Toronto’s Miss Zhou sits down with us to discuss plans of genetically modified horse/rhino beast who poops rainbows; skateboards and the obligatory – bacon.
Hi Cindy, how are you?
Laughing hysterically. Mostly because chatting with you is awesome. I’m also secretly hoping this won’t be the greatest interview ever so that you’ll owe me a horse!
What would you do with the horse?
Easy. Feed it a lot and give it rhino hormones so that it grows a horn and becomes a chubby unicorn I can ride.
And it can poop rainbows and bacon!
Of course. It has to be eco-friendly and create re-usable goodness. Mmmm… bacon!
What’s your favourite bacon?
Canadian. Pure Canadian.
Basically. Except I’m Asian. BUT I was born in St. John’s Newfoundland so I think that makes me more Canadian than most.
When did you start skating?
In the Summer of 2009. Yup.
You’d never stepped on a skateboard before that?
The year before, my friend Samantha and I were trying to learn how to ollie a skateboard. That failed miserably and was the only other time I had stepped on a skateboard.
What got you into it?
I was a huge YouTube fanatic (still am) and the LoadedNewsletter video “The Dancer” was featured on the front page. I clicked it, watched it, obsessed over how cool it was and decided that I HAD TO GET ONE. I had also just learned how to snowboard the winter beforehand so I was pretty stoked on the idea of board sports.
What was it about the video that got you hooked?
The style, the fluidity, the music, the amount of fun it looked… Adam and Adam… Everything!
Are they your favourite skaters?
They are definitely up there. They have been so influential.
Who did you skate with in the beginning?
Nobody. Just Samantha once in a while. Otherwise, it was just me and my board travelling around Toronto for a year and a half.
What was it like doing stuff on your own for so long?
It was still fun. I had other hobbies back then when longboarding hadn’t taken over my life. I still have other hobbies, but my list of hobby priority has definitely shifted.
When did you find skate buddies?
In February 2011! I found skate buddies in the Skate Invaders!!
What kind of stuff did you get to in the early days?
Lots of city exploration. Lots of tiger clawing. YE TIGER CLAWS.
Who are the skate invaders?
We are a group of skaters who collaborate with artists, musicians, and other communities to help spread the joys of longboarding. A lot of us are artists and musicians ourselves. It was started by Jonathan Nuss and Ryan Verkerk and now has close to 40 “official” members. Anyone is considered a skate invader as long as they love to longboard and send out good vibes.
What sort of music do you make?
It’s mostly Nuss, Park, Marcel and Chris who make and record music but I know almost everyone in our group can play an instrument or is at least trying to learn. The uke has been my weapon of choice.
How did you find each other?
YouTube! I commented on one of their older videos about wanting to ride with them and they got in contact with me.
Are you a film-maker?
Sort of. I definitely don’t have any real education with the technicalities of film-making. But I do like to get clips and create edits.
What do you try to capture when you film skating?
I always try to capture how fun skateboarding is… just like the first Loaded videos I saw. I also use videos to capture my own progression.
What happened when you met the Skate Invaders?
It changed everything. They are the ones who taught me about my set-up, sliding, and the community. They are the guys who I sessioned with to get better and who inspired me to learn certain tricks. They have become some of my best friends and have made skating not only a hobby but a really fun social experience.
When did you feel yourself start to progress?
All throughout the Spring of 2011, I was absolutely determined to learn to slide and learn more flatland tricks – especially nose manuals. I was definitely surprised by how quickly I progressed.
What do you enjoy about doing tricks?
It’s more the learning process that’s really satisfying. When you finally understand what you’re supposed to do with your body to make a trick work and are so close to finally completing the trick… it’s exciting and mentally challenging and ahh… I just love the feeling of getting something after putting in a lot of time and effort.
Do you teach?
Sort of. I show people the general movements of doing a trick and give advice that might make it easier for them to learn. Once that happens, I just expect them to try it for themselves and learn through trial and error. It’s really the only way. An individual could conceptualize pushing a skateboard for weeks on end but unless they actually step on a board and build that muscle memory, it is pointless to try to teach them in theory alone.
What’s your favourite thing to do on a board?
POP IN SOME MUSIC AND DANCE
How does dancing make you feel?
Where did skating take you in 2011?
It took me to my first swap meet, slide jam, old school night shred, NorCal and Broadway Bomb.
When did you first skate outside your city?
