After being pleasantly reminded of Connor Kammerer’s amazing appearance in Daniel Kim’s latest Stingwater video ‘Paid 2 sk8‘ we thought we’d revisit his interview from Issue 15 and upload it online in full. To go with it we have a short video upload, ‘A day with Connor’ which you can find below showcasing his struggle with a rather long and curvy boardslide. This interview was conducted by Colin Read and photos taken by Cole Giordano. Big up Connor, Cole and Colin for your patience for letting us print this one in the pages of our magazine, we’re big fans of course! Enjoy the read below and get inspired by Connor’s interesting approach.
Introduction by Guy Jones
Interview by Colin Read
Photography by Cole Giordano
We’ve been sitting on this interview with Connor Kammerer for a little while now, so we can only apologise to Connor, Cole and Colin (deadly trio of gents with names beginning with C right there). This is not to undermine the content as it is something we’re hyped on and I personally have adored all three of these fine gents output and approach for years. Connor isn’t necessarily a mainstream sponsored skateboarder but someone who I feel has made significant impact on the culture, his scene and obviously the output combined with Colin and Cole is simply incredible. It’s always a pleasure to have someone like Connor in the mag, even if it is just a peep into his vibrant world. Also modest creatives? Fuck yeah!
Where are we right now?
We’re at Super Pollo, in Ridgewood, Queens.
Start by telling me about your VHS collection.
When my brother was living in Chicago, Hollywood video went out of business near his house during the mass extinction of video rental stores. They just threw out all of their video tapes, so he had free reign over all of them. It’s mostly action and horror movies. Mosquito, Skeeter, Bugs, Bugs 2, Blackenstein, Blackula… Those kind of things. My favorite is either The Day of the Comet, or Brain Damage. Brain Damage is actually amazing. It’s made by the same director who made Basket Case, one of the only actually good movies in the collection. I still haven’t seen most of the movies; I think there are probably about 200 or so.
Do you actually