Interview by Evan Rissi and Will Jivcoff
Originally printed in the interview issue in Kingshit 8.4
ER: Alright Sky, why are you in Ontario? First time ever in the Six.
Yeah man, I’m doing a road trip.
WJ: Where’s your home base though?
Vancouver. My girlfriend, my dog Bowser, and I are doing a road trip around the U.S. I bought a truck and I built a bed in the back with storage below it so we could live out of it while we drove around. We started out driving through Washington and then cut through Idaho, Montana, down to South Dakota, back up through Minnesota, and then into Ontario. We just camped in the back of the truck the whole way and now I’m here, first time in the Six.
WJ: You’ve been around, is it a conscious decision to be like, ‘the travel dude’ or do you have a genuine curiosity for the world?
I’d like to think it’s organic and that I just want to see stuff. In my day-to-day life I couldn’t tell you what tomorrow is going to look like. I’d rather think spontaneously and see what happens. I think you see a more authentic view of the world that way. I feel like the reason is just adventure. I’ve been to Montreal and the Maritimes but I’ve never been to this area of North America before, you know?
ER: How long have you been with your girlfriend?
Four years, I think?
WJ: Was that a question, are you asking us?
Can I phone a friend?
ER: Is it her?
(Laughs) No, four years.
ER: How’s that going, you gunna marry this girl?
It’s dope. Potentially, yeah. I don’t know.
ER: Some people know for sure, other people have to think about it, others just straight up laugh at the thought of it.
I think we’ll be together for a very long time, if not forever. I’d like to think so. I wouldn’t be dating somebody if I didn’t think that, right? I mean, maybe we’ll never get married but still be together, you know?
WJ: Does Big Malc approve of her?
Oh yeah! Yeah.
ER: Four years? Of course he does. Come on Will.
WJ: Who is Big Malc?
Big Malc is my dad. He’s the best, he’s a legend.
WJ: What was up with…Team Rocket? Or was it Team Extreme?
Oh, Team Epic! Yeah, I must’ve been like 12 or 13, just getting into skating, and I think he was just fired up that I was doing something and passionate about something and he started this skate club. My parents have always been so supportive, so he started ordering boards off eBay or something, just blank boards, and got stickers made, and we called it Team Epic, just blanks with stickers. He’d take my friends and I on skate park tours as little kids, we were Team Epic. We didn’t know what anything meant.
WJ: All the way from Penticton, British Columbia.
No no, this is when I lived in Strathmore, Alberta, like 20 minutes east of Calgary, a small farm town. Every Friday night he had this indoor barn that was usually used by the rodeos for storage, and he built all these ramps himself and every Friday night would bring them out, set them all up, this would be in the winter because we didn’t have an indoor park so we couldn’t skate, so we’d have a place to go. Then he’d sell Team Epic boards and chocolate bars that he bought at CostCo and with that money he would take us on skate park trips and use it to pay for the gas and food.
ER: Who’s we, you and your buddies?
Yep, me and the boys, Big Malc, and my mom.
ER: Sounds like Papa Shecks without the child abuse.
WJ: He was never on the skate coach level, was he?
No no, he was always just stoked. It was never like him telling me I had to go do a trick.
WJ: So how long have you been in Vancouver for then?
I think like, five years? I moved there and lived with Briggs Ogloff and Robert Jasiorkowski for maybe a year and moved back to Penticton for a bit, like six months, and then moved back. So, on and off for six years. I don’t think I was of legal age when I moved to Vancouver.
WJ: What does the idea of possessions vs. experience mean to you?
Oh, you mean like spending your money and buying a Lamborghini versus saving your money and spending it on a trip, experiencing the world? I don’t know, I think like, say you already had a car but you want the brand new model. That car is going to last, like (x) amount of years, become outdated and then you’ll want a new one. Or, you can take that money, travel and see the world, and the memories from that, I feel, are going to last your whole life. You’ll always remember the cool places you’ve been or the insane shit you’ve done on a trip. You might remember the car but it’s like, “Yeah, I drove that to the liquor store once or twice.” I mean, if you have enough money to do both, then I guess do it but I feel like traveling can really humble you.
WJ: In what ways?
Seeing the way other people live. I haven’t been to many crazy places, but people live some hard lives and they’re fucking stoked. You see people that are just as stoked as everyone else, if not more, and they’re not on the hustle like other people trying to make as much money as they can. They’re stoked to have a few apples to eat in the morning and they’re as happy as everyone else. It’s like, damn, we don’t need that Lambo.
ER: You’d wrap that ‘Bo around a tree anyway. But yeah, you might just see that same attitude on East Hastings in Van.
