The first thing that comes to mind when you mention the name Mason Silva is that he is extraordinary on his skateboard and one of the nicest people you are lucky to meet. Mason’s approach to the off-grid, unique terrain is second to none, with trick selections most would not even consider trying on anything let alone the spots he chooses. His musical interests are as eclectic as his video parts and reflect his love for digging for vinyl that may be overlooked by most. His accolades are well deserved and he is far from done putting his stamp in the books of skateboarding history. Here is a conversation from one generation with Jeff Ho to generation now with the one and only Mason Silva. – INTRODUCTION BY JEFF HO

Mason. How are you doing? 

What’s up, Jeff? I’m good. How are you? 

Good. Let’s talk about the beginning of Mason. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Manhattan Beach. My whole family is a family of surfers, so skating was second to surfing for a long time. I never really got super into skating until I met Chris Russell from   Hermosa Beach and we started skating together. That was the big turning point of starting to push each other and skating vert ramps and stuff like that. From there, I just got obsessed with skating and stopped surfing as much.

How old were you when you started surfing?

I was seven when I first started surfing. When 12 hit, I met Chris and we started skating, and then I just kind of stopped surfing as much.

When you met Chris, there was a moment when you just thought, “Boom, this is it. Skateboarding is my thing.” 

Yeah. We were always skating vert ramps and his parents would drive us to the Combi at the Vans Park in Orange. I always felt behind because he was just another level in the pool. He’s just the man. When I started skating the street course there, I felt like I found my lane. I was just progressing so much faster doing that. I was like, “Oh, I think I’m good at this. I’m just gonna start skating street.” I think that was the turning point, once I got out of the pool and into the streets.

I love it. So your mom and dad surfed too?

Yeah. My dad is a huge surfer. He’s gone on records where he’s surfed for four years straight every day. My mom surfs every weekend with him. My brother was sponsored for a while surfing, so it’s a whole family thing. 

That’s cool. Do they ride for anybody?

My brother was riding for Body Glove and then he was surfing in college contests and then he fizzled out of it because there was no real way to make enough money to live, so he got a normal job.

“My whole family is a family of surfers, so skating was second to surfing for a long time. I never really got super into skating until I met Chris Russell from Hermosa Beach and we started skating together. That was the big turning point of starting to push each other and skating vert ramps and stuff like that.”

Right on. When you were young, what was your idea about becoming pro? Did you think that you might want to do that or did you have sponsors pushing you along? 

Yeah. I had a few friends that were sponsored around the time. I had met Louie Lopez and I was friends with him. My friend Jared was in the same boat as I was. We would get some free stuff here and there, but we weren’t sponsored. There weren’t companies pushing us. Then I went to an Element contest in the valley. I just showed up and skated it and the team manager for Element came over and was like, “We would love to give you boards and make this a real thing.” I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t even know what that means.” I was kind of clueless, but I was ready for it. From there, they were really cool to work with me and tell me the deal of how to be a skater and teach me the ways. That whole team was a big influence. When you’re a kid hanging out with older people, you’re like, “I gotta stop acting like a little shithead and get my stuff together.” They definitely checked me on some things and made me chill out and be a normal skater. That was a huge influence on me.

What year was this?

2010. I was 14. It wasn’t like I knew exactly what I was doing, so it was a big leap for them to work with me for so long. It was four years until they started paying me. They worked with me through high school and they were like, “Once you get out of high school, we’re gonna do all these trips and stuff.” They let me finish high school and be a normal kid first.

Did you have a skateboard you liked then? 

I was using an 8.0 and now I’m on an 8.4. I was really little back then. I was like a size 4 1/2 shoe. [laughs] I evolved into a bigger board. 

Did you have a type of wheel you liked?

Back then I was riding for Autobahn because Jason Rogers hooked me up and I went on a few trips with them. Once I found Spitfires, I was hooked on those.

Who was the crew you started out with?

I have to give a lot of credit to Louie Lopez. I met him because my dad was one of his teachers at a school in Hawthorne.  think he thought I was just some kid that picked up a skateboard a few times, but I could skate by then. He was like, “Oh, we can skate together. This is cool.” We were around the same age and he was already sponsored, so he taught me a lot about how to go about things. He’d bring out with the Flip team and Geoff Rowley would be there. Skating in front of Geoff and actually landing something in front of him, I was like, “Oh my god. This is crazy.” I just couldn’t believe that he was standing in front of me because he is one of my heroes. That is one of the best memories I have.


Did you skate Venice with Louie Lopez?

Yeah. I skated Venice opening day with Louie. We were both trying this trick down the four block, and I did it before him. He was like, “This kid!” That was when the clashing started. We were like, “We can battle against each other on the same level now.”

Nice. Did you ever do the contest thing?

I did them, but I wasn’t into it. I was like, “I’ll do it,” because my sponsors were like, “Yeah. You can sign up for it.” If it’s on my own, I’m not gonna go pay money and sign myself up. I still do the core ones like Tampa Pro, but I’m not seeking out contests. I’m not doing Street League or anything like that.

