An Interview With Alexis Sablone

March 9th, 2017 | 11:15 am | Features & Interviews | 11 Comments

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Intro & Interview by Zach Baker
Headline Photo by Richard Hart

PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life was an anomaly. For the kids who had their own local crews, it was strange and inspiring for this shop out of Melrose, Massachusetts to release this incredible skate video of people we’d never heard of, and reach as large of a viewership as it did. P.J’s part was obviously the main draw, and while there were many standouts — including Jereme Rogers at a time when his only musical connection was Buena Vista Social Club, Ryan Gallant’s east coast tech, the mean guy in the paper boy hat, and don’t get me started on Fiske — a particularly eye-opening moment of the video was when we were introduced to Alexis Sablone. Her part, in some pathetic way, enlightened a generation of young male skaters to the notion that females in skating existed outside of the only woman we had ever really been shown: Elissa Steamer.

I had seen Jaime Reyes and Elissa’s skating at that point, but something about the fact that there was this girl who completely ripped in a random homie video, reinforced the idea that there’s a grander female presence throughout skateboarding. It drew attention to women’s extreme lack of visibility in skating.

In the time since, Alexis is still ripping and placing in most of the contests she regularly enters — but what’s dope is that she also, like, fully went to Columbia, and has a Masters in Architecture from MIT. What’s even more wild, and a perfect example of the resourcefulness of people who happen to skateboard, is that she completely financed her education with contest earnings. I don’t care what you did down D7, this way of juicing of the system is the most impressive skate trick I’ve ever seen.

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You’re from Connecticut?

Yeah. I’m from a town called Old Saybrook. It’s a small town not that far from Groton, kind of the bottom middle of Connecticut.

Was there much of a skate scene there when you were growing up?

Not at all, or if there was, I wasn’t aware of it. I started skating when I was ten. I started at a new school that year that was a few towns over. I was in fifth grade and there were a bunch of eighth grade boys who skated, so that was my first contact with other skateboarders. It’s funny because, I had a skateboard, and I was still struggling with it for a while, trying to figure it out on my own. I was playing tag or something and jumped off this twelve foot jetty and broke my foot. When I started at that school, I had DC Clockers and was on crutches. All the boys were like “Whoa, you skate?” I was like “Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, I skate.” But on the inside I was panicking like, “Oh man, I have to get good at skating!” As soon as I got my cast off, I was in the garage like “I’ve gotta figure out how to ollie.” They were cool, but mostly I just skated alone in my garage. There was this one skatepark an hour away, and I finally started going there. I’d make my mom drive me, or I’d take the train on weekends. I met Trevor Thompson, who’s still like my best friend. We started skating together every weekend.

When did you start going to Boston?

Boston didn’t happen until I was like fifteen. I met a bunch of Boston dudes — Jereme, Eli, Zered and Louis Sarowsky — at Woodward one summer. I became friends with them. Then, I went to Boston once with my family for a weekend, met up with Jereme and we skated all day. He introduced me to Matt and Arty, the Coliseum guys, and that’s when I met PJ. I started going there every weekend or staying there for the summer.

And that’s how you ended up accumulating a full part’s worth of footage?

Yeah, I don’t know if I’d call it a full part. I think I filmed most of it in a couple days, it was just random. It didn’t even feel like I was filming a part, oddly enough. Actually, most of it’s filmed at MIT. Then, we went on a road trip. We took this van down to Miami and stopped in Philly and Atlanta, so some of it is from that too.

An Interview With Ray Barbee

February 15th, 2017 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 8 Comments

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Interview by Genesis Evans
Collages by Requiem for a Screen via scans from Chromeball
Intro by QS

Mythology has become an accessible commodity. Fifteen years ago, the people who shaped a generation’s manner of approaching the world on a skateboard were confined to hard media with dwindling circulation. Half of my age group grew up hearing the holy words “Tom Penny” for years, without seeing anything until Menik Mati came out. Today, mythology is a click away; you can tend to your old soul without going far. The full spectrum of inspiration is available.

