UK Female Skateboarding – Amy Ram – First Light Interview
You’re only a couple of weeks back from a mission to Oregon and Seattle – how did that trip originally come about, and how was it being out there?
Well, me and Helena Long wanted to do a trip somewhere and we decided it was either go and see Lois Pendlebury in Tignes or go to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. I’d never been there before but Helena had been the year before, travelling. I just had to go somewhere I hadn’t been before – sorry Lois! I’d done two seasons in Tignes before so we just decided, fuck it – let’s go. It was amazing; one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.
And it was for an event, right?
Yeah it was for ‘Wheels of Fortune’, which is like a non-traditional skate comp. So they don’t judge in a traditional way – it’s judged on style, flow, attitude, everything…you have to be an all-rounder. It was a fun competition; it wasn’t so serious.
You’re pretty well travelled in general but are originally from London and started off skating Meanwhile, right?
Playstation, actually, when I was 11. I started rollerblading, then someone said to me, “fuck those eight wheeled things, switch to four”. So I rollerbladed for a year, then I switched and was on a skateboard by 11. I was obsessed, every weekend – it was my life. Everything I dreamt about, daydreaming about it at school…yeah, and then I stopped for ten years (laughs).
I was about 14 and I just got into everything else; drink, boys, smoking and everything. But that’s kind of your teen years, isn’t it? So then I wanted to get back into it. I went and did two ski seasons snowboarding, got back to London and was like “I need to do something on a board again…” then remembered, “fuck, I used to skate!” So I got back on my board at 23 and I’ve been skating pretty much ever since. I’m 28 now so the last few years have been pretty full on, but it’s taken me a while to get back into it, get tricks back, make friends with skaters again.
I guess things have changed a lot since then – back then Sam Bruce was in the area, Jenna Selby was in London…
Yeah, me and Sam were the first girls (I think) to be permanent residents of BaySixty6. I remember before I stopped, she got hooked up by Vans and being a teenage girl I was super jealous so was like “fuck this, I’m out” (laughs). Also I was playing football and had to choose; my weekends were too full. But yeah, Sam Bruce was around. The first competition I entered was a Gallaz competition with Jenna, I think. I remember Lucy [Adams] was there; this was around 2002. I won the mini ramp comp and I sucked at the street. I think it was Lucy, Jenna, Sam and a couple of others, but there were very limited numbers of girls who skated then – I don’t even think Helena was there; I don’t know where she was.
But since you’ve come back, there’s a pretty solid girl skate crew in London right?
Oh yeah, definitely. Every time I got to a skatepark, there’s a girl I know that skates there. It’s just a nice community, hanging out with all different types of people from different areas, ages and backgrounds. It’s like the scene is growing so fast.
And you’ve been back long enough; you must have seen a few kids go from nought to sixty, talent-wise.
Well there is still a big gap I think, between those who’ve just started and those who’ve skated for ten plus years, but it’s still nice to see all the girls hanging out, especially in London. I get on with pretty much all the girls that skate here.
I know you skate a lot with Helena…
Yeah, Helena’s my G; she’s so sick to skate with. She’s inspirational (laughs).
What’s the worst slam you’ve seen her take?
Oh all of them, all the time. According to her, I’m a bad omen – every time she skates with me she slams. We both slam pretty hard to be honest, but we like it!
It’s good, makes you feel alive…better than coffee for waking you up.
Definitely. I don’t mind it anymore; I used to hate it. I mean it totally sucks at the time, but at the same time it’s like “this is why I skate”. You have to go through these different types of feelings. You can smash your knees so hard on concrete, take five minutes out and then you’re back in it. I don’t mind it; it’s a weirdly nice feeling. I haven’t slammed for a while…well yeah I have, but not heavily. I’m due one…
I know you go surfing quite a lot – did that happen in the gap between stopping and starting skating again, or since then?
That came when I went travelling last year for five months, I took my skateboard with a plan to skate and surf…I lost my skateboard on a train in Sri Lanka so just went for the surfing and it’s been in my life ever since, I love it a lot.
In a way it’s a bit more spiritual than skateboarding, you’re meditating on the water when you wait for waves and it relaxes your whole body. You don’t have your phone on you constantly, there’s no Instagram – the Instagram hype doesn’t surround surfing as much as it does skating. You don’t see ‘Instagram surfers’ as much as you might do in skateboarding. You just switch off when you surf and yeah, I fucking love it, it’s sick! I’d recommend it to everyone, but people are scared of the ocean these days!
