Snowy and a horse trough - Photo - Rob Mathieson
When Snowy first came to London when he was about 15 he put in some Bromley time, staying at Dominguez towers in Cedar Road. I remember that having just met really we went skating in the City all day and returned to Bromley that night. Snowy skated hard all day, ate at Bens and then we ended up in a bizarre rave in a house on the high street. We hardly knew anyone there and he certainly didn't but in minutes he was drinking with the best of us and dancing to drum and bass with his top off. After getting home in the early hours thanks to Ben's body clock he was up and out skating early doors the next day. He hasn't slowed down since. I was very pleased to get this interview from him half penned on a coach between airports. His words are interesting and his positive outlook refreshing. Enjoy what he has to say here...
Yes Snowy! What's new?
Ok whats new? The sun is out for a start so been hitting those rays as much as possible after this winter of discontent. Then i have been working a lot on Landscape stuff, we just went on an Athens trip with an article dropping in the new Sidewalk with a tight edit by Sean Lomax to accompany it.. Aside from all this my girl and mines dog just had puppies, 12 of the little buggers so that's pretty new to me…
You've taken the reigns over at Landscape not so long ago, how's that going?
Yeah things are going good, been a pretty steep learning curve but an interesting one. I'm really loving it and have been working closely with Dj our art director, Fos, Zorlac and the team on things trying to get to grips with it all. Its our 10 year anniversary at the end of this year so i'm trying to get as much going as possible with that at the moment and a couple of other projects, including new apparel all designed and made in the UK. Quite a change in what we've done before really but in line with the company as a whole. Nice quality shit!
What is a regular day in your life at the moment?
Whoa i'm not sure if i can call them that but regular days right now include rising as early as possible, having a coffee and a bite to eat. Shower!! Checking any admin work that might need taking care of, including some internet time. Hopefully chat with some friends local and around the world!?. Then take care of the pups and depending on the weather go skate though that hasn't happened a whole lot in the past few months, so instead go to work which I have been gladly doing during the miserable winter but now the Sun is steady creeping, straight shreddin san. After all this, home maybe some more admin, hang with friends, leisure time with the missus or go for a drink? The usual really!
What can we expect from the Landscape camp in the near future, do you have trips planned?
We have loads planned, some big stuff towards the end of the year with the 10 year anniversary and quite a bit building up to all that. Plenty of web stuff, as much as possible with the mags and that and generally just being out there shredding! Look out for the Athens stuff, these small team ads and a whole bunch soon.
A swift Mile End lunch break featuring Daniel Kinloch, Snoopy, Joleon Pressey, Rob Mathieson and Billy Bernard Baxter, filmed and edited by Mark Jackson.
Can we be expecting a video?
We have had plans for this for a while but have kinda kept having to put it on the back burner. With it being our 10 year anniversary etc that's kinda taken president and as we haven't really done an awful lot for a couple of years I just want to get out there, build things up and have a presence again. Trips with articles/edits, web parts and smaller clips. We have a few interesting things happening also, some collaboration stuff etc so plenty coming up . It is def something were going to get on in the very near future though, all of us have been gagging to get started on a new video again..
You have had parts in a fair few videos, which one was the most fun filming for?
They've all been fun filming for but Portraits and First broadcast for me. The time right then was great, a real special time in British skating.. I think off the back of WFTW people were really starting to notice the UK and what we were doing so yeah it was great being involved in that time. Being young and carefree helped and getting out shredding with the best crew, experiencing the city and life in general was the best, so much fun, good and bad times and behaviour. I look back on that time very fondly, shit i sound like a grandad …
Are you sat on a part for the coming Static production?
Im not at liberty to talk about the secret society of static.. I can say there is some sort of static energy floating about and I have hopefully helped it charge..
Tell us a bit more about recent additions to the Landscape team. You must be stoked having Joe Gavin on board...
Yeah it was always something i wanted to happen with Landscape but for one reason or another it never materialised. Me and joe skated together in Manchester in the mid 90's, when we both first started and he blew my mind then as he does today. Hands down one of the best shredders out there so yeah beyond stoked to have him on for sure.. Also the others Ash, Joe O'Donnell, and the flow guys. We were at a place at the beginning of last year that I wasn't really happy about, we'd lost a couple riders and things seemed to be stagnating slightly, so thats when i kinda started to get a little more involved. We just needed a fresh face or 2 and there were quite a few people in the mix, Ash and Tyrone were ripping at the time and were both sound so it worked perfectly. I didn't know Joe 'O before but a couple people had put me on to him and after watching him skate he hyped me up. His approach was nice and different especially coming from MK, plus he's a super nice lad so I was geld to get that going. The Joe Gavin thing was great I had pestered him for years so to actually make it happen was amazing, I think we're pretty strong now. I'm working on a solid flow team as well, next generation as a couple of us ain't getting any younger. That's looking tight so far, Tyrone and Keanu in Manc and Matlok from Sheff and Nicky in Bournemouth, i'm always on the look out and hopefully will get some one down here and further afield soon ..
Snowy BS Flip - Photo - Rob Mathieson
Are there any Nike excursions in the offing?