Ray Barbee, for this same reason, has become even more of an inspiration to us in the present day — even as we drift further from the days when he was releasing video parts. Ray’s graceful simplicity on a skateboard is an image that summarizes why anyone skateboards in the first place, no matter the age. We usually save thank yous for the end of interviews, but preemptive thanks to Ray for taking the time out to talk to us, and for pretty much everything :)

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Where are you from and how old are you?

I was born in San Francisco, and when I was five, we moved to San Jose. That’s where I got into skateboarding. Right after my sophomore year of high school, we moved to Orange County. I’m 45.

How old were you when you first started skating?

I was 12. It was right before 7th grade.

I think I also started around 12. Do you think that where you grew up had an impact on the way that you skated?

Oh, completely. Your biggest sphere of influence is your immediate community. When I got into skateboarding, I didn’t know about magazines or videos. My friend got a skateboard for his birthday, and then when we went to school, we met up with other skaters. They took us to backyard ramps and things, and that was my introduction into the culture. Later, I started finding out about videos and magazines.

Did you face challenges in the skate world because you were black?

Yeah, I did. But never from skaters, or not from whites, if you will. I got it way more from other brothers and sisters…other blacks who thought I was trying to be white. They would always make fun of me for riding a skateboard because they thought it was a white thing. In the 80s, it was so close to punk rock and surfing, so I can see why they thought that, but at the same time, it motivated me. I always felt like, “I love what I’m doing, hopefully you guys are digging what you’re doing.”

Did you get that same response from family members?

No, not at all, thankfully. I’m sure they were probably scratching their heads — I know my parents were like, “what is this skateboard thing?” But for them it was more like, a financial thing. Skateboarding’s not cheap, man! But no, my family was encouraging.

An Interview With Sage Elsesser

February 10th, 2017 | 7:00 am | Features & Interviews | 25 Comments

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Interview by Earl Sweatshirt
Photos by Ben Colen, Rob Collins & Jared Sherbert
Collages by Requiem for a Screen

Quartersnacks has long operated around the idea that your friends are your favorite skateboarders. You know every quirk and anecdotal backstory to your friends’ individual ways of skateboarding. Interviews, for that same reason, can be tough. You only really know half the story from watching someone in videos, or reading other interviews they have given to people who are paid to write about skateboarding. Sometimes, a friend knows the best way to lead someone into a conversation about why they skate the way they do, and are the way they are as a person. Quartersnacks is proud to present an interview with Sage Elsesser, conducted by Sage’s longtime friend, and current roommate, Earl Sweatshirt.

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What’s your whole name?

Sage Gabriel Carlos Atreyu Elsesser.

What got you into skating?

Probably my dad. I feel like he just knew a lot of skateboarders. But also, in kindergarten during show and tell, a kid had a skateboard. He was sitting on it and I was like, I need that — whatever that is. Then my dad got me a size 8 board. I was like 3, 4 years old. The board was taller than me.

When did we start chilling?

We started going to the same school. I remember there was a time when I went to the blacktop, and I was in like 3rd grade, a tiny child, and you were in 6th, and these niggas let me play with them. Then we actually fully reconnected at the alumni carnival. Our school used to have an alumni carnival every fall towards the beginning of the school year.

Didn’t you bring me my board?

Yeah, camo Alva grip!

Definitely camo grip to match my camo fucking Air Force 1s. You brought me my board, I didn’t even know you that well.

I saw you put your board behind the trash can and I was like “where are you going?” “I’m going to smoke…weed.” I remember going to school the next week, going into the janitor’s closet and I saw the board. I took it and gave it back to you. So from there, you were like, “let’s skate.” We lived in the same neighborhood, like 10 minutes from each other.

When did you get good at skating?

The definitive moment I got good was during halftime of a soccer game. I was 12. I seen a kid at the park with a board, and I was like “let me see that.” I did a heelflip in cleats. So perfect. Stationary. Everyone on my team was like “what!” My coach was pissed. Lowkey, I was like, “I’m a skateboarder.” That felt good, and I remember telling myself, “this weekend, I’m gonna go skate.”

When did you start doing impossibles?

8th grade when I moved to New York. I didn’t know Aidan, but we moved out here at the same time. We just clicked when we met, and then Aidan taught me how to impossible.

