Nick Jensen 'Cover Stories' interview from Sidewalk 200

Ayumi Powell

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013

 

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Nick Jensen
Sidewalk issue 65 : February 2002
Cover photo: Bartok

 

 

What do you remember about the process of shooting this cover photo?
- I remember planning it with Ollie (Barton), because I had already filmed it. I was really excited to shoot it as I never really skated handrails and for me this was quite a new experience in my more youthful days. I also remember loving that Marcus McBride and Keenan Milton often skated with open zipped hooded sweatshirts and I wanted to wear one to be cool like them, (what a saddo!).

What was going on in your life back in 2002?
- I was finishing my last year at school. I was just skating loads and trying to work out what to do next.

Was this your first cover? Or was there a Document one before this?
- This was my first cover.

Ollie Barton shot this one and I know that he has been a big influence in your life as well as also having a lot influence, albeit unacknowledged in the main, on that whole post WFTW Blueprint era. What memories does hearing his name bring forth?
- So many positive ones: He was always a driving force of good energy. I miss his green Ford, with the lemon yellow magic tree hanging down from the rear view mirror and him listening to ‘Weak’ by Skunk Anansie.

What was your first published photo in a skate magazine?
- My first was a Horsley shot of me kickflipping the stairs at Southbank. I was wearing Duff Cobnobblers. I was half transparent in the picture and you could see the ice cream van through my legs. I was stoked because I loved that ice cream van. I cut the quarter page image out and pinned it to my pin board in my bedroom.

What’s your favourite Sidewalk cover from over the years and why?
- Shier’s crooks on ice. So sick: I can’t explain why because the photo says it all.

Your skateboard life has been pretty public since really early on – looking back from today’s perspective what effect do you think being skate-famous at such a tender age has had on you?
- It was great because it made me feel a part of something special. It was definitely all to do with Blueprint and the UK scene. Those days are sadly over. But it’s given me so much freedom to do what I really want to do in my life.

You grew up skating in central London around many of the most influential skaters of the era and those who went on to be in the next: quite an enviable situation for any wide-eyed skate rat. How is the City ingrained into your consciousness?
- Being schooled at Southbank from a young age with people like Clive Daly and Toby Shuall had a great effect on me. It was a shock to my ‘wet around the ears’ system, but for the best reasons. Then meeting Channon King, and also hearing about tricks done by him, Mark Channer and Mike Manzoori made me see things differently. I still feel that atmosphere in London today, especially with everyone coming together to try and save Southbank – a feeling of unity and mutual respect.

What about the negative side to that experience? You must’ve witnessed a fair bit of street reality at a young age – drugs, crime, etc, etc.
- I saw a little bit but like I said about Southbank earlier, the people looked out for each other. And those dudes would keep that side of things a bit more secret. It was mainly beer and weed. I was scared of the violent side of stuff though, but fortunately I never saw too much of it. I was there when there was that fight when Fred Gall and co were in London. Some kids from a rough estate nearby tried shooting people with bb guns, and it got a bit messy.

You’ve cited the OG Southbank heads like Clive Daley and Toby as having been very influential on your life before – so with that in mind, and given the current chatter about the ‘end’ of Southbank – why is that place important to you both personally and in a wider cultural sense?
- It’s important for me because obviously I grew up skating there. But I also feel that there is this current regeneration frenzy in London, and I worry that with all of this gentrification there becomes this dislocation with the past, and with this kind of cut and paste job, I fear that new generations will get a superficial experience.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen at Southbank? Skate, or otherwise…
- I remember Brian Anderson 50-50ing the top of the bar; that was pretty amazing. Also, Rob Selley switch frontside flipped into the bank from the top of the seven: this was when the bar was in the way so you had to go from the side. It was really inspirational. And Vaughan Baker used to roll down there and do really fast and steezy backside nollie flips down the stairs. Oh and the best one… Nugget (Gabriel Pluckrose) switch heel flipped them. It was the first time he’d skated the stairs switch and just did it so well in grey tracky bottoms. He is still killing it on the fashion tip.

 

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As well as that side of your early skate years, you were also a certified Playstation park-rat weren’t you? Is there any truth to the rumour that Dan told you to stop filming there with Parrott?
- I was a complete rat, park or otherwise. I vaguely remember that rumour. There is no truth in that as far as I am concerned. I am sure Magee was worried that I was just filming everything and anything, just as excitable skate rats do and perhaps he wanted me to chill on that.

You had a bit of a problem with travelling for a good few years but you seem to be all over the place these days – what changed?
- I have always not been stoked on flying and being out of my comfort zone, but as I have got older I have got much better at thinking about it and getting on with it.

Is there an analogy between the way your skateboarding has progressed and evolved over the years and the way your artistic output has developed? Obviously you’re at a very different place with it now than you were as a first year student.
- I think in many ways now, I am more confident in what I believe in, just a bit more resolved – but still miles and miles to go.

You’ve produced a lot of video parts over the years and been involved in some of the most celebrated video of the last ten years – of all the parts you’ve had, which do you like the most and why?
- Lost and Found: I was so stoked to have last part. It was a really proud moment because I didn’t think, ‘Oh I wish I had done this’. Or, ‘I wish that the deadline could go on’. It was a clear representation of where I was at and all the work that I had put in, Magee included, as well of course as Adam Mondon, Christopher Massey, Neil Chester, Ben Dominguez and everyone else that filmed and was out to support the cause.

You’re currently filming an Isle promo for the upcoming Grey video: tell us a little about that please.
- It’s not an Isle promo. I am just filming a section for the Grey video, it’s going well. It’s been a long and cold winter, and I started filming as the summer ended, so it’s definitely a grey video. It’s looking really good as a whole and I am really excited about it. Tom Knox is on serious form.

With Isle starting out you’ve part of a slightly different crew – how are the dynamics working out in comparison to previous ones? Seems way lower key with Henry/Jake at the helm at the least…
- It’s a smaller crew for budget reasons and so on, so it’s more manageable. I mean it was totally different for me than before with Blueprint because I was a rider for the company and I wasn’t involved in any of Magee, Shier or Burlo side of things. That was a really exciting dynamic, but in the current economic situation, etc, it has to be more low-key, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do anything. It’s a shame the way things ended for Blueprint.

Why do traditional skate culture like video parts, photos, magazines, company releases, etc still matter in the age of Facebook and Hellaclips?
- With today’s format everything becomes more throwaway and this is not what it’s like to skate. Facebook, and instant platforms, feed the saturation of skateboard documentation. This is a true representation of skateboarding today though so you can’t hide from the fluidity that technology produces and provides. But I am still of the opinion that less is more. I prefer to put more effort in to see a video and to really appreciate it.

What else do you have planned for the immediate future Nick? 2013 seems to have been pretty busy for you so far…
- Continuing doing what I am lucky enough to be able to do, thanks to my sponsors.

 

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Backside nosegrind. Photo – Sam

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