I don’t think so. I could be wrong, but I think we met in L.A. We met right when you were getting on Workshop at that school with the bank-to-bench everyone was skating at the time.
Yeah. Did I skate the bank to fence?
You did. I think that’s the day we met. Where were you at back then?
Where was I at? You mean life-wise? Shit, man, I don’t know. I was turning a page. New opportunities. It was like a new skate world for me at that time, pretty much.
So was that a period of big transition for you?
Yeah. I didn’t know anyone in LA, really. When I skated for Black Box, I just kind of wasn’t ever up there. I would just be in San Diego when I was in California. So at that point it was just like, yeah, I had all these dudes that skated for Workshop that lived in LA and were down to skate and I was just fired up on a new opportunity. It just kind of seemed like one of those moments where you’re like, dude, anything’s possible.
That’s so cool. You had worked mostly with the same people for a while prior, right? So this was quite a bit different?
Yeah. Let’s see, so I had known Dylan a little bit from Black Box. He was buddies with a few guys that lived down there and he’d been down to skate the park a time or two and I think we even went to a casino one night? So he was one of the dudes that I knew. And going out with AVE was pretty mind-blowing, you know? That was someone I grew up watching my entire life. It was really cool to be able to skate with him and it was an inspiring time for me.
You seem to be someone that sticks to their friends and doesn’t bounce around too much. Did it take you a while to adjust to that change?
It didn’t feel like it, exactly. It felt kind of like a new skin, you know? It was the sort of thing where you feel like you can do whatever you like and think whatever you like. It seemed like Workshop was so open that it didn’t feel like I had to adjust. It was ideal.
That’s awesome. What about shooting with new people? Like when we met, was that an adjustment?
When I started filming with you I didn’t really feel like I had to adjust to it because it was already motivating. Like you’d made some of the videos that I watched more than any video, so I was motivated to make something with you and I was stoked. I don’t remember even giving that a second thought at the time.
I feel like I work with a lot of different people and part of my job is to be there and support them in whatever way they need. But every once in a while there’s a person who I just sort of naturally click with and, for whatever reason, as soon as we skated together a couple of times I felt like it was a natural fit. I feel like that’s not always something that happens, where you actually click with someone as a person and it’s more than just a working relationship, it’s actually a friendship, which always makes it so much easier.
Yeah, totally. I mean, thinking back on it now, not long after I met you, I was sleeping on your couch and you were showing me music and movies and stuff that I didn’t know about that I was stoked on. And, yeah, I also feel like our taste in music, and art, and movies, and stuff was aligned.
So you were living back in Richmond then? Is that when you moved back there?
Yeah, right when I got on Workshop I moved back to Virginia. It probably wasn’t too long after moving home that I was coming out to skate with you guys.
That move home was another adjustment. Was it hard to figure out how to still progress, not only on your skateboard, but within skateboarding, while not living on the West Coast? Or was that something that felt kind of liberating and natural?
Yeah, it felt pretty liberating. I just remember moving home and immediately having that spark of wanting to make a new project, or a new video part, and make it a lot different than what I was doing in San Diego—a new direction—and that was really motivating.
We did quite a bit of traveling after we met and we’ve been doing a decent amount of traveling recently. How is that something that you deal with, being on the road? Do you enjoy traveling?
I love traveling. It kind of comes and goes, really. Sometimes being on the road is great, but then other times it’s really tough on you mentally and it’s hard to get tricks and maybe it’s better to stay at home at that time. But I can never pin down what the right concoction in life is for a good mental state for skating, you know? Because when I look back at hard times, hard times in life outside of skating, it seemed like skating was easier because skating is like an outlet for some turmoil, or loss, or whatever you’re dealing with. It’s like a release valve almost. And then other times, life can be great and you’ll go out skating and be like, “Dude, I don’t want to fucking kill myself on this handrail right now.” Sometimes when life’s good it’s hard to skate gnarly, you know?
Elijah and I talked about how he went through a slump and all the classic things he did trying to figure out a way to get out of it, but he eventually realized that he just had to take better care of himself physically and stay on his board more because all these other things were dragging him to the side. It’s interesting hearing what you’re saying because you’ve always been pretty consistent with wanting to skate and stay healthy. So you can kind of look at the ups and downs more from where you were at mentally at a certain time.
I do remember at the end of “Propeller” I had a gnarly skate depression. I don’t know if it was just from filming for the video for so long, or maybe living in L.A. at the time, or a combination of those two, but it eventually got me down on skating. I remember there was like a six-month period where I didn’t get a trick. But when you work on a video for that long, you’re going to have ups and downs and you’re going to hit the bottom at some point.
So what about this project? I know we’re still filming, but, aside from your heel bruise, how are you feeling?
