Jonathan Nuss: Skate Invader

Nuss has a big heart, and is a big part of the Toronto skate community. Enjoy this conversation as he shares his love for skateboarding and photography.

longboard living gallery_2009

longboard living gallery_2009

Hey Nussy Wussy! How are you?
I’m good at home chilling on a fine rainy day.

Where are you from?
Born and raised on the West side of Toronto, Canada.

The gangster side?
South Side of Jane Motherfucker. You don’t front on that shit. lol

Do you have a gang?
A friendly gang of skaters from outer space. Two of us have tattoos now. Don’t ask me how that happened.

Who are the fugitives you’re harboring?
The only fugitive we harbor is Cindy Zhou aka C. Murder. She’s Toronto’s #1 hustler.



What got you into skateboarding?
I really loved watching my neighbors skate as child. I helped them build a half-pipe and watched them shred in the alleyways – 80’s style. I watched a lot of classic skate films in the 90s. I really liked people like The Gonz. I thought he was strange as hell but he brought something really interesting to the sport that was more than skating.
I mostly pushed around for fun growing up and didn’t get really into it till I was way older. My friend Benjamin Jordan gave me a real push in my early 20’s and that’s what fueled my obsession over the last 10 years. I’m still a shitty skater but I have a lot fun.

Do you still lurk?
Only when I durk. I like to be in it a lot more nowadays.

Who is Benjamin Jordan?
Toronto stoke legend and founder of the Toronto Board Meeting. Very special friend to all.

Flying. Photo by Chris Ng

Flying. Photo by Chris Ng

How did he impact you?
I was always the ‘crazy artist dude’. I thought it would be really interesting to bring art and sport together. In 2003, Ben chose me as lead photographer for the Toronto Board Meeting. After that year it became my life. I was always on the sidelines and Ben did a lot of the stuff I do now; take photos, make funny videos and have weekly sessions like Old School Night Shred.
He left with some friends to skate across Canada in 2007 with Push for the Cure. I broke my ankle that year and stayed at home writing music and fell out of the scene. He wrote me an email 2009 saying it was up to me to carry on the stoke.

What is the relationship between art and skateboarding?
I think all good art has a slight sense of humor to it. Skateboarding at its best; does a good job of making you feel good while aesthetically pleasing the senses, pushes your senses outside the box the world put us in and carries on the bigger conversation. It’s using your environment, your body, your community and all types of mediums to create.

How did you new found obsession change your life?
Every year it changes my life a little more. It was something I did on the side and for transport. I grew up without a car and still can’t drive, so I push everywhere.
In 2010 I gave myself a challenge: to make a video a week in the summer. Most of them really sucked but I scored almost everyone and met all my new friends. My new obsession brought all my obsessions together as one: skateboarding, photography, film, music and friends have become my life.

j-nuss - BM after party dj photo snakebite

j-nuss – BM after party dj photo snakebite

Have you found balance?
It should always be about balance; never force anything. Work hard and smart and it will naturally take form.

Which is your number 1 love?
Friends. I have really amazing friends. I create best with love in my life.

What’s the biggest difference between Nuss in ’03 and today?
I was really shy back in the day. Things were a lot different in Toronto. We didn’t have much of a scene, so Ben thought things like the Toronto Boardmeeting would help start one. The Toronto Boardmeeting in combination with are the two things that helped form our scene. I’m really lucky to be in a small part of the early parts.

How did you carry on the stoke in ’09?
I didn’t do very much! Ben scared the shit out of me with that challenge and I just ignored him for a year. I tried my best to be really involved with Boardmeeting and becoming a better skater. Things changed for me in 2010 when I had a gallery at Longboard Living for my Boardmeeting photos. It helped get back with everyone and become part of a weekly push called Side Street Surfing. I also started getting back into old-school night shred, and then the doors opened up. I met all my new friends, who are called the skate invaders.
j-nuss - Invadertattoo2

What is a skate invader?
I was really inspired by my friends the Escarpment Surfers to start a skate team. Those dudes are all legends. I wanted to create a skate team that showed all styles of skateboarding, not just DH. It wasn’t about being the most gnarly (because we all sucked at the time). At first it was just a bunch of dudes that just invaded parking garages. Our motto was “we are all skate invaders”. If you skate with us you’re a skate invader too. The idea is really loose and changes all the time.

It’s like an art collective of skaters who bring all their ideas together, that stokes the Ontario scene. The first Skate Invaders were Chris Ng, John Park, Ryan Verkerk, Nicolas Stello, Marcel Dione and myself. Chris, Park and I would all play music together and make tunes. Marcel and Ryan both worked at Roarocket and would be into making boards. Then we’d all just watch Nicolas skate because he’s from Brazil and is crazy surfy.

