Kyron McGrath Davis 'HAUNTS' interview from Sidewalk 197

Ayumi Powell

From Sidewalk 197 – February 2013

 

You might not associate Kyron with South Bank, Slam City Skates or the more typical iconic landmarks of the contemporary London skateboarding scene; his roots run deep in the west and the fringes of the city. It’s intriguing to see a different take on London, not necessarily bred from a desire to pursue something alternative but more so just an instinctive choice to explore his home yard of Ladbroke Grove where he grew up, West London and Harrow where he now resides.

One thing that struck me about Kyron the first time I met him was that his skateboard influences aren’t cluttered by obsessive attention to skate media or what the next man is doing; he has more based his passion on riding his skateboard at speed towards, down or over anything in his path. All natural ability and finesse aside, Kyron is an un-caged beast on the board and there’s a good chance you are going to witness either a teeth clenching slam or a face-melter of a trick.

It would be disingenuous for me to speak much further on Kyron given that I first crossed paths with him early last summer, but I can say with confidence that he is someone who will carry the torch for the humble, appreciative, well grounded and free thinking skateboarders, the kind who are more inclined to look outside of the box instead of hitting ‘repeat’.

Colin Kennedy

 

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Photo:DVL

Interview by Ryan Gray
Photography by Various artists

 

Go on then Kyron, introduce yourself…
- OK, I’m Kyron McGrath-Davis, I’m 18 and I’m from Harrow. I think that’s all you need to know…for now (laughs).

You’ve been skating for a long time haven’t you? Didn’t you start skating at a really young age?
- Yeah I’ve been skating since I was about 7, maybe younger. For a while my dad wouldn’t let me skate because he was too protective, so he tried to not let me get into skating.

Did you want to skate before you actually got the chance to?
- Yeah, I wanted to skate way before then but he wouldn’t let me, he was scared of me hurting myself. When he’d go to see his friends I’d take his board and teach myself how to skate; I taught myself how to ollie onto a little ledge, and he saw that was like “f*ck it, I’ll take him to the skatepark”, and that’s how I started skating.

Your dad skates too, right?
- Yeah he skates. Well, he used to skate for a bit of fun but he’s got a lot of responsibilities now so he can’t really do it any more.

Didn’t your dad work at Playstation for a while too, when Kevin Parrott worked there?
- Yeah he worked at Playstation with Kevin and all the old-school heads; he worked there for about four years I think. Was it about four years Daryl?

Daryl Dominguez: It was a long time. He was working there before I skated there and I’ve been there a f*cking long time (laughs).

We’ve both been there since we were kids, man.
Daryl: Kyron and me used to skate there all the time; we’d do back-to-back tricks and he was like 11. We’d do tricks over the hip and copy each other.
Pretty much, like, “you land this and I’ll land this” double runs.
Daryl: You’d land a trick and I’d be hyped, right behind you.
It was so good.

Did your dad used to take you down Playstation when he was working?
- Yeah sometimes he’d take me down when he was working, but I’d go down there a lot. Maybe too much…

Would you say you were a ‘Playstation kid’, so to speak?
- Pretty much, yeah (laughs). We’d skate Royal Oak and Meanwhile as well but Playstation was the one back in the day. The Wednesday night sessions would be so packed on the mini ramp that you could not get a go in at all, you’d have to snake people and shit. The vibes were sick as well.

What was the best thing you saw go down during the Playstation days?
- I’m pretty sure Jake Duncombe went from the roll in into the halfpipe. Was it that?
Daryl: Nah, Jake kickflipped from the flat over the deck into the tranny, and flipped it to flat too, where the halfpipe was.

Yeah, there was so much crazy shit I can’t really think of one trick. I think the main thing was Awadh (Mohammed) actually. He was doing frontside flip melons on the halfpipe every go. That dude is so sick.

Daryl: Trevor (Beasley) as well: he was doing switch frontside flip stalefishes on the quarters. Like properly doing them as well.

