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Kyle Walker Interview

Welcome to the Kyle Walker interview. I’m sure you’ve all seen his Propeller part, Kyle has been accountable for some of the gnarliest skating to go down over the last couple of years. So his pro shoe for Vans popping up and onto the skate shop shelves is no wonder. Kyle has earned his stripes with effortless hammers, all while not taking things too serious and staying grounded – a killer-combo! We caught up with him a few days before the launch on a quick visit over in Berlin to hear more about pan-tones of the year, acting all pissed and potential retirement in Europe…

Interview: Jan Kliewer | Photos: Courtesy of Vans

Kingpin: Hey Kyle, hope you’re good. Let me get this right, you’re from the Midwest originally but live in LA now, correct?

Kyle Walker: Yeah, I’m from Oklahoma, but I’m in LA now – Long Beach to be exact. It’s been about 8 years that I left home. I moved out when I was 16. Crazy to think now how my mom must have felt letting me go. At the time I just packed my stuff and left for California together with three friends, kind of crazy, right? – But it all worked out…! I still tell her: “Thank you mum for trusting me.”

KP: Yeah, seems you’ve done everything right: Your pro shoe for Vans just dropped. Congrats. Are you fully satisfied with how it came out or are there any things you would have changed?

KW: I am, fully. I pretty much did everything that I wanted. The only little thing was that I wanted a clean toe with nothing on it first, so no stitches; like on Gilbert’s shoe (Crocket). But then we wanted it to look a little different, too. So maybe I keep the “no-stitches thing” for my next model if I ever get that (laughes). And I’ll get plenty of colourways, ha.

KP: The pink colourway of your model has made the rounds a bit…

KW: Yeah, at first I just wanted them for myself: some pink and some baby blue; I had them make 8 pairs of each. But than it turned out the pan-tones of 2016 were pink and blue… pretty funny. So now you’ll be able to actually get these colourways in the stores in 2017. Really stoked though.

»That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing!«

KP: I’ve re-watched your Propeller part which must have been a landmark thing for you. Did that video change the way you’re approaching your next video part at all?

KW: Yeah, that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Those guys filmed about five years on their parts, and I came in maybe a year after. To be a part of that is wild. But I really want my next video part to be different from the Propeller one. However, I still just skate and want to have fun. I don’t want to think too serious. Once you start doing that your mind just gets rattled in and you start over-thinking.

»You gotta have “baby-brain”!«

KP: Judging from the stuff you jump on in your parts, it seems you’re doing a pretty good job in blocking it all off.

KW: Oh, I’m an over-thinker! But yeah, have a couple cheeky beers, have a little faith and hopefully it works out. You gotta have “baby-brain”!

KP: Is there anything or anyone in particular that inspires you to get gnarly as you do?

KW: In all honesty: You gotta scare yourself every now and then. Also I think I’m just better at hitting a rail that no one skates or jumping stairs than a tricky ledge line. I like the adrenaline rush. Also, I skate with Ishod and Na-kel, Chima and Elijah a lot. They all do crazy shit – so, it’s just what happens.

One of the gnarlier 50-50's – executed on the second go. Lights, camera, action!

»Acting all pissed-off was probably the hardest part to get«

KP: So what’s the feeling you get out of a trick like the 50-50 from your shoe commercial?

KW: You know, I’ve never done cocaine but I’m pretty sure that’s what it felt like. Plus the trick from the commercial happened at 10:15 in the morning. It was a full-on production, permit, street blocked of, catering and all. My heart was racing…! I almost died on the first try: I’m there, rolling up solo, all cameras set up and I’m still wiping the crust out of my eyes like: Ok, I guess today is the day! And thank God it worked out second try! In the commercial there is a part where I get all mad and pissed off and I need to sit down, while in reality I’d already made it and felt super happy and relieved. Acting all pissed-off was probably the hardest part to get (laughs).

KP: You’ve been to Europe before, I think your first trip over here was the Spitfire “Thrash and Burn”. How do you like it over here? What’s good, what’s bad?

KW: Yeah, I think my first trip was to Amsterdamn-Am at 16, that was wild. The Spitfire thing was after but equally crazy. We went all over Europe, big crew too, like 20 people. But yeah, everything over here is just so laid back and chilled. Once you come over here you realise how strict some things are back home. I also feel like the drinking over here is much more casual because young people can just get it out of their system early. Over in the States it’s such a big thing: No alcohol under 21 – that’s why everyone is making such a big deal out of it and a lot of people overdo it.

»I could retire in Innsbruck!«

KP: Do you see a difference in the vibe or style of skating over here?

KW: Well, I guess it depends on where you go I would say. Maybe people go for it more at demos…

KP: Ok, what about European skaters, any you particularly like?

KW: Pfannman! Chris Pfanner, he’s the man. He’s like my brother. Throughout the filming for Propeller he was my favourite dude to travel with. Kilian Zehnder is sick too. Too many to name…

KP: Any places your particularly like?

KW: Innsbruck man! My girlfriend went there for a school trip because Innsbruck is the sister city of New Orleans where she’s from. So when she first got there she sent me a message with a photo from a café where she was hanging out, like “look how beautiful it is here!” – and it was right at that famous spot (Landhausplatz)! My jaw dropped and I was like “girl, you have no idea where you’re at! You better get a board and skate that for me!” So later I went to Copenhagen, she met me there and we took a trip to Innsbruck and Barcelona… but yeah, I could retire in Innsbruck!

KP: Ok, but before you retire, is there anything you’re working on for this year?

KW: We’re all working on another little Real video and another little project for Vans that are both due later this year, but I’m really trying not stress it. As I said: Don’t take it all too serious.

Kyle's new Vans shoe.

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