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Excerpt of interview by J.R. Ewing with Trevor “Trouble” Andrew
You were really the first to incorporate a hip-hop influence into snowboarding on a global scale …
I think if you ask most kids that skate, or snowboard, or anything these days, they don’t just listen to punk rock or hip-hop – everyone has kind of listened to everything. I think all those subcultures are kind of on the same level: a bunch of kids who do what they wanna do and not really listen to the mainstream. But now we become the mainstream – we’ve been outcasts forever, and now we’re kind of in the forefront.
How did you begin your relationship with the snowboard?
I started off skateboarding when I was seven years old. My mom worked on a ski hill, and as soon as I found out about skateboarding, it made sense as something to do in Canada. I eventually moved from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, got sponsored by Burton and Oakley and was making a career of it until I got hurt while filming myself, which tore the ACL in my knee. I was looking at nine months of recovery.
What about your relationship with Santigold?
I’d met her the year before the injury, so I came out to Philly where she lived, with all kinds of music equipment in the house. When she was out at work or whatever I would just pluck away at my guitar. Then I bought my own PC and keyboard and started making my own beats with a drum machine. That was in 2004. By the next year, I had all these songs written and demos recorded, so we put out a little EP at places like snowboarder trade shows. The full-length Trouble Andrew was properly recorded by 2006 and put up for sale on iTunes.
Was it a difficult shift from professional snowboarder to professional musician?
I don’t feel it, no, because I’m still a pro snowboarder – and music is kind of in me. I wouldn’t just snowboard: I’d design shit for Burton, do my own graphics for snowboards, and design my clothes. I just like to be creative, so it was nice to find that outlet. The whole snowboard community supported it, so it was a nice, smooth transition.
Peace Presents The Official Anderson Silva & Chuck Liddell Post UFC 97 Event @ Metropolis (Montreal)
Excerpt of an interview with Ben Harper…
Your breakthrough Welcome to the Cruel World came out 15 years ago …
It happened. I was just thinking the other day: if you make it when you make it, you find yourself when you’ve arrived. There are bound to be ups and downs, highs and lows, peaks and valleys. But who would have expected a 15-year run?
Now that you have a new backing band, Relentless7, how did you break the news to the guys you were working with in the Innocent Criminals? Did you say you’d get back to them later on?
Yeah, for the most part, it was the framework of what I told them: I’m gonna stretch it out, take some chances on a couple new things. The hardest part about it is the friendship, the kinship, the camaraderie and the brotherhood that was in the Innocent Criminals. Those guys are extraordinary. We’ve made a lot of music together. And we’ll make music together again. No question.
Does the creative process differ from album to album, though? For the new one, White Lies in Dark Times, it sounds like you vibe with these guys. They’re your boys. You get new energy because it’s fresh and you’re plugged in — you vibed and rocked out.
Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. We went into a studio to see what was there, and it was waiting for us just as much as we made it happen. Going into the studio and working with these guys, with no thought to making it a proper band, resulted in a record that wasn’t even on the table. We wanted to pick up where we left off on the song “Serve Your Soul” from Both Sides of the Gun – yet it was even more than we could have imagined. You couldn’t just leave that sitting on the table.
Given how you’ve been signed to Virgin Records for 15 years, what’s it like at a record company these days?
Right now, Virgin/EMI feels the best it ever has. Oddly enough, with the record industry climbing and the financial state that the world is in, the company feels the best it’s ever felt. There’s a super-fresh perspective, great attitude, and enthusiasm and excitement. Most importantly, there’s a love and passion for music. I was just in England, sitting with the worldwide head of the company, and we were Googling and YouTubing music – it was strange.
A lot of live footage from your new album is also online. Do you take the attitude of the Grateful Dead when it comes to filming live shows?
Pretty much, man. The more live shows that are taped the better. That’s a whole different community, really, the tape-trading scene. The heads that usually check YouTube is another crowd entirely, but YouTube is still defining itself – it would be great if someone could edit and filter the videos that are double and triple uploaded. There’s still some dusting off to do with that whole process. But it’s still great. Click a button and you’re doing a show around the world.
What kind of venues do you expect to play on the next tour?
I’m not sure yet. I’ll let the record come out, and kind of watch it, because I don’t want this band to overstep its reach before it has been earned. I’ll follow the direction the album takes and play things accordingly.
