Daniel is a rad skater from Mexico city. He tells us about his adventures around the world with his brother and Japanese sister – from Maryhill to Japan.
Hola Daniel, how are you?
Hey there! I’m super stoked!
How is your weekend going?
Great! Rainy days and nights, had pizza yesterday with my girls, just chilling enjoying Mexico city.
What was on the pizza?
Pepperoni, tons of cheese!
My wife and my daughter, Luna.
Do they skate?
My wife is learning and luna still is a baby. Last summer we went to the beach and I took her on the nose of a surfboard and we took some waves! I was super stoked!
Yeah! She loves the beach.
Where are you from?
Mexico city. Raddest city on earth.
What makes it rad?
It is one surreal city. It’s something really unique. Everywhere you go, you’ll find the most amazing things you’ll ever see. The people, the food, the weird objects and places. I definitely love Mexico city and all the secrets it has to offer. It’s one of the best feelings to cruise around.
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve encountered there?
Wow tough one… My brother Fifer took me to a street market one day that we call “tianguis” and the urban myth is that you can find all the parts to build a helicopter! There, we bought some motorcycle leathers, they were super cheap. That was something really unique because at that time it was not that common to use leathers for downhill skateboarding.
Haha helicopters for taking you back uphill?
Jaja that would be rad!! But I’d use it for film-making and photography.
You’re the first Mexican skater interview not from Guadalajajajajara!
Yes! That’s awesome! Mexico city represent.
When did you start skating?
I’ve been skating for 10 years, and longboarding for 6 years.
What got you into it?
Surfing. I’m a city rat. But I’m also a surfer trapped in the body of a city rat. I couldn’t surf often. So the best way to feel the same way was skateboarding.
When you started, who else was skating in Mexico city?
I started longboarding in 2007. That time I only skated hills with my brother Fifer. After a few months, every day I scouted for guys with longboards to make a community. I founded 2 great friends and film-makers, the other guys that were into it were surfers! So it was something really special, those days we felt like the most outcast and unique community in Mexico city, we were stoked. Nowadays, the community and the sport has grown and there are a lot of good riders out here: Rayne rider Daniel Favela, Sector 9 rider Punk Rocker, Jose Luis Romero, Valeria Figueroa, Donovan, Jarritos, Pachon, and more; they are really passionate about longboarding! It’s great to hang and party with them.
Yeah that’s what he calls himself. Rad funny guy. Really good skater. He is really trying to build a strong df (distrito federal a.k.a. mexico city) scene. Although things in giant metropolis are hard to put together, especially in mexico city.
The best in Mexico?
Gee from Mexico. I think Gerardo Moreno: that dude is a beast! Although there are a lot of underrated dogs.
I don’t know. There are so many. All I can say is that the Mexican scene is really involved and is making the sport grow.
Who is that lady with the same name as you?
Friend of Fifer, Ayumi and I. Really simple girl rad and stoked skater-
She’s not your cousin?
Jaja nope, just friends with the same last name
Do you ever pretend to be family?
Jaja not that I remember.
Your brother got you into skating?
Yes! Both of my brothers! Although I refused a little bit. I felt more identified to a surfer. Once I got my first board I was hooked!
Rebelling against a rebellious cause!
Definitely! That’s the way I felt. But after my first board It was the best feeling ever! As ayumi said. skateboarding its the best way to flip the bird to society, and I have my issues with Mexican society sometimes. So for me, I felt like I was doing something really unique that actually could make the average people mad.
How does skateboarding help you cope with those issues?
Makes me feel like I’m doing something unique in the city. I like controversy, and in the eyes of Mexican people, skateboarding is controversy.
What did you call that little community you had in the early days?
Fifer and I used to call it “we bomb df” and we maked dymos and put them in the helmets. I still call it that.
Did you guys make any rad videos?
Yeah! We have tons of footage. Mostly for fun. I think till now we are focusing more on making videos than back then.
How did skateboarding change your relationship with Fifer?
Since I was born, us the 3 Figueroa brothers have been really tight and taking care of each other. Although the older brother is not. skateboarding.
What’s your favourite thing to do on your skateboard?
Just one thing. Go fast, feel the speed.
When did you first go fast?
