Text fromCian Traynor
Photography and copy Phil Young
In an extremely candid interview, Chad Muska shares the ups and downs of an extraordinary career.
In a candid interview, artist and skateboarder Chad Muska shares the ups and downs of an extraordinary career.
The moment Chad Muska steps out of an Uber in East London, you realize this person is different. Even without knowing his unique career—professional skateboarder, visual artist, music producer, shoe designer—or his journey from homeless to private jet pilot, there's an aura surrounding him that says, "You'd better believe I've lived my life to the fullest." ."
"The Muska" walks down a side street in Hoxton, skate manager Mario Miller at his side, and is dressed head-to-toe in white: blond tufts of hair peeking out from his baseball cap, eyes framed by dark sunglasses. a black camera bag slung over one shoulder.
The 42-year-old is on a grueling world tourshoes up, traversed Latin America, Australia, and Europe before returning to the United States. At every stop, his demos and signing sessions have drawn skaters of all ages - a testament to star power that, despite what his humble nature may tell you, endures.
Personally, Muska is buzzing. An introvert at heart, utterly humble, he still manages to exude the kind of enthusiastic energy that can fill a room. "You should see me after I get a coffee!" he says with a raspy laugh as he enters a quiet pub playroom on a warm summer night.
The last decade has been an intense experience for him: a tortuous path of reinvention that has led him to a place of self-acceptance. Therefore himInstagramThe profile is filled with motivational quotes - a reminder that he has gathered more information along the way than in several lifetimes combined.
As a teenager you moved to California with no money and no place to live - a time you have described as perhaps the best time of your life. What got you into liking something that would be pretty scary for a lot of people?
I guess because if you don't have anything, there's nothing to worry about except the basics of life. So when you buy thingsWasit can bring stress. I'm also aware that memories are always like youwantto remember her, so there might be a bit of romance there. In reality it was probably very difficult and involved a lot of struggle. But I was also chasing a dream. And having that vision in your head, knowing that you are striving for something, that is a beautiful moment in your life because you can sit at home and dream of running away from whatever situation you find yourself in. In the midst of manifesting this idea, and while the future wasn't certain, I knew I was at least trying.
Did you have a clear plan back then?
Well no! [laughs] It's funny because I don't think I would call it a plan; I would have called if I had known something was wrong at that moment. In my heart. in my soul I thought, "There's more to my life than this" - and I had to pursue even what it waswhicha plan.
Before you left Las Vegas, your mother's boyfriend drove you to work at four in the morning and said, 'Skateboarding won't do you any good.' Have you ever said to that guy, "I told you so"?
They're not together anymore. But I remember once, before he and my mom broke up, he said, 'You never liked me! You never accepted me!” or something like that. I think maybe it was his own way of acknowledging what he said and what I did. But I'm not the type to rub things in anyone's face; I never thought, 'Haha, I told you that!' But there are many people in my life that I have naturally shown them. At school, teachers were a powerful source of self-doubt in my life. Skateboarding wasn't accepted back then, so you were like, 'Oh, are you a skateboarder? You're a bad boy. That's not going to happen.' So yes, there are definitely people who would have felt that way without me having to say it.
What would you say you learned in your 30s that you wish you had known in your 20s?
Ich meine, so viel.[Laugh]But I think with everything you learn in life, it wouldn't be that special if you had that knowledge all the time.acquirethis first. I think part of growing up is learning from the past to improve in the future. Sometimes it works; Sometimes no. But I think it's a lifelong cycle that we will all continue to learn as long as we keep an open mind.
Looking back on your journey now, what is the biggest challenge along the way?
There have been so many, but I think the expectations of others in life can be high. When it came to skateboarding, I had to prove myself in order to distinguish myself. So after your arrivalWasPeriod, there's a certain expectation that comes with that: you have to keep pushing yourself.
Another big challenge was coming from nothing and making something of myself - because I didn't really know what to do.makewith everything and how to take it. I made many financial mistakes along the way that I had to learn from and shake off over and over again.
There are so many other life lessons... Maybe one of the biggest things I learned — and that comes with the drinking and the parties and everything — was figuring out who I really am, away from the public persona that's come through over the years Skateboarding was created, through fashion, through art.
All the things I did eventually became their own monster. And I just went along with it. As those things went away and I was less in the spotlight as younger skaters came out, I wasn't the big hit that I used to be. I had to do a lot of digging inside myself just to find out, 'Okay, who are you? And who was this persona that was created?” Getting sober was an important step for me to have the time and mental capacity to answer some of these questions.
