SURF SKATE STYLE WITH TAKUJI MASUDA. INTERVIEW BY JEFF HO. PHOTO BY BILL PARR.
Takuji, we’re here to talk about surfing and skating and the relationship that they have to each other, so I have a few questions. When did you first hear of SurfSkate style?
It could have been around ‘87. I grew up in Kamakura, which is similar to the Malibu of Japan. I grew up surfing and I started reading surf magazines when I was in boarding school in Canada. In ‘87, there were articles and ads that included Christian Fletcher and Matt Archbold introducing aerials. Martin Potter might have been in there too. Then I started seeing Jimmy’Z, Jimmy Ganzer’s clothing line, that had the crossover of Vince Klyn, Christian Hosoi, Jonathan Paskowitz and Steve Olson. It was the first time that I saw surfers and skaters presented under the same label. This crossover of urban, muscular, longhair rebels seemed so cool.
What does SurfSkate style mean to you?
It’s all those elements of flow, power, criticalness and grace. I think that fits within the flow, which some people say is style. I think of fluidity with power. It’s not very linear. I think it has more of a circular element to it, whether you’re surfing or skateboarding. When it comes to surfing, surfing is all rooted in that. I think when you say surf-skate, in surfer’s vernacular, you’re actually introducing skateboarding technique into surfing. When you hear it from a skater’s perspective, I think it’s skateboarding that includes flow, power and style.
Who has good SurfSkate style?
My old surfing pal, Joel Tudor, was excellent at both but because of his transitioning into classic boards around the mid-’90s, his skateboarding influence departed from his surfing. For me, the family that introduced the idea is the Fletcher family. Every one of those Fletchers has good surfskate style. You also have their family friends, the Florence family on the North Shore, which is world champion John John Florence and his brothers, Nathan and Ivan and their mother, Alex. It all seemed to stem from the Wave Warriors Astrodeck team in surfing. Of course, it’s rooted in Zephyr, which you started. I think that had a lot of influence on what we do. You can also say Steve Olson, Scott Oster or Tony Alva from the skate world. I feel like the Fletchers probably have that skate spirit of surfers the most. Without it being about riding, there is the attitude that comes with it too, which is the Z-Boys spirit. I think that was the thing that you were cobbling together with the Zephyr team. You have a spirit of surfskate.
Yeah. It’s collating the two, and there’s an attitude and I think it goes both ways. Okay here’s a question. How has surfing influenced skateboarding and how has skateboarding influenced surfing?
I think it’s about the platform. The skateboard provided consistency. You could elevate your tricks or the range of tricks you had with skateboarding because you were given the consistency of your platform, compared to having to wait to catch a wave in surfing. Now, with artificial wave-generating technology, I think surfers may be able to compete on that level with a range of tricks, whether it’s at WaveGarden or Kelly Slater’s wave, or wherever. At the end of the day, no one is going to care who paved the tennis court or who built the chairlifts. We’re just getting to that point for the first time where surfing is going to have surplus. We’ve always dealt with scarcity, and that brought a lot of juvenile behavior. You know about that with the Z-Boys, throwing things off the pier… [Laughs]
[Laughs] Wait a minute. That wasn’t me.
[Laughs] Your minions…
[Laughs] I wasn’t doing any of that. That may have been some kids having a good time and learning to become men. That happens to everyone. How could I control some of that stuff?
[Laughs] It happens to everybody when there is scarcity, when you have to fight over things. When there is surplus, not just waves, but with anything, there is a little bit of a sense of generosity. Beyond that, once there is a consistency and a surplus, I think surfers will be able to contribute more to broaden their range, the way that snowboarders and skateboarders have been able to influence surfers thus far. It might become surfers’ turn to really contribute to what may happen next. With skateboarding, because you’re not riding rotating ramps, the mediums are fixed. With snowboarding, even the boards are fixed. In surfing, we’re dealing with a platform that is in flux. The board is not attached or detached, so the combination you can comprise of is much broader. You can use gravity much more to your advantage. It’s sort of like cheating with nature. With skateboarding, things are more constant. It will be interesting, with this new technology, digital Surfing 2.0, what that does for the family of board riders, right?
