📝 Intro + Interview by Adam Abada
📷 Photography by Matt Price
Chris “Mango” Milic has been in our hearts and minds for a long time. He has been a steady flow of fun skateboarding since his big break on Slap Magazine’s skateboard reality TV innovator, One in A Million. We may be familiar with the ensuing innovative video parts or Frog — but who really is Chris and what really is Frog? Turns out, no one’s ever really sat him down to ask.
Needless to say that Slap One in a Million 2010 was stacked. A lot has happened since that I want to get to, but can you tell me what it’s like looking back on it 13 years later?
I think I was 19 or 20 on that. I’m 31 now. That Slap trip was super fun. It looks different the way they put it on video, but for the most part, we had a really good time. We were just skating all day, then we’d go back to that warehouse – Double Rock or whatever – and would keep skating. I never thought of it as a super big deal, but a lot of people will come up to me and recognize me from Slap. In my head, it didn’t change much because I didn’t meet anyone super crazy or get any sponsorship deals after the fact. I did get recognized as “the kid from the show,” though.
You flew out from Arizona for that. Being from Arizona, as well as being well-versed in Las Vegas skating, what’s skating in the desert like?
Skating in the desert is weird. There’s so many spots, but they’re… maybe sort of boring? I don’t know if “boring” is the way to describe them — I skated in Arizona for so long and one of the reasons I moved was that I had skated every spot. I filmed some video parts with Diego [Meek] and I swear we went to every spot in Phoenix; it’s similar to skating in Vegas. It’s pretty fun skating in the desert – it feels like no one cares. There’s no cars or people around. You’re just with your friends all day in a ditch.
This is back in the Mango days. Where’d that nickname come from?
My friend gave me the nickname when I was maybe 17. His name was Brett Woodward. I grew up skating with him since I was 14 — Dirty Brett. Everyone in my crew had a funny nickname. We were filming a skit about some handrail. My line was, “You really gonna jump down this handrail, Woodward?” His reply was, “Hell yeah I am, Milic,” but then he said Milic and it didn’t sound right. He said, “I’ma call you Mango.” My friend Ryan Dent, who was filming the skit, thought it was so funny. Ryan pushed for Mango real hard after that and told everyone that I was Mango. It went around for a while. Some people still call me Mango.
Do you mind being referred to that way?
People can call me Mango. It slowed down a bit. It was a cool piece in time. Genesis [Evans] used to call me it, and he would mess around and say, “You know why they call him Mango? Because that MAN GOES!” I thought that interpretation was almost funnier than the original.
Do you think nicknames are beneficial in skating? You just turned Frankie pro…
Yeah! Krazy Frankie! I think nicknames are cool. I’m always calling people by fake names. Jesse [Alba] is Jessles and Evan Wasser is The Wassinator. Sometimes they sound really cool. Sometimes they’re silly, but still work. A good example is T-Funk. That’s pretty much just his name shortened, but damn, that’s a badass name to me. T-Funk.
Let’s get a little backstory here for the readers. What happened after the Slap show?
I would go to California a lot and skate with Jesse Alba. I was going to community college in Arizona, and when I was 21, I decided to drop out, get a job and skate. My job ended up being the Levi’s store at the mall. My parents were really bummed, but I thought “I just gotta skate!” I worked at the mall and skated every day, and I feel like that’s when I got a little better because I could focus on it. I was a late bloomer in skating.
“Sorry, mom…I gotta move to New York.”
How’d you and Jesse meet?
Jesse and I used to talk on Facebook chats. He would make these funny videos and I was always into making YouTube videos. That was our main connection. Some of the people making good YouTube videos were Logan Lara and this kid Logan Devlin who rode for Welcome Skateboards — and this guy Sorcery Sammy. They made the best videos and they all rode for Welcome. That made me want to ride for Welcome, too.
How’d you end up in New York?
So I would come out to California, stay with Logan and sometimes Jesse would meet up. He moved to New York City. I had been there before, but Jesse told me to come through, and I stayed at his apartment for a month. It was a really fun month; Jesse was filming with his VX1000 and made that video, Life is Goodie the whole time I was staying there.
When I came back to Arizona, I realized I needed to go back to New York. My mom really wanted me to finish my college degree, so I finished at community college, got my associate’s and moved to New York.