That sounds really tough. What was the key to getting through this?
Any kind of fame, no matter how big or small, is like a drug. you come down hard It's like, 'It's all over, over. I'm done skateboarding.' But then I decided to remind myself, 'I know I still have things to offer this world. My skateboarding skill doesn't define me. My actions in this present moment define me. And I can make a conscious choice to continue doing what I'm passionate about, like drawing, creating artwork, photography, video - all those things I love to do that are related to skateboarding but have nothing to do with my career have.CapabilityGo skateboarding.
I sometimes think when you're known for one thing, it's really hard to be taken seriously in another. How did you establish yourself to the point where people knew you were more than just a new thing and actually something to respect?
Well I think there isstilla challenge with it. As you said, anyone who becomes known for a certain action is like you can't do anything else. But for me, skateboarding is performance art - everyone does it in their own way. Although I didn't realize it until much later, this mentality has always been a part of my life - be it graffiti, hip hop, break dancing, DJing, MCing, punk rock music, building slipways and half pipes, even painting your duct tape. . That's all I've done my whole life without even considering it as art. It was just an extension of skateboarding.
But back to the question: I mean, how do you get respectanything? It does this action all the time and shows that there is a real passion for it as opposed to doing something because it's cool and you want to be.knownfor — Because this comes and goes; it will disappear. But the art world is so ridiculous. Who's the boss here anyway? What makes my artwork better than yours? Or the other way around? If it sells for more, does that make it better? Or is it because a curator says his art is better than anything else?
It's all bullshit; totally subjective. That alone makes me not care whether the art world accepts me or not. Looking at the most famous artists of all time, most were not accepted by the art world during their lifetime. Fortunately, I am not financially dependent on it. I just love creating on multiple platforms. I just have to do these things because it keeps me sane - or I'll go insane! I'm not sure. [laughs] It doesn't matter if it's one of the others, it balances. Powersomething.
You've had your fair share of injuries. Most people would think it would be hell for any pro athlete, but it sounds like you actually found some bright spots that led to other opportunities.
I think I've been trying to pull positives out of negatives my whole life. I know a lot of skaters who get injured and think, "I don't know what to do with myself" and end up sitting on the couch playing video games. That was never me. I have to do something with my mind and my hands; I can't sit still. But my mindset in life is, 'Okay, I can't do this. what am Ihe canmake?' I believe in working with what you have, not what you need. I always hear people say, "If I had that much money..." and it really pisses me off. It's like, 'Make it happen or shut up!'
You have been described as one of the most marketable pros skateboarding has ever seen. What do you think it was about your image, style or personality that made people see you in that light?
It's difficult to say; I don't know. Since there was never a plan for this career, I was just myself in skateboarding - and maybeWasit was something people could identify with. Although some of the aspects of being me had gotten out of control over the years, it was still all an extension of being the real me in some way.
The weather probably had something to do with it too. The skateboard industry collapsed in the 80's and when I started in the early 90's it was like thatdied. In my neighborhood there was no one else who skated. I was the outcast. But that was when I skated the most; That's when I learned my tricks. As my career grew, so did the skateboarding industry. But I think there was a perception among the general public, especially non-skateboarders, of, "Oh, skateboarding is all punk rock and spanking and violence." Maybe I was a kid back then, coming out and representing something else.
Do you think there were any misconceptions people had about you? Things you thought were always wrong?
There are elements of my entire career that have been overrated. There was a time when getting a Taco Bell Taco and 40 [ounces] was my daydream. To get an income from that, I was like, 'Oh my God! I gotta get this, get this I want an Escalade!' [laughs] I looked at that hip hop dream that I saw in magazines and videos and I was like, 'I'm done!' I really know I might have thought, 'Oh, that's really cheesy.' [laughs] Even I can see it myself now. But I think it's hilarious to look back on because it's just a kid expressing himself and doing whatever.
What was it like pursuing the hip hop dream when you first started producing?beatsfor the likes of Biz Markie, Guru, Ice-T, Raekwon and U-God?
At the time I thought I was aiming for a music career. [laughs] I thought, 'I'm starting a record company!' I was always messing around with DJing and my friends were rappers so we had little sketchy recording setups and stuff. But it wasn't until I started making some money skateboarding that I got my own recording studio. I wasupset: Producing music, starting a record label, hiring new talent, all that stuff. I invested a lot of money... and it was the worst possible time to try to get into music.