What happened to Trevor? It seemed like he was out there killing it for a while a few years back, but then you just stopped seeing stuff of him.
- He used to ride for Ortega, but he got into different things and he stopped skating for a bit.
Daryl: He’s still just as good now.

He used to do the sickest switch backside tailslides for like…when I was younger it seemed like a hundred meters across the mini ramp, going a hundred miles an hour. Him and Awadh are two people I love to watch from Bay.

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Classic arm shapes during a wood on wood bluntslide.
‘Hens Oner’ all up in this piece. Photo: Marcel Veldman.

What did you do with your days before you started skating? Because you started at such a young age, did you ever have any other real hobbies or anything?
- Believe it or not I used to be really creative. I used to ride my bike, never a scooter…I never got into the scooter stage, it just wasn’t around back then. I used to draw loads of shit, and I remember once I made a suit out of paper, an actual suit. It was legit.

Daryl: So you had a thing for textiles?
Yeah I just liked making things. Then I started skating and I was pretty much “skate, skate, skate”.

Have you tried making any clothing since? Do you think you could get into paper fashion design one day?
- Maybe. I’m gunna try (laughs).

What so of stuff were you into at school?
- I used to love sports; I used to play for the football team, the rugby team, the cricket team…most of the teams. I was so down to just run about.

You were in college for a bit weren’t you? What were you studying there?
- I was in college last year but I stopped in July, or August… when the school year ended. I was doing a plumbing course. My dad was like “you can skate by all means” – he was super supportive, my mum and dad both are – but he was like
“you can’t just skate though, you need to have something else backed up”.
It was quite hard though because this last year I started going on all these trips, so I’d miss so much college and I’d go to my mum and dad and be like, “I’ve got to go on this trip”, they knew it would be a good opportunity so they’d always say I could go. I got really bad attendance but I still managed to get through it.

Did you pass the course so at least you’ve got that first year under your belt?
- I didn’t finish one of the exams. I need to finish the exam so I pass the course. I haven’t done it yet but I need to get around to it.
I reckon in two years or so I’m definitely gunna go back to college to study something. Skating is cool as f*ck but I do want to learn something new; too much one of thing isn’t always good.

Explain your full name for us. Doesn’t your surname always get shortened?
- It’s actually Kyron McGrath-Davis. It’s funny because if I ever enter a competition or I’m doing an interview, everyone always writes ‘Kyron Davis’, so my mum and my granddad are always screwing, like “why didn’t you put McGrath in?” and I’m like “I do put McGrath in, but no one uses it”. I think it’s because it makes my name so long. So make sure you get McGrath in there this time (laughs).

Where’s McGrath from? It sounds Celtic…
- It’s Irish; my mum and my granddad are Irish, they’re from Dublin. Well, my granddad’s from Dublin but my mum was born here.

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‘Ridgerider’? What the hell is this? A miniature Alton Towers for gum shield fetishists?
Either way, 5050ing this is pretty stellar. Photo: Shaw.

So back to skating – how did the whole getting sponsored thing come about for you then? Didn’t you ride for Half pipe when you were quite young?
- Yeah, when they started up the shop they had the sickest team; I was so hyped to be part of it. They had Daryl, Awadh, Trevor, Guy, Todd, Fred, that other guy Daryl; I don’t know what happened to him. Halfpipe was my first sponsor, then Ortega.

I was so stoked on Ortega, it was the sickest, plus it was a West London company anyway, run by Ricky. Then Bullet, Gary, he managed to get me sorted out with a DVS thing; they’d give me shoes here and there, which was cool, then Ortega went under and Gary sorted me out with Chocolate boards.

I was really lucky. I never really put out any videos I just skated for so many years, then we started street skating and we had this guy call Lue, Louis Pascoe, we’d go out on filming missions with him and Josh Clarke, we had a good little crew. We’d be out every weekend at 10 in the morning and stay skating til 11pm or midnight…those days were so sick.

