Interviews / Real / Sidewalk Magazine / Vans / Volcom

The Kyle Walker Interview

(Featured: Sidewalk Magazine, 24th September 2015. Photography by Arto Saari.)

Kyle-Walker main image

You might not have been aware of Kyle Walker before Propeller. Aside from a shared part in Real’s Since Day One, his online “In Colour” part and a couple of other Real clips; there hasn’t been a whole lot of footage of Kyle on show. Personally, I find this refreshing as we’ve not had every moment of his time on a skateboard plastered all over social media; we’ve only really been showcased his best moments so far. If you did witness his Propeller part, it’ll come as no surprise that Real saw fit to turn Kyle pro this last month. With that in mind, and after a fair few mutual missed calls I spoke to Kyle about recovering from his recent injury, hitting the road with Real, the next Volcom video and accidently pissing off AVE whilst filming for Propeller…

K Walks Ollie

Kyle tries not to shatter the floor and bring on an earthquake whilst testing his legs in Setubal, Portugal.

You’re currently on tour and it isn’t all that long ago you wrapped up filming for Propeller. Between touring for the premieres and now I imagine you haven’t had much down time?

Nah not too much but that’s ok. Right after the world tour I had maybe a week and a half, two weeks… Then I had to go on a Volcom trip, then home for a homies wedding, then back in town for a few days and now I’m on the road with Real right now, we’re doing a little trip. It’s good to stay busy though. We started off in L.A. – did a little demo, they gave me the surprise pro thing. That was pretty fucking amazing. Then we had a night in Vegas, then Denver for a few days, now we’re in Kansas city, then we’re gonna head to Oklahoma City tomorrow. Staying on the move.

Are these the first trips you’ve been on since your injury?

My first trip was just a little Real trip, like a Pizza party trip to Fresno and Sacramento and I couldn’t really skate. I was just kicking it, that was the first trip, but not really skating. Then the last Volcom trip was the first where I’m fully back and skating and what not. So it feels pretty damn good to be back. It’s pretty sore and fragile but it’s better than being at home.

How close to the Propeller deadline were you when that happened? Were you still happy with your part in the end?

Probably like three/four months. Fucking crunch time. I was bummed that I couldn’t be out getting it at the last minute. Luckily I had a full part so I’m not too bummed. I’m definitely happy about it, that’s the main project I’ve put out throughout skating. Couldn’t complain but you always want those extras you know?

Your last video part in a full length video, aside from some footage in Volcom’s True to This (2014), was shared with Antoine Assellin in Real’s last video; Since Day One [2011]. You and Antoine have had mutual sponsors for a few years, were you friends beforehand that or was it through riding for Vans and Real you got to know each other?

I had a Volcom In Colour part. That was a bunch of extra stuff from trips and I’d only been filming at home for maybe three/four months, just fully for that. Then prior to that it was Since Day One with Antoine. Those are like the only things I’ve had. I didn’t really know him before that. I just met him when I got on Real and we started going on trips and I would see him at contests and what not. I haven’t seen him a while, I don’t know if he’s in San Francisco at the moment but I think he might be in Canada. But I never really see him unless he’s in the city.

Kyle Walker, Frontside Lipslide, Photo: Arto Saari.

High speed frontside lipper in the desolate confines of the actual desert.

Are you an honorary Oklahomie to the Dime MTL crew?

I don’t really know too much about the Dime but I know a bunch of people that rep it so I’m fucking with it (laughs).

So Peter Ramondetta, Ernie Torres and John Alden (Real team manager) are all also from Oklahoma. Does it seem like Real has a pretty big presence back home because of you guys?

A little more than usual maybe. I know before I was on the team I looked up to those dudes just because they were doing it and from Oklahoma. So yeah maybe a little. I know in Tulsa – those dudes are from that area – and Nuge grew up where I’m from so maybe (laughs). I was definitely just psyched on Real to begin with, like the whole image they were pushing out.

You relocated from Oklahoma to Long Beach a few years ago. How do things differ to back home?

I moved out when I was sixteen. I’ve been out there for a bit. It’s definitely a lot mellower in Oklahoma, less traffic. More spots that haven’t been marked off like in California. But then again the weather in California – you can’t beat it. It’s like the best weather all year round and then Oklahoma you get a certain span of good weather… Dodging tornados and all that (laughs).

I guess being able to live without worry of a tornado tearing up the neighbourhood is nice?

Yeah that shit’s scary (laughs). Definitely not fun to deal with.

You went back to Oklahoma whilst filming for Propeller. Where there any tricks or spots that were important to you that made it into the video from those trips?

The boardslide on that blue rail I was really, really, really hyped on. The kinked one. Because we used to go there all the time growing up. Skate the stairs and talk about doing the rail and what not. I was psyched on that one and just any Oklahoma spots in there.

You were repping O.K.C. Thunder pretty hard in your part. I imagine you were stoked to see that as your first board graphic then?

I didn’t even really think about it – but I had most of my footage with the O.K.C. shirt. So I was definitely psyched on that (laughs). I mean I’m not crazy into basketball but I like it and Oklahoma didn’t have a pro team for a long time. So we finally got the Thunder and everybody back home was super psyched on it – the whole community and everything you know. I’m repping it hard, that’s for sure.

For your first proper video part in a full length, getting second to last, especially to AVE must feel pretty amazing. Got any good AVE stories?

