Hello Samuel! How are you?
I’m excellent Gbemi, had a very nice weekend. How about yourself?
Not bad at all, did some skating!
Never enough skating, I’m gonna get some runs in after we are done here.
Where do you ride?
There are a few local runs I hit frequently, mostly straight and steep, been craving some long grip DH though. I live just north of Boston Massachusetts, in the United States.
Is that where you started skating?
It sure is, got my first longboard when I was about 15. Been skating out here with my good friends Dane Webber and Brian Bishop since then.
Are you all from the same town?
Yes, they lived just a minute or two skate away. Brian still lives close by, Dane is living and working in Los Angeles, CA.
Who are they?
Brian is a pro rider with Original Skateboards, and Dane is a rider/ customer service rep with Loaded Boards.
Who else did you skate with back then?
Several of our mutual friends tried longboarding and would skate with us, some fell out of love with the sport and others still skate, but in a much more recreational sense. When we started skating the scene, especially out here, it was very small and isolated, it’s crazy how frequently I see people longboarding around now.
What did you call your gang of 3?
Haha, there were a couple names that I won’t mention here, but ultimately we settled on Skate District, which I have taken on as my photo/video production name.
So you guys are the OGs of skating in Boston?
I wouldn’t go that far, maybe the OGs of our little town.
What did you ride back then?
My first board was an Organica, not even sure the company exists, I’m pretty sure it was designed for someone who weighs 300 plus pounds. I pretty quickly got a Sector 9 pintail.
Have you been skating in the same town since then?
I haven’t moved, but my skating exploits have taken me all over the country. I’ve even skated a little in New Zealand.
How did that come about?
I was WWOOFing in New Zealand with some friends, we brought our longboards of course. We skated a mountain pass on Loaded boards, that was scary.
How does one woof?
WWOOF not woof. haha, it’s an organization that operates world wide, if I’m not mistaken. You work on farms in exchange for room and board, It’s an amazing way to see a country. http://www.wwoof.org/ check it out.
That’s fun. What other exotic locations have you skated?
Sadly that is it, unless you consider Ohio exotic.
You mentioned earlier that you guys are called SkateDistrict – why?
The hill we first started skating on was located in a business district, which allowed us to skate there all night, without being bothered. We dubbed it the Skate District.
What is SkateDistrict films?
I’ve since shortened it to Skate District, because I’ve been focusing on photography more, but Skate District is a pseudonym of sorts. It is a name I publish work under, pictures, video and a little bit of skate related writing.
When did you get into film-making?
Oh man, Brian and I used to make silly, ah… jackass inspired, videos when we were younger. My interest waned until we all got into longboarding.
What kind of stuff do you write?
Well I’ve only just started writing again, but editorials about longboarding life, longboarding trips and I hope to write recaps of events, though I find writing to be pretty frustrating so we’ll see how long it lasts.
Skating and Photography are your hobbies, how do you make it work?
Well I’m trying to make them mesh together into more than just hobbies. Photography has been a passion/hobby of mine for much longer than skating, but skating became the principal outlet for my photography. I take pictures of my friends skateboarding and sell them to their sponsors, works out pretty well for all of us I think.
That’s something I haven’t heard before. How did that start?
Loaded buys photographs of their riders, which is how it started. I’ve also sold to skate shops and other skate related companies for use in adverts as well as website work. You can find some of my pictures in the most recent Concrete Wave in an advert for Bern slide gloves and helmets.
Did someone just approach you one day like, hey Sammy I want that photo you just took so bad!!
I wish! No it started with my friends sending my pictures to their sponsors, sometimes I’d get gear other times I get cash money. I guess I pursued it as a way to fund my skate addiction.
Where did you train these awesome photography skills?
Flattering, but I’m okay, there is always more to know and better ways to approach a picture. I joined a photography club in middle school, using film. I took film photo courses in high school, and digital during my time at college. I consider my time shooting film to have been the most important to my growth as a photographer. Other than that I’m all self taught, there is no better teacher than experience, lots of time shooting and experimenting.
Do you only photograph commercially?
Certainly not. I shoot a lot of landscape which is purely for my own amusement. I also like to do portraits of friends and random people I meet. Nor do I expect to sell all of my skate images, a lot of them are for stoke purposes.
Stoke is good. Which do you enjoy more – shooting or skating?
Not sure I have an answer, haha. I love them both. I’d rather shoot one on one with a person, but if there is a big group skating I have trouble putting down my board.
What kind of skating do you like to do?
Freeride and Downhill, but I can never resist skating around my driveway (or kitchen haha) on my vintage board. I used to do a lot of dancing or board walking, which is what got me into skating in the first place, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like any more.
How huge is your kitchen?
Not that big, the board is just that small. We call it kitchen boarding, in actuality it takes up the entire house!
Do you live in a skate-house in Boston?
Nope! That would be awesome. Maybe some day…
Does the skate-house phenomenon occur on the East coast?
Not that I’m aware of and if it did I don’t know where it would be, the east doesn’t have a large concentration of epic hills like the west does. Though I wouldn’t be surprised for one to pop up in the next couple of years, the scene out here is growing pretty rapidly.