Was that worthwhile for you?
I did it for my mom. When I first dropped out of college, I ended up getting sponsored by Welcome and even getting paid a little bit, which is really rare for a kid from Arizona. I felt honored. Anyway, I felt like I had accomplished a little goal – I dropped out of school, focused on skating, got some video parts done, got sponsored and actually paid a little bit for skating – I got that energy out and felt ready to go back for school. I only went to college for two years. My mom asked if I was going to get my bachelor’s degree and I had to say, “Sorry, mom…I gotta move to New York.” I lived there for about four years.
I feel like you got a ton of footage out of those four years.
I’m always trying to skate and film with my friends who have cameras. And then if no one is filming, I have a camera and I’m filming stuff. I just love skate videos. I feel like I’m not even that good at making them, but I’m a little obsessed with the nature of them.
What about when it comes to your own parts?
I haven’t really put too much energy into it in a little while, even back in New York. Skating in New York is really hard. There’s so many people around.
You say you’re not putting too much energy into your parts, but you got voted into the top 10 of this very publication’s Reader’s Poll for that Last Resort part…
That was filmed over [the course of] a year or so. I had consistently been getting one or two things with Daniel [Dent] each week. It didn’t feel like I was focused on filming a video, and then two weeks before it came out, Daniel told me I was going to have the last part and that I should film some more stuff. I didn’t realize that, then I wanted to make it really good and got three or four more things. I was surprised when everyone liked it. I didn’t think it was good enough when it came out, though I’m sure a lot of people feel that way about their parts.
What on earth were you thinking with those chain to manual tricks?
Well, I was just sitting in the bathtub one day — I take a lot of baths — and it came to me. It was something that I thought of that I hadn’t seen yet. Then, I started looking for them. I found a really good chain that was thick and sturdy. I was so psyched to find it, I was with Saloman [Cardenas] and shouted, “Oh my God, I was looking for this!” And he goes “Looking for what?” all confused. “This chain!?”
I originally just wanted to do it to switch manual, so I got that. Daniel showed me all the footage for the part and I thought that was the coolest trick I did, but I also felt it went by too fast. So I decided to do another one to fakie manual. It’s hard to find good chains and I’m still looking for more chains to skate. I looked at one last week, but it was not a good chain.
What makes a good chain?
It has to be the right mix of taught but loose, and the run-up has to be good.
Was it hard to do? How did it stack up with some of the other crazier manuals you’ve done?
Yes, it was hard, but I don’t think it was necessarily harder than any other ones. It took a good amount of time to do. The switch one was harder than the fakie one. The chain is a little bit unpredictable when popping out, but for the most part, it kind of bounced me right off. Once I started really going for it, it started working. After about 15 minutes of skating it, it sort of becomes like a ledge or flatbar. That spot was a little annoying because the landing into the street was really uphill.
“Yeah, we’re gonna have to start our own company… Fuck, our own company would be so stupid… it’d be named Frog.”
That video felt like a polished, peak version of your parts throughout the years. Maybe it’s a tiny bit glossier and professional, but it seems like you’re working with a lot of the same people. Are you?
Yeah, I am. That’s the way more things should work, I think. I feel like I usually do things with my friends and it’ll work out. At Frog, there isn’t too much pressure on people to do anything. I guess I’m not very good at ordering people to do stuff. It’s fun working with Pontus because he has all these suggestions and I’m like, “Shit, should I be more like that?” I try not to ask too much of anybody and let people skate if it feels right for them.
It’s been like 7 years since you started Frog, which is crazy. How’d Frog even come about?
So the summer I moved to New York after getting my associates degree — I was there with Diego Meek and Aaron Gore looking for a place to live. I was staying at Jesse’s apartment and Nolan Johnson had gotten kicked off Welcome. A bunch of the other original riders were quitting. Jesse and I were trying to figure out what to do. Jesse said that if we quit, then nobody else would sponsor us. We were like “Yeah, we’re gonna have to start our own company… Fuck, our own company would be so stupid… it’d be named Frog.”
Is that where the name came from?
Yeah, it was one night with Jesse, Diego and Aaron Gore. The three of us just got so hyped on how stupid Frog sounded. Aaron Gore was not feeling it. He did not like what we were talking about. He was doing the Homer Simpson thing where you walk backwards into the bush. He was not hyped on Frog.
