"You'd get told off or threatened by community support officers for skating too fast down the street!"
According to skateboard media, the vast majority of people good at flipping their boards also double as fascinating weirdos with many talents…
Well, Stephen might tick all the boxes, the only thing being that it is actually true, and not part of a PR campaign. Yes, he is an odd one, but only in a beautiful way, meaning that he likes what he likes without trying to fit in the cool skater boi cliché. And yes, he is fairly good at riding that plank on wheels thing, which makes for a perfect candidate to a brain probe, and one that I am proud to introduce.
Here you go, Stephen, please step forward!
What is the story behind you living in Paris for four years, now?
After I finished school studying graphic design, I had to make the choice of taking a year out and going to Paris or to go directly to university. Obviously, I chose Paris. The plan was to stay for six months to a year, and then go back to England for University. After the first year, I decided to stay a few extra months. During that extra time, I ended up getting on Heroin and getting a girlfriend, so I kind of just ended up staying here… [Laughter] I forget how long I've been here, sometimes. It's been so much fun!
How would you describe your home town, compared to Paris?
Way smaller, more english, close to zero spots, equally awesome people…
How was it growing up as a skateboarder over there?
It was fun and interesting. I started skateboarding when the scene in Norwich was at its peak, and then roughly a year or so later, it died almost completely. Between the ages of 13 and 16, it felt nonexistent. I would spend a lot of time skating flat ground on my own and learning wallrides to compensate for having no spots at that time. It felt like since the scene had dropped almost three quarters in size, the public weren't aware that skateboarding existed anymore. You'd get told off or threatened by community support officers –fake police– for skating too fast down the street! Besides that, it was no different than anywhere else. The people that stayed in skating were awesome and really influential to me in a lot of ways. It was sick driving out of town with friends to skate the sketchiest little bank spots and stuff that people outside of Norwich wouldn't even consider a spot.
Ollie up to ollie frontside wall ride
You now ride for Heroin, the company you were the most infatuated with as a kid, I believe… How is that?
It feels so amazing to be riding for a company that has always inspired you in and out of skateboarding. Definitely a childhood dream come true. I started skating around '99 early 2000's, so everything was pretty "G" at that time, from what I remember. I can appreciate what went down in skateboarding at that time now, but back then I wasn't really into any of that, so when I discovered Heroin skateboards, it stoked me out so much. I remember asking my mum for a Heroin “good shit” board for Christmas! [Laughter]
How was your very first meeting with Fos, actually?
I met Fos in Norwich when I was about 10 or 11 years old. He was at a Vans demo at this skatepark close to town. I didn't even know who he was. He had this Heroin board I was stoked on, so I went over and asked him about it. I was so hyped when I found out he ran the company, I pulled out this little sketchbook I would carry around with me and showed him all these graphic ideas I had! [Laughter] We've been friends ever since then.
How would you describe Heroin to skaters that don't know about it, somehow?
In short, I would describe Heroin to have a very diverse and creative team with 80's horror and garage punk/ rock inspired graphics.
You are quite the local, now, in Paris, after all that time… What would be the best and worst thing about skateboarding here, from your point of view?
The best thing about skating here is the energy in the scene, the endless amounts of spots everywhere and the weather. Paris is a pretty dry city!
The worst would be all the dog shit in the streets. I rolled through a pile of shit last week. I can't tell you how much that ruined my day… [laughter]
Fronside flip from a barely existent bump, caught flat and perfectly
What's the story behind the remix of your part? Did you pick up the soundtrack?
I can't even remember how the remix idea came about. I think it was a combination of having some lost footage that was supposed to go in my Video Nasty part and trying to figure out a way to put my part online for promoting the iTunes release of Video Nasty in France. Actually, Rogie chose the music. It turned out to be my friends band from Sheffield, Best Friends, so there was no hesitations for music selection. I'm really happy with the how the remix came out.
You seem quite serious about music. What has been getting you amped lately?
I don't know how serious I am about music, but I sure listen to a lot of it. I would say my taste in music can definitely be questionable at times. Most recently I've been re-listening to "Wavvves" by Wavves and listening to this free mixtape released by Art is Hard records called "Bleed in Gold". There's some great music on that mix that gets me hyped to go skating.
We were joking about the "rules of Heroin" today, what would be the least expected one, you think?
[Laughter] Yeah! I'm pretty sure everyone that rides for Heroin is stoked on Tom Waits. I don't think it's mandatory, but it's funny how it has worked out that way. If we had rules for Heroin, the weirdest and least expected one would definitely be something to do with J-Pop or something… [Laughter]
Wait, I thought extensive grip job was an obligation? How long do you actually take to set up a board?
[Laughter] Nah, it's not an obligation, I think it's just another one of those mysterious coincidences like the Tom Waits thing.
It takes me roughly 30 to 45 minutes or so to grip a board. I used to spend hours when I was younger cutting all my grip up and placing these tiny little pieces of grip down one by one. Since then I've definitely simplified it. The fucked up grip job is definitely Fos inspired.
Here is the remix of Stephen's part from Video Nasty: