Daniel's not in this issue's Cliché -15 years article and since we didn't want him to feel left out, we decided to give you his interview from issue 104. Reda's asking the questions and the photos are by Nikwen (except where stated). That kinked back tail flip out is mental... Bon Voyage is going to be sick!
How you doing Mr. Espinoza?
I’m doing pretty good.
Are you excited that I’m the one who’s going to be interviewing you?
I dunno, I’m just waiting.
Waiting for what? This is going to be a straight forward interview, we’re going to do a straight forward interview.
Where you living right now?
Come on, I know it’s in California but narrow it down more. How far are you from LA, is it East is it North…
It’s about an hour east..
So what do you pay in rent out there about $30 a month?
It’s really expensive! It’s free.
What do you live with your parents?
Yeah I live with my dad. It’s mellow. I want to move to LA, well outside of LA, somewhere not so congested. I hate traffic.
Join the club!
It’s not that bad in Fontana so everytime I come out to LA I hate my life.
You hate your life when you come out to LA? All your sponsors are in LA, everything good that happens to you happens in LA but you hate your life when you’re in LA. Is that right? Gimme details.
I’m just not used to how many people are around, how many cars. In Fontana it’s house out here it’s skyscrapers.
That’s downtown. What about Rodondo Beach?
I’m scared of the beach.
You’re scared of the beach but you want to live by the beach?
I never said I wanted to live by the beach.
Why are you scared of the beach?
I’m scared water
What’s so scary, what about the water, ‘cause I’m scared of water too. But, I’m not scared of water…
I’m not scared of water I’m scared of drownding ‘cause I nearly drowned when I was littl….
What scared of drownding or drowning?
I’m scared of sharks. Do you know how to swim?
Yeah I know how to swim.
Well how come you’re scared of drowning if you know how to swim?
I was 5 or something I jumped into the deep end of a pool without my floaties and someone had to save me, do mouth to mouth and all that shit. If I go to the ocean I won’t go past chest deep or I’ll freak out.
Did you die? Were you dead for a second? If someone was giving you mouth to mouth you were dead.
I don’t know I was fucking 5…
Do you remember anything from it?
I don’t know, I would get nightmares, watching myself drown.
Still to this day?
I haven’t had one in a long time.
You’re going to have one tonight now that we’re talking about it though.
Hopefully not, that shit sucks.
So you have nightmares but you don’t remember anything. You know the story because someone told you the story.
The only thing I do remember is just a glimpse of me running and jumping going for it in the deepend.
What’s the very next thing you remember after that?
I don’t know. I asked my dad where he was at the time, he said he was in the jacuzzi and I asked my mom and she said she was tanning…
So dad’s in the jacuzzi mom’s tanning and here’s little Spinach running wild, living la vida loca, poolside. Do you realise: you were dead? You’re the living dead, man.
I came back.
Did your parents give you any more details?
They just said some dude jumped in and saved me.
That’s it? That’s the whole story? Hugely traumatic thing happens to you and you have no idea about it what so ever. But wait a minute, if you really don’t remember and you really don’t know, why are you afraid of the water?
Because I almost drowned.
Yeah, but you don’t even remember it.
Yeah but I still have nightmares about it so I’m still scared of it.
That’s true. Do you think you really almost drowned or that some guy jumped in to “help" you, and I’m say that in quotes, because he wanted to like: “Oooh, there’s a nice young smooth boy."
I mean I was pretty cute back then…
Was it mouth to mouth or was he making out with you?
Hopefully it was making out…
I mean maybe you’ve blocked out something else…
What’s his name?
Fuck, I don’t know, I was 5…
You should find out from your parents, call that guy up and be like: “just wanted to say thanks!" You were 5 so what’s that 10 years ago?
Yeah it was 10 years ago.
How old are you now?
Dude I’m 38.
I’m older, when I was your age I was like, “38, that is fucking old, man." Now tat I’m 38 I don’t feel old, I feel good. Do you have anything else like that that’s happened to you? You know what’s crazy about that: you do something gnarly, balls-out, like, “Fuck it, I’m jumping in the pool," almost die and now when you skate you’re balls-out, like" Fuck it, I’m jumping down this handrail." You think that experience made you fearless in a sense?
You don’t think it affects your skateboarding AT ALL?
I mean it affects me if I ever want to go surfing. I’ve done big jumps, when I used to ride bikes and stuff.