Three or four months later, we ended up quitting Welcome. There was maybe talk about Jesse and I riding for 917. Logan became the team manager, and said to us, “Dude, it’s not going to work with you two and 917.” Then, I swear Logan said to us, “Dude, what about Frog?” I realized that we had to do Frog and Jesse was down.
And it just started from there and building?
We slowly started getting shirts made. We didn’t have boards for like a year. I slowly started putting out shirts and saving the money. Every drop, we’d have a few more. Eventually, we were able to make boards. I was living in Chinatown and I could see L.E.S. park from my window. I would hear skaters at night – I swear to God, I’d hear the wallride at three in the morning in the middle of the winter and it’d wake me up. I ran Frog out of this apartment that was the size of a queen bed, but I had a twin mattress in there that I had to fold up. I’d ship everything from there; it was pretty much a closet. When we got boards, they’d be in there. It was impossible to sleep in there surrounded by the boards. The original Frog headquarters was insane.
“It’s really funny to spin on your board and wiggle your arms around all funny.”
How did it transform into a more legitimate brand and business?
Frog never blew up fast. It was always growing slowly. The original graphics were purposely trying to make it look dumb and pointless, too.
What’s the process of creating something that is pointless, exactly?
I wish I could remember more of the exact graphics coming out in skateboarding at the time, but they were pretty legit and professional. I remember Jesse and I thinking it’d be really funny to counteract that with some really simple, stupid graphics. I was almost trying to make the graphics look like you got your board at Target or a non-skate brand first skateboard.
That’s pretty high concept — it ends up being a comment on skateboard art on its own.
I feel like there wasn’t anything cute at the time and everything was serious. I was purposely trying to make some cute stuff. Simple, dumb — like anybody could make them.
Do you have an art practice outside of Frog and skateboarding?
I do. I make art. I’ve always made drawings and paintings since high school. When I moved to New York, I actually wanted to become an artist full-time. I wanted to be a painter. I met a few people who just made art for a living. In Arizona, that didn’t seem possible. [New York] opened up my eyes that you could paint for a living. That’s actually what I want to do. Instead, I ended up starting a skate company, which kind of took over.
I made a lot of cool friends wherever I’ve lived through making art. When I’m not skating or working on Frog stuff, I’m always making art. It’s a big part of my life that I’m really grateful for. I’m really grateful for how skating has worked out for me and Frog, for that matter — and for all the skaters who support Frog.
Is there any element in Frog to poking fun at the seriousness in skating, and reverence towards a perceived “golden age?”
Well, everybody loves something like, say, Mind Field. So do I. But what if skateboarding was just dumb? I’m young at heart and I think skating is super funny and cool. It’s cool to do it and mess around. Skating with Jesse is really funny. It makes you remember that skateboarding doesn’t need to be that serious. You don’t have to kill yourself to try and get a crazy ass clip. It’s really funny to spin on your board and wiggle your arms around all funny.
Some people didn’t quite get Frog at first and maybe still don’t. Did you experience any negative responses from the industry?
I just try to skate my best. I also try not to take it too seriously in the process. You can take it really seriously or you could also not. We weren’t even really trying to instill a vibe or show anything particular. We were skating and doing our thing, and Jesse was making funny videos at the time. There really wasn’t much thought going into it or that we should look a certain way. I’d just make stuff, show it to Jesse, ask him if I should make it, and he’d say something like “Dude, I don’t care.” So I’d make it, we’d keep skating and filming, and kept Frog going.
Do you edit the Frog stuff? The Frog YouTube channel is nice and robust, which makes sense given your video history.
Not so much. Maybe some of the things on Instagram I edit. Otherwise, my friend Daniel [Dent] or Diego [Meek] will help me with stuff. I edited that Thunder video with Evan and Nick and it took me so long. I forgot how hard it is to edit a good, longer video. But it was really fun to make that.
“I could see L.E.S. park from my window. I would hear skaters at night – I swear to God, I’d hear the wallride at three in the morning in the middle of the winter and it’d wake me up.”
There’s a good mix of mediums and projects large and small on there. Is that something you’re thinking about?