Yeah, for sure. But, somebody from the middle of nowhere in Alberta, where their whole family works on the rigs or something and they have the sickest or newest trucks, if they just travel to Vancouver, it’ll humble them maybe. (Laughs) I’d be stoked to have a giant house and Lambo, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be. I’m not some hippie dude that’s denouncing material possessions (laughs).
WJ: You mentioned seeing people that aren’t on this crazy hustle that’s prevalent in North America. Are you trying to hustle?
Fuck, I’m sure there are people trying way harder than me but I’m trying to live comfortably and have a nice future. I could probably be planning a lot better, for sure (laughs). Well, remember that time in the group chat where we were on fire talking about banking and investing? That week I went out and bought a financial planning book and opened a tax-free savings account (laughs).
WJ: Group chat wisdom.
I wouldn’t say I’m hustling, but I’m pretty stoked on the life I’m living and what I’m doing currently.
WJ: Are you going to be living in Vancouver for a while yet?
I love Vancouver; I think it’s a fucking great city. Where I live now, I can be on the highway in five minutes and completely surrounded by nature. It’s almost the best of both worlds, I’m not right downtown so I don’t have to deal with all that shit, but I’m still 10 minutes to downtown so I can go skate or just fuck off and go camp. It’s a pretty convenient city. I also don’t think I want to be in a big city my whole life. I’d like to have land somewhere and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to do that in Vancouver (laughs).
ER: Vancouver is sweet because it’s a big city but it’s also not a big city.
Yeah, it’s a very small big city. It’s tiny. Will and I were talking about that today, there’s like 600,000 people in Vancouver and like 2.5 million in the Greater Vancouver Area.
WJ: Skateboarding is in the Olympics for 2020, what’s your opinion on the matter?
I don’t even know, I don’t care. I don’t see why people are so worked up and I also don’t see why people are so for it. Canadian skateboarding is so small, so I think it will be pretty fucking cool to see our friends on an international stage. I think that’s really sick. I’ve never watched a Street League. I think I watched it the first time Matt Berger was in it, we were at the beach and someone streamed it so I would check in to see how he was doing. So yeah, I imagine it’ll be like Street League and the Vans Park Series. I think they should do hurdle hippie jumps to a long jump where you have to push between the hurdles, hippie jump them and then, not ollie, but just jump off your board and launch into the sand.
ER: Mark Gonzalez could still win.
Totally. I’m very neutral about it. I don’t know, is it wack?
ER: Many would say yes. Indifference is a good medium. It is super kooky because…
WJ: Well, it goes against every reason that skateboarding started to begin with.
ER: The whole thing is that the Olympics need skateboarding more than skateboarding needs the Olympics.
Yeah and like I said, I can see it bumming the older guys out, like the guys that have been with skateboarding since its inception. They did it as a way to get away from society and that was their outlet but the younger kids—and even people our age—getting all bummed on it, it’s like, man, you’re riding a toy still.
ER: But that’s the same for any Olympic sport. Think of basketball, they play with an orange ball for millions of dollars.
In the end, I don’t care. It wouldn’t bother me either way; I’m still going to skateboard. It’s not going to affect any other kid skating at the park.
ER: It might though; there could be 30 more kids at the park strictly training to “win”.
It’s probably very awesome to the people competing. Like the people that trained for four years and are representing their country for jumping over poles, respect, whatever, but I’m not going to remember your name after it goes off the TV. I didn’t watch any Olympic events this year.
WJ: Your sponsors are all core brands by definition, what’s your opinion on the level of corporate involvement in skateboarding?
Same thing, I’m not really influenced. Sure, it’s going to change skateboarding as a whole in the long run, but the people that ride for those companies are making a living to skateboard and that’s sick. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make a living doing something they love? Me, personally, it doesn’t change anything for me. I still think skateboarding is awesome because I love it.
ER: You’re also very good at it.
WJ: That claim might match up with the photos in this interview.
ER: How does it make sense then that you have a feature interview in this magazine but you don’t have a board sponsor? The landscape has changed from even one or two years ago.
(Laughs) I don’t know, I’m not butt-hurt about it.
ER: But you have to hustle to get boards now.
Yeah, but so does every other kid at the skatepark. There’s probably kids way better than me riding way shittier set ups. I’m getting boards from Scott Varney at Grand Trading, I’m not too sure what’s going on fully but he’s hooking it up for sure. Actually, for real, Varney has been killing it for me. He’s been talking to the brands and really trying hard to get me hooked up. So much respect to him for that.
ER: The way Canadian skateboarding works through distributions is pretty paradoxical. Right now, not many people in Canada are getting after it like you are, but still. What do you think?