There are skateparks all over now and I know you’ve skated a lot of them. Which ones do you like to skate the most?

I really like Belvedere in East LA. I think Ben Schroeder designed it. It’s fun. I like skating Garvanza in Highland Park too.

Cool. There’s skate spots too. Are there spots that you like better than others?

There’s a couple of parking lots by my house. I just love skating curbs around here, and any ditch spot. Cruising around a ditch is one of the funnest things in skating, so that’s number one for me.

First skate photo in the mags?

My first skate photo in the mag was a Photograffiti in the back of Thrasher, shot by my friend, Keith. That was huge to get in a mag. Seeing that for the first time, it was such a crazy feeling.

Cool. Let’s talk about the day when I met you and Garrett at the Venice Skatepark. 

Yeah. That was the day that I ollied over Theia. The photo that Dan got that day is so good. I had heard that Theia was skating and I was like, “She’s one. What do you mean she’s skating?” Garrett is crazy, and he was like, “No, she’s got it. She just gets low and goes for it.” That blew my mind. To be able to get that photo, it was so crazy.

That’s a cool photo. It was good to see Garrett’s daughter skating. Ginger’s mom was there too, and Ginger skates a lot too.

Oh, yeah. She’s ripping. I skated with her yesterday and she’s still killing it. She’s working nine to five every weekday and then skating on the weekends.

So you two have fun skating together? 

Yeah. We both love skating.

“That was the day that I ollied over Theia. The photo that Dan got that day is so good. I had heard that Theia was skating and I was like, “She’s one. What do you mean she’s skating?” Garrett is crazy, and he was like, “No, she’s got it. She just gets low and goes for it.” That blew my mind. To be able to get that photo, it was so crazy.”

When did you move away from Venice? 

We moved last year. We bought a place in East LA and we’re stoked. It’s just a little house in a chill neighborhood with some good food around here. It’s super close to everywhere I’m skating, so I drive a lot less now. I miss being by the beach and having that ocean breeze though.

Right. What did you think of Garrett’s HBO series, 100 Foot Wave winning an Emmy?

Amazing. That was one of my favorite watches. He’s such a crazy human and I’m so glad everyone gets to see it now. It really showcased how wild he is and how driven he is to do what he wants to do, so I’m super stoked on that.

They’re coming out with a season three.

Yeah. I can’t wait to see it. I saw that they went to Cortes Bank and filmed. It’s crazy.

Yeah. Let’s talk about the filming that you do for your parts. Are you always looking for spots to skate because you’ve got some really slick videos.

Thank you. Yeah. That’s number one in my mind all the time. I can’t drive around or bike around without staring left and right looking for spots all the time. That keeps me going, just finding new stuff and thinking about new tricks to do. Even right now I’m thinking about concreting something in the ditch over here. There’s always something to be done.

Some of the stuff I’ve seen, it’s all over the world. How does that happen?

I’ve been lucky enough that Nike is supportive and I’ve got a lot of sponsors that are down to do these big trips to Paris and wherever. I’ve been lucky to be able to travel all these places. It’s one of the coolest things about skating, to be able to do that. I probably wouldn’t have gone myself to these places on my own dime, but if they’re paying, I’m going.

Who are your sponsors now? 

Nike, Huf, Spitfire, Real, Independent and Bronson are my sponsors.


Do you guys just get together and come up with an idea and put it together?

Yeah. They’re super supportive. They’re like, “If you’re filming and you’re killing it, we’ve got your back 100%. There’s not many expectations, as long as I’m doing my thing.

It’s really cool because you got 2020 Skateboarder of the Year.

Yep. I think that now they really trust me. They’re like, “All right, you know what you’re doing.”

Right on. What are we looking forward to now? Do you have some stuff in the can?

I’ve got a part coming out for my Nike colorway shoe and then I’ve got a Huf video that’s going to come out in the summer. 

Sick. We will be looking forward to that.  Let’s talk about choosing songs for your parts. Are you involved with soundtracks? 

Oh, yeah. I’ve chosen all my songs. I’m super into music and I’ve got all these records.

Do you film the part first and then go through your catalog to chose the music?

Yeah. I’ll do the filming first and then watch the footage. Based on the speed of the skating or the kind of cuts and tricks we have, I’m like, “This would go good with a super fast one.” Or maybe I’m like, “This would be good slow-mo, with a slow song.” 

From what I understand, you have a pretty extensive vinyl collection. What are some of the records that you really like?

I really like Sonic Youth and Roxy Music and I’ve got a couple of Circle Jerks records that I’m stoked on. I’ve been super into Yellowman reggae recently too. 

What is one of your favorite trips?

The first time I went to Japan with Element was one of my favorites because it’s the coolest place ever. We went to Tokyo for seven days and it was the time of my life. It was so fun. I was just skating around and getting yelled at by security guards. It was fun.

