Deeper Understanding — An Interview With Charlie Birch

Interview by Farran Golding
Collages by Requiem For A Screen
Original Photos by Marimo Ohyama & Alex Pires

It seems like just the other day that Palace was a small U.K. brand buzzing with montages filmed on VHS tapes, and P.W.B.C. news segments aimed at a skate industry still coming to grips with how to use the internet. In the ensuing decade of successes, it has remained unshakably English in its vision — even the fact that Jamal Smith is the only American to turn pro for the brand rings of a certain “foreigners appreciating your homeland in a better way than you do”-type thing.

To the American eye, Palace rose to prominence in that void left by Blueprint at the onset of the 2010s. In the time since, the world of U.K. skateboarding feels like it became closer intertwined to our own. This of course is thanks to Palace, yes, but also because of things like Isle’s unanimously adored “Atlantic Drift” series, the Yardsale videos, Free becoming one of the best alternate channels for skate media, and the inspiring success of the Long Live Southbank campaign.

With little context for how the U.K. scene actually operates, we asked Farran Golding — the man behind many of the deep-dive features on the Slam City Skates blog — to interview Charlie Birch, Palace’s newest teamrider, who we don’t know all that much about on this side of the Atlantic ;)

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About MACBA But Were Afraid To Ask — An Interview with @macbalife

Intro & Interview by Frozen in Carbonite
Illustrations by Charles Rivard

Way back when in the #90s, pay phones functioned as communication hubs for the Great American Skate Plaza. At my old local, Shafer Court, you could call the pay phone and, nine times out of ten, a gentleman would answer “Shafer Court — as if it were a place of business! — and tell you if anyone was skating, who was skating, and such. The pay phone across the street from Pulaski and the one (if I recall correctly) by the Embarcadero Carl’s Jr. — same shit. These phones, working in conjunction with pagers, served as communication nodes for the culture.

Of course, as cellular phone technology evolved, this quaint element of skateboarding fell by the wayside. That is, until the advent of Instagram. Specifically, skaters started using this mad futuristic technology to A) document their scene, and B) provide skate nerds the world over with access to a culture that they would have otherwise envisioned solely in the Theatre of the Mind.

@Macbalife is one of the leaders in this field (at press time: 292k followers). We sat down with its creator to gain some insight into one of the most notorious spots on Planet Earth.

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What Is ‘Poetic Collective?’ — An Interview With Tom Botwid

Intro & Interview by Adam Abada
Photos by Tom Botwid

What “is” skateboarding? A seven-ply piece of maple? Thirty-three inches of length and no more? “Not a crime?”

Just as skateboarding often eludes definition — existing in a purgatory between physical expression and existential thought — poetry uses language to access a similar type of feeling and add something new to our shared experience.

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Rust Belt Trap — An Interview With Jerry Mraz

Intro + Interview By Adam Abada
Headline Photo by Mac Shafer

If you live or skate in New York, chances are you’ve come across Jerry. In the sixteen years since he moved to New York City from Michigan, he has mostly left the warm familiarity of Lower East Side haunts to leave his mark elsewhere. If you haven’t caught him in the streets, you’ve probably skated his well-chronicled concrete work. From patching up must-see-for-visiting-pros spots like the Bronx bank-to-ledge to more meandering locales like the B.Q.E. spot, Jerry’s legacy is clear and present.

He just finished up a video called Rust Belt Trap, which acts as a great visual representation of his philosophy, practice, and craft — and we realized we have never formally spoken to him on QS. Thankfully, Jerry found a slot of time in between picking up 2 x 8’s at the lumber yard to update us on his life and work. (Rust Belt Trap is still due out on Thrasher at some point.)

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You’re from the Midwest but have been in New York for quite a while now. What’s keeping you here?

The fact that there’s something always happening. Even if you stay in and you feel like you’re missing something, that’s cool. A lot of the time, I just decide to stay home and know the whole world is still moving on and I’m fine with that. But when I was stuck in a small town, it was really moving on, and I felt like I was missing it go by.

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An Interview With Bill Strobeck About Supreme’s “BLESSED” Video

Photo by Jared Sherbert

Keeping an almost three-year-long video under wraps — especially in the social media age — is next to impossible. Except all things considered, nobody really knows what to expect from Supreme’s upcoming “BLESSED” video, which comes at the tail end of a year already stacked with incredible full-lengths. We tried to extract as much as we could from Bill about the process behind the video, the legacy of the last one, and where they had to go from there.

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Skateboarding seems like it moves faster each year. Between “cherry” and today, has any change in skating really surprised you?

I don’t know if much has changed in skating. All the social media stuff was going off when we were doing “cherry” already. It’s so crazy to make a video like this for two-and-a-half years, watching all these other videos come out while you’re filming it. You’ve got so much more to think about. Before, you weren’t worried about if somebody is gonna do tons of psycho shit at the spot that you just filmed something at before you have a chance to put it out.

Would you be watching new videos with that in mind?

Yeah, before the next trick comes up, I’ll be thinking, “This dude looks like he would skate the same kind of shit we were at.” Now, even if somebody posts of a photo of a spot, people might see it and think, “Oh, I forgot about that spot, let’s go there tomorrow.” We were skating this one spot for a while, and all of a sudden, somebody hit me up, like, “Dude, no one’s skated that shit for six years, and since you guys are skating it, people are trying to film there.”

Why do you think that happens? I’ll see it, too. A spot will have been sitting there forever, one guy tries, and it’s like, “Oh, you get 20 minutes,” then it’s in every video. It’s like a collective consciousness thing.

I don’t know, and I’m more into going to classic shit, you know? Like, if I’m going to L.A., I want to hit the school yards. In 15 or 20 years, people will still recognize those spots: “Courthouse, that’s New York, schoolyards are L.A.” They are going to rip out the little things that people hit, but in 30 years, those are going to still be here. I want what I make to last a long time. I’ve seen gnarly parts come out, but I just don’t like the spots.

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