It sucked that we had no girl skaters because we use to have at least 5 girls at a session, back in the day. Ryan Verkerk found Cindy Zhou on YouTube and asked her to come skate. We all got crazy good once home boy power-shredder Alex Megit started skating with us. Then the whole thing kind of blew up. We have over 36 members, and we still welcome anyone to come skate/work with us. It was really cool to have Eric Jensen collaborate with us for while. That dude is all big now and shit.

What happens in the initiation ceremony?
You must be able to swing a bag of door knobs. If you can’t rob at least 3 old ladies a week you loose a finger.

Invader Family

Invader Family

Who made the famous logo?
It took me weeks to come up with something so simple. I’m usually really against the obvious so I decide to do something which wasn’t me and be really obvious. As soon I came up with the name the symbol came to me within moments. John Park has also designed a couple of variations. I figured I can just add a bow one day and have Ms Skate Invader as well. The YouTube skate invader intro is my voice and me tweaking some knobs on a voice fx box.

What was it like shooting the first BM?
The first Board Meeting was kind of crazy. We stopped every longboarder we saw on the street and asked them to come to our event. We also had two 15 year old kids help collect all the skaters. Their names were Joker and Chicken, fucken little shit-head punks! 40 people showed up and thought it was the greatest thing ever! I organized a team of photographers with Ben. We all got 3 rolls of film to shoot. We had this crazy friend Kevin who breathed fire in a dress and lived in a beaten up mansion with a dark room. We stayed up all night developing film and printing photos. Ben went to NYC the next day to the gallery.
We had over 1000 people show up to boardmeeting in the last two years which is a dream come true.

Now that smooth chicken has gone rasta – is he still a punk?
He’s a lion nowadays and can still be a little bit of punk. All those dudes grew up fast and I got younger.

Scott Harrison photo

Scott Harrison photo

What is the typical Wednesday session?
In tradition, who ever calls the session on must go to the house at queens park and wait for the skaters to arrive. The person who calls it then leads the skaters to an array of parking garages around the city. It’s a great way to learn to pack-skate at lower speeds. It’s how people like the Escarpment Surfers got their early starts. (Besides that whole skating on the escarpment thing.) I remember when Patrick Switzer used to pump past me on a slalom board and was like “Yo Nuss, move that back foot a little further back.”

It’s all about the love of skateboarding with all your friends! Sometimes there’s only 5 people out and sometimes we have over 60. Anyone is welcome to come skate!

What was your weapon then?
I shot with an Olympus Om1 with a 50mm Lens. I flipped backwards over a garbage can loading film at BM 2008 while skating. I use my 7D now a days because I’m really into filming right now.

How does film-making differ from photography?
Filming you have to follow the moment keeping your camera as still as you can. Photography you’re looking for that one moment or the moment that connects to the next.

What do you try to capture when you’re shooting skaters?
I’ve always been a fan of the art of storytelling. If it has a story, it interests me the most.
j-nuss - SWAPMEET_2012_invaders

What are you working with now?
This year I’m trying not to be in a rush, and work on some bigger projects. I have more of a team now so I’m trying to not make skate invaders all about me, and to be about many artists. Our scene is killing it right now and we have some big talent wanting to explode. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of success over the last two years with my obsessions. I have kids writing me for sponsorship and I hate to tell them we make no money! So we try to raise money as best we can and support ourselves through working with other brands, t-shirt sales, a skateboard here and there, and soon moon pucks!

Cindy and I are planning something special for everyone. O’tang and Loaded have been very supportive in helping me survive. I’ve been focusing on working with local board brands Boz Boards and Bombora Boards. Having a new Skate Invader city skates. More gallery shows at the new Longboard Haven! If I can make it out west I’d love to help support my homies at Flat Spot longboard in Vancouver.
I’m so happy right now I even wrote a whole album I hope to give away online soon. 

I really want to have more out of town people come to the Toronto board meeting this year! We’re over 10 years strong and I hope Sept 14th to be the best board meeting yet! We slide fu to be off the hook too!!! Sept 14 2013!!! COME TO TORONTO!

I’m always open for new ideas – if you would like to collaborate get at me!!!!

What’s your favourite skate style?
I really don’t care what style you skate. As long as it has flow. Nothing more boring then watching sliced up tricks. It all needs to tell a story. If everyone could skate like Ray Barbee the world would be a funky place.
j-nuss - skateinvader_board

What do you ride?
I have two boards I ride at the moment. Its always good to keep changing it up. I have a Rayne supreme I like to go fast on and freeride on. Then I have a Skate Invader Mars Lander double kick that I use to get around the city. It’s really fun to make your own skateboard, and I love going to Roarockit and creating with my friends. I really want to get a Comet Marcus Bandy; that’s a sick ass board, and the screen printing blows my mind.