Do you think you were trying to get your parents’ attention – they’re at the time share wiling out, they’re in the jacuzzi, tanning, they’re like, “Go ahead kid, run wild!" But I just want my parents to love me a little bit..
That’s exactly it, my parents split up right after that; they were never really together.
Switch backside heelflip
Do your parents split up right after that, for the fact of: “You were supposed to look after the kid." “No, you were supposed to watch him." “No, you were supposed to watch him." “No you were…" That they argued with each other over who almost killed the kid?
So it’s your fault your parents are divorced, huh?
No, it’s my little sisters fault.
Haha haha, where was your little sister during all that?
I don’t fucking know.
How old is she?
She’s one year younger.
So what was she doing during all this?
I don’t know, probably crying..
I love how something this traumatic happens to you and you have no details.
I was 5.
Maybe you should ask your parents the whole story.
I don’t really want to know the whole story…
Hey, you survived death. That means when the apocalypse comes you might be the person to rally behind. But, you’ll be too busy smoking cigarettes. Do you think the fact you got on Cliché makes you want to smoke more because they’re French and it’s very French to smoke cigarettes?
I think it was more when I started hanging out with Chris.
Chris Roberts? You’re blaming your cigarette smoking on Chris Roberts?
I’m not blaming him but he does smoke a lot.
Does your smoking interfere with your skating?
No, it calms me down a lot. If I’m trying a trick and I’m really nervous about it I’ll smoke until it calms me down.
So you’re telling kids: “you should smoke"? Actually this interview is for a European magazine so everyone smokes anyway, they’re like, “Fuck yeah, I like Daniel, he smokes too!"
Back smith backside 360.
So, what’s the fascination about the car?
Do we really have to talk about this?
Of course we got to talk about it, because I don’t get it and I want to understand it. You have a Tokyo Drift car. You have a Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift car.
It’s not a Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift car, there’s no giant decals on it.
It has decals all over it!
It’s a few stickers on it, calm down!
Those are decals and they’re on your car.
My dad has always been into cars so caught on with me. He used to have a shop and everything.
Your dad had American muscle cars and stuff, right? What’s he say about your little Mitsubishi?
He wasn’t really happy at first, but I just went against him. “You’re into your muscle and I’m going to get the little engined cars an smoke yours."
Do you race ‘em?
Yeah, on a track.
Do you lose?
I wouldn’t say lose, like, I’m still a beginner on it, so I’m not fully on competition.
How often do you race the car?
I’ve only been once. I was supposed to go last month and this month but things came up.
Wait you’ve only been once?
Yeah, I’ve been building it. Also, I take to the canyons and stuff.
So, when I’m in the canyons on my bicycle, you’re the fucking that almost kills me?
No. I go out at 2 or 3 in the morning. You’re asleep so it doesn’t matter. And you’d hear me coming from, like, a mile away.
How fast have you gotten your car to go?
As in horsepower-wise?
No as in speed wise: you look down at the speedometer and it says what?
I usually let off around 140.
140 mile per hour, damn. What about motorcycles, you into them at all?
Nah, not really. My friend got in an accident and broke her back so I wasn’t really too excited about it.
What modifications you have done on your car?
I don’t think that matters, that’s kind of a personal question…
This is an interview, it’s personal, it’s about you, so. What modifications have you done to your car?
Nothing. Did you change the hood?
No, that’s stock.
The fin on the back?
The fin comes with the car stock.
The bucket, yeah, I put that in.
You took the back seat out…
Yeah, so that means its cheaper..
How is it cheaper? You still bought the back seat. It’s not like you said hey don’t put the back seat in, “Oh, alright, we’ll take 300 bucks off." So that’s a modification, you took the seats off. That’s all I’m saying. What else? You put that fake trim around the windows? Do you have ground effects?
No I don’t have ground effects….
Did you lower it? New rims?
New wheels…You got slicks on that thing?
What did you do to the engine? Did you bore the block out and put racing pistons in it?
Did you change the timing to 8 degrees off pop-dead-centre?
Haha, what?! Haha.
What about the pinion bearing, what about the upper control arm bushings? You change those?
Haha, haha, no..
How did you get the name “Little Spinach"?
Uh… From you?
Yeah, but tell the whole story.
Well the French kept saying “epinard" for some weird reason..
Because epinard in French means “spinach"….
I think it was Lucas and JB that kept saying it and then you asked what does that mean and you never shut up about it since.
Backside tailside kickflip out
I think Little Spinach is a great nickname.
And then you kept singing the Popeye song to me the whole trip.