Not sure on that one? I think they are concentrating their stuff more in the UK right now plus they just revamped the new Bay park in London so I think most of their stuff is being based around that for the moment.. I have been so lucky with Nike to have travelled the world over, some amazing destinations with all the guys past and present. They have really looked after me in that sense and always paid for individual tickets but I do miss going away with the guys on the regular trips, as we don't always get to see each other that much but hopefully after the summer that will be back on the cards..
You were working with Toby Shuall and Dan Callow recently over at the new East London Slam store readying it for the opening. How was that, do you enjoy that kind of work?
Yeah totally i've always loved that since high school woodwork, building pikey ramps in abandoned asbestos factories to renovating smelly old East end warehouses into jazzy artist studios before gradually moving into more carpentry work throughout the years. Its great with those guys because I've known Toby and Dan for about 13/14 years now so its easy to go in and work with them. I worked a lot with Badger as well over the years and I'm actually travelling out to Barcelona tomorrow to work on this installation for 3 weeks. Plus it ain't bad money!
Do you have projects of your own on the horizon?
I have a few things i'd like to achieve on the skating side of things these next few years as I feel I've got some unfinished business. There's also some other things I have an eye on too, I'm trying to work on these now and we'll see how it pans out. Other than that onwards and upwards with Landscape but yeah hopefully a good few years left on the board..
You've lived through the rise of British skateboarding and played a major part in it for a long time. Companies have come and gone, recently it feels like there are more companies out there doing their thing than ever. How do you feel about the current state of things?
You flatter me Mr Sawyer, i'm not sure how much of a part i played in it, i've just been happy to be playing really.. So this is a hard one and i'll possibly offend some here cause i'm all for people doing their thing but on the other hand we are a small island and industry and there just isn't enough room as it stands. We're overrun with companies nowadays (everyone and their Nan seems to have some sort of company) which is great but makes it harder for everyone to really thrive.. I think people should aspire to ride for companies but that doesn't really seem the case anymore, its just as easy to start your own bedroom thing nowadays. Then you have companies like fracture selling boards at £20, it's just killing the industry. I'm not saying people shouldn't do their own thing but they should think about their motives and what they are really going to achieve.
You're usually quite good at having an escape plan when foul weather is expected, I'm sure you weren't prepared for this March. You going to get away?
Not prepared at all, first time i've rode the full Winter through for a few years now and it totally sucked.. My oldish bones cant cope in -0c weather on a regular basis anymore, i wish they could but trying to skate when you've got frozen Findus crispy pancakes for feet and prawns for toes it makes it hard to get going.. I think this one was a particularly long and harsh one though but it def made my mind up not to suffer one again, setting up the next escape route now...
What City/Country have you visited in the last few years that's stood out as a skateboarding destination and where would draw you back in a heartbeat as a tourist?
NYC.. Without a doubt one of the best places i've ever been to. I've been in love with the place since forever, maybe it was 'Mixtape' that started it, I don't know but the place just always appealed to me. I've been there 6 times and normally spend a month there every Autumn but ain't been since last March, i'm working on that. As for countries Australia is banging I've been a couple times and spent a winter there a couple of years ago. It's a very good life out there, they've got it pretty much sussed.
Is there anywhere you would ever consider re-locating or do you think London is going to be home for a long time?
I love this place so much, everything about it. Ever since my first visit here as a child probably 20 years ago. I've always had a space in my heart for it. I remember my first proper missions down here when we met and stuff and i just felt at home here straight away.. It's given me lifelong friends and memories (stories i'll tell my grandchildren in a senile state), opened my eyes and my heart to the world, given me a life of possibilities i would never have had and shaped me in every way, down to the sort of socks I like to wear.. So in a nut shell it will always be a part of me and I'll be here for a while yet but NO i see myself reclining in the sunshine by a beach somewhere hopefully!! Hahaha
Ollie - Photo - Sam Ashley
If you could resurrect a defunct London spot for a day which one would it be?
Damn there is just so many Paternoster sq, Viccy benches, Shell centre etc though i'm gonna have to say SB. I spent a lot of time there over the years and it was a magical place, not that it's totally defunct but from when I first arrived to now that magic has been slowly syphoned one lug at a time with the curtains trying to be drawn fully right now. The new wave of proposals originally put forward by the Southbank for the regeneration of the area suck and seem to champion business over creativity. The soul of the place could really be destroyed this time but London and World wide, skaters have really pulled together to save it which has been amazing to see, everybody is on it and it looks like we might actually make something great happen there. Although I think it's inevitable that it wont survive in its present state we should however be able to negotiate the best possible outcome, building a worldclass plaza or similar instead of them being able to just chuck us in a shabbily designed skatepark (by someone who's never even pushed down the street, let alone ollie up a curb) under a small damp bridge (formally birdshit banks) out of sight and out of mind.. Support the cause at Long Live Southbank and on Facebook..
You've lived in pretty much every skate house going including the Brixton Palace to Barca transplant. Are those days done? Any advice to anyone about to embark on that journey?
