Last week, I was lucky enough to have a chat with one of the most influential skateboarders of all time. He was happy to discuss his past, addressing the topic of his major influences, his present and his views on modern skateboarding, as well as his future, with the business side of his career. His fifteenth video part came out in the latest DGK video, so if you still haven't seen it go and buy it on iTunes. Stevie has the ender and you won't be let down. He's not going anywhere.
First things first, why are you in Berlin right now?
I’m here for G-Shock, to support the brand as an ambassador. They’ve just opened a new pop-up store here, to celebrate their 30th’s anniversary. My latest watch also just dropped, it’s another classic. It’s important for me to stay involved, stay active with these brands. On top of that Berlin is a dope city, so I just want to take it in.
Do you pay attention to European skateboarding?
Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to current skateboarding at all. I still watch old skateboarding online though, like Virtual Reality, or Tim and Henry’s pack of lies. I guess I did watch Pretty Sweet a couple of times, but honestly, I work too much, I don’t have time to keep up with everything. Plus I’m older now; I’ve got two kids, and a lot of worries... I have to really not be doing anything to sit down and watch a full video, and that barely ever happens. I’ve got a lot of obligations in terms of business and sponsorship… I don’t even have time to watch TV, so if I’m want to get hyped on something, I’ll go online and watch something I know I love, like some sections from Questionable or Love child. I actually watch those videos a lot. I like reminiscing about the things that made me psyched on skating as a kid, it helps me go out there and keep doing it. The problem with most videos these days is that they just show how challenging skateboarding is, rather than showing how fun it is. I don’t have time for that shit. It feels like they are going too far, we’ve got to go back in time… It just doesn’t look fun anymore. I think that’s why the DGK video was so successful. We would go out all together, skate the same spots and you can actually see that we are having a bunch of fun.
In some ways it does feel like more of a “late nineties" video than a lot of the major productions that have come out recently. Probably because it’s predominantly lines and the skating is mostly filmed on a VX…
Yeah, I like keeping it simple. All of my part was filmed on a VX, and I think I only filmed it with 3 filmers, so I didn’t have to run all over the place to get my footage. Whenever I’d want to watch my footage I’d know exactly where to find it. This meant that before going on a trip, I could watch it to help me figure out what sort of stuff I still wanted to film. We all watch our footage together, it's another way of making sure it stays fun. Like I said, the problem with a lot of skateboarding nowadays is that it doesn’t show the fun side. That’s why I don’t see the point in paying attention to it.
Does this mean that the process of filming a part is pretty much the same for you as it was ten or fifteen years ago? Do you not feel like you are under more pressure?
The pressure starts when you film your first video part, no matter what company you skate for, so nothing’s really changed. The main pressure for me was that I started a new brand almost 10 years ago and this is our first full-length video. For a long time there was a lot of hype and speculation, people were like “does Stevie still skate at all?". It was the same for a lot of the guys on the team, people thought we were just a bunch of cool guys who smoke weed, fuck girls and hang out. Which we are, but we skate. It's just probably not how some people want us to skate. Especially me, I may not skate how people want me to skate, as in every day or at a contest, because that’s just not what I do. But I’m a skater and I’ve been putting video parts together since I was twelve years old. This is my fifteenth video part and I think the pressure mainly comes from wanting to exceed all the hype and speculation. The only reason why I’ve had all these parts is because I really enjoy filming them. Sure I may not skate every single day, but the video was successful and I don’t care about what people think, not anymore. What it all comes down to is can you still have fun riding a motherfucking skateboard, and I can.
Is skateboarding perceived differently in Europe than in the states?
I think core skateboarding is seen in the same way around the world. But when you have somebody like myself who can crossover to “lifestyle" and actually dabble in the different scenes, then it gets a little different. In the states you could have your favourite actor and your favourite skater hanging out, you know what I mean? It always takes a while for Europe to catch on to what we are doing, to what we did, but I’m definitely sure we will see the same thing happen over here. Who’s the hottest skater in Europe right now? Let’s say like JB (Gillet), because he’s my brother, my homie. Well imagine him kickin it with David Beckham. You’d be like: “how the hell does JB know David Beckham?" But that’s how it is in the states, so you never know.
Other than JB, have you ever been influenced by any European skaters?
I’m backing Lucien (Clarke) , he killed it on the Supra trip with us last summer… But my all time favourite European skater is Curtis McCann, he used to skate for Underworld Element back in the day, he was sick. That part in “Skypager" where he switch flips the stairs at South Bank at the beginning was dope. Him, Pepe Martinez, Jeff Pang, Harold Hunter were all on Underworld Element, it was kind of like a back in the day DGK… I was twelve when "SkyPager" came out, living in Philadelphia, and I would go home and watch that video every fucking day. Somehow I even ended up getting sponsored by them, but thats another story...
A few years later on you moved to San Francisco, right? What made you decide go out there?
I wanted to move closer to all the pros. I wanted to turn pro so bad and I was super young. I thought I’d be able to turn pro at like 15, 16, but it didn’t happen haha… What happened is that I wound up being the little skater that was cool with everybody, but I would get into a hell of lot of trouble… It takes good friends like Josh Kalis to tell you when you are messing up. At one point he was like, “man you’re really good, you should stick to skateboarding and stop getting into trouble because you’ve got something special and you are wasting it." I listened to his advice and this is where I’m at now.
Any plans for the future? Any other videos parts coming up?
I don’t really have anything to film for at the moment, but I’m filming and skating a lot so we’ll see… None of my sponsors are putting out videos anytime soon. People liked my video part, but I feel like I can do 2 or 3 times better than that, so I’m just filming and we’ll see what happens. We are also coming out with a DGK behind the scenes video, and we’ve got a lot of collaboration coming up. So many things are coming our way… Just like this new collaboration with G-Shock. It’s important to stay active and do stuff for the brands that support me, but right now, I’m going focus on my skating for a bit.