Kalani David Surf Skate Style



When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?

Jay Adams… When I did the interview for Juice Magazine with Jay Adams. How old was I back then? I think I was 12. I was super young. Jay Adams always helped me a lot and every time we’d go skate or surf, we’d always talk about style. Nathan Fletcher as well… Those two have always taught me and I’ve always looked up to both of them, and they both have sick SurfSkate style.

What does SurfSkate style mean to you?

SurfSkate style is more like bringing your surf style into your approach to skating. And bringing your skate style into surf, which is like fast and you don’t really give a shit and you just go for it. I think that’s what makes surfing more exciting as well. You have that style where you don’t really care and you’re going as fast as you can and trying to go as big as you can. That’s what I feel like the surf skate style is. If you see guys that don’t skate that surf, they’ll do the same thing on every wave. I’m not bagging on those guys. They’re gnarly, but  honestly, in a contest, they just do the same thing. You know they’re going to do a cutback here and a turn and another turn and an air reverse. It’s repetitive. I think skating really does bring out other stuff. I think that’s why everyone loves watching John John surf because you have no idea what he’s going to do. I think that’s what SurfSkate style is. I think it just brings out who you are. It’s about who you are and the way you approach it, with SurfSkate style. There are guys like John John that when they skate they’re really smooth. There’s Curren as well, which he’s smooth. Then there’s guys like Greyson and Nathan and Christian Fletcher and when they skate they just go for it. In surfing, you can fully see it. I think SurfSkate style is who you are.

Who has the best SurfSkate style?

Jay Adams, Nathan Fletcher… I love watching Greyson. Greyson is also my best friend, so him and I always surf and skate all the time so, of course, Greyson. Those are my top guys; all the Fletchers. Herbie Fletcher pretty much started it. There are not really many guys that surf and skate on the same level.

Yes. That’s for sure. Okay, how has surfing influenced skateboarding and how has skateboarding influenced surfing?

I remember when I was growing up, the surfers wouldn’t really talk to the skaters, or talk about them or anything. Skaters would do the same, like, “Fuck surfing.” Over the years, I feel like it’s more expanded. Now I have surfers come up to me and say, “I just bought this skate movie and it was so sick.” When dudes do that, that really catches me off guard as well. It’s like, “Whoa. You like skating?” I’m talking about guys that I wouldn’t think even watched skating or like skating. It’s sick. Everywhere I go, like I just got back from the Oz Open a little while ago and I saw all the surfers up in the stands watching us all skate. We’re surfers and skaters. Skaters are into surfing too. I think that’s the raddest thing, how it’s all coming together. Surfing and skating are not the same, but you’re kind of doing the same motions. I hear people say that skating only helps you with airs in surfing. I’m like, “No, you’re a kook. You don’t even know what you’re talking about.” Of course, it helps with airs. I’m not saying it doesn’t, but it helps with so much more than that. Look at the guys that skate and then surf. Their style is so much different and they approach it way differently. Even if I do a turn, if you watch guys that just surf, you can tell, they’ve got style, but it’s not the same approach. It’s way different. Their skating brings out something else in it and I think it looks way sicker as well. Skating does help with airs, and surfing helps with skating more with a smooth approach. In surfing, what taught me, was that there used to be guys on tour that would do one turn and pump the whole wave to do one air. Skating has helped me with that. Sometimes I’ll get a wave and pump the whole thing to do one air. I do that all the time. In heats, skating also helps teach you that it’s right there and you don’t have to overthink it and pop as hard as you can. You can do a couple of turns and do something else after. It almost teaches you patience. In skating, you know the bowl is not going to move. It’s going to be there. I think that’s how skating also helps with surfing. You’re not in that much of a hurry because you know it’s right there. I’ve seen guys go out in a heat and they start panicking. They’re panicking and pumping so hard and trying so hard. Other guys are just smooth and it doesn’t even look like they’re trying and they have no speed and then, boom, they get a 10-foot air. When you see Greyson, and so many guys skating, it looks like they’re not even pumping hard, but then they’re doing an 8-foot air. It’s insane. Skating has helped me in other ways with surfing too, like I’ve learned how to pop. When I do airs skating, I don’t really bonk off coping. I’m more like doing an ollie and I scoop it. I took that into surfing and it’s way easier. I almost ollie but it’s a little bit more scoop, but it almost inverts you more in surfing.

I like the way you do airs when you skate too.

I try. When I was growing up and I first started skating vert, I’d see guys bonking off coping and I just never felt really comfortable doing that, because one time I did that, and I hung up. I’m just more comfortable ollieing into my airs. When guys bonk off 540s, I’m like, “Holy shit. How do they do that? That’s retarded.” I like that question. How does skating help surfing? I hear surfers that don’t skate say, “Skating definitely has influence on the airs.” I’m like, “No. Skating     influences more of your approach and the airs too, and being more patient on a wave instead of fully freaking out.”

Rad. I like that answer. That’s a great answer.  Is SurfSkate style important today?

I definitely think so. Does it matter? It does matter. It matters because it defines who you are and it flows through your surfing and  skating. I think that having more style definitely brings out what you’re doing a lot more. You could do a mediocre turn and some guys have really good style and sometimes it looks way cooler than when other people do it. In skating too, a dude could do a 360 flip on flat and it looks way sicker than when someone else does it because of they way they do it and the way they approach it. Mostly it’s all about how you do it and how you approach it. It doesn’t even matter if you can land it every time. I mean you can do an air reverse on every wave and make it every time, but if it’s not exciting and stylish, it’s not a good approach. If you’re skating and you’re doing a 5-0 or a smith and you’re just grinding two blocks, it’s not as cool. If you’re going to do something, at least try to make it look good and try to do it as good as you can and go as big as you can. Nobody wants to watch you do a two block smith grind. Guys want to see you grind at least half the bowl. When you skate the combi bowl, you see Chris Miller and Pedro and Greyson and so many guys that literally grind 15 blocks. Pat Ngoho, the homie, is like the coolest dude ever, and he’s like my godfather pretty much and he’s doing rock n roll slides the whole bowl too. He has the sickest skate style ever, I think. When I’d do all the skate contests, I’d be with him all the time and we became super close and he became one of my favorite skaters. He can skate anything. He’s who I want to skate like style-wise. I think he’s got the sickest skate style. With that too, he doesn’t even have to try either. He barely pumps the bowl and, boom, he’s doing a 30 block rock n roll slide. How do you do that? I love Pat Ngoho. He’s the man. He’s one of the biggest influences in my life too, because he’s like the coolest dude ever. He’s a cool cat. He’s an O.G. I know all the surf guys will say the same. Yeah, surfing helps skating with airs, but it’s so much more than that.

“Skating influences more of your approach and the airs too, and being more patient on a wave instead of fully freaking out.”. Photo Courtesy Kalani David


The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.


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