Korahn Gayle 'Cover Stories' interview from Sidewalk 200

Ayumi Powell

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013

 

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Korahn Gayle
Sidewalk issue 145 : October 2008
Cover seq : Leo 

 

 

So Korahn, your particular cover is taken from the far-flung days of October 2008. If I remember correctly, you weren’t working back then; your chosen means to secure regular money was by spending your days playing online poker. How did that work out for you?
- Yeah I used to play a lot of online poker. I had some good results for a while, but I needed to get out of it because playing seven hour tournaments meant smoking all through the night and sleeping at 8am to get up at 9.30am to work in Fifty Fifty. Or staying in on the sunniest day of the year, sitting in front of my computer: By choice. That’s what you call a gambling problem I think? (Laughs)

So, switch backside 360 down Lloyds – what on earth possessed you to try that trick?
- The same way I learnt every trick I did down Lloyds – try one off first, land that, try it off second, land that, land it some more off second, then try it down the three. I did it once for a £1000 at the best trick comp and twice with Leo because it wasn’t perfect for the cover.

Can you remember exactly how many tricks you’ve done down Lloyds?
- I could try and reel them off:
All the ollies.
All switch and regular 180s.
Kickflip, fakie flip.
Fakie frontside flip.
All the heelflips.
Nollie front and back heel.
Fakie front heel.
Backside flip, frontside flip.
Switch backside flip and heel.
Regs and switch backside 360.
Pop shuv, shuvit flip, tre flip, backside bigspin.
Switch varial heel.
I think that’s it?
I need to ride away from fakie tre because Lucy (the future Mrs Gayle – Ed) bought me a metre long canvas of me doing it, which is on the wall in my lounge reminding me that I failed; I told her I love it. Nah, I do really.
I also need to ride bigspin heel. There’s plenty more to try.

Can you remember your first published photo in a skate magazine?
- Yeah it was my ‘Omens’ in Document and it was a frontside flip down the Marriott 9. It looked like a frontside 180 though and it didn’t say what the trick was in the caption (laughs).

Actually – you had a photo really early on in Document I believe frontside halfcab flipping London Bridge 10. What ever happened to the footage of that, and wasn’t that the session where you first injured your back from skating?
- Harry Rogers filmed it; he probably still has the footage somewhere!
A lady walked past me and said, “you’re going to break your neck doing that” just before I went to try it and it kinda put me off, so just as I was going to pop I bailed and landed straight legged at the bottom of the set. I felt my back go a bit but just ran back up and did it the next try. I think I slipped a disc and had some physio on it. It was such a long time ago though, and my back is all good now.

So you’ve scored yourself a good few magazine covers over the years – which one would you say is your favourite of them all and why?
- Only two; actually: I really want to get another one, it’s one of my life goals! Hint, hint, (laughs)! I like them both the same really but the front blunt is funny because I’m riding a blank board with a permanent marker graphic.

In a more general term, which other Sidewalk covers from the last 200 stand out above the rest for you?
- The Cates fish tank stands out in my mind (laughs), I dunno why though!
It’s hard to say really, they are all pretty sick, I can see so many in my head but if I started, I would list about twenty!

I remember first seeing you skate on edits that would be passed around MSN Messenger conversations back in the early 00’s before seeing your first proper section on Louis Gane’s ‘Bristol In Bloom’ (2004) which leads me to believe that filming and ‘the media’ is something you’ve been around since day one. Would you say that that was the case?
- Yeah I pretty much filmed from the first year I skated. Louis Gane had a camera and I was in his little skate crew so we filmed stuff. Then I guess there was a point when Louis decided to make a video so we filmed for that, and that became ‘Bristol in Bloom’.
I might be making this all up though; it was a long time ago (laughing).

What about sponsorship? Who were your first sponsors, and how did you find yourself riding for Mackey’s now legendary East?
- My first ever, ever, ever sponsor was Route 1 in Bath (laughs). We went up one day and I got one free board and then we never spoke to them again. So it was a 24-hour contract.
But then Fifty Fifty started to help me out and ticked me boards when I had no money. Dan Wileman got me on Howies, then a few weeks later East came out and Fifty Fifty/Defiant Distribution were distributing them and I think Mackey saw my Bristol In Bloom part and liked it and put me on the team. Thanks Mack-Attack!
I remember when I got on Nike and Syd was like, “you can go on Aeon and get three pairs a month or flow on Nike and get two” I said, “ummm Aeon?” And he was like, “nah!” So I was on Nike since then, about 10 years ago! Thanks Syd (laughs).

What are your most cherished memories from the East era?
-Skating with Mackey, Dykie, and the whole crew up in Liverpool and going to Kimo’s!

 

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So between East and Crayon you were riding flow for Krooked, right? Did you not get any other offers throughout that time? I’m sure at one point I heard you were riding for Powell and heading out to The States – is there any truth in that? If so, what happened there?
- Not really, it was more that I might get on Powell through Danny (Wainwright) but in the end nothing came of it. It’s so long ago though that I can’t really remember, (laughs).