How did you go from getting Chocolate boards to getting flowed Cliché boards? Was that through Sami at Dwindle?
- It was actually Daryl and Gary who sorted that out. I went through this stage where I’d stopped skating for a while because of school and girls and shit. I’d skate so much…you know when you’re just kind of over it a little bit? I tried to mellow out and stop for a little while.

Awadh messaged me on Facebook one day, like, “come out for a skate”. I was like “f*ck it yeah, I’ll go out for a skate”, then I realised why I loved it so much, and since then I’ve been so hyped to just skate. I’m happy that I took that little break; when I came back to it, it made me realise that I loved it even more. I was so hyped to learn new tricks, but it was kind of weird because I had to relearn tricks as well.

I started putting my feet in different positions and it changed the way I did so many of my tricks. I couldn’t remember what I did before. Daryl spoke to the guys at Dwindle and he was like, “Ky hasn’t got any sponsors” so they hooked it up. It was lucky that I got on Cliché because weren’t they like “who would he fit?”

Daryl: Yeah, they asked who you would fit best on, I was like,
“it’s Kyron, he’d definitely fit on Cliché”. That was only two years ago.

Since then you’ve got involved with the actual Cliché program haven’t you?
- Yeah I’ve got involved a lot more. When I started going out shooting photos and getting footage, they saw that I was down to go skate and film and stuff. I think it was six months ago that Jeremie (Daclin) spoke to me and he said, “if you ever need anything then let me know”, so I got more of a link between me and those guys.

I think that Roots clip helped out a lot too, Daryl with the editing and shit (laughs). For that clip, me and this guy called Toby, this filmer from New Cross, he’d just got a VX and I think for two months straight, every single chance we could we went out and filmed. It all came together quite quickly but it took a while to come out because I was trying to wait for photos to be released in Sidewalk and stuff like that.

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The ghost of Ronnie Barker only likes really dipped and contorted backside smith grinds.
So here we see a happy one two Ronnie. Photo: Marcel Veldman

How many trips have you done with the Cliché lot?
- I’ve only done one; I went to Mallorca, that was the first legit trip with all the team. There was Jeremie, JB Gillet, Kevin Bradley, Daniel Espinoza, Flo Mirtain, Pete Eldridge…I don’t want to miss anyone out; I want to get all the names in. Boris Proust, he films but he skates too. It’s crazy, he’s a sick filmer but he shreds it on a skateboard as well. That’s about it. It’s kind of crazy though – having looked up to these skaters then getting the chance to actually go out and skate with them was a bit intense, but it was a lot of fun. I hurt my back on the first day so I was out for pretty much the whole trip.
I managed to get two clips then I couldn’t skate; that was a bummer.

Did you like Mallorca? Was that the first time you’d been there?
- Yeah that was the first time I’ve been out there. It was really good. It was perfect skate conditions because it was sunny but there was a little bit of wind.
There were no people because it was out of season so the roads were empty and we barely saw anyone, we didn’t get in any trouble with the police or anything, which was good.

Are you going to be getting some tricks in the next Cliché video then?
- Yeah, I’ve been trying to film for that. Jeremie asked me to film a couple of bits for it about three months ago but I’ve been injured since then and I haven’t had the chance to go out for it. Especially now because it’s been snowing and raining and shit, so it’s so hard to get out and film. I’m trying to get a couple of clips for that for sure.

Lets talk about shoes.
- (Laughing) ‘The Shoes’…

In terms of footwear, you had a pretty interesting year last year didn’t you? You started out the year on Lakai…
- Yeah. That was the same sort of deal as the DVS thing I said about earlier. Lakai basically said to me they could give me shoes but that was pretty much about it because it was so hard for them to push for anything more.