Uhhh… I don’t got too many but there was one time. I kind of lagged meeting up in L.A. Then we had to go pick him up too and normally we get out super early but this was a lagging day and before we were… I mean we’re good homies but he used to come off intimidating because I didn’t know him and looked up to him. So he gets in the van and I was like ‘sorry, there’s like all this traffic on the 101…’ He’s like “Kyle. I’m fucking old. I get up at seven in the morning every god damn morning, don’t be jamming me up.” That was before I knew him, knew him. He’s a fucking hilarious dude, he means serious shit but he’ll joke around like that so it was hard to take him at first. Just in that moment in my mind I was like ‘shit I pissed off AVE…’

AVE and Dill just turned Na-Kel Smith pro for Fucking Awesome and you’re pretty tight with him aren’t you?

Yeah, that’s my brother. When I first moved out to California that’s when I met him. We went on a Volcom trip I want to say five years ago, a little over four maybe five years ago. Right around that zone we took a little Volcom trip; me, Alec Majerus, Louie Lopez, Choy that was filmer for Volcom at the time and Na-kel went up to S.F. That was his first skate trip and I think since then we’ve just kind of been kicking it.

The Volcom guys are currently filming for the next video which, contrasting to True to This, is going to be just skateboarding. How long has this video been in the works for, is it still early days?

Yeah it’s still early; I think it’ll come out like March to July next year. Yeah it’s a little hectic, but if they’re trying to do a full video that’s obviously what it takes. Definitely hectic (laughs). I’m going on a lot of trips but not as much as all these other guys. I’m just going to try and put in more work in L.A. when we’re back home too. Everybody’s been going in but watch out for my fool Louie Lopez. That fool’s probably gonna have the best footage in the whole thing. I think they’re trying to do it more like Chicagof too. Like all the places; they’ll do sections of each country or town.

Kyle Walker, Frontside 5050, Photo - Arto Saari.

Transfixing two humans in the fluro glow Kyle risks his jewels on a long distance fifty fifty.

Russell Houghton is making the video, right?

Yeah, I think he’s editing it.

And Ant Travis is filming?

Ant Travis is the new filmer, that’s my dog.

You’ve spent time with a variety of pretty iconic cinematographers. What are the similarities/differences between filming with Ant, Dan Wolfe or Greg Hunt?

Dan Wolfe, I didn’t really know him too well before he started filming because it was Aaron Sheline and Bigs that were doing the Real video before him. He’s really motivating, down to go out. But I never really see him so I don’t have the same connection as like Ant, Greg or Cody Green. But they’re all easy going, down for whatever, always down to fix things up, he’ll motivate you – same with Greg. But yeah, they’re all just really good dudes.

Has a lot of the focus been on filming in the States rather than travelling abroad?

No I think it’s split up. I’m not able to go and I’m kind of bummed but these dudes are going to Paris in a few weeks. I know there’s a trip to Puerto Rico. Maybe another Europe trip later, I’m not too sure but we’re going all around.

That was an important thing with Propeller, right? Just filming in the States

I feel like that was even too, we went to Australia a few times; we went to Europe a lot. Mexico, South America too – it was split up all over.

A lot more focus on ‘proper street’ and skating in cities rather than perfect marble plazas then, maybe?

That was the thing Greg was going for I think. It wasn’t like all these spots people see in every video you know? Everyone can see the long fucking marble ledges in China, whatever or Shanghai. That was a thing. Trying to skate new spots, give it more raw – like actual skating you know?

So you mentioned it earlier, you just turned pro for Real. What’s next for Kyle Walker?

Fucking get busy (laughs). Get busy skating, same shit (laughs).

It must have been a trip opening the van doors and seeing your parents. It’s rad to see Jim Thiebaud and everyone at Real is just as stoked to turn you pro as you are for turning pro too.

I was seriously in awe. I had to do a double take, like the board and them. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in my entire life, I definitely will not forget that. Real is like a family. Jim, Mickey (Reyes), John Alden, all those dudes. They hold it down and make sure everyone’s happy and the fact they even flew my parents out is just wild. I’m not saying other companies don’t do that but I’m blessed to be part of such a good team or family or company – whatever you wanna call it. I’d call it family but yeah…

Kyle Walker, Black & White Portrait, Photo - Arto Saari

“Say what?!”

I saw a video on Jim Theibaud’s Instagram of Jake Donnelly smashing a bottle over your head. Was that for your pro advert?

Yeah I guess so. I don’t know if you saw when Jake went pro they smashed a pie in his face and I guess that was my pro debut…whatever you want to fucking call it! (laughs) But it was one of those bottles – I forget what they make it with but there’s sugar in it, they’re super fragile and supposed to break. But that one he actually broke over my head was not as soft I’ll fucking tell you that. That actually hurt. But the photos and everything came out good so it was worth it (laughs).

I did see Jake’s advert, yeah. Is it a Real tradition to get something cracked over your head when they turn you pro?

That’s what I was kind of thinking. Like ‘what the fuck are ya’ll doing?’ next thing someone’s gonna get knocked out (laughs).

Kyle would like to thank his parents, Jim Thiebaud, John Alden, Ernie Torres & everyone at Deluxe. Vans. Na-Kel Smith, the Oklahomies and Madison (‘my lady’).

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