Article By: Marco Alvarez | Photos By: Carlos Coords
I simply couldnâ€™t pass up the chance to interview pro skater Brandon Turner when my buddy Kent from the Purple Room hit me up and said they were showing him the studio. He was down, so I was stoked. We had our proper introductions in Pacific Beach over a brew, and I wanted to dig into what heâ€™s been up to lately, skate-wise and music-wise. Although he travels often, Brandon was born in San Diego and was also raised in Japan for 8 years. Brandon, myself, and so many other San Diegans grew up loving skateboarding, so I value the respect among local skaters. Brandon exemplifies this respect, and the simple way he carried himself made it easy for me to talk to him.
Coupled with his down-to-earth personality is his profound sensibility for skating, which is somewhat underrated. The sheer magnitude of his actual tricks is incredible, and his effortless style is unmistakable. His switch skills donâ€™t seem switch. His switch hardflip is an atom bomb. Thrown down a fat double-set or triple-set? No problem! His switch hardflip over the Carlsbad gap is a classic piece of skate footy and history, and it was even featured on YouTubeâ€™s â€œWorldâ€™s Best Hardflips.â€ His nollie skills are no joke either with nollie boardslides down intimidating rails and nollie 180 flips down super steep banks. Moreover, the first trick alone in his throwback footage is absolutely insane.Â Itâ€™s one of those rare and beautiful moments when you see magic unfold in front of your eyes.Â He launches off a bank and kickflip melons over a chain-link fence! Are you kidding me?! His video parts are teeming with life, and they indicate his longevity. Ever since his early video days, such as on TSA Clothingâ€™s â€œLife in the Fast Lane,â€ you get the feeling that he was born to skate. As he is a comprehensively unique figure in the world of skating, it was only natural for me to ask some questions. I was eager to see what Brandon has been up to since his throwback days on Shortyâ€™s.
Tell me a little about the Sk8Mafia vid that is due to drop in September. What do you like about this video? Is there something new you took away in making this one compared to other vids youâ€™ve done in the past?
Yeah, we droppinâ€™ the Mafia vid late September, super excited about it and about just the team as a whole. Weâ€™ve been doing a lot of traveling to Spain, Sweden, and some other countries, so we have a pretty good variety of spots. I think thatâ€™s what makes a video more interesting. Also, we are not just some put-together team â€“ we are all family and youâ€™re going to be able to tell that when you watch our epic edits.
Who do you usually skate with on or off the Sk8Mafia team?
I skate with the whole team. Like I said, we are all family. I guess it just depends on who is in town at the moment or agendas. I like to skate with all skaters though, whoever is around. I donâ€™t just skate with my team. It doesnâ€™t matter, all skateboarders are one. That is the definition of Sk8Mafia.
Iâ€™m big on names. How did the name Sk8Mafia come up?
The name Sk8Mafia just came from the famâ€¦going all the way back to Shortyâ€™s.
You were telling me you just got back from skating in Europe. What was that like? Was it a contest or a tour?
Europe was ill as fuckâ€¦for real, I love it. They have free medical, and being a skateboarder, thatâ€™s amazing because we get hurt sometimes. The people, for the most part, are real genuine and show a lot of respect for the art of skateboarding. We went to Finland for a contest and then to Spain to film for the video, which was really nice. We had an apartment for all of us, so we were goodâ€¦thatâ€™s all we needed to handle biz. Spain is the skateboarding capital, so yeah I didnâ€™t mind staying for a month. This last time we went to Sweden, it was for a contest and this filming trip and it was the best. They really took care of us and it was super organized.
Youâ€™re a skateboard hero for a grip of skaters out there, locally and beyond â€“ who would you say have been your skateboard heroes?
Haha, thatâ€™s cool. All the skaters who ever picked up a skateboard and have the love for it that I do are all my heroes because we share the same passion…but, if I had to pick one skateboarder to be my hero, then it would be Tom Penny, hands down.
How old were you when you first started skating? And when did you realize you wanted to skate for a living?
I started skating when I was really youngâ€¦I would have to say like 5 or since I can remember. I used to play a lot of sports just to feel it out and for fun of course, but I realized I wanted to skate for a living when I was in about 6th grade. I realized I was tired of being told what to do by coaches â€“ Iâ€™d rather be my own coach.
Whatâ€™s your favorite kind of terrain to skate?
I like skating everything; it really depends on what type of mood Iâ€™m in. If I want to keep it mellow, then maybe Iâ€™ll just skate some flat ground or a skatepark, but if Iâ€™m hung-over or something, I might want to get down on some handrails or some gaps, hahaâ€¦
Have you had to deal with any injuries lately, or have things been pretty chill?
I have had a lot of injuries in the past, but nothing serious lately, just a little ankle sprain here and there. I think I cracked my foot in Europe, but I was over trying to go to the hospitalâ€¦so Iâ€™ve just been re-hurting it. I think Iâ€™ll go after the vid drops, maybe.
Who are your current sponsors?
Sk8Mafia, Yums, Venture Trucks, Pacific Drive, Seedless, Electric glasses, and Laced.
What does your board setup consist of right now?
Sk8Mafia board, Venture trucks, Sk8Mafia wheels and bearings.
Now youâ€™re back here in San Diego for a few weeks, but where are you off to next?
Texas. I just signed with this company called Yums out of Dallas, and they do this thing the first Friday of every month called First Fridays with DJs â€“ a skate contest, graffiti, body paint, performances, just the whole thing. They are doing an after party and weâ€™re going down there for that at the first part of August, and weâ€™re doing this video shoot with my boy 2 Much a.k.a. 2 Meezyâ€¦super excited about that.
Music is your other passion…have you been getting involved in it for a while or is this more recent? What artists are you working with? And are you working on an album?
Iâ€™ve been doinâ€™ music for a while, but a lot more recently. I started with a little studio in my crib and then my boy Nigel started working with me, shooting me beats and recording. But then he dipped, so Iâ€™ve just been staying active and trying to get a couple projects together for the homies. Everyone that knows what Iâ€™m aboutâ€¦Iâ€™ve been workinâ€™ with my boy Suge and my other dude Makeshift, theyâ€™re both out of Daygo. Also, recently, my longtime homie from Daygo and Top Notch Records, 2 Meezy a.k.a. 2 Much, just dropped a single on MTV featuring Bun-B, you got to check that!!! Itâ€™s called â€œCake Upâ€!!! Hot shit for real. No album for me now, but me and him are doinâ€™ a mixtape called â€œWe Trippy Mayne,â€ with Juicy J from Three 6 Mafia hosting it.
What do you like to listen to when you skate? Is there something that just gets you flowing?
It all depends on what mood Iâ€™m inâ€¦if I can find my iPod. It tends to walk away, hahaâ€¦nah, but what gets me flowinâ€™ is the energy with the homies, so I try to keep the headphones off. Itâ€™s better, you can hear everything.
What relationship, if any, do you see between skateboarding and cannabis?
Everything!!! It sets the mood, keeps you mellow, and it expands your mind into thinking about different tricksâ€¦unless youâ€™re on probation â€“ then it stressed me out.
Where do you see skateboarding headed in the future? How do you see it evolving?
I see it getting more and more corporate. Skating will never be the same, like back in the day when I grew up doing it.
After the time I spent talking and hanging out with Brandon, I got a vicarious slice of what itâ€™s like to be a veteran skater who has been at the epicenter of skating since he was a kid. He has been living a life I couldâ€™ve only otherwise imagined, what so many of us skaters dream about, while staying true to the art of skateboarding.
To find out more go to www.sk8mafia4life.com/team/brandon-turner