and I was like, “Something is going on. Everyone is quitting and nobody really hangs out anymore.” It wasn’t that big fun company that I was a part of at first. That’s when a lot of the guys over at FA, the kids, were like, “When are you gonna skate for FA? Come on. Come skate for FA.” It just started to sound like more and more of a better option. One day I decided to go for it and make the switch and everyone at FA was just super welcoming. It was really hard to do, but it was an easy transition.
Was it hard to deal with Chocolate when it was time to go?
No. They understood. They were cool about it. No one was mad at anybody. It was more like, “It’s a bummer, but we get it. Do your thing.” Since then I’ve been trying to do as much as I can. I just want to keep pushing until I can’t progress anymore.
How much do you skate now?
The past couple of years I’ve been filming video parts. When I’m not skating, I’m probably surfing. Then I’ll get into serious skate mode and I’ll skate every day for a long time. Then I’ll take a few weeks off and surf and focus my mind elsewhere. Then I come back to skating really motivated and ready to go. It’s this cycle that I’ve always been on. I’m all in skating every day, and that’s all I want to do, and then I’ll be like, “I need to take a break.” Then I’ll just surf and do other stuff.
Do you get any pressure to keep skating?
I mean, I know when I need to put some work in and when I can take some time off.
Do you make your own little films too?
Here and there. I’ll just put stuff on my Instagram or whatever. Mainly, it’s just stuff for sponsors.
How influential is Instagram to your whole career?
Instagram is more relevant than filming a video part now, which is weird. Times are changing and things are evolving. Kids don’t have the attention span to sit there and watch a whole video. They just want to see a few good tricks on Instagram, and then they just keep scrolling. They obtain it and then it’s gone. People are more focused nowadays on what they can put out on Instagram that will get the views.
Does that help your whole deal though?
Yeah. I don’t have to spend two years filming a part now.
You spend that much time filming a video part? Two years seems like a long time.
It’s crazy. You go a little bit mad, and nothing else matters and you’re pretty much like an insane human being. It’s crazy because your whole life revolves around it. You’re flying to New York to film one trick and then you’re flying home. You get hurt, and you’re like, “This is chaos.”
Do you feel pressure when you have to go and do all that?
No. I’m more in the zone and I like that mode. That’s the way my brain is working at the moment. I just do whatever needs to be done. It’s definitely a different mindset than my normal self, when I’m in video part mode and nothing else matters and nothing is gonna get in the way of that. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make happen what I want to happen.
How do you keep upping your game?
You just keep pushing yourself. If there is a trick on a certain spot in your last video part, you try to find a bigger spot to do the same trick or you learn a new trick at a really gnarly spot. It’s never like, “Oh, I want to go do this trick.” For me, it’s like, “I want to go try this trick.” I don’t really know if I could do it or not, but I want to go try.
When you try it and you make it, is it the same feeling as when you first got a trick on a handrail?
Yeah. Now it takes a lot more risk than it did back then, to get that feeling, but that feeling is still there for sure. It just takes a little bit more.
What about surfing? Do you love surfing and skating the same?
Yeah. I definitely have the same motivation to do both, but I’m nowhere near as good at surfing as I am skating. It’s frustrating sometimes because, when I paddle out, I’m used to the skill I have on my skateboard, and it’s not there when I’m surfing. I’m thinking I can do an air or I’ll see a section on the way and I’m like, “Oh, right here!” Then I go to do it and it’s just a flop. I’m like, “Oh yeah, I’m not skating.”
Right. Have you gone on surf trips? I don’t mean when you go on a day trip.
I’ve been to Hawaii three or four times and got completely smashed. I’ve always wanted to go on a good surf trip, but it never really worked out. I’ve never surfed anywhere too cool on a surf day trip.
“That’s when a lot of the guys over at FA, the kids, were like, “When are you gonna skate for FA? Come on. Come skate for FA.” It just started to sound like more and more of a better option. One day I decided to go for it and make the switch and everyone at FA was just super welcoming.”
Skating is huge in Indonesia. I mean it was before COVID. It was going off down there while I was there.