Oh my god! The best crazy days of my life. Care free and fancy too.. I don't know, I think i'm still pretty young at heart but those days have kinda come to an end.. Perfect from your late teens to your mid to late twenties when you can just get away with murder it seems. Skate all day, party all night, giving every man and his dog who passes through a place to stay. I wouldn't have wanted to live any other way. I'd say for anybody about to embark on that journey pick a good solid cheap place, try to pay your bills and just fucking do it! You'll have the time of your life and smile everyday.
Tell us a good Cawdor crescent story...
Just the best times really, generator skate missions filming for First Broadcast, ratting about the city with Jensen, Channon and deep crew everyday, partying with that same crew at night. I was lucky for Magee, Marshall, Massy and French to have been so cool about letting me stay there even though I maybe outstayed my welcome a little towards the end they know how much I appreciate it and love them.. It started me on the road to who I am and where I'm at so yeah good times.. Big up Ragga da cat R.I.P
You spent a lot of your formative years in West London and now live in the East. Tell us a good story from both sides of the City...
Damn this is a hard one cause there is just so many and my hazy bunnified memory isnt always the best but here goes! The first place I really landed and yes where I spent a lot of my formative years in London was Ladbrooke Grove in West london, straight from Lancaster to the Wild Wild West hahaa. Now it's my second time living in the East and a little different to how it used to be, more mellow nowadays. With less then 10 miles between the 2 you couldn't get any different really so I'll try and give you 2 good ones.. WEST: Its such a lovely place but can have a dark side to it, I have some beautiful friends and memories from the place but this one kinda sticks out in my mind. Ok so one time not too long after I first arrived in town we'd been at a Crossfire after party in the Subterrainia club next to the old Playstation park. We were leaving to head to another party across town and started strolling down the Portobello market to Ladbrooke Grove tube. There was me, Edson, Joey, and and a few other heads plus most the 50:50 crew, when this idiot just barged into me and Edson and starts fighting me, somehow I manage to box him pretty good and we get away thinking we're safe when out of nowhere him all fucked up and this random scaffold wielding crackhead come steaming out of nowhere nearly taking mine, Joey's, Edson's and our friend Kim's heads off. After some pretty major flailing around we again manage to leg it again unscathed while the guy manages to crash into a BMW full of Yard men. I didn't see this but a few of us did! Apparently they had clocked the situation, they grab him and that's the last any of us saw?? Anyway we all made it in 1 piece to our destination and had a good night even after that DARK DARK episode.
EAST: The East is the hot bed of nights out in london pretty much, though I didn't really hang out there that much the first few years till it became the place to party. You can have the best of times here but can also get a little naughty too.. One particular time we had been at this skate comp in London docklands, the one all the Yanks and Euros were at. Anyway there was a big after party that was being held in an East London club so we all ventured for the standard mash-up. Arriving, we found that there was no free booze of any sort but a friend who shall remain nameless said he had found out the tab of the big shoe company sponsoring the event. So after a heavy rinsing (by everyone I might add) and a magnum or 2 of champagne I got caught red-handed on the dance floor swigging from one of the aforementioned bottles, gripped and dragged into the back room and grilled good cop, bad cop style by 2 gangster ass bouncers. One of them was ready to kill me but the other one was cool, though when I was alone with him he told me how we was out on bail for manslaughter after catching his wife in bed with another man and throwing him out of the window!! Anyway what had happened was the tab was not that of a multi million dollar shoe company sponsoring the event but that of random woman who had only come for a drink with a friend oblivious to the stupid skate party. We managed to wring up a healthy tab around £700+ but she was cool and actually found it hilarious. We paid £80 or so, the bar wrote it off and we got banned for life. It's funny cause a year or so after this I was in a bar and I turned round only to be confronted by the bouncer who had wanted to kill me, unbelievably he still recognised me and still had a grudge, he said something along the lines of if he wasn't with his lady he would "drag me outside and fuck me up" like he should have done before. I just laughed and legged it.
The threat of SB disappearing has loomed over our heads for a long time. What are your predictions for it's future. Do you think they'll make it even smaller and we'll take it in turns to do flat ground tricks on four of the old slabs?
As I mentioned before it's a very special place and even in its present incarnation it's still the heartbeat of london skating, every city has them and when they die, well i guess it's like having a pacemaker fitted, you'll still get about but not in the same way. Like you say it's been looming over us for like what seems forever now and it's been equally shrinking at the same time. I remember watching someone (I cant remember exactly who it was) In (Manzoori's) Sound and Vision doing a line through from the bottom of the big banks (tramps alley) out to where the bottom of the 4 were, some 10 years before I even visited SB and I remember being gutted I'd never be able to do that! I don't know how we handle skating it like it is but I guess that's our nature hey, adapt and survive! Hopefully this next chapter will be a good one and we'll still be playing games of skate river side in the sun and still ripping round the banks under cover when it rains. LONGLIVE SB!
Advice for the kids?
Do what you do and be true to yourself. Follow your heart and If it seems right do it though it might not always be the case that's life and that's how you learn.. If you strive for anything I suggest happiness first and enjoy the ride because before long you're 30 and life is over hahaha joking…
Peace, Love and PWBC...
Interview by Jacob Sawyer