I know you’ve been to America a couple of times but it only ever seemed for specific visits or trips. Were you never tempted to move to America and see what skateboarding life was like over there?
- I never really thought I’d try and go out there and “make it” because I know the standard is just insane. I went there with Little Dan and we went to skate a 12 stair and I was trying a switch frontside 180 and out of nowhere this little 12 year old kid almost hardflipped it first try and his friend was filming it on a phone!
But I’d love to just go there for a year or something and skate, film and shoot photos. It won’t happen but I get to travel a lot so I get a taste of the hashtag-skatelife.

You left Crayon recently to ride for Skateboard Café – how hard a decision was that for you to make, and what was it about Skateboard Café that made you feel that was the right place for you?
- Yeah, it was quite hard because Dykie is a good friend of mine so I didn’t want to let him down. In the end I got on Skateboard Café because I love the graphics, the vibe of the edits and the team – that’s Shawn Currie, Harry Ogilvie and Josh Arnott. I just think Makepeace and Rich have a really good eye for seeing what looks nice, whether it is boards, edits or clothes. I’m like a little kid and love to see a cool graphic when I flip my board around (laughs).

You’ve put out a solid grip of footage over the years – which one section or bit of footage would you say is your favourite and why?
- I’m not sure really, I like the new RedBull intro that I did with Louis and George, no bangers but it was really well put together on their part. I really want to put out a proper part. Maybe in the Skateboard Café video, but when I’m skating with Café I don’t really skate that gnarly, we just kinda go around having fun and cruising the streets. Currie’s style rubs off on me so I end up trying to skate random stuff on the street because he makes it look so fun when he’s cruising around. Hopefully a project will come up where I have to jump down shit again, (laughs).

Be honest – in your space cadet heyday, how many iPods did you lose/smash/drop in tea? And when was the last time you mis- placed or damaged a phone?
- I think I went through ten phones in one year and about five iPods. I have dropped them in drinks, put them through the washing machine, dropped them down the toilet… all sorts… as well as losing them everywhere. I’m still a bit of a space cadet. Recently I unlocked my bike on the street and just walked off without it. I realised halfway down the road and did the whole pat your pockets and mouth the word “shit” like you’ve lost something, then just ran back and got it (laughs)! But I haven’t lost a phone for over two years now.

Since you started skating in the year 2000, who would you say have been the most important/influential skaters to you and why?
- It’s changed through the years. At first Louis Gane was the best out of us lot so him, then Boyo (Matt Williams) and Ashley Skidmore, then the whole Fiddy team. Now it’s not so much about tricks but about style. I’ll watch Chewy Cannon, Leo Valls or Shaun Currie amongst others to get hyped these days.

Even though the internet and social media are able to grant everyone their fifteen minutes of skateboarding glory with little to no effort these days, do you still think that traditional skateboard media – interviews, photos, magazines, full video parts – are important?
- Yeah I love photos so interviews and magazines are really important and cool to me. When it comes to video, I think proper parts are way better than web clips. I sometimes sit and watch Hellaclips for ages and after a while I’m like “this is so boring” because I know that every kid can do every trick in the book. I like to watch a good video part of someone who I love to watch skate. Marc Johnson in ‘Pretty Sweet’ is my fav at the mo, and Keelan Dadd in ‘Parental Advisory’.

Over the last thirteen years, what do you think are the most important things that skateboarding has taught you?
- I don’t know if it was skating that taught me these things but it gave me opportunities to use them.

In the words of Aaliyah – “if at first you don’t succeeded, yeah yeah, dust yourself off and try again. You can dust it off and try again try again, uh uhhh!”

Sorry, I got carried away.

Quality over quantity: I don’t skate in the winter. Sometimes I hate skating! But I know why, because I’ll try to skate in the freezing cold, in gale force winds at a crappy spot, have the worst skate ever then go home and think, “Why do I bother?” I don’t do that anymore. I’ll only skate in good weather at good spots. Some people will say that’s not a true skater. I don’t care; I skate to have fun.

Share the wealth. I’m super lucky to get free Nike shoes. I think I gave three pairs away this month. I saw that my pile was getting quite big (no skating due to shit weather) and I see sick skaters skating in whack shoes so I give them some. Why not? I got plenty.

Can you ever imagine a life without skateboarding? – Yeah, I’d be playing football, training, living with my two cats, three kittens, Chihuahua and lovely wife-to-be (I hate the word fiancé) probably go on about three holidays a year and would be a PT/ dad before I knew it.
But no! Skateboarding makes my life a lot more exciting and adventurous and I’m going to try to make the most of that for as long as possible.

Any final words/pieces of wisdom to share with the masses Korahn?
- Don’t worry, be happy! I think of that whenever I feel down, which isn’t often (laughs)! Just enjoy yourself, have fun, look after yourself and others.
Also – if you are writing an interview in notes on your iPhone, when you go to copy it so you can paste it onto an email, whatever you do, don’t press ‘H’ while the whole thing is highlighted, or you will be left with…“H”
That was a “don’t worry, be happy” moment. I’m glad to be back at the end! Long live Sidewalk Mag! Keep up the good work guys!

 

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Pop Shove. Photo – Leo

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