Yep, I can’t swim so I don’t fuck with that shit…anyway, BaySixty6 is celebrating its 20-year anniversary this month and you’ve been heavily involved with the organisation side – how did you end up working with them? And where do you see the skatepark’s place in the wider London skate scene?
BaySixty6 is a community I’ll never be detached from – it’s somewhere where I’ve grown up, where I know everyone who works there and all the locals and it’s comforting to know that – other than my home – I have somewhere else to go to where I can relax, chill, skate and hang out with what feels like a family there. It’s nice and it’s a feeling you don’t really get in London. Stockwell as well, I feel really at home there and like I can hang out with my friends and not have to skate there the whole time.
Anyway, I met Paul – the owner of BaySixty6 – when I was out doing one of my seasons, in a chairlift. His son recognised me from skating there, we got chatting and he was like “This is my dad, who owns the park.” Then I started to work with them by teaching some of the schools. Nike did the ‘Honour Roll’ programme, which taught school groups how to skate. That’s how I started really getting back into things, because I was skating pretty much every day for a year doing that. I’d worked with kids a lot before; I was teaching kids to play football when I was 16. I’ve been a coach before so it came fairly naturally to me, which was lucky. Big thanks to Gary, who taught me all his techniques!
What originally got you interested in working out in Palestine with SkatePAL last year, and how was that experience?
That was one of the best experiences of my life – if anyone is thinking about doing it, I highly, highly recommend going out there and seeing what it’s like. I’d barely heard of Palestine before I went out there so to find out the history and what’s going on now, between Israel and Palestine and everything since World War II…it was an amazing six weeks of pure knowledge and I came back feeling much more aware of what’s happening in the Middle East. What Charlie (Davis) and Theo (Krish) have done out there is incredible; they recently managed to raise a bit of money through a funding site and that’s going towards the new park they’re building there in September.
We skated in Israel as well, we got both sides of the story – hanging out with Israelis, hanging out with Palestinians, we got to know the whole situation through being there. It’s not just about going out there and skating, it’s about going out and talking to people who aren’t allowed to go outside their own country…and they’ve never met any Westerners before so you’re not only giving them skate knowledge, you’re giving them knowledge that they can’t get from the internet or any other source from the outside world. It’s all from talking one to one, learning about their culture and religion, it’s sick. I’m really proud; one of my proudest moments in skateboarding is going to Palestine and doing that.
You’re currently having a couple of days off skating due to weekend missions with Callun Loomes and the Get Lesta crew. How did you meet those guys and is filming with Callun as gnarly as it’s rumoured to be?
Yeah, I’ve had to have a week off this week because he’s brutalised me – he made me try things I never thought I could do, then do them another twenty five times (laughs). I got to meet Callun a few years ago, maybe at Radlands at a Mountain Dew ‘Store Wars’ comp or something. I was helping out through Factory, looking after the riders, there was a fat fight in the pub. I met him around then, but I’ve always loved what he does with Get Lesta; it’s such a good platform and he’s done so well, spending so much time and his own money to create something that nobody else has created in the UK. Anyway, from there we got talking; we went out filming the other week and he fucked me up!
And it’s for the next Get Lesta video, or a web project?
It’s for the new video they’ve got coming out in October, probably similar to ‘Get 420’. I don’t know what it’s going to be called, but the filming we did was for that.
So what’s next on the travel plans?
Nepal – I’m going to go out to the new skatepark in Annapurna, hopefully do some teaching out there. Big respect to Ati (Atita Verghese) who runs Girl Skate India and who was building the skatepark out there. I got talking to her when I was in India, still with my board and skating some spots out there; what she does out there is so sick. I’d definitely like to go out and try to teach, skate the park and skate some spots, plus I think the Lovenskate guys are going out at a similar time so maybe try and hook up with them. I think Helena wants to try and come out as well, so it would be a good crew! For me. it’s rad going out to these countries and maybe influencing these girls who have never seen girls skate before – going out there physically, not just for them to watch on the internet, but to go out and physically skate with them. That’s way better than them seeing you on the web, meeting them and getting out there is important. I’d advise any girls wanting to travel to take their skateboards, go skate with girls from other countries, check out spots, styles…there’s a lot you can learn. See kids who’ve never seen other girls skate before, how they skate…yeah that’s my advice, go travel!
Big ups: Lois, Helena, Lucan, Paul, Skate Witches, Jono, Hannah Bailey and the best human in my life, my dear Granny.
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