I live in Toronto, Ontario. The first place I longboarded was actually in California because that is where I bought my first board – Sector 9 Waimea!
What did it feel like to skate outside Canada when you were comfortable with your board?
It was still scary! Hills… or should I say mountains in BC or Quebec or California are on a whole other level than in Onterrible.
How was the broadway bomb?
CRAZY! New York traffic is a whole other beast! I thought Toronto was busy (it is the most populated city in Canada) but New York is just… damn! The first year I went with Nuss and Megit, our bus ended up arriving 6 hours late and we had to join the Broadway Bomb halfway through since it had already started. We skated that whole day with our HEAVY ASS backpacks. It was also the first time I “met” a lot of people I had only seen in videos… James Kelly, Marcus Bandy, Cami Best, Adam Crigler, Brian Bishop etc… I put “met” in quotation marks because I was severely awkward, ended up lurking super hard, and didn’t really talk to them much. Ha.
Have you had many awkward encounters with lurkers?
Story of my life. One time at a slide jam (might have been Montreal or Ithaca), there was this one “lurker” who was like… “Hey, you’re that girl from the Magic Socks video! CANDY’s Magic Socks.” Being the awkward individual I am, I whispered quietly… ”Cindy”. I guess he didn’t hear me properly and continued being loud and excited instead. I just let him believe my name was Candy for the rest of the day. Sort of awkward…. for both of us.
What’s the community in Toronto like?
Groms are killing it. Everyone is pretty supportive of everyone else. Events happen all the time. Boardmeeting is the best event of the year. Hands down. I love the Toronto community.
How is the boardmeeting different to the bomb?
First of all it’s not a race. We actually stop traffic with the sheer amount of people we have so it is really safe and chill! We dress up in spiffy dress shirts and ties in honor of our annual “boardmeeting” too. That in itself provides a sense of unity not found at the Bomb. We also stop at major landmarks in the city as a group, session the flat, and do a headcount. This year, Nuss and Chicken are planning some crazy things for Boardmeeting including, but not limited to, getting a permit for a park we will end off at, mini ramp demos, vendors, mad swag for raffles and so much more. Basically, it’s one of my favourite events of the year and I don’t think I’ll be missing one for many years to come.
Who are Nuss & Chicken?
Nuss is the guy who produces almost all the big pieces of longboard media coming out of Toronto. He is one of my best friends, has a great heart and is continuously perfecting his craft of videography and photography. If you’ve ever seen a video containing Toronto longboard events (Boardmeeting, Swap Meet, Slide Fu), the Skate Invaders, or Otang/Loaded riders from Toronto that was probably Nuss’ work.
Chicken’s real name is Mike McGowan. He’s a member of the Escarpment Surfers and a resident of Toronto’s skate house Club 54. He currently co-owns the sickest skate shop in Toronto called Longboard Haven. Tell your mom! His laugh is contagious, his hair is outrageous and he’s an all-around great guy.
When did you first compete?
Since I don’t really count slide jams as competitions, I guess I’d say just this past September when I entered my first IGSA race, PEC Gravity Fest, in Picton Ontario. I’d competed in local races like Jane Paths but I wasn’t very good at the time so I wasn’t much competition.
Did you enjoy racing?
Inherently… no. But I think that eventually I may start to enjoy racing if I try it out more. It’s sort of like when people learn a musical instrument. It’s really hard and frustrating at first but once they get good enough at the basics, it can become really fun! Except learning musical instruments doesn’t come with the fear and potential to seriously injure yourself like downhill skateboarding does, so the analogy only goes so far.
Do you have a killer trick at dance comps?
We don’t have dance comps! Haha. Although I wish I went to that Netherlands “So You Think You Can Dance” event. LOOKED DOPE! If I did have a “killer” trick, it would probably be a one-footed manual, underfoot shuv-out! It’s not on lock YET but I’ve landed it a handful of times.
European Dance Championship in Berlin this summer. See you there?
Oh. my. god. REALLY? When in the Summer?
August 18. It’ll be too much fun. German beer, Canadian bacon.
Sounds like a date!
What did you get up to last year?
-January: Visited LA for a week for the first time. San Pedro Slide Jam. Stayed with Amanda, Dane and Adam, got to visit Loaded/Otang, and met so many skaters I looked up to.