Emerica got in touch after I spoke to Tom Knox and he was like, “I think Emerica are looking to find another rider, probably not someone from London, but if you’ve got any footage then send it over”. I sent him a bit of footage that I’d got to- gether then Percy (Dean) called me up and asked me to ride for the team, I was pretty hyped on that so I took the opportunity. What happened after that?

You were on there for a little while; you did the trip to Spain…
- Yeah, to Alicante.

…then you went on The Big Push, which was your last trip with them. Did you know you were going to leave by the time you went on that?
- Nah I didn’t know. Nike had got in touch with me once before but nothing really happened. After the Big Push, Colin (Kennedy) got in contact with me and we spoke a little bit, he offered me a lot of opportunity and chances to go out and travel. I felt like because I’d been on Emerica such a short time I didn’t want to leave it all. I had to get loads of people’s opinions – I spoke to Percy, I spoke to Tom and Casper and everyone, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to because they could help me out so much.
All I want to do is travel, have fun and skate, and Nike have helped me a lot. I got on just at the end of August, and from August until now I’ve been to eight different places with them, in that short amount of time.

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Archway banks are f*cking hard enough to do a pissy wall-ride on,
never mind a proper front blunt. The bricks, the bricks… Photo: Shaw

Didn’t you quitting Emerica leave you in a funny position with the Big Push coverage though? What happened there?

- I went on the Big Push, skated and filmed…the Big Push was so sick, by the way, I was so hyped on that. It was so cool going away with Casper and Tom; I know they’re from London and I’ve known them for a while, but the team was such a good crew. Sorry, I’m going off topic now (laughs).

So the Big Push deadline was coming around, and I reckon five days or something before that I spoke to Percy. The Emerica team is so sick and I hated to just leave like that, it’s not something I ever thought was coming; it was really unexpected.
Percy told me straight up “they (Nike) can really help you out and do a lot of stuff for you. If you feel that it’s a good opportunity for you then just take it. I wish you the best of luck and hope it all works out”. Then a few days before the deadline, Sam Bailey who was working on the Big Push edit, he had to take my footage out. I still haven’t seen it. Yet, (laughs)…

How much was there? Did you have quite a bit?
- Yeah, I was stoked on it. The week was so good; I got quite a lot that I was happy with, and all the team got so much as well. Everyone was hyping each other; every spot someone would land a trick and it would hype someone else to do a trick, then someone else. We were just vibing off each other, which was cool. But yeah, he had to take out my footage from the edit, which was a bit of a shame but that’s what happens.

Do you think the footage will ever see the light of day?
- I think it’s gone. I tried to get it sent but I don’t know what the deal is. I’m a bit bummed out but it’s all good; I still had fun, I was stoked to just skate with all those guys.

Since then it seems like you’ve been on back- to-back Nike missions – how many places have you visited?
- I’ve been to Holland, to Rotterdam, then to Paris. Barcelona then another part of Spain, then…where else did I go? (Laugh- ing)
I went to America, to Tampa for five days.

Oh yeah, of course. Was that the first time you’d been to America?
- I went in 2006 for a family holiday. My mum and dad saved up for like three years so it was a big thing, we went to Disney World. Go to Disney World, everyone needs to go to Disney World (laughs). F*ck…it will blow your mind.

So Tampa was the first time you’d been to America to skate then?
- Yeah.

How was that for you? Daunting? I can’t imagine that Tampa Am is that much of a laugh…
- Yeah exactly: I don’t even skate that many competitions as it is – I like UK comps because they’re chilled, more like a session – but it was so intense. It’s one of the biggest comps so everyone was so hungry for it, where I’m more mellow and like to chill out and do things in my own time, but that was crazy watching hammers go down every single second. It was a bit scary for the first day but I got used to it.

The level of skating was so crazy that I ended up watching a lot; watching skaters that I watch at home to get hyped, I was watching them in real life, which was cool.