An Interview with Dave Caddo

November 1st, 2016 | 6:35 am | Features & Interviews | 5 Comments

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Words & Interview by Zach Baker / Photos by Trevor Culley

One of the cool things about having the privilege of knowing how to ride one of these things, besides being able to find pot no matter where you are in the world, is that it keeps you exploring. It sends you out to uncover weird parts of familiar places, makes you creep into all sorts of alleys and ditches and post-industrial shit-piles, and on many occasions, you’ll leave feeling a lot happier than when you got there.

Every time I see Caddo, he’s having a pretty good time. Then, every time I see some Caddo footage or photos, he’s having a pretty sweet time. He skates all these spots I’ve never seen before, in cities I’ve never thought to go to. He’s gotten clips at like, the Holy Trinity of New York busts: the Roosevelt Island Monument, Forbidden Banks and the Holy Grail on Nostrand Avenue. Caddo goes out of his way to keep skateboarding interesting for himself, which is why his skating is so much fun to watch.

His part in Politic’s Division, which is his second full part in as many years, is loaded with all kinds of new approaches to familiar spots, fun lines down hills and in all kinds of parking lots. Here’s a chat I had with him about Enid’s, longevity, and kickflips.

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Tell me about when you kickflipped into the Roosevelt Island monument.

That was when it first opened up. I don’t know why, but the Parks Department would close it one day a week. You get maybe ten minutes before the old security guard comes out and starts yelling at you. But the guy is like sixty-years-old, it takes him a while to mosey over. The guy got there and his technique was to stand right in the way. He’s just mellow about it, kept repeating over and over again “no, no, no.” He was just saying that for ten minutes. [John] Valenti was walking backwards with the camera as I’m trying the last one and luckily I made it. I almost rolled into the guy.

The Vicious Cycle House — An Interview With Zered Bassett via 2003, a Year Magazine

October 5th, 2016 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 1 Comment

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The following feature appeared in 2003: A Year Magazine. (We ran a feature from 1991 last year.) The issue is now available for purchase on 2003magazine.com, along with a QS hat we produced in collaboration with 2003 to commemorate the northeast blackout of 2003 — the day the T.F. was dubbed the safest place on earth.

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Skateboarding was maturing in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Videos went from handycam promos to hour-long blockbusters with pro-level production values, skaters were padding their pockets with royalty checks from sponsors that were fatter than ever, and prodigious 15-year-olds were outshining the grown-ups with tricks that were unimaginable in the early 90s.

Except in New York, where skateboarding was still synonymous with chilling, of a lifestyle without an end goal. After 9/11, it felt even further removed from what was happening in the skate industry at large. The spots throughout Lower Manhattan became either desolate or off-limits, which made chilling (instead of missioning into the outer boroughs) that much more appealing.

But being New York, there was, of course, an exception. Vicious Cycle, released in 2004, was a video made throughout those years that upended the attitude associated with New York. Filmed by R.B. Umali and Doug Brown for Zoo York from 2002 to 2004, it was the first video to emerge from a crew of skaters living in New York who refused to accept what was becoming the status quo for a city that dominated in most other areas of culture. The result was very much up to par with anything coming out of California or elsewhere.

In 2003, Bassett and other skaters involved in the making of the video cohabited a windowless apartment in Lower Manhattan. This is the story of the Vicious Cycle house.

Where are you from and how did you end up in New York?

I grew up in Chatham, Massachusetts, which is in Cape Cod. I started skating there, met people, and then started going to Boston a lot. From there, I started getting hooked up with Zoo stuff from Jeff Pang, and would go out to New York to visit those dudes. I went back a few times, and then on my 18th birthday, I moved to New York. That was in November of 2002.

Were you getting paid to skate at that point?

Zoo paid for the house that I moved into, but I wasn’t getting paid.

How did the house come together?

The house was on Broadway and Fulton Street. I wanted to move to the city, so I talked Zoo into getting a house for me, Brian Brown, and Billy Rohan at the time. Billy eventually moved out, and Brian’s brother, Doug, moved in. He was the main one filming us back then. Lou [Sarowsky] would stay over a lot, too. People would always come to town and crash, whoever was around skating.