Interview by Farran Golding
Collage by Requiem For A Screen
Original Photography by Gabe Morford & Mason Silva
Some people’s influences are tucked in their jacket pockets (thinking of Gino’s mini ramp-heavy “Five Favorite Parts” outing), while others wear their influences on their sleeves. The lineage of 2020’s S.O.T.Y. is traceable through the generations that came before him, but it is especially endearing to hear him talk through it so direct — right down to the longstanding spot aspirations spouting from this series’ most-oft-discussed part ;)
Chris Senn – Toy Machine: Jump Off A Building (1998)
I’ve talked to [Jon] Miner about this part. They filmed it in a couple of weeks, skating around the city, and winging it about where they were going to end up. It’s not necessarily about the tricks, but the way he’s going about them, and it really makes me want to skate.
I came to this later down the line. I grew up with Sorry, and I didn’t have Jump Off A Building or Welcome To Hell on VHS, but they were the videos people told me I needed to watch. When I saw those two, I was fascinated by Toy Machine and thought it had one of the coolest teams and art directions. I probably could’ve picked a Donny Barley part too; there’s just so much good stuff from that time. Even though I wasn’t around for it, I appreciate it so much.
Something that sticks with me is the kickflip over the bump when the song ends. It’s not necessarily how a kickflip “should” be, but it’s so powerful. He just smacks the board down and somehow it goes right up to his feet still.
Overall, it’s similar to an Eastern Exposure part but it’s, like, “Western Exposure,” I guess. It has that similar vibe of being out skating the streets. If you look around San Francisco, you can see the routes they’d have taken to go to each spot. Every time I skate around S.F., I have that song playing in my head.
Geoff Rowley – Flip Skateboards: Sorry (2002)
I don’t remember the first time I watched this, because I would’ve been six when it came out, but my brother had Sorry on DVD, so I’ve basically had this part in my head since my first glimpses at skateboarding. Subconsciously, it might be why I skate the way I do. It was always on repeat and every time I watch it now, I can’t help but think if it came out today, it would still probably be the best part of the year.
Geoff does all the gnarly rail tricks, but he also has so much variety, like the varial heelflip to backside 5-0 on a picnic table. He ties it all together, so I think this was a perfect example of skateboarding for me to grow up watching. I’m really thankful this is the part I had burned into my head as a little kid.
Of all those “legendary” spots he skates, the craziest one, for me, is the Santa Monica triple-set. That’s one of the sets we’d try to skate when we were around 13-years-old, and only thinking about jumping down stuff. I remember being in awe of people being able to skate it, because it looked so long, and thinking: “Ten years ago, Geoff back three’d this. Easily.”
I think a lot of people like to make the Westgate comparison with me, but Geoff resonates a little more.
Jake Johnson – Alien Workshop: Mind Field (2009)
I know everyone appreciates this, but I’d be doing Jake a disservice by not talking about it.
I don’t think there’s anyone with a better trick selection, and I can’t deny that I’ve wanted to do some of those same tricks and have them filmed similarly too. I already thought the part was amazing, but going to New York and seeing the spots, it became a thing for us to go to “Jake spots.”
I’d always known there was a rail on that double-set and I kept asking around, like, “Has anyone done this?” No one else was going to do anything on the wall after him, but I thought it would be cool to get something there, so I was really stoked to get that gap-to-grind. I was like, “We have to slow-mo it, the full clip, like Jake!” Getting a trick at the same spot was pretty meaningful. Then, the ollie over the bar-to-ledge, where he did the back lip — that’s a dream trick for that certain spot too, which goes back to how his trick selection is so perfect.
Growing up on Sorry and The DC Video, it was refreshing to see something different. Watching Mind Field for the first time, when I was really young, maybe I didn’t get some some of the b-roll because I didn’t grow up with Time Code and all that, but it showed me, “This is how you make a skate video.” Maybe people thought Jake’s song was weird at first, but it’s the parts that take a second to get used to that end up being classics.
Brandon Westgate – Emerica: Stay Gold (2010)
[Part plays from 4:15]
The first part in a video is such a meaningful thing. It sets the tone and this is one of the best examples of that. His energy is like no other and with the fast-paced, instrumental song, it’s just so purely – well – skateboarding. When I think of how I want to skate, I think of this part.
There aren’t any slow tricks. At all. And when Brandon’s part ended, I had no idea what had just happened. A lot of people might say “You need to slow-mo this” or “Let this trick breathe,” but I think this was stronger because it banged you over the head with a million insane tricks and next-to-no slow-motion.
There’s a line at this courthouse in Tennessee that starts with a tre flip on flat, then he ollies up a ledge and gap-to-lipslides this marble sign. He stomps the tre flip so well and instantly goes into the biggest push. He just plants the front foot and charges from there. It’s a very similar style of line to something you would’ve seen Keith Hufnagel do, pushing with his head almost in front of his board.
I’m 24 and Stay Gold was one of the first videos where I remember waiting for it to come out. It was a big deal. Also, I think people forget that [Jon] Miner made the “Rough Cut” a thing. “B-Sides” were the beginning of that, and he edited those in way that was so different to how people edit “Rough Cuts” now. I was watching the “B-Sides” to all of the parts, and honestly, I have a lot of them memorized as much as the video itself. It was the first time there was an extended edit [of a big video] and Miner was able to tell the story of the session; he wasn’t just putting raw clips together.
Dennis Busenitz – Real Skateboards: Since Day One (2011)
The way this is laid out makes it one of the most perfect video parts. The intro with the Brian Eno song [“Here Come The Warm Jets“] and Dennis skating around doing what seems like these spontaneous tricks shows how naturally gifted he is. Then it goes into that Jonathan Richman song, who I’m a huge fan of. Nobody else could skate to “Roadrunner.” He is a Road Runner, you know?
With Busenitz, it’s easy to say he skates fast – which can almost be a wormhole to go down because you’re only thought of as “the guy who skates fast.” But look how tech he’s skating at that speed – it’s insane. He switch backside nosegrinded Three Up Three Down in S.F. going mach-ten! At 3rd and Army, he does a tailslide, a noseblunt then curves around and ends the line with a backside flip to fakie manual 180 out and that’s probably my favorite clip in the part. There’s also a bunch of, like, “celebration tricks” – the ones that come after the fact – but they aren’t out of celebration. He’s just skating.
Honorable Mention: Heath Kirchart – Emerica: This Is Skateboarding (2003)
Previously: Beatrice Domond, Mark Suciu, Justin Henry, Jarne Verbruggen, Breana Geering, Sage Elsesser, Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbert Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams
Elissa Steamer might have a word to say about no one else being able to skate to Road Runner
Would be a disservice to not watch JJ’s Mindfield part for the nth million time
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