Where did you end up placing in the comp?
- I think I came 63rd or something, but that was out of nearly 350, maybe 400 people, so they split it into two days. I think there were 175 riders each day, but in my day I think I came about 60th. Everything in the park is so small it’s ridiculous, apart from this one decent sized quarter pipe but that’s not even big at all. It’s quite a weird park to skate.
I’m used to skating bigger obstacles so that was quite hard to get used to at first. It looks bigger on the footage; on the footage I was like “damn, this shit is big!” but then everything was so small. It was so hard to get used to do because you had to pop so low for tricks, and it’s all so crammed in.

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Yeah, that’s correct he ground it all the way to the end.
Steez fuelled big man nosegrind opposite a Lancashire pineapple. Photo: DVL

What did you think of Tampa as a place? Did you see much of the city away from the skatepark?
- Oh shit, it’s so ghetto man! There’s a strip that looks really nice, it looks like something out of a movie where everything is so perfect, but if you leave there then everything is so ghetto.

We were on the coach on the way to the park each day and you’d see these dudes chilling on rocking chairs on their porches, waving at the cars and shit, smoking weed… it was pretty funny. It’s ghetto though, you don’t want to go to the wrong part at night. I tried to stay on the strip the whole time.

You didn’t get yourself into any bother or anything whilst you were there then?
- I didn’t but I saw some crazy situation. This girl was so drunk, drugged out of her face or some shit, she was going crazy at this metal band one night. Everyone started pouring beer all over her and this guy comes up, takes out his knob and starts pissing all over her in front of like 200 people. She looked like she was loving it too, it was so f*cking weird.

Would you go back to Tampa Am again if you got the chance?
- I wouldn’t say no if Nike asked me again, I’d say yeah.
It was a good experience, everyone’s just super cool and down to skate, drink beers, chill and you get to watch a load of sick skating as well. It’s like a non-stop demo.

You had to do the whole ‘Kyron goes to Tampa’ thing too, in the run up to the comp.
- (Laughing) Yeah they had me do all that. It might have been a little bit much but I was stoked to be able to film the clip, go out with Magee and skate…show you guys how I live, (laughs).

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I can’t tell if the lady in the background is stoked or not on this frontside nosegrind.
Let’s pretend she was nodding in appreciation of the NBD, that way everyone’s happy. Triangles! Photo: Shaw

How did you feel about Bay having the live webcast and getting people down to watch you skate in the qualifiers?
- I think it might have been a little overhyped but you’ve got to go along with it.
Daryl: No pressure!
Everyone was like “you’re the only English dude going to Tampa and everyone’s going to be keen to see how you do…no pressure at all…but you better do well”. (Laughs) I don’t like pressure, but I was so stoked to go out there.

Have you got much planned in terms of coverage once this interview drops? I guess you’ve never had a proper video part have you so is that something you’re looking at getting together?
- At the moment the main focus is on the Cliché video, and getting some clips for that. That’s why I like Cliché because a lot of companies wouldn’t give that many opportunities to guys on flow, but Cliché gave the opportunity to a few of their flow riders, like, “film for the video, and whatever you get we will put it in there”.
Lets say I filmed a full part; they’d put the full part in if it was all up to standard. I like the fact they gave me the opportunity to go out and get stuff for the video.

Daryl: What is the Roots Collective?
- It’s kind of like a little family, man. All the people associated with Roots are cool, everyone’s just so down and open-minded and wants to do the same stuff I do, just skate and have fun. I like the concept of the Roots too – “stick to your roots” and all that.
Daryl could tell you so much because he kind of made it, he could go in deep…
Daryl: Less about me, more about you!
Let me ask you some questions, Daryl (laughs).

Daryl: Nah. Tell us about the Skrimp.
Oh shit! The Skrimp is just a joke that got out of hand, pretty much. The people that we skate with, it’s like an extended family of Roots. It’s a little crew and we like to skate, drink beer and have a laugh. I’ve had the most fun with the Skrimp boys for sure. Skrimp all day! The Skrimp Video is coming out as well. I think everyone who is in the Skrimp is going to have a two-minute section. If we see a curb and want to skate it then we’ll just skate that, we try to have fun with it. What else have you got for me?