Let’s talk about the gnarliest interactions with security guards and cops chasing you. 

My gnarliest interaction with security guards was in Tokyo. I was skating and got tackled by two cops, just for stepping on a board. I couldn’t say anything because they couldn’t understand me. I was like, “I’m good. I’m not doing anything.” I just picked up my board and walked away. It was so weird. I was like, “Why did they tackle me?” That was so crazy.


You were by yourself?

I was with Ginger, but it was on Halloween and everyone was out in the streets. They somehow saw me step on my board, and they were like, “Get that guy!” It was a big celebration in the street, but they were not down with a skateboard I guess.

That’s nuts. [Laughs] Are there any places that you’d still like to go?

For surfing, I want to go to Indonesia. For skating, I want to go to South Korea. I love Korean food too.

Right on. Where do you and Ginger like to skate these days nearer to home?

We live really close to this park in Frogtown, but her favorite park is still Venice. She always loved the bowls there, so that’s her spot. We still make the drive down there sometimes.

When you first got on Element to now, have you noticed a change in what it takes to be a pro skater?

When I got on Element, it was before Instagram was really a thing, so you had to go somewhere to get noticed. I had to go to contests and skate. Now people can just view a profile and be like, “This guy is probably cool.” I feel like people’s personalities aren’t as much involved now. Before Instagram, you had to meet the person in real life and check them out. I feel like there’s less of that now. Now it’s like, “You’re good. I’ll send you some stuff. Here you go. You’re on your way.” It took longer for me for sure.

Now that everything is instant, do you think that will change in the future? 

It might because there’s such an overload of so many skaters and so many clips coming out every day. I feel like it’s just gonna all explode at one point. It’s so much stuff coming out every two seconds. You’ve got to slow it down and do stuff slower and really pace it out. I think my stuff maybe stands out because, instead of dropping Instagram clips every day, I’m skating for a whole year and saving up clips for a big part. I think people recognize those parts and show a lot of love for that.

I saw some of them. You’re good. You and your sponsors have a good relationship and they let you do whatever you want?

Yeah. Nike is cool and easy. Huf is easy and Real is easy. Jim Thiebaud ialways says, “Whatever you want to do, I’ll follow your lead. You’re the guy.” He just leaves it up to me. I’ve got a good group of sponsors that are down to do whatever.

Okay. What about the fakie flip at Tampa Pro that went viral?

Everyone thought I did that on purpose. I was like, “I don’t think you could do that on purpose if you tried. It was just a fluke.” My foot came off and I was all nervous and shaky-legged. That’s just the product of that and me not really knowing where I was and what I was doing. Sometimes, in contests, with the adrenaline, you just black out and don’t know what you’re doing. That was a cool moment.


Well, let’s talk about Tampa Pro, which is super important to skateboarding. You’re not a contest skater, but you go to that.

Yeah. I love to go to Tampa Pro. It reminds me of the classic days when contests were cool. That was one of the first things Element sent me out to. When I was 13, I went to Tampa Am and those are good memories. I’ve got a lot of love for Tampa. It’s a fun place to be and it definitely feels right.

First punk rock show you went to? 

The first punk rock show I went to was Pennywise. I grew up next to Jim Lindberg in Manhattan Beach, so that was my first show.

What are your favorite skate stickers? 

I’m obsessed with that Spitfire Bighead, – always the flame head. That’s my favorite sticker.

Best punk rock album cover artwork?

It’s probably Black Flag Damaged.

Yeah. Favorite skate team of any era?

The Element team in the ‘90s was pretty sick. That was a really good crew.

Band you wish you saw?

I would say the Minutemen.

Favorite skate photographer?

Brian Gaberman.

Okay. Coolest skate trick.

Frontside smith grind.

Favorite skateboard?

I’m gonna say the first skateboard that I had on Real was my favorite. That graphic was awesome.


Gnarliest bail of skateboard history. 

It was probably Brian Schaefer at Tampa doing the loop when he looped out and landed on his head. That was probably the worst one I’ve ever seen.

First skateboard t-shirt you bought? 

It was the World Industries Wet Willie. 

Best thing about being a pro skater? 

Traveling and being able to travel for free. 

Worst thing about being a pro skater?

Getting hurt because then you can’t skate.

Favorite people to skate with nowadays?

My favorite person to skate with is Louie Lopez because we push each other a lot. We love skating with each other, and it’s competitive enough that it makes us learn new things.

What advice would you give to any young skaters wanting to get sponsors?

Take your time because everyone is just posting on Instagram the minute they get a skateboard and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, I’m gonna get sponsored.” They don’t take the time to get really good and chill with everyone and enjoy the moment. Don’t focus on getting clips. Just be in the moment and skate with your friends. Be a good person and don’t be too eager because I’ve seen a lot of kids get pushed away because they’re bugging sponsors to give them stuff. If you’re a good skater, and you are really putting in the work, they are going to notice you. 


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