It’s hard to know where to start with Ishod: SOTY, ‘your favourite skateboarder’s favourite skateboarder’, a video catalogue boasting about four career’s worth of footage...
Put simply, even if Ishod decided to take it easy in 2016 he would probably still be one of the most productive skateboarders this year.
His output hasn’t gone unnoticed by Nike SB either who have seen fit to give the chance Ishod to put his own take on the classic SB Dunk. The result is the Ishod Wair Dunk Low Pro and, like the man himself, the shoe doesn’t disappoint. While teams of invited skaters from across Europe ticked off tricks during the Wair Test of his shoe at the Nike SB Shelter in Berlin, we caught up with Ishod himself to get his thoughts on the Dunk, the last days of Love Park, Philadelphia and filming VX.
“The Dunk Rethunk" - what was it about the shoe that you liked so much to rework it as your pro shoe?
I would skate the Dunk Highs a lot but I couldn’t really skate the Dunk Lows because they were too bulky. Generally, I would rather skate a low shoe but the Highs happened to be less bulky than the Lows at the time. An opportunity was presented to me to add my own revisions to the Lows and I was like, “Hell yeah! Dunks are dope, I’m down." I’ve been trying to get them around to slimming it up for a while. They tried it slimming it up like four years ago at the same time when they redid the sole, but there was a lot of controversy because a lot of the people that buy Dunks happen to be sneaker heads and they are all about the fat tongue. I think nowadays, slim is better. I can’t mess with that big ass shoe so I was like, “Yeah you gotta slim that shit up."
So the overall construction has been slimmed down? Not just the tongue?
Yeah around the ankle, the tongue, the sole is softer rubber, along with a couple of other things. I didn’t really have to do anything because aesthetically it’s already an amazing looking shoe.
Could you explain what is going on with Love Park right now?
Well supposedly, the fences were supposed to go back up on the 12th but that hasn’t happened. I’m getting Snapchats from my friends, to this day, skating there and Thrasher posted some of them. My homie, he did like a one foot switch back tail or something, you go on there and you’ll see it. People are still skating there so I don’t know. Ten years ago they said it was the last years but then ten more years happened. But the property underneath Love, the parking garage, somehow that space got sold and the fountain is leaking into it so they have to redo the parking garage – apparently that’s what has made this version of Love being torn down ‘real’. But it’s a good opportunity to redo the park and “Get rid of all the pesky skateboarders."
It’s fucking lame. It sucks but I’m also curious to see what happens to the Philadelphia skateboard community because it’s such an epicentre. Everybody goes there, everybody skates there. I haven’t seen some people skate anywhere other than there so I feel they’re very limited. They’re amazing at skateboarding but I feel like that place might be hindering them because they are high ledges, that are kind of round, that have been skated for twenty-plus years. There are people there that are amazing at skating but I feel they don’t get any better because they don’t leave that one spot. It’s gonna suck when it’s gone but I’m curious to see what’s gonna happen.
Also, Municipal [Philadelphia Municipal Court], back in the day you see like no footage of Municipal. Across the street you would see City Hall footage and Love Footage and then Municipal is the spot that has all the dominoes and benches and people ollie onto the benches and go over. The spot has always been there but you never really seen footage of it and that’s so weird because it’s such an amazing spot. People have been skating there a lot lately, I feel like when I’m back home I skate there more than I skate Love. Love is annoying especially since it’s the last days and it’s in the newspaper that they are trying to redo Love Park. People are trying to get all their photos in there, you know what I mean? Just doing a ton of shit when it’s nice out like break dancing in front of the sign and taking pictures. There are people all over the place and it’s so hectic. Even though it’s a public park you’re like “Get the fuck out of the way, come on", (laughs).
Philly’s scene has always been pretty political and protective; do you feel that has increased as Love has become more under threat?
No, I feel like now it’s easier for random people to come into town and skate. If you go there on a nice weekend it will look like a skate park for sure, there will be so many people there. Then the cops will come and there will be nobody in the park. It’s like a ghost town, it looks so weird. People will be looking around like, “Are the cops still in there..." and it’s a ghost town.
How bad are the penalties for getting caught skating there right now?
I think it’s a $75 ticket: sometimes they try other bullshit and take your board. I haven’t got caught, I just bolt. At night I usually skate the flat where the Love sign is because during the day there’ are so many people up there. I usually skate down the three stairs and all the way at the bottom where the ledge is, the round one where your board can go in the water.
After ten o’clock the cops are off duty so there’s no threat of getting caught up top so that’s when I skate flat. But usually I’m skating down bottom and the cops come from the top of the park because that where their little ‘station’ is. They rarely come around the back unless they’re doing some sting operation where all these bike cops come out of nowhere. They do that too but coincidentally I happen to have not been there when it happens so lucky me.
Because there is so much heat on Love, does that make it easier to skate other spots in Philly?
I don’t know, inside our city a lot of places have their own security. You can just be like “Fuck you!" and keep skating around them but I’m not one to just fuck a spot up for other people. Be all like “Fuck you, fucking security guards!" People just lump all skaters into one so I don’t want to be that dude that curses out a security guard and then the next people that come here, the security is trying to fuck them up for no reason. I’m not that guy. If somebody kicks me out I don’t want that stress of somebody breathing down the back of my neck trying to get me to dip so I’ll just be, “Yeah alright, whatever, we got kicked out, let’s just bounce." But, I guess it really depends what spot you go to.