That was the death of CDs: a moment when all the famous record stores started to close. My strategy at the time was, "All these stores are closing, so I'm selling music in skate shops becausethat's itsuch a natural place to consume music, especially underground hip hop.' I didn't have the foresight to really see the impact the digital world would have on music.
As a producer and not an artist, it was difficult to take over my label from a major or continue to invest in it. So I kind of blacked it out and went back to full-time skating for another round. I've had these rollercoaster rides back and forth in the industry and I think that also helped keep me interested in it. If I had skated every day of my life, maybe I would have become oneburnedon it or something. [Laugh]
They would have learned a lot from all these different experiences. I was wondering if people come to you for advice - and if so, what do you tell them?
I feel obligated to talk to skaters so they can learn from my mistakes. Pay your taxes! [laughs] I got robbed a few times and had to pay a lot of the money I made because I thought it was medefine. I finally found a good business manager who helped set me on the right path. What skaters don't know is that almost half of what you earn goes to taxes. Unfortunately not many people who run them.
Therefore it is also important to thinkFor aSkateboard. I am blessed to have a career in this field and continue to earn some financial income from this passion that I have dedicated my life to. But that won't happen to everyone, especially in this day and age. It's different now; there is such a quick turnaround. It's like the world doesn't make as many iconic, long-lasting skaters. It doesn't feel like we're about to see the best of the best ever. It's almost as if we're deaf, as if the oversaturation of the content we're exposed to can limit the impact almost anyone can have on us.anyIndustry.
How does the brain store all this information? It can't. When I came in, the kids got a video every two years and watched it over and over again. If they had some magazines they bought at a skate shop, they would read them over and over again until they stuck in their minds. Now it's just wipe, wipe, wipe; for the next thing, for the next thing So it changed the world a lot.
Was there ever any advice anyone gaveOfdid you really notice?
I think maybeEd TempletonorJamie Thomastold me to be careful that if you do the wrong thing on the skateboard it can all be over very quickly. If you get it wrong, it could literally mean the end of your career... But maybe it never stuck with me because it never really gave me a shit. [laughs] I think I was against it. I'm such an anti-authority and anti-establishment type that if almost any type of structure was imposed on me in life, I would automatically try to break them. It's built into my DNA for some reason.
I have difficulties with structure, rules or authority in general. I'd rather be homeless than sacrifice my belief in what I want to do. I'm an all or nothing person. That's how I work. When I feel that, you have me 100 percent. When I don't feel it, peace.
What would you say skateboarding represents in your life as an outlet today? Does it still have the same meaning? Or do you have a different feeling about it?
The feeling I'm getting from skating right now isdor. [laughs] Lots and lots of pain in every part of my body. It hurts, but it hurts well. At the same time it feeds my soul. I still have a herniated disc in my lower back; I am constantly aware of that. But about eight months ago, this crazy little miracle happened: I just woke up and said, 'This injury isn't going to rule my life anymore. I'm not going to sit here at home waiting to die; I'll go out and get him."
That day I pushed a button in my head and started skating on Hollywood Boulevard. I felt this energy rising up my spine like magic. I said to myself: "I'm going back, I'll do it". Of course it would not be at the level of before. Some mornings I woke up and couldn't even put my socks on. I had to stick a toe in and then roll on the floor and barely reach a part just to pull it up.
It's difficult for me because I'm like thatexecutor. I can hardly accept help for anything in my life. But I was insanely depressed, at the bottom of my soul. Skateboarding that day was the start of something: I started stretching, started doing yoga; I tried to eat healthier, be more aware of this injury, and think more positively about life in general.
And it worked wonders... although it's not cured in any way. I flew into Manchester on the first day of this trip, was excited, went ice skating with the homies and the next day I couldn't put my socks back on. But as the day goes on it gets a little stronger; I move a little more, keep my core tight. But I can say that once again it totally cheered me up.
As I started getting back into the skate industry and doing more events, going to demos, I felt the love of this community come back to me. Up to that point, I felt like my career was over and nobody cared about me anymore. I've posted a few tricks on Instagram - not even good tricks by my standards - but something I wanted to show the world.
All of a sudden it was like, 'Dude, you're back! You can do it! ' So much love came my way. It got people saying, 'I haven't skated in 10 years, I've had this injury or that, and you inspired me.' My inbox was full of all these different stories about how people are feeling better now and trying. I had no idea that something positive in my life could have an impact on other lives as well. I get a little emotional just thinking about it.
