Sidewalk Skateboarding Debuts - Korahn Gayle - Sidewalk Skateboarding

Debuts – Korahn Gayle Debuts – Korahn Gayle

Trick: Frontside flip.

Magazine: Document issue 35 – September 2003.

Photographer: Percy Dean.

Judging by how red your eyes are in the portrait here, you’re not going to remember much from this day (laughs).

I remember a little bit of it (laughs). I think I skated and then got high. I didn’t know this portrait was coming; I was like “I’ve got my skate trick, stoked. I’ll have a little spliff!” Then Percy said “lets take a portrait” so I was like… “fuck!” That’s basically what happened.

When you woke up on this morning back in 2003, did you know that you were going out to shoot a photo? Was it prearranged or did the idea of shooting something get sprung on you?

I don’t know, you know…I can’t actually remember that part of it. I don’t think it was arranged. I think that maybe Percy was coming down and there weren’t really many people around. I can’t remember who I was with but they were like “do you want to do anything?” to me, and I was like “yeah, I want to frontside flip this set”, but it wasn’t this set here, it was London Life, the nine.

I went there and started trying that and we got kicked off. I thought “there is another nine set, but it is a bit bigger” – this horrible set here. We went there, and I fluked it (laughs).

You’d been filming quite a lot by this point I guess? This ‘Omens’ was shot around the same time as you were all filming the first ‘Bristol In Bloom’ video with Louis Gane…

Yeah this is definitely around that time, because I’ve got those orange Autobahn Wheels on, so this was really around the same time. I’m just seeing if it says anything about the video in the text…

I don’t know if it says anything about the video in there but you are described as a ‘creeper’. “He’s a creeper, like they all seem to be from this city”.

Bit odd (laughs). I’m a creeper? What does that even mean?

“They just creep about. They have their own spots that no one knows about, they have their own filmers, they don’t give a fuck about skating with the ‘who’s who’ of their own city, they just creep along on the outskirts of their scene, slowly chipping away at the spots, knocking off trick after trick unbeknownst to anyone else…”

(Laughing) That’s hilarious. Fair enough.

What were your first impressions of meeting Percy back in the day?

I can’t remember if this was the first day I’d met Percy, but he was a big man, he was like a Big Friendly Giant, the BFG of skating (laughs). He was nice though.

You’re clearly skating a Fifty-Fifty board in the photo, and I know you used to near enough live next to the shop back then – were they already helping you out at this point?

I always used to go to Fifty-Fifty and sit in there…actually I might have been working in there when I was 15…yeah, I was, because I was bunking off school loads and ended up getting work experience there. I did a week work experience in the shop then ended up staying and working there for a few years after. I was living right down the road from the shop so I used to go up there, smoke weed and get told to go out back and grip boards because I looked too stoned (laughs). Good times.

What was your next photo after this? I remember you had a pop shove-it over the Bridgewater rail in Manchester around the same time. Was there anything else?

Maybe it was that. In fact, I think it may have been a fakie frontside flip down London Bridge. That was shot by Sam Ashley when I was 15 or 16. I actually slipped a disk the go before I landed it. This woman walked past me and said, “be careful you don’t break your neck”. I was like “thanks for saying that”, and then I got scared as I popped, jumped down the stairs straight legged and thought “oh my god, what was that in my back?” I ran back up, did it the next go and then couldn’t walk properly the next day.

Recently I was skating the same spot and the same thing happened, a woman walked past me and said, “mind you don’t break your neck”. I was like “I can’t try it now because this is literally the craziest déja vu”, but I did try it anyway. And it was alright (laughs).

Was that when you got the cover of Grey recently?

I think it was that session, yeah.

Do you remember when this issue of Document came out? Do you remember the first time you saw this photo in print?

I can’t really remember too well. I remember reading this bit at the end and thinking “yeah, for real” – this bit that says “keep creeping up and don’t let this change a thing”. I remember thinking “yeah…I won’t” (laughs).

I thought I’d better not go crazy and be a rock star, which could’ve easily happened, having had an ‘Omens’ in Document. Just kidding.

Actually, I do remember when it came out because I looked at it and I was like “cool, yeah I like the photo”, then I thought “shit, but where does it say that it’s a frontside flip?” so I was looking around, couldn’t see it, and then I was just like “damn! Everyone is going to think I front 180’d it or something.”

At the time, a frontside flip down those was pretty big.

It was alright, yeah. But obviously now I can go on Instagram and be like “by the way guys, it’s a frontside flip, just saying” (laughs).

Yeah you can finally let the world know it was actually a frontside flip, fourteen years later.

Jesus Christ! That’s insane it was so long ago.

Did you ever pull Percy up in later life for not captioning it properly?

Nah I don’t think I did. It would have been a bit risky really, after seeing him punch that guy out on YouTube (laughs).

What did your family think of it when it came out?

Well, my mum realised I smoked weed (laughs). They didn’t think too much of it.

Any last words or final thoughts on this before we wrap it up?

I think it’s weird that, in the portrait, my lips look big because my head’s so small (laughs). My lips have stayed the same size but my head has grown. My head has grown into my lips now, which is interesting.

It is a very natural looking portrait. Is it shot at College Green?

Yeah, and I remember being quite nervous because I was stoned; I was like “oh God, I’m having a photo taken of me!” What else? The orange Autobahn Wheels, I’ve mentioned them, they were sick. It’s just mental that it’s so long ago really. Madness…