Daryl: Obviously you’ve done a lot in the short time that you’ve been sponsored and dealt with a few different companies. Do you think that’s altered how you think about skateboarding?
Yeah, for sure – I see a lot more of a business side to it; I didn’t realise it was so business-like until now.

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Grim run up, grim pavement, grim bank, sign in the way. Just like the Tampa course eh Kye?
Treacherous frontside 5.0 round the back. Photo: Shaw

Take a situation like today – a photographer has flown in from Holland, your TM has come down from Scotland and there’s three filmers all waiting on you to skate a handrail. When ad shoots and things like that come around, do you pay much attention to the pressure?
- That was so much pressure, man. They’ve obviously spent a lot of money to come out for me to do one trick, and that is pretty hardcore. I don’t want to not land a trick but I kept on trying it and trying it until I physically couldn’t try any more. I did only have two hours sleep beforehand though, I was hungover and turned up two hours late (laughing). I didn’t get chance to warm up either, we just went straight to the handrail.

Daryl: Having said that, do you see skating as more of a job these days?
Definitely not. I don’t ever want to think of it as a job; as soon as you start thinking of skating as being a job then it stops being fun. There are a lot of people I’ve met through being sponsored that take it way too seriously. It’s kinda cool though because I realise I’m happy that I don’t really take it overly seriously, I don’t see it as a career it’s just something that I like to do.

But then with the opportunity comes the responsibility behind it, so if I ever think I’m doing something I might not want to do, I have to think “they’re giving me all these opportunities, I’ve got to get this done for them”. Like interviews, I don’t really like doing interviews if I’m honest (laughs).

You’re doing quite well considering you’ve already done an interview earlier on today, and now we’re doing this one.
- Yeah I know. OK, I don’t like writing; I don’t like typing interviews out because it sounds different. When I read them back I’m like, “what are you on about Kyron?” (laughs). I like this kind of vibe though – beers, rollies…what more could you ask for?

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Standing tall on a back tail. Photo: Shaw

What are your plans for this coming year then? Have you got many trips lined up right now?
- I don’t think so. But I think in February I might be going to Japan with Cliché, which I’m stoked on. It’s not been confirmed yet but they’re speaking about it. I’ve seen so much footage of their perfect spots so it would be cool to check that out for sure. For the Cliché video though I’m trying to get as much filming done as I can in London, because it would be cool to see a video that’s going out worldwide with local spots in it.

After Japan I’ve got no real plans yet. I think Colin’s got a couple of bits lined up though, he told me at the start of 2013 it was going to be a busy year so there’s no resting for me! I’ll be constantly doing something so I’m hyped. Colin sorts it out, and he’s the coolest guy ever. If I’m ever in need of anything I can call up Colin and he’ll sort it out to the best of his abilities and help me out. He’s the best team manager you could ask for, for sure.

Who would you like to thank?
- First of all my mum and dad, above the rest!
My nan and grand dad, Daryl Dominguez, Manny Lopez, shout out to my boy Evan Knight and all the boys from the Roots Collective and Skrimp – they know who they are. Thank you to Nike SB, Cliché and Supreme, and there’s a new wheel company coming soon that you need to look out for; the team is looking super good.
Ryan Gray at Thrasher, not Sidewalk (laughs). I’m just playing, thank you Sidewalk!
Gary – you all know about Bullet.
Shout out to Trevor, Awadh, everyone from Playsta- tion and Bay,shout out to Daryl and Manny again, Hector, Casper, Jack, West London, Harrow, Ollie, Connor, Xavian, Lue, Kate and Sara. Shout out to Colin Kennedy, Jagger from Supreme,
Sami Seppala and all the boys from Dwindle.

Any last words?
Skrimp!

X

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Eric Dressen at Campus Skatepark, Bristol.