You’re incredibly productive when it comes to video parts but it’s interesting that your footage seems pretty balanced between projects for sponsors and just filming with your friends. Does having that balance help keep you motivated?
Oh yeah, for sure, you got to. I’m gonna be skating anyway. In Philadelphia there aren’t that many photographers and filmers around so a lot of the time when I’m home I don’t really even film that much. It will be random, I’ll just be skating with my friends somewhere and someone will have a camera out. We go on missions sometimes then next thing you know I have more footage. Natural footage, it just brings that out.
What was it about the scene in Philly you liked so much that made you want to move out there?
I’m from New Jersey, the most middle part of Jersey that you can live. When I tell other people I’m from Bourne Town, it’s right next to Trenton - the capital of New Jersey, people will just be like “Oh, you live in South Jersey."
“No, I live in the middle, the direct middle of the state. Central Jersey." Where I grew up is closer to Philadelphia than it is to New York so a lot of people from North Jersey go to New York and a lot of people South and Central Jersey go to Philly. I was in with the people who would travel down to Philadelphia, when I started going to the city I was probably fifteen. New York is a much bigger city; my mom probably wouldn’t feel as comfortable with me going to New York as to Philly. Because it’s closer she would be like, “Hmm be careful. But yeah, you go..." know what I mean?
A lot of the people I grew up with ended up going on the weekend, ‘weekend warriors’ (laughs). Then eventually, my friends started going to college out there and I would crash at their places and then all my other friends started moving out there. I was like, “Yo, I’m gonna move out here too". Don’t have to drive forty-five minutes every time I want to hang out with my friends; I’m just gonna be there, my own space, kicking it. So, I moved there because it just made sense and it’s a pretty cool place. It’s dope.
You were in New York recently at the Nike SB Garage also celebrating the launch of this shoe and you’re pretty tight with Johnny Wilson and that crew. How did you get to know those guys?
I got to know Johnny Wilson through his older brother, Mitchell, one of the first times I went to Woodward Camp when I was really young. Maybe when I was like fifteen or sixteen. I didn’t have the money to go there; I got second in some Game of SKATE at our local skate park. Tom Asta got first; it was back when we both didn’t really have any sponsors or anything. He was hooked up low key because he knew Chris Cole.
But, he got first and I got second and I still got to go to Woodward camp and that’s how I met his brother. At this time Johnny was like a little squirt but I didn’t meet him until years later. I met his brother first then Johnny later on. Then got to be good friends with them and now he is who he is and we all just still skate together, I’ve known him for a pretty long time.
You’ve said that your favourite way of going filming is with a VX. Even though Johnny films HD do you find going out filming with him has a similar vibe? Like, you don’t have your day structured, it’s more just go out and skate?
Yeah, but Johnny also films long lens a bunch and captures a lot of what everybody is doing because he’s not filming lines. It’s not like he’s filming one specific person, he’s standing there with a camera, everyone is skating and he is catching everything what everybody does. It’s a little bit more of a natural feel because people are sessioning and he is just like a fly on the wall with his camera, you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool in that sense. He’s not really going fish eye so you don’t get that HD fisheye feel, it’s just long lens and he’s really good at it. He films pretty tight.
But, VX just in the hand just going around, I think is the best way because it’s more natural. If you’re like, “Hey look at this thing" - it might be a quick bust spot. Somewhere you get kicked out of quickly and homie’s got the camera in his hand. You’re just like, “Yo, let me try this spontaneously real quick and let’s see what happens." It’s the best way to go skating. When I was a kid we would go to Philadelphia and the homie would have a camera in his hand and would just roam around the city, stumble on whatever and start skating it. That’s when the sickest shit happened, when you’re just kind of roaming around like that.
What style of video do you prefer working on? Something short like Johnny’s videos or a longer project like Sabotage 4?
I never really thought about that. I feel like anytime I can film with someone for an extended period would be ideal for me because I live on the East Coast and the West Coast, so it’s split up a lot. If I had a filmer with me at all times, I could film a part in like two weeks, no problem. I skate so much but a lot of the time there is nobody filming me. Especially when I’m home I’m kind of just chilling, doing my own thing, running errands. You know, just doing random life shit but a lot of the time I’m not really filming. Then when I do skate, I skate a lot and happen to get a couple of things when we go out, maybe not always but, you know.
I remember you saying you were also interested in getting a VX yourself, have you given filming a go since then?
Oh yeah. I have a VX but I filmed with it like two times and then the tape deck broke and I have to send it to get fixed. I have multiple tapes but they stopped making Mini DVs, did you hear about that?! They stopped making Mini DV tapes so you gotta order as many of those fucking things as you can and after that you’re going to have to start taping over your own tapes. It’s gonna suck. But yeah, I need to get it fixed and the only tape with all the footage me and my friend filmed of each other is stuck in the camera. So that’s a goner, (laughs).