Interview by Will Harmon. Portrait by Sam Ashley.
Yesterday Thrasher Magazine announced that Ishod Wair had won this year’s Thrasher Skater of the Year. Two days before the announcement, Ishod, Justin Brock, Tim Zom and other Nike riders were in Paris for the European premiere of Nike SB’s Chronicles 2. We caught up with Ishod to talk about his busy year, how he loves the VX1000 and what his plans are for 2014.
So how have you been? Pretty busy this year eh?
Yeah I’m good, just been skating. That’s what it is.
Sabotage 3, Wair N Tear, Chronicles Prequel and Chronicles 2 – it seems like you must always be filming. Is that the case?
Definitely not. When I’m home in Philly I’m usually never filming. Because the dude Penny I usually film with works 45 minutes outside of the city and lives out there too. So usually when he comes into the city at nighttime to film I’ve already been skating all day and I’m tired. So a lot of the footage that’s VX is from random times like it was a weekend or something. It’s all just from random days because I’m not even home that much. But when I’m out with Jason (Hernandez) and stuff, I’m pretty much filming everyday. I skate every single day when I’m at home…
But you’re just not always filming…
Yeah, it’s hard to meet up with a filmer out there. If I had a filmer that was free everyday and that’s all he did, it would be pretty easy to film a part. I could probably film one in two months or something.
So what’s the difference between filming for Nike and say the Sabotage guys?
When I’m at home I just go out and see what happens. There are really no expectations – I live there, I know what spots to go to, I’m really just kickin’ it. For Chronicles, it’s more like a mission.
So do you prefer VX or HD?
I think VX looks better. In my opinion it sounds better and that’s what I grew up watching so when I don’t see VX footage it just kinda looks weird. But Jason (Hernandez) and some other people film HD really good. I feel like HD is easier to mess up, especially because it’s newer. It’s like all these new cameras…
Yeah no one knows which rig to have…
Exactly. So personally for me…if you are filming VX at the best it can look with the colours perfect and a good filmer, I think it looks better than the same thing in HD. That’s just what I wanna see; that’s what’s in my head.
So do the companies you skate for prefer what format footage you have?
Well I just had all this footage, and my homie wasn’t coming out with a video so I didn’t really know what to do with it. I was going to come out with another Sabotage part and then Fourstar were like: ‘Yeah your clothing line is coming out, we want to use it for that’ so we were like: ‘Alright, that’s tight!’.
So how long did you film for Chronicles 2?
I think a year and a half, two years. I can’t believe it came out. It always seemed like so far away…it was like 6 months away, and then 3 months away, then now it finally comes out.
What trick did you work the hardest for in your part?
I think it’s more how annoyed I am at the start of the day – that can make or break a session. If something’s bothering me a little bit I think it reflects in my skating and I can just get really bummed really easily. One time, when I was trying to shoot my Thrasher interview, (David) Broach came out to try and shoot with me and all this stupid shit happened – someone had broken in to my mom’s house and all this shit was happening so I was already bummed out on that. Then you go out and you expect that skating would be a release, but then you kickflip and hit yourself in the shin like nine times and you start thinking about other shit in your life. I’m thinking: ‘God damn it, I thought I was going to have fun today’ and I might throw my board or something. I get kind of mad sometimes and I flip out. I feel like it’s good to release my anger on a skateboard rather than on something or somebody else.
What’s your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to to skate?
Barcelona was really cool and Copenhagen was really amazing. There are mad spots; you can just take the train around. There are mad girls…Yo! Copenhagen…there are so many chicks it is so tech. And then you just ride bikes all day with your board on the back.
So you’ve made it to the top 5 nominees for Thrasher’s skater of the year, you think you got a chance? (Editor’s note- this interview was conducted two days before it was announced that Ishod had won Thrasher’s skater of the year.)
I don’t know, a bunch of people are rooting for me. But I think (Brandon) Westgate should take it. No one really touches his spots. He didn’t put out a big quantity of footage, but the footage that he does have is amazing. He skates SF so fast; he mashes it. No one messes with his spots. People say: “Oh you are going to a Westgate spot today? Uh… no. ” No one wants to touch those spots. He’s the only one that can skate those spots; he crushes it for sure.
So when did you start skating and what was the first skate video you ever saw?
The first skate video I remember seeing was Yeah Right. I started skating 15 years ago, like around when I was eight years old. My mom didn’t buy me any videos or anything; I first started skating from seeing it on TV. I thought it looked cool so I got a board. I never saw any videos or magazines; there wasn’t a skate shop in my town. So my homie Dylan started skating with me and a couple of years later he got some videos and I’m pretty sure it was Yeah Right, One Step Beyond or the Flip video – it was around that time.
So do you follow European skating at all?
I’m not subscribed to any of the magazines but I like the dudes and stuff. I try to see whatever comes out. I heard about some video The Eleventh Hour today. I heard it’s really sick. I wanna check that out.
It’s all VX that video, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Yeah I heard it was really good.
So who are some of your favourite skaters?
Evan Smith is tight. I’ve been watching (Andrew) Reynolds Baker 3 part a lot lately. Reynolds is tight. Nick Garcia who rides for Element is pretty cool. Paul Liliani from Canada, he’s pretty gnarly. That dude Jarne (Verbruggen), he’s sick! He’s funny too; he’s always doing the game where you throw the water bottle. He’s so good at it; he’ll like land it on the cap every try. Also Stevie Perez, that’s the homie right there, he’s so sick. Also Ant Travis, he’s a filmer from Philly and he’s soooo good!
So you did so much this year, what do you have planned for 2014?
I wanna get a VX. I wanna just bring it around with me and just film people and what the fuck is happening you know what I mean? Because I feel like that isn’t happening as much anymore. I don’t know, those old videos, they just had the camera out and teams would kick it together and they would just show everything that was not even just skating just the whole experience. Just like: ‘Oh what’s up? Remember when that guy was freaking out the other day and you had your camera out?’ People just had their camera out more back then. It’s fun to look back on that stuff.
Thanks Ishod, can’t wait to see your next VX video…