Yeah, and that’s the thing with Canadian distros, and the reason I think Varney is killing it is because he’s actually checking with the company. He could’ve just sent me boards from whoever, and that would have been the exact same as to how I was getting Zero boards. Zero had no idea who I was. So I actually don’t mind a company saying they’re not down with me riding for them because it means he actually checked, he wants them to know who I am. I think that’s the case right now with a different Grand Trading brand, I’m in limbo because we’re just waiting on to hear back. I’d way rather that be the case with a board company I’m stoked on than just get any random board sponsor.
ER: Do you care, does it bother you to not have a board sponsor? Could go either way.
Well before I got cut from Zero/Centre Distribution, I feel like I could’ve been doing more. Even before it went down, I got some ‘rules’ about what I should be posting on social media, which I understand, social media is a huge advertising outlet, but I wasn’t into it, that’s not me. I understand that everything is a business but I didn’t want to do that. I’m not butt-hurt.
ER: When you were a kid, did you want to go pro?
No, not really. When I was a kid I just thought skateboarding was the best thing ever, it’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to skate for the rest of my life like every other kid but I never thought I NEEDED to go pro.
ER: As you came up through the years, do you think living in Canada and going pro was an unrealistic thing? Whereas years before, there used to be a lot of Canadian pros still living in Canada. Now it’s very few, you either have to live in the States or go pro for a Canadian company like a Studio or a Kitsch.
I don’t know, I feel like there’s so many different board companies, smaller ones especially, that there can be smaller-named pros. But does pro mean you’re living off of skateboarding? Does pro mean you have your name on a board? Do you have to have a shoe?
ER: It’s a grey area.
Being pro, by definition, means you make money doing something you’re good at for a living. I think Canada just needs the right brand. Like, Australia has Pass~Port. I’m sure there’s plenty of Australian companies with pros that we’ve never heard of, but Pass~Port is doing it right and getting worldwide recognition and now these dudes are coming up because of that.
ER: RDS used to do that in a big way in the FSU days.
RDS is still doing that, look at their team. It’s not that Canadian skateboarders aren’t getting recognition, how is every single skater supposed to get recognition? You have to get lucky, know the right people and not be a piece of shit. I don’t think because you’re Canadian you’re not going to go pro. Sure, it is harder, but if that’s your dream I don’t think you should toss your dreams away just because you’re Canadian. Some dude in the middle of nowhere, USA, isn’t going to give up just because he’s in the middle of nowhere.
ER: Fair enough. So you’re saying, you’re bucking through gnarly double kinks purely for fun?
Yeah man, it’s fun. In whatever I’m doing, I want it to be the best I can do. It’s a personal thing.
WJ: You really thrive and work best when you’re faced with a challenge. I’ve seen it when the homies bet against you, like, “You Won’t!”
Nugs really started that in me. Like, “You think I won’t fucking do it? Say I won’t!” It’s more of a joke but it gets you fired up. It’s a mental thing, like when a security guard comes out at a spot, it doesn’t matter who’s skating, they’re going to try their hardest. I think that goes for almost anyone. I’m not like, “Oh you don’t think I can do it? I’m going to prove all you haters!” (Laughs) That’s just funny to me.
WJ: Are you an asshole or do you just get the bad rap for being a shy guy?
Do I get the shy guy thing? Do I come off as an asshole? Oh no, I hope I don’t. I am a shy guy though, a little bit. I’ve been trying to not be so shy but I get pretty nervous around people I don’t know.
WJ: Which is for sure something you’d never guess about you.
ER: Doesn’t help that you’re great at skating. It never does.
It depends, if people saw me while I was with all my friends and they were just observing, they’d just think I’m a total kook or asshole, but we’re all like that, we’re all dicks to each other. I hope I just get the bad rap and I’m not actually an asshole. I don’t know! Damn. The past two days I’ve gone to Dunbat here in Toronto and just sat there alone because I’m really not good at just striking up a conversation with someone I don’t know. (Laughs) Fuck man, now I’m kind of scared that I come off as an asshole to people! (Laughs) Even more so, my girl told me she thought I was a fucking asshole when she met me, but I was just nervous.
WJ: How did you swing that one?
I have no idea (laughs). It’s unfortunate though, I’ve heard people talk shit about other shy guys, calling them assholes when the person in question is actually the greatest dude, so I guess that’s lost on them.
WJ: Alright, who keeps your skateboarding going?
Everyone at Timebomb, like Tyler Holm and G-Man for Emerica, Stance and Altamont. All of those guys are fucking amazing. Everyone at Ultimate for Bones and Happy Hour. Pentagon Boardshop in Penticton has held me down since the beginning, Old Man Birnie for being him and Scott Varney at Grand Trading. I hope that’s it. That’s the worst, I did that once and forgot someone. Maybe I am an asshole, fuck.