Skateboarding is filmed so much with an HPX, but there’s so many fun things to film skating on. I use this little Canon digital camera with a magnetic fisheye. The videos I make with that camera always come out really honest looking. The HVX filming [of] the face then filming the board makes everyone look like they’re on a mission from hell. It’s funny now seeing little kids filming, and their friends are using a long lens HPX, filmed all close up on this little kid’s scrunched up face, then it zooms out and they 180 a three-stair. It’s totally cool to do that, but there’s other cameras, too. It doesn’t have to all be the same one, even in the same video. This little camera gives it a little less pressure.
Any plans for any larger Frog videos?
We’re always working on a Frog video. Maybe something happens where we just want to put out the footage. I swear we were working on a Frog video, then the Last Resort video happened, and all my footage went there. I try to leave a lot of the control up to Daniel since he’s out there filming a lot of it. I try to get my Frog stuff down and get the graphics done, then go skate as much as possible. Skating is my favorite part of the job, so I just try to make sure that I keep doing it.
When you started Frog, you were living in New York, which leads me to a question I ask a lot in some form or another. What made you move to Los Angeles?
I swear it was when Dustin [Henry] came to New York. I skated with him everyday and realized I hadn’t skated like that in so long. I looked back and saw that I hadn’t skated a lot, and was just drinking a lot. It’s really easy to drink in New York.
I’d always been good friends with Daniel and Frankie. I heard that they were moving to L.A. My girlfriend at the time was also talking about moving there. I’d been in New York for four years working a lot, and I’d never lived in L.A. I was burnt out for one month and we decided to get out of there. I lived on Delancey in the city, and was biking over the bridge two or three times a day to our little Frog office near McCarren Park. Grant Yansura reached out and offered to ship our product from his warehouse; I had been shipping it myself with my girlfriend Emily and Jesse. We did the internet orders, the shop orders, everything for three-and-a-half or four years. Then I finally let Grant do it. He was really nice for that.
Daniel’s video, “With the Apple,” is a good document of my first year or two of living in L.A. I feel like when I first moved here four years ago, there weren’t as many skaters. There’s twice as many skaters now, and every spot has been looked at. I’m sure it’s the same in New York now. Four years ago, there were so many spots that hadn’t been touched yet, and they’ve all been skated.
I’m having a shoe coming out with Last Resort. I’ve been filming this shoe commercial for it and I’m just so grateful. How did this happen? I feel like I’ve just been messing around with Jesse all these years.
That’s awesome. Thanks for this, Chris.
Thank you. I think you’re maybe the first person who interviewed me this way. I’ve had a lot on the books before, but they’ve fallen through. I think I’ve answered questions before over email, but not this. So thanks.
Favourite skater no cap :0
For some reason it makes sense that Chris takes a lot of baths. He seems like a bath guy. Probably with some fragrant lavender or rose petals or something in there. Shout out to baths.
this was friggity awesommmm xoxoxo
More skaters like Chris plz
This mfr spitting!
thank you for this
A peek into the mango mind
Coolest dude. No crap
aw hell yeah canon point and shoots are killer that’s like my camera
It’s funny, when many skaters make the move from NY to LA or vice versa they always make the same arguments. Seems like they are simply ready for change, which has little to do with the city. Both cities are difficult in there own way.
One of my favorite skaters. I wanted to know for awhile now why he left NYC. Good for him expanding frog. Great team, good vibes all around. Great parts in pyramid country vids and Boyish.
And I’m now a bigger fan of him than I was
Frog skateboards is the real deal! These guys really get it, live and have fun. Thank you Chris I hope one day I will be pro for frog skateboards but honestly I never film anything so I know it won’t happen. Anyway I already feel like I’m pro for frog skateboards.
now I am gonna tak a bath in honor of this guy MAngo
wish I could watch killerskaters2
v nice interview
awesome interview, i wonder if chris eats spaghetti on a tray in the bathtub like in gummo
Frog spelled backwards is God
i love chris so much
for me to like Frog, but this guys seems cool.
Let that, “Man… go!”
Love Chris Love Frog
was obsessed after seeing the dustin vid, but after all these years later just watching and learning.. frog literally showed me my future career.
qs leading the pack in making me like skaters i already like even more with this and the diego thing