The first time I went fast, I think it was in San Francisco when I got my first longboard. pushed around and went into a really small hill, felt the speed I’d never felt on a skateboard, carved it like I was surfing and loved that feeling. After the first day, I really went fast on the local Mexico city downhill spot, which is a mountain called “Ajusco”. Back then, no one was skating there, you could say I was one of the pioneers of the spot.
What do you like about the speed?
The feeling of having control and at the same time not having it. It’s something hard to describe. It’s something you gotta live. I bought my first longboard in San Francisco, on the same trip I went to Hawaii with all my family. After that, I skated to school every day.
What is Ajusco like?
It’s a forest, in winter it’s cold, summer it’s hot; hot because of the altitude, so the sun burns but if there are clouds, it’s cold. Windy, fast. Gnarly. I love it. Definitely one of my top hills of the world. It is not technical at all. It flows, like Maryhill.
As long as maryhill?
Longer and faster.
Is there a freeride there?
Not yet. It’s a federal highway. Sometimes there are outlaw races but mostly people skate normal sessions. It’s hard to make a event there for tons of reasons. I think the first one is because of the cars. Here in Mexico, that is a huge problem. The best hills that I know of lead to small towns or cities and you can’t shut off the circulation of cars to make your race. You have to be really patient and learn to deal with those things.
How has the community in Mexico city evolved in the last 5 years?
It has grown a lot! I think the main boom happened 3 years ago; special longboard shops opened, tons of groms, everything! Right now I think it is moving towards being a stronger community. Mexico’s racing scene is growing really fast. Giant steps. This year Mexico is having a strong race and freeride season.
Are there any good shops in Mexico City?
Yes! Although I think all of the shops should step up their game and start helping the Mexico city longboarding community more .
What sort of skating do most people do?
Freeriding. Not much downhill. It’s hard to get to the local spots if you don’t have a car or time. There are more hills for freeriding needs. Way more accessible.
What do you ride?
Landyachtz top speed 34, gullwing munkae, venom bushings, zealous bearings, blood orange grip.
Are any of those your sponsors?
Nope. I am an independent rider.
Have you done much skating outside Mexico City?
Yes! Every place I travel to I take my skateboard. I think it’s way more easy to know a place through skateboarding than walking. Lately I don’t like to walk, I’d rather skate.
What places have you been?
Almost all of Mexico. Norcal, Portland, Hawaii, Japan, New York. I have a huge list of places I want to go. Explore the islands of the pacific ocean, French polynesia, indo, Europe, South America. It’s a dream to make travelling a way of life.
Earlier you mentioned Ayumi – who is she?
My sister, fifers wife, japanese rider. She is really passionate about longboarding, she truly is stoked!
How did you meet?
I don’t remember, that was a long time ago. It was because of fifer. It was inevitable to end as siblings. We get along really well.
What do you hope to find when you travel?
Good friends. Mostly what I like about having a skate trip, is that you get to know people really well. naturally people show you who they really are when travelling. Skateboarding is a plus, with one travel experience, you can make international friends forever. For me that is something unique, to have friends that can show me another culture.
How was Japan?
Life changing. Awesome. Different; really different and hot. When I first arrived, I thought I was in a dream on a giant playmobil city. It was summer time, I was just learning to skateboard I was still more into surfing. Ayumi´s dad asked one surfer friend if he could borrow some surfboards for me and fifer, and he did! I was super stoked that we had boards and that I was going to surf in Japan. In the end, we didn’t surf that much, there were more things to do like walking Tokyo, doing a search of the best Japanese roller coasters, climbing Mt. Fuji., going on a canoe trip. It was a memorable trip.
How did it change you?
Mostly since then I motivate myself to travel around the world. I am hooked on travelling.
Who would you be if you didn’t skate?
Probably I´d be working as a scuba diver, living on the beach or something like that.
Did you do a lot of skating in 2012?
There was a really fun race near Guadalajara. The Darkside Outlaw, Loaded rider Gerardo Moreno organized it. Super fun race although the heat was on. It was probably one of the most hot days of my life. Went to Billy Bones’ race in Portland: Mt Tabor Challenge. It is one of my favourite races all round. It is a ”just for fun” event. After that was the Maryhill FOS which always is amazing! A few days after Maryhill was the MILF Monterreal International Longboard Fest at Monterey Mexico. This was the first IGSA sanctioned race in Mexico. That was our skate summer. We enjoyed it a lot!
Is maryhill special to you?
YES! It’s my favourite hill in the world. I love it. It is a really special location. And there are always great stories to tell.