Yes I did. Are you mad at that nickname, Little Spinach, or just “Spinach"?
It’s weird when my friends call me that… It’s better than my other nicknames.
What are your other nicknames?
When I was younger they used to call me: Flying Squirrel, Squirrel, Chipmunk… Anything that had to do with chipmunk, like Alvin and the Chipmunks…
Why ‘cause you had big teeth?
I guess I look like a chipmunk or a squirrel…
Or ‘cause you had big teeth?
I still have big teeth.
That’s what I’m saying, is that where the name came from?
I don’t have big teeth like Joey (Brezinski)…
Well Joey’s nickname is “Buck".
Yes, I’m glad you’re able to put those things together… I’m gonna call Cliché, I’m gonna call Al and say, “You’ve gotta do a graphic with either a chipmunk or a squirrel eating a plate of spinach." That’ll be your first pro board. Would you like that?
What other kind of big boy stuff do you do? You race cars, you smoke cigarettes, you drink coffee, what else?
Sleep a lot.
That’s not big boy stuff, that’s little kid stuff. And also extremely old people.
What I meant to say is: I relax a lot.
That’s little kid stuff.
That’s not little kid stuff!
Adult stuff is: you go out, you get stuff done, you do stuff. Relax a lot, that’s little kid stuff.
I relax in between trips, I know I’m going away again so I relax.
That’s extreme little kid-ness. You make little kids look more adult. Do you realise that? Who do you have the most fun with on tour? Who do you love going on tour with?
I like going with Flo (Mirtain).
Backside heelflip (photo: Chami)
Why, ‘cause you have no idea what he’s saying?
Nah, because me and Flo have this relationship where we just give shit to each other. So it makes it fun.
Maybe he just doesn’t like you…
Flo loves me! Let’s me sleep over at his house when I’m there. I slept over there last time after some party and me and him woke up and watched 6 episodes of Desperate Housewives, haha.
You and Flo… Were you guys in the same bed?
Did you watch it in English?
That’s the funniest part: I watched 5 episodes in French and Flo said, “Oh yeah, you do know we can switch it to English, right?" Such a dick! Haha
Do you secretly speak French?
No, I don’t . I want to learn French, figure it out for myself.
How’s that going? Can you say anything in French?
So that’s not working for you at all then is it…
There’s things I can figure out, like when someone asks me for a lighter.
How do they say it?
I don’t know how they say it but I can tell by their body language that they want a lighter.
You mean when they do the little thumb thing, with their fingers pretending to hold a cigarette, saying, “lighter?"
That’s your French?
Haha, yeah, that’s my French.
Can you say anything in French?
C’est la vie..
What does that mean?
I forgot… That’s life?
It’s pretty easy, I’ll learn French in no time.
What was the most exotic place you’ve ever been?
I think the biggest culture shock I had was in China, it was fucking crazy. Out there I couldn’t go to, say, a liquor store because I didn’t know what was a liquor store, it all looks exactly the same, with all these characters – it’s just really weird. After a few days I got used to it but it was weird. When I saw a black guy there I was like, “Holy shit there’s a black guy here!? I want to see a Mexican here." It’s so rare.
There’s a lot of Chinese people there…
A lot of Chinese people there, it’s weird ‘cause they stare at you like you’re an alien or something.
You do look freaky.
You eat anything weird or get in any weird situations out there?
I hang out with a lot of Asian people so it wasn’t that big a deal. I don’t know if Al (Boglio) or Jeremie (Daclin) ever told you but in France they left me at a spot?
That’s amazing. Where?
Okay, so the night before we got super wasted, me, Lucas and Flo and we went skating the next day. I was sleeping in the van the entire day and we get to a spot and Joey was trying a flip front nose on this barrier in Lyon and I get up and say to Sammy (Winter) “I’m going to get something to eat." I look up as I’m paying for my food and the vans are taking off, I’m like, “Are you fucking serious!?" I didn’t have anyone’s numbers, I don’t know what the place is called, I don’t speak French. I freaked out and ended up just started walking. I almost just wanted to lay down on the floor and give up, it ended up taking me like 4 or 5 hours to get back.
Now you know Lyon good right?
Yeah, as long as I’m by the water and I can find the Marquis I’m good, everyone knows where the Marquis is, it’s on a boat, you know, all the kids know where the Marquis. If I ask for some random hotel no one is gonna know where that is.
That’s why you always keep the card to the hotel in your pocket.
I do that now. Especially when you’re in China.