Yeah. I’ve seen it. There is a lot of backyard bowl action situations going on there. I’ve got to get down there. I’ve always wanted to, but I’ve never found the opportunity yet, but it’s gonna happen.
It’s coming and the waves are on point. What about COVID quarantine and that whole scene? Did that tweak you at all?
No. Honestly, it didn’t bug me. I was filming a video the whole time so I would just go skate, come home, go to sleep and heal my body and then wake up and go skate. It wasn’t really anything different.
That’s fortunate. What video part were you filming?
It was for a Vans video that I put out called Alright, Okay. I just filmed with Greg Hunt. Gilbert Crockett had a part in the video as well. I think that took about two years to film, so we were filming for a year up until COVID and then through COVID.
Were you flying around to get to places?
We were filming in our hometowns. If you watch my video part, the majority is LA based. Crockett is from Virginia so, if you watch his video, it’s pretty cool. Usually, your video parts are all over the country and all over the world. This time I was like, “Just stick to your homebase and do what you can.” It also kind of brought it back to when you were a kid. You weren’t traveling and you had your spots at home and that’s just where you would skate and you’d do what you can do there.
That’s cool that you could do that. Here’s a question. Why are you a greaser?
I don’t know. I started slicking my hair back when I was 13 or 14 years old, and I just never stopped. I didn’t know what else to do with it, so I put some grease in it and slicked it back.
What grease do you use?
I use Murray’s Pomade light.
I know that orange can.
When I was a kid, I loved The Outsiders. That was my favorite movie.
The opening scene of The Outsiders is so dope, when they come up on the little kids with the cards.
The whole movie was great. I just wanted to live in that movie. That’s where I want to be. I really liked that movie with Johnny Depp, Cry Baby, when I was a kid too. I was like, “Grease is cool.” I really like old cars too, so, yeah, I’m just a greaser.
I dig that. Do you have any old rides?
I’ve got a ‘55 Bel Air that I’ve had for too long. I got it six or seven years ago and we got it to run for a second. Then I wanted to tear the thing apart and rebuild it, so I’ve been doing that for about five years now. Now we’re putting it back together and we should have it running in the next few weeks, so that’s a big thing. Then I’ve got an old ‘57 Chevy truck. For the past two years, all I did was just drive old cars. I was trying to go skate every day and film a video part and I’d have these rickety old cars. I was almost losing my mind a little bit. By the time I’d get to the skate spot, I’d feel like I’d already skated so, recently, I caved in and got a newer car that’s more of my skate vehicle. If I’m going surfing or something, I’ll take the truck.
Where do you surf?
It’s all over the place now. I never really go too far south. It’s pretty much anywhere from Manhattan to Oxnard. That’s my main zone. I’ll surf First Point a lot because I like to longboard. Unless the waves are pretty solid, I like to just ride my longboard.
What kind of longboard?
I have a 9’6” noserider Scott Anderson Farberow II. It’s the best longboard I’ve ever had. I try and whip that thing around as much as I can. If the waves are picking up and that board is not going to make it, then I’ll ride a short board and try to do some turns or get tubed. For the most part, I’m just trying to walk to the nose and do a nice turn.
How do you stay hyped to skate or is it just in you?
I don’t. I get over it and I surf for like a month. Then I’m like, “Oh, yeah, skating is kind of fun. I want to try that out again.” Then I get back into it. It just goes back and forth. It’s just like clockwork.
What about the future?
I don’t know. I’m just kind of in between right now. I just filmed a video part, so I’m just getting over that break after I put a video part out. Now I’m ready to start getting back into skating and go down that path again and see where that goes. Maybe I’ll film another video part or maybe I’ll take a surf trip first. I don’t know. Things are changing. People don’t care as much about a six-minute video part. If you put out a minute of footage more often than the time it would take to film a six-minute video part, just put that out. Thirty seconds is three or four tricks. It’s all good and it’s easier for me. It’s supply and demand, right?
Right. Then you can just lay hammers down everywhere.
Yeah. You can just get it out whenever you get it and it’s relevant.
Good. Do you have dudes you skate with or do you just roll solo nowadays?
I skate with a lot of FA guys mainly. It’s whoever is skating that day. LA has a pretty good scene and there’s always someone skating.