How are things organised around there?
Pretty loosely, NYC has push culture, other than that it’s a lot of local groups. It’s unfortunate but the east loses most the seriously passionate people to the west coast. My area is a tough place to be a skater. Not many people like us skating the roads, not matter how courteous we are. So a lot of the skating needs to happen in small groups, anything more than 4 or 5 is pretty much bound to get busted. I’ve heard great things about Mike’s Event in Harvard, I missed them unfortunately. I attended an event up in Lawrence, MA a month or so ago and was blown away by the number of people who showed up. I hope more events pop up, there is huge scene here but a lot of it is kinda underground. Sanctioned events are pretty much a must out here, though it can be very hard to get events sanctioned.
What’s the biggest crowd you’ve skated with?
Not sure I think there was about a hundred people at the last event I attended.
How was last season for you?
This past winter? It was awesome. The mildest winter I’ve ever had living out here. So I was able to skate all year! People seem to mind less about skaters when it is freezing out and the lack of snow allowed for skating places that normally we can’t.
What are your plans for the coming season?
I’m moving the Portland, OR in July, taking my sweet time getting across the country, stopping to visit friends along the way. I’m going to Giant’s Head for sure, gonna try and make it to one or more Maryhill freerides.
You’ll be racing Maryhill?
No, the freerides. Hahaha, I raced in the Major Stokem race last year, fell taking out the second place rider, and assumed I was out of the race and was justing laughing and walking around until someone told me I could still finish. I’m not super competitive when it comes to longboarding, I just like to skate with friends. I just googled longboard crash and the 13th image is of my crash at Major Stokem.Hahaahaa.
Haha, you’re famous! Will you do any more racing this year?
I will probably attend quite a few, but as a photographer, like I said I’m not super competitive.
What things are you working on right now?
I have a bunch of photographs from my California trip, that no one has seen. I’m talking with companies, I hope to get them out soon. I think they are some of my best.
Where can we find your work?
theskatedistrict.com is my blog form website and last I checked one of my images was on the loaded front page.
What is this California trip you’re referring to?
In March I went to LA to skate and photograph. I stayed with Dane Webber, Amanda Powell, and Mr. Adam Colton. Did a bunch of photo shoots with Amanda because she is a rad skater, and I was sick of seeing the same old pictures of her on every interview with her. Took a trip up to Santa Barbara and skated with the Sunset Sliders, attended the Wheelbase Mag 1 year party. Skated some epic SoCal roads. Overall a very awesome skate trip.
Ah! That sounds like fun, how was the photo session with The Monster?
It was with Amanda Powell, just stayed with the monster, sadly I didn’t get to witness his skate prowess.
Do you do a lot of similar trips?
Not as many as I’d like, more in the future though!
What do you ride?
I’m currently riding a 2011 Landyachtz “WolfShark”, and Sector 9 Downhill Division “Roxanne”.
Are these your sponsors?
No, that would be amazing! I don’t have any official sponsors, I’m sort of on flow for Orangatang and Loaded, an added bonus for supplying them with photos I guess.
What does it mean to ”be on flow”
They give me free stuff, it’s a lot like being sponsored but less strict I guess.
What do you do when you’re not skating/taking pictures?
Edit pictures. Currently looking into schools, and planning my move across the country. Hiking and walking my dog are my favorite leisure activities.
Any other adventures or stories you want to share?
Back when I was young and stupid (ie. skating without a helmet) I took a gnarly fall and my brain bled into my skull. I lost my sense of taste and smell for years afterwards, and spent two months sleeping, because that was all I could do.
Oh my! Can you smell bacon now?
I sure can! But oddly it seems I can’t smell bad smells, like farts, so its not all bad.
How did you crash?
Doing a hill that was out of my league at the time, I high sided around a toeside turn.
Did you need an operation?
Thankfully not! There was fairly severe swelling in my skull, but luckily not enough to warrant an operation.
What difference has the experience made in your life?
Gave me a much better appreciation for how dangerous skating can be. I wear my helmet every time I skate and a full face for DH or Freeride at that.
I had no idea! That sounds like a trip. Happy you can still skate and smell nice things!
Choose 3 numbers between 1-26
24, 6, 5
24- Favourite movie?
Anything with Jim Carrey, except “The Number 23”.
6 – What is the strangest food you’ve eaten?
Huhu grub, look it up.
5 – What is your favourite skate video?
http://vimeo.com/34847988 THIS! Dustin Hampton is an awesome guy, had the pleasure of snowboarding and skating with him. This raw run of him, on my favorite road, gets my blood pumping every time.
It’s been great getting to know you bro. I look forward to featuring more of your work in the magazine!
Thank you! Great talking to you! I’ll make it to London sooner rather than later and we can skate together! Skate hard and skate safe!
Any thank yous?
I’d like to thank all the riders I work with, you guys make it all possible. My parents and lovely girlfriend for putting up with my skate addiction and constant road rash. And Loaded/ Orangatang for helping me out throughout the years! Check out my website, and if you find something you like everything is available for sale as a poster!