-March: Kicked off the Toronto season with Swap Meet. So good to see everyone from the local community at this event! Filmed for Loaded/Otang — “Magic Socks”.
-April: Ithaca Slide Jam! YEE COMET DOING BIG THINGS!
-May: Montreal skate trip and slide jam.
-July: BC for two weeks. Stayed with Dom. Watched her win Whistler. Got to meet so many more amazing people. Maryhill She-Ride (speaks for itself)! Portland with Alicia, Carmen and Possala to skate local spots and film for Loaded/Otang — “Button Down Cactus”.
-August: San Fran with the Sliders and ladies who shred up there, Santa Barbara & LA to revisit friends and skate
-October: Broadway Bomb!!!!!
-November: Hosted the 2nd Annual FUBU Event. Filmed for Loaded/Otang –“Hammer Pants”
-December: Went into hibernation.
What do you ride?
My go to set-up is the Loaded Chubby Unicorn with 50* Calibers, 80a Orangatang Fat Frees, 87a Venom/86a Blood Orange bushings, Loaded Jehu bearings, and Vicious Griptape. Pure sweetness.
Are any of those your sponsors?
I am fortunate enough to say YES! Loaded, Orangatang and Caliber all hook me up with ample gear to keep me shredding.
When did you hook up with them?
I’ve been riding for Loaded and Orangatang since August 2011 and I officially joined the Caliber flow team in January.
How did you get on loaded?
My good friend and super shredder Jensen was getting flowed by Otang for a minute. He sent my video Milpitas Longboarding to the team manager who then messaged me on YouTube about a sponsorship.
If anyone learns something from this interview – magic happens on YouTube.
Hells yes it does. Subscribe to me! http://www.youtube.com/user/CecretCindy?feature=mhee
What’s it like to be an ambassador?
Being an ambassador is incredible! Having a company who is supportive and stoked on your skating is a great feeling. It also feels good knowing that I can thrash my gear without having to worry about how I’m going to afford replacing it if it cores or breaks. If I can inspire some people to get out and skate too, then it makes being an ambassador that much better.
How do calibers work for dancing?
They are actually amazing! I know Calibers are mostly known for being a fast freeride and downhill truck but with a softer bushing set up, they make a great freestyle/ dancing truck too. They return to center really well so when dancing from edge to edge, the board doesn’t immediately dive from one side to the other and makes my dancing way smoother. Having the trucks bring my wheelbase in 1 inch as well, this has made the Chubby kicks even more functional by providing an ideal height and angle for popping shuvits and no-complies.
You do everything on your Chubby?
Everything except stuff like mini-ramps or bowls. And sleep… I use my magic carpet for that.
Where do you see freestyle/dancing going?
I see it being incorporated into other disciplines like freeriding or street. Ari Chamasmany already does a killer job of integrating dancing into his free riding. It’s amazing!
What’s Candy style?
Try to be smooth and not die.
What are your plans for this year?
Finish my 2nd year at university for business management, skate as much as possible in the Summer, work for Loaded, live in California, and get more involved at school with business organizations.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
I just quit my part-time job so I used to do that for about 15 hours a week. Otherwise, I play basketball 3-4 times a week, do homework (A LOT), learn the ukulele, hang out with 1 of my 5 roommates or other friends, eat constantly, read when I can, and surf the internet way too much.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-41.
15,16,17…. hit me with those secret questions!
15 – What was the last book you read?
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
16 - Have you met anyone famous?
Lots of basketball players. Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, and Lebron James. I’ve never met a really big celebrity from the world of TV or movies though.
17 – Favourite socks?
Those weird toe socks. Nothing beats that.
It’s been so awesome getting to know you Cindy! See you in August?
Right, right! I’ll try my best to make it out but no promises!
Any thank yous?
Thanks to my whole family. My mom, dad, stepdad and sister have all been the most open-minded and supportive people I could ask for – especially since my parents were raised under very Asian ideals! Thanks to all the companies that have ever supported me as a rider or gear-wise. Loaded, Orangatang, Caliber, and G-Form right now. Rayne and Paris in the past. Much love to all these companies and more!
PS: GO CHECK OUT LONGBOARD HAVEN (Toronto) AND FLATSPOT (Vancouver). BEST SHOPS IN CANADA HANDS DOWN!
Was it hard having Asian parents and wanting to skate?
Surprisingly, no. As long as I could still excel in school and not let skating become all-consuming, I was allowed to skate.