OG Stacy Peralta on his new documentary Crips & Bloods : Made In America and thirty year love affair with Vans
Excerpt of interview by Duane Watson with Stacy Perlata, Director Crips & Bloods : Made In America
The establishing shot of the documentary Crips and Bloods: Made In America pans across an inverted downtown Los Angeles skyline, slowly shifting and adjusting itself to right side up as it comes to a halt over the hoods of South L.A. It’s the only time in the film you will see anything “right” within these city blocks.
Chronicling the history of unrest in this 40-year gang feud, critically acclaimed director Stacy Peralta documents the social and economical factors that created the two best-known rival gangs. Crips and Bloods takes a rich look at the history of the city’s civil unrest, from the 1930s through the Watts Riots in 1965, and Rodney King verdict aftermath in 1992. The situation can finally be seen from the point of view of its own residents.
NBA star Baron Davis co-produced the film set in the South Central area where he grew up – 84th Street, to be exact. While he had some Blood affiliations, Davis never joined a gang himself, as basketball offered him a ticket out of the hood. But others weren’t so lucky: “I didn’t choose my destiny,” says Big Girch of the Santana Blocc Crips at the start of the film. “My destiny chose me.” Stacy Peralta spoke about how it came to be made.
How does a white skate kid from West L.A. end up talking to gangbangers in the hood?
I didn’t understand why two different civil rebellions could happen in the same part of the city 20 years apart and still — nothing. If white kids in affluent and white neighbourhoods were forming gangs and arming themselves with automatic assault rifles, and shooting and killing white teenagers, what would the response of our government be? The problem would be extinguished overnight. The government would never allow that to happen. Does that mean there is a different value placed on the heads of kids growing up poor, and primarily African-American and Latino? I wanted to put a human face on it.
Was it difficult to get access or insight to these people?
People were grateful for us coming into the neighbourhoods. Not everyone, but more often than not. I went into the areas alone before I showed up with cameras, explaining what I hoped to achieve with the film, and they really appreciated establishing that relationship in advance.
And after making the film do you think a solution is in sight after 40 years?
First of all, these kids have to be able to walk down their streets safely, and they still can’t do that. The education system is passing functional illiterates, and dropout rates are still out of control. We keep doing the same thing over and over again and these kids end up destroying each other. In a sense that’s the dirty secret about this whole thing, is that these kids are annihilating each other. They are taking care of the problem by getting rid of one another and that’s the thing no one wants to talk about. It’s really the dirty secret.
What are your thoughts on the entire skate sneaker industry now?
I think it’s just a way to make money off people. It’s not like anyone re-invents or something, they just put a different logo on it, maybe put the stripes in a different direction, but it’s all the same stuff made in China. I will say this whole sneaker revolution is pretty amazing that people are dressing their feet, in a very artistic manner now. It’s no longer about dress shoes it’s about sneakers. It’s very artistic, it’s very interesting, it’s a kind of a phenomenon, and I’m talking about the sneaker thing as a whole. You go to these stores and see these one-off shoes and it’s remarkable, it’s an interesting phenomenon and shows how much artistic work is going into these shoes.
Excerpt from interview by Ace Six with Ben Pruess, VP Global Director adidas Originals (Germany)
Three Stripes High and Rising
It’s safe to say that Ben Pruess sees the sneaker game from a higher altitude. His bird’s- eye view of what the world is doing comes from his close connection to all of the major players in boutique retail, and a history of seeing things globally. Growing up as skateboarder from NYC turned pro snowboarder at 16, Pruess worked for the French brand Salomon until they were bought by adidas – leading directly to a job over on the side with the stripes shortly thereafter. If you’ve noticed adidas Originals coming with a stronger line and cooler shoes, then consider Pruess the catalyst who helped step their game up. Hot off the heels of their aZX initiative – which was over a year in the making – Pruess is in full swing with Adidas’s 60th Anniversary, but took some time to share the insight into where his brand is at now.
How satisfied were you with the reaction to the Originals aZX project last year?
The 60th anniversary of adidas was a good time to take stock and celebrate how far we’ve come, and what we have to bring to the table for six more generations. Our brand is about creativity, fun, and inclusiveness – and, if you look at the visuals we created, you can get a sense of how eclectic the party is and how it is comprised by a diverse group of people. Whether it’s Jeezy, or Beckham, or just some cool kid showing up, we are the kind of brand that can bring people together and let them be themselves.
What is the marketplace feeling like in the early months of 2009?