What’s your favourite Maryhill story?
The first time I skated Maryhill. First of all we (fifer ayumi and I) didn’t know shit; how to get to the road, or where the technical inspection was or where the camp-ground was. First we rushed into Goldendale to find the camp which was located next to a trailer camp. Some guys helped us and told us how to get to the road. When we arrived we met Big Daddy along with his crew the Tactis guys. That’s when we finally realized we were entering the most life changing experience of our lives. The day after was the first practice day and I was shitting my pants. I still remember my first lift in the u-haul truck. I kept thinking – holy shit. This is it, I’ve worked really hard, lived tons of stuff to make this come true.
When we got to the top, and I saw the OGs like Mischo Erban and Scoot Smith push and skate down. Nothing beats that feeling. I decided not to wait for everybody to go down, so I got into a heat. Art Sanchez (the starter; he is a Maryhill must) started the countdown, and all of a sudden, I was pushing really hard. Finally I was skating Mary. My joy didn’t last long. Before back breaker, my wheels started to slide (I didn’t know i needed freshies) and I crashed with the dude in front of me and the dudes behind me, while I was eating shit, I thought ”I am a fucking kook”. It felt like a surfing wipeout. Moments after, I recovered, asked if everyone was okay and continue on my way down, again I ate shit. My first run ever was a bummer. I sucked! After getting to the bottom, I tried to look for Fifer and Ayumi to tell them I was the worst skateboarder in the universe and that I couldn’t make it down a road like that. I changed my wheels for the next run. Everything went great. But still, I felt that I sucked. Turns out I was riding a landyachtz evo, and I’m not a heavy big guy, so my lightweight was suffering to turn the evo in every curve. Fortunately I had bought a wolfshark and by the next day finally I was enjoying Maryhill.
What was the highlight of that first trip?
Camp ground definitely. It was great! With all the fireworks and the police. For me, the raddest part was the wrestling! Super fun!
We’re you the first Mexicans at Mary?
Yes! Daniel Favela, Jorge Vigon, Alejandro “pollo” Romo, Daniel Caro and myself were the first group of Mexicans that skated Maryhill. Also Claudio Uribe (treee) filming everything and Rosy Vega hanging out.
How did it feel to finally have a big international race in your country?
Stoked! I think everybody was happy about having a international IGSA sanctioned race! It was awesome. Everyone had a great party.
What was the highlight of last year?
It was a skate, travel, party for fifer and myself. It is really hard to highlight something. It was a great year!
How did 2013 treat you?
It was a great year! It was a year with very few skateboarding. with the exception of summer. We went to Portland and stayed with our Portland family Chris Eriko and aya. Chris took us to tons of spots like rowena loops road, pdx switchbacks and some skateparks like tigard glenhaven. After that, northwest trip back in Mexico. I didn’t skate that often, I was concentrated more about my photography stuff.
Are you having a fun 2014?
Yes! Although I haven’t skated hills this year. I’m focused on vert ramp and my photography.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Hanging out with my family, taking pictures, watching movies. It’s a simple life.
Do you photograph skating?
Yes, a lot! I love to shoot skating, there is something about shooting skateboards that I love. Even if it’s not skateboarding. Most of my work is related to skateboarding. Last year I made a small book with my pictures.
What makes a good skate photograph?
A great skateboarding picture is one that you can relate to, either from the personal pursuit for epicness; a happy moment with your friends or simply the steeze from the rider. Skateboarding photography easily depicts happiness. When you look at a picture where you were skating or a rad picture of skating it makes you smile even if it is a crappy one. Because skateboarding is about happiness and enjoying the moment to the fullest. Photography allows you to relive or live those moments.
Who are your favourite Mexican photographers?
I like the contemporary photography more. Like the style of Gonzalo Morales or Emilio Valdes.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Work on my vert ramp skills, keep on doing art and photography projects. Hopefully visit Ayumi and Fifer in Japan, and also go to Portland with my girls.
Pick 3 numbers.
13, 79, 97
13 – what happens when a zombie bites a shark?
79 – which actor would you choose to play you in a movie?
The one that has the ability to sacrifice everything to safe everybody. Like batman, jaja.
93 – do you like fish sticks?
Thank you so much for your time hombre. It’s been a big pleasure having this chat with you. See you one day in Mexico… Or Japan.
Or in the UK. Gracias amigo!
Any last words?