I’ve been stoked on skating. I think this project has been really good for me because I didn’t have anything to work on skate-wise before this and I was a little bit aimless. I definitely feel better knowing that I need to film for this video. When I don’t have a project, whether it’s skating or not, I feel crazy. If I don’t have a painting, or some clothes I’m working on, or something going on, I just feel really weird. We’ve been traveling with good crews, too, which, as you know, is always more fun.
On that level, this video’s been different. I’ve sort of let it take its own course and tried to not to force it in any direction. I think the trips with smaller crews have been really nice. You know, just kind of following the spots with an almost spontaneous approach versus having it all planned out ahead of time. And when you have less people, it gives everyone more time to breathe and maybe go back to some little random thing that you might not go back to otherwise.
Yeah, it’s easier for me with a smaller group. My mental capacity with a big crew, it shrinks, you know? With a large group of people it makes me feel like I want to crawl into my shell a little bit more. But when it’s a manageable amount of people it feels comfortable to me.
You’ve been traveling with Elijah for a long time and you’ve also seen each other go through a lot of changes. How would you describe him?
Yeah, I haven’t really given a lot of thought about how long we’ve known each other until this conversation. I mean, the way he’s standing on a board the last year is kind of next-level, where you’re like, Jesus Christ, dude. That’s just how he’s been skating. And that’s kind of how he is as a person also: he’s kind of psyched, and gung-ho, and pretty positive. When you’re around him, it’s contagious, you want to laugh, and be an idiot, and try a stupid trick, and get gnarly. You want to do all the things that he’s doing. It’s been really cool to see how motivated he is too, you know? It’s always motivating when you’re skating with somebody like that—someone who’s in the zone, or whatever you want to call it—you want to do it too, you know? You’re like, goddamn, I want to get gnarly, this is sick.
When traveling and spending so much time with other skateboarders you have a lot of time to sit and watch everyone’s approach. Tell me a little bit about Elijah’s approach to skateboarding and how that might be special or different from yours.
Well, the last trip that we were on, I was kind of tripping. This comes and goes with everyone, but he’s keeping his cool and trying really gnarly tricks, but when I’m trying a gnarly trick, I feel like I’m screaming, and I’m freaking out and all over the place, but he’s been keeping his cool and staying really focused, which is what you need. That’s what it comes down to: you need to just breathe and get through all the bullshit to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. And he’s been really good about that. It’s pretty inspiring. And I think surfing probably has a lot to do with his skating, too. His upper body is so goddamn strong. That’s not the type of build that I have. I’ve surfed, like, twice, but I definitely think that helps your skating. People that surf generally have a style that you can tell that they’re out there surfing—like just the way that he carves up to something, or carves out of something, it’s like, okay, you know how to ride a fucking board.
I’ve always thought that this project is interesting because, from my perspective, you both have a very different approach. Generally, I would say that your approach is a lot more meticulous and thought out, and I’d say Elijah is more like a wild dog, he just attacks. Sometimes he’ll do stuff that’s like, you know, jumping off a cliff into water without looking over the edge first.
Absolutely. I think that’s a pretty good description of his approach, really. I think that also has to do with his personality. Like, am I gonna eat shit, or am I going to grind this rail first try without looking at it, you know? But that’s cool. I mean,
I want to be skating with someone that’s going to open my eyes to a different thing. If I was filming a video with somebody just like me who had the same approach as me that wouldn’t be very interesting. But the fact that him and I are so different and have a different way of doing everything is cool to me because I can learn from him. People like him and Kyle [Walker]? It’s hard to not be inspired by those types of skateboarders.
Yeah, it’s interesting that you say that, like it creates a balance. If someone were to put two Gilberts on a trip, or two Elijahs on a trip, the outcome would be very different. You guys are opposites in so many ways, but your skateboarding styles kind of complement each other. Do you think that you would be spending a lot of time with someone like Elijah if you guys weren’t skateboarders? It’s not like you guys don’t get along, I think you do, but do you feel like you’re pretty different as people?
Yeah, absolutely. Don’t you?
Absolutely. Elijah was like, “Man, Gilbert, I just don’t ever know what’s going through his mind!” But he did say that he’s always felt like he’s gotten along with you really well, it just took him a while to realize that. That’s one thing about skating that’s rad is that you’ll end up creating bonds with people who you might not have any of the same interests with.
Yeah. It’s true. Our interests are not really in the same realm, I guess. Eli kind of feels like a brother, there’s that kind of connection. I actually have a brother, and we’re a lot different, but, you know, just the vibe and the type of relationship Eli and I have kind of feels brotherly, more so than the way some old friends would feel.
Yeah. And why is that?
I don’t really know. I was just thinking about that. I mean, I just feel like he’s got my back, and I have his back, and we’ve been traveling for a long time, and we do get along, and generally the idea is to have a laugh and get a trick, you know? So it’s easy going for the most part.