That’s a really valid point because in surfing, you have to react to what is given to you at that precise second. Not every wave is the same except when we have the introduction of the digital wave. When you introduce this digital wave, there is now discussion about style.
Yeah. Absolutely. I think when the performance overwhelms the original intent of just having fun, it becomes agenda or integer-based, when you are going for the ranking or when you are being applauded for innovation. You’re still within the realm of not ‘man versus nature’ but more ‘man within society’. I think the beauty of surfing and some of what you have in snowboarding is that ‘man versus nature’, which maybe is deprived within the skateboarding realm. Even though you’re in nature in skateboarding, it’s more artificial. For surfing, that might have deterred us from the shortboard revolution, because it wasn’t about technology or performance. It was more about a spiritual or philosophical pursuit through board riding. I think that might deplete now because of such consistency becoming available through digital surfing. I could be wrong. People will pursue what they will, regardless of the technology.
People will pursue whatever they want. There will always be surfing because you want to surf and because you enjoy surfing, within nature. There will always be skating, without skateparks too. It’s you and your board. Surfing now is going to go into a more controlled environment and that will be really interesting.
Yeah. It might be very contrived and cliché. It might be very cookie-cutter. Who knows?
Before what is going on now, you had to go search for waves and it is nature that dictates those waves. It’s something that’s unpredictable. What’s interesting now is that there are places with man-made waves. Do you think that SurfSkate style is important today?
Yeah. It’s going back to the earlier discussion that maybe it does work against the ‘man versus nature’ idea because we had to indirectly create asphalt so really skateboarding is not ‘man versus nature’. When skateboarding nature is introduced, it brings a lot of urban behavior. It’s a departure from the hardcore surfing nature of it. It is important that we ponder upon it carefully and be mindful of it, not the skateboarding technique, but this kind of urban humane element that we bring. Surfing has been kept in nature. So, yes, it’s important. Surf-skating is important from my personal experience because skateboarding is very inclusive. You don’t get kicked out of skateboard parks as often as you do in surfing. With surfing, it’s very exclusive. That inclusion is what separates and elevates skateboarding above surfing with its camaraderie. I think the acceptance rate within skateboarding is much higher. As a skateboarder, if some kid that is not that good at skateboarding shows up at a skatepark, everyone is aware, but when this kid is pushing his or her own limit, and achieves a little ollie or whatever, everybody reacts and compliments them. There is encouragement. Whereas, in surfing, you’re just like, “Beat it! We’ve been surfing here this long!” It’s that neanderthal mentality of territorial-ism, which is very juvenile. Skaters are very childish and juvenile in one aspect too, but they have this beautiful enlightened-ness. I don’t know if they’re aware of it, but I see it when I take my son to the skatepark. I would like for that to happen more in surfing, especially when Surfing 2.0, the digital version comes. I’d like to see surfers become more like skaters. We could leave our childish and neanderthal behavior at the beach, and be more like skaters.
It’s interesting that surfers care so much about nature but when it comes to other surfers, it’s like “Get off my wave!” Skaters are more humanitarian.
Yes. I think it’s that surplus and scarcity in surfing. Surfers are impoverished because we don’t have enough waves… yet.
There is localism in skateboarding too. If there is a group of skaters and they find a pool, they will not disclose the location.
Yeah. That exists at every level, but I’m talking about the bottom of the pyramid, when beginners skate and the children come to the skateparks.
Right. I feel like it’s opening up for the kids because of all the terrain there is to skate now. With the advent of the soft top surfboard, surfing is becoming more acceptable too. I was in the water the other day with I don’t know how many soft tops.
Yes. It’s those or the Morey boogie boards.
Oh, yeah, we have Tom Morey to thank for that, but Tom is cool.
Yeah. He wanted to spread the love like Duke Kahanamoku, the most surfer person we know or have heard about. Duke Kahanamoku wanted to spread the love and spread the fun. Surfers have a hard time living up to his manifesto.
JUICE MAGAZINE SURF SKATE STYLE STORY:
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.