Customers are a little bit nervous, and honestly have bigger concerns than getting their newest pair of sneakers, but others had harder times during the last holiday season. The campaign is keeping people with Originals at top of mind. And the positive message is resonating more. It’s a good break from the other messages going on.
Where are you headed for fall 2009?
Definitely continuing under the umbrella of 60 years. We took a little bit more time to focus on the stripes story. And you’ll see a bit more of back to basics: some great suedes with adidas Originals colours – burgundy, dark blues. And we’re seeing the Campus coming back. There’s a skinnier profile in denim right now. We got a great response with the SL 72. A lot of the guys in Scandinavia are doing a little bit of the roll-up thing and showing more attention to their footwear. The classic shoes are a little cleaner, where it’s not so much a big graphic story as a strong colour and perfect design. There are still sneakerheads who want to see over-the-top graphics, but I think things are balancing out
Excerpt of upcoming interview with Jason Mayden, Designer Jordan 2009
Did your own Chicago roots contribute to your role with the Jordan brand? Well, I had the privilege of watching Michael play, and those ties entitle me to give back to the community here and around the world. Regardless of where I am, I have something attached to my name that keeps me focused on a greater mission. Locally, we have athletes like Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton and Michael Finley who show up and do skills camps and breakfast clubs. I mentor students who want to get into design. We have a national program called Jordan Fundamentals. Internationally, we’re involved with a French street ball tournament, and MJ went to China several years back. Normally, there’s a barrier between athletes and their audience. We try and treat our consumers like family.
When did you first get to see Michael Jordan in the flesh? My dad took me to my first Bulls game in 1996, when they were playing the Philadelphia 76ers, just as Alan Iverson was coming into the league. We were in the nosebleed seats and I remember every head in the crowd turning in unison as he ran back and forth. Back then, wanted nothing more than to design a Jordan, and when I finally got to witness him as a living, breathing person, I knew my dream could come true.
For the latest Jordan shoe, were you drawing on past designs, or taking new inspiration from anything? We derived the aesthetic primarily from MJ’s sophistication on and off the court. If you look at the complete line, each shoe has a specific direct language that makes them unique and distinctly Jordan, so we continue forward with that look.
There was a time when it was all synthetics, and a lot of plastics, so how did you end up with satin and pleating on the upper part of the shoe? I’m a huge fan of martial arts, and the sport of fencing was an easy connection to make, since the footwork can also translate to basketball. The satin represents the clean aesthetic of Michael; the pleats build structure into the material. We wanted to reduce the amount of layers, increase the strength, but keep it sophisticated. The satin won’t get messed up, either – it’s engineered to outperform a lot of synthetics out there. The shoe is really based on MJ’s defensive mindset.
What are you bringing to the table for 2009? I want to make music for people to listen to. But I also want them to believe in someone who is somewhat of an underdog, establishing a lane for myself, and getting to the point where other artists can be compared to me: “Oh, that sounds like a Drake type right there.” I want to get to the point where I’m a name that people use to describe something new.
No other Canadian rapper has rocked a room of 20,000 like you did at the Air Canada Centre with Wayne. I was just proud of my city. And, to be completely honest with you, I was nervous. Not about forgetting my lyrics, or tripping, or anything like that. But up until that moment I could never be sure if I had any fans in my own city – 20,000 people is a lot of people to win over, and even if one-quarter don’t like me that’s still intimidating. But it ended up being a great night. Wayne definitely noticed the city was behind me, because I got the same reaction from the Toronto crowd that he would get from the audience in New Orleans.
How does ‘So Far Gone’ compare to the previous mixtapes? Well, people started hearing my music as soon as I started making it, so I really was growing. Southern Smoke was a very early project that reflected my interests at the time – I was into the Roots, Little Brother, Mos Def and other great hip-hop music. Then I started to understand the value of a hit record, and became more interested in melodies than a track of overwhelming lyrics. Comeback Season started leaning toward songs that were fun. Now I’m confident enough to convey a personal message, reflecting what’s going on in my mind, like a timeline of my personal life.
How have the changes in your personal life been reflected in the lyrics? I’ve always been very honest about my emotions, but things haven’t drastically changed, since I have a new emotion to express in every song. “Every Girl” is just having fun and talking shit with a bunch of dudes; “Replacement Girl” is me giving a piece of myself to women that pay attention. I’m speaking to both genders: the guys who want to have fun and feel fly, and the women who want to know what we think.