You guys make your own boards?
Marcel is the mastermind behind the skate invader board, which is all hand made using the Roarockit vacuum bags. We’re still at the proto stage mostly, but we have sold a couple of boards to people who are really stoked and want something unique.

What is Roarockit?
Roarockit is an amazing company here in Toronto that sells tap bags that you can use at home to press your own boards. Most of the local Toronto brands have started off by using these methods. Bozboards and bombora boards are a couple of brands that came from using this method. It’s really amazing to create the thing you ride with your own hands. It really makes you realize how much love goes into a good board.

What’s special about the Toronto community?
We have the most fun and stay in shape from walking up our hills all day long. We don’t talk down to our groms. We support anyone who is chill! One day these kids will take us old dudes over, and I’m totally cool with that. We need to challenge each other or things get stale real fast.
j-nuss - TorontoBoardmeeting_flyer2013

What has been your favourite year of skating so far?
2012 is a hard year to beat. I really miss my friend Sebastian Bravo who now works at Flat Spot longboard in Vancouver, BC. He ran this thing call the Art Box in Kensington Market, which was a tiny little white room in the heart of the city. We’d play music there, hang our photos, dream about our brands, and skate. It was one of those short lived legends of Toronto – like, did that even happen? Not many people have passion like the man. A good fiend’s passion can be very contagious, in a very good way. I miss a lot of skate fiends who left my city. Brad and Megit skate hobos for life homies! Blood in Blood out.

What is Flat Spot?
It’s a skate shop in the heart of Chinatown, Vancouver. It’s run by two of my friends (Mischa Chandler and Sebastian Bravo) who used to work in a skate shop here in Toronto. Those two really helped me and have always been great supporters of my art. Sebastian even stole two of my photos to hang in the shop. Seb is the only man who can steal from me and get away with it; it was an art performance in itself. Plus if someone else tried to steal from me. I know Seb would track them down tie them up and give them a little Colombian hospitality.

What is your favourite skate event?
I don’t travel as much as I should to skate. It’s hard for me not to say The Toronto Boardmeeting. Over 10 years of passion has gone into that event. I also really like Swap Meet which is year opening event held at Roarockit. All the kids set up shop and trade all their goods. We hold the slide comp non comp afterwards.
My favorite travel to event is the Ithaca slide Jam. That city just has this crazy vibe you can’t explain. You just want to surf that city all day long.

Skate Invasion at Ithaca

Skate Invasion at Ithaca

How was Ithaca this year?
Ithaca was a spiritual skate awakening. The whole thing has become really personal for me now. It was crazy at first having double the amount of people, but everyone left with new skate fire burning inside them.

What about it ignites your fire?
People with all different styles coming together to skate their hearts out. It’s not about who’s the best, but coming together to create and play skateboards. I had over 20 people from Ontario show up this year too. All the Ontario kids killed it! THAT GOT MY FIRE BURNING! Everyone watch out for Zachary Nyers!

This kid!

This kid!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Same plan I have every year. Try to take over the world.

Bacon – how do you like it?
Fresh. Always bring home the bacon kids.

Pick 3 numbers between 1-13
1 2 3 in the place to be. As it is plain to see. He is DJ Run and I am DMC

Funky fresh from 1983 DJ Jam-master J. Inside the place with all the bass.
He leads us by the trace. And we came here tonight to get on your case.
And we are the crush grooving. The body moving, directly makin’ and directly breakin’.
And it goes a little somethin’ like this… 

1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
I’d make a horrible bad guy. Everyone would just laugh at me. Maybe I can be bad at first because I had no choice then turn good when I meet some kids on an adventure. Like the dude in the Goonies, “Hey you Guuuuuuuuuuys”.

2 – What weapons would you choose in a zombie apocalypse?
Whatever I can get my hands on. I have some loose plans but if I can skate really fast put blades all around my board. I’m sure I could take a couple out like that. Plus you always need a sawn off shotgun and chain saw to hand. I’d love to make a zombie longboard film one day called Skate Invaders vs the Nazi Zombies From Hell.

3 – What crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
Tax evasion, isn’t that how they always get us? Lucky for me I don’t really make any money doing this.

Scott Harrison Photography

Scott Harrison Photography

It was really fun doing this interview with you. Looking forward to skating and enjoying some bacon in Toronto this summer. 
Thanks bro. Really stoked on what you do!

Any thank yous?
Big Shout out to all my Skate Invader Family,  All my homies at Club 54,  The Es Clan and fam!! Anyone who has taken the time to watch one of my films or look at my photos.
Thanks to Orangatang wheels, Loarded boards, Comet Skateboards,  Rayne Longboard, Boz boards, Bombora Boards, Picnic Skate Boards, Longboard Haven, Flat Spot Longboards and Roarockit for endlessly supporting what I do.

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