Meeting… Dom Henry!

Portrait and interview: Benjamin Deberdt

"One of my favorite memories is personally selling Chad Muska a Chad Muska Element board […]"

 Benjamin Deberdt

From experience, Dom is about making things happen… And I'm not writing this in a TWS “stress montage” way. No, we're not talking about “working hard” for tricks, but just genuinely put people, surroundings and action together so “things” can happen. With a smile on… And that is one great way to live, in general, skateboarding or not…
I have been in touch with Dom for quite a while, now, but we only met recently, in Paris, and in the couple hours he had before taking a plane back home, he managed to land the best looking switch flip I have seen in a long time, and then sit down for a beer and a little chat. This reinforced the idea that he was one of the people we had to showcase on Live, for who they are as much what they bring to the table.
It is with great pride that we give you a little window into the world of one Manchester's –and UK skateboarding– best representative for quite some years, now…
Benjamin Deberdt

Are you at Note, right now, when answering this?
Yeah, man. Sitting in the basement behind a cabinet full of trucks and wheels.

Is that how you make a living these days?
For the last few years, I've been working here in Note. We have a good crew so it's pretty easy going.

Skate shop employee is quite highly ranked in the eyes of young skateboarders… What would be one thing they don't really think about, when they think it's the coolest job in the world?
Perhaps that right now the majority of the customers aren't even skateboarders, but mainstream fashion victims who can be quite draining. Also, in our case, running a busy online mail order operation whilst trying to serve customers in the shop can be pretty hectic.

What the craziest experience you've had, during your behind the desk times?
Too many to really list! Manchester is a pretty wild city and Note seems to magnetize the insane, so all sorts of terrifying people come in. One of my favorite memories is personally selling Chad Muska a Chad Muska Element board, which we had only ordered for the wall in case Muska happened to come in during a Kr3w tour.

 Sean Lomax

Backside nosegrind. photo: Sean Lomax

Being surrounded by skateboarding all day at the shop, how do you actually stay excited about skateboarding?
That's a good question, and you've hit the nail on the head. It can feel a little suffocating to be surrounded by skateboarding all the time. But all I have to do is cast my mind back to some of the office jobs I've worked in the past and remember how lucky I am. Pushing through the streets with a good crew keeps me excited about skateboarding. Another thing that helps is not to overdose on it. Previously, I had the routine of waking up and sitting down with a coffee and watching a bunch of new edits, but this year I've reached a point where I really don't watch that many. Every now and then I'll sit down and watch a full video, perhaps once a week.

How would you describe your current situation, when it comes to skateboarding and sponsorship?
I've never been lucky enough to have the advantage of a paying sponsor so it's really just normal work life for me. But I'm grateful that a few people help me out with product. Right now, I skate for DVS shoes, Note skate shop, Vic apparrel from New Zealand, and Pillo Wheels from Jersey in the channel islands. For the last couple of years, I have been skating for the Harmony Skateboards, but I've recently decided to cut my ties with the company. This is due to the fact that sadly The Harmony seems to have run out of steam. I haven't received any boards since early this year, and there are seemingly no more being produced in the near future. Unfortunately, the company run out of money and is unable to produce any more boards at present. It's a real shame because the team is great and it's been great to be part of something with such a dope crew. The trip to Sarajevo, last year, was absolutely amazing. But after months and months of skating odd boards from Note and my friends asking me why I wasn't skating The Harmony decks, I figured it'd just be easier to opt out. It was a little bit disappointing to be offered a pro board about a year and a half ago, only to find that it wasn't going to happen. Like Corey Webster in the timeless 80s skate film Thrashin', I'd pretty much come up with my own graphic idea for it before it was put on hold. I'm a huge fan of the show Seinfeld, so my friend Marcus Craven had done an incredible pencil drawing of the legendary George Costanza, one of my favorite comedy characters of all time, to use for the graphic. The idea was to have the sketch printed in the middle of a wood stained deck with the necessary text in the Seinfeld font. However, since we designed that board a few Seinfeld-themed things appeared in the skate world anyway, like that Dan Plunkett section 'A video part about nothing' and I think a Wes Kramer deck too, so it's probably just as well that that board didn't come out, as it would probably have looked unoriginal! I'm stoked to be getting shoes from DVS, and that my friends at VIC NZ are still sending me quality garments from the other side of the world despite not having a UK distributor. I'm also hyped to be part of the Pillo Wheels Gang too, a true underground skate company.

Wait, so you mean that you actually paid yourself for your recent trip to Paris? Don't you read skateboard media?
[Laughter] I've paid for every skate trip I've ever been on.

 Benjamin Deberdt

The switch flip! photo: Benjamin Deberdt

You have quite a catalog of video parts, now... What motivated you to film another one?
It's what I've always done, I guess… It's just a satisfying thing to do, isn't it? I was down to film a welcome clip for DVS and it just sort of snowballed into this. I also wanted to put something out now whilst I finish parts for other independent full lengths.

Care to speak about those other projects coming up?
The main one right now is trying to finish a part for the video that my friend James Cruickshank is filming. “Shank” is a VX1000 Jedi who is often recruited to go on filming missions for Polar, and in the meantime has been chipping away on his own independent video which is going to feature all sorts of UK heads including Jethro Coldwell, Jerome Campbell and loads more. It's slow progress, as we both work, plus he lives in Sheffield and I live an hour away in Manchester. I also have a full part sitting in storage gathering dust from when I spent time traveling around Toronto, New York, Philadelphia and Detroit in 2012 with my friend Rob Mentov from Toronto. That will be for Rob's third DVD in his Street Feet series. Aside from that, I am trying to get as much as possible with Sean Lomax for the Manchester video he is working on in his new HD, 4:3 format.

What makes independent videos special, you think?
I don't want to get too philosophical as this ground has been tread so many times already, but I think full length videos are still the optimum medium to enjoy skate footage, because you get the range of sections complimenting each other, like the individual tracks of an album. And, as for independent videos, they are labors of love and so I guess they have that extra bit of soul to them.

What has been getting you hyped lately? That doesn't have to be a skate thing…
Static 5. Asides from that, a UK comedy sketch show called “Cardinal Burns” has been getting me really hyped. Im stoked on everything Pass-port have put out, and the videos my buddy Geoff Campbell puts out, generally. Those guys always capture the fun vibes. And I was really stoked on that Tim O'Connor B-Sides clip you recently posted on Live. There's never enough of that guy.

What is the next trip you are saving for?
I'm not too sure at this point. I'd like to try and get out of England for a bit in January or February when the winter becomes unbearable. Maybe a trip to somewhere I've never been in Europe with some of the Manchester crew…

Any parting words?
I'd like to thank my sponsors Note skate shop, DVS shoes, VIC apparel and Pillo Wheels, Sean Lomax for filming and even shooting a photo for this interview, Benjamin at Live for the opportunity, the V-I-B-E-S-E-E-K-E-R-S skateboard gang as well as all my friends and family. I'd also like to thank Ali Drummond and every one involved with The Harmony Skateboards past and present for all the good times

As premiered yesterday on Live, here is Dom's introducing part to DVS shoes:

Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

Wait to pass announcement...