It was a crazy experience. Even on this journey, homies tell me stories about how I've inspired them in their lives. And I was like, 'Holy shit! How do these little children know who I am?' It just encourages me to keep going. I love being a part of it.
Chad Muska was in London as part ofabove"Rise And Defy" European tour. Box@suprafootwear.ukfor more informations.
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What life lessons does skateboarding teach? ›
- Awareness. Parents try to teach kids to get along, be considerate of others, and “read” the dynamics of a room or situation, but it's a nuanced lesson. ...
- Resilience. ...
- Innovation. ...
- Holding your own. ...
- Creativity and artistry. ...
- Creating and sharing happiness.
Basically. It's a frontside flip that's just more vertical.Does Jamie Thomas still skate? ›
Skating gave me a confidence I'd never had - which actually makes a lot of sense. It forces you to face your fears and to trust yourself, something I think I'd never truly done before. I became less anxious, more outgoing, and felt I could conquer the world.What is the main idea of skateboarding? ›
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The gazelle flip, also known as a bigspin 360 kickflip, was invented by Rodney Mullen in 1981. Gazelle flips are considered to be one of the hardest street tricks to land, and can take months or even years for the most experienced skateboarders to master.What is a 180 kickflip called? ›
A varial kickflip (also known as a kickflip shuvit or 180 flip) is a kickflip combined with a backside-pop shuvit.
Who created the muska flip? ›
For a brief period in the late 90s, they were extremely cool. It started when Chad Muska, who famously tended to do his frontside flips illusion style, became a breakout star. “I learned them on a quarterpipe like Natas, so I started doing them like that,” Muska told VICE of discovering illusion-style frontside flips.Who owns Straye shoes? ›
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Skaters Chris Cook, Lance Mountain, and Allen Losi were stunt doubles for Josh Brolin.How does skateboarding improve mental health? ›
A joint research project between Instinct Laboratory and Flo skatepark has shown that there's a strong correlation between people who skateboard and improved mental health – skateboarding can “reduce stress, increase confidence, and provide escapism”.How can skateboarding benefits a person? ›
Skateboarding offers an array of advantages including coordination, pain tolerance, stress relief, precision, reflexes and patience. Coordination – Skateboarding improves hand, eye, leg and feet coordination. When skateboarding, you need to alter your movements so you skate smoothly and accurately.
As a subculture, skaters value creativity, risk, and freedom. Whereas traditional sport is organized and run by adults, skateboarding is not. There are “no referees, no penalties, no set plays.What does skateboarding teach kids? ›
Skateboarding is great for helping develop coordination and core strength. It takes a long time to get good at skateboarding and doing tricks, so it's a great activity for teaching kids about practice and perseverance. It's becoming a more popular sport by the day and is really fun to watch, as well as participate in.Are skateboard lessons a thing? ›
You Can Get a Certified Pro Instructor
Skateboarding–Very Safe For All Ages! Skateboarding is a great sport for people of all ages. We teach all ages (starting at 3 years old.) GOSKATE's top teachers have over 14 years of skateboarding experience.
There is no definitive answer to this question as the height of an ollie depends on a number of factors, including the skater's individual physiology and technique. However, some experts believe that the average ollie height is around six inches.
Who did the first ollie? ›
Invented in the late 1970s by Alan "Ollie" Gelfand, the ollie has become a skateboarding fundamental, the basis for many other more complicated tricks. In its simplest form, the ollie is a jumping technique that allows skaters to hop over obstacles and onto curbs, etc.What ollies full name? ›
Ollie is a given name and a nickname, often as a shortened form of Oliver, Olive, Olympia, Olga or Olivia. Variants include Olie, Oli, Oly and Olly.Is ollie or kickflip easier? ›
It can be argued that, for beginner skaters, learning to do a kickflip is easier than mastering an ollie. This is because with a kickflip, the board does not have to leap into the air and stick to your feet as it does with an ollie; rather, only one foot needs to leave the board while performing a kickflip.How hard is a 900 in skateboarding? ›
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What are the benefits of learning to skateboard? ›
- It's Great for Relieving Stress.
- It's Really Social.
- It's an Affordable Hobby.
- It's a Great Way to Get Around.
- It'll Make You Stronger.
- It's a Great Cardio Workout.
- It Can Help Make You More Coordinated.
- It'll Teach You How to Fall Safely.
In a major study, researchers from the University of California found that skateboarding improves mental health, fosters community, and promotes diversity and resilience. The study also indicated that people from a diversity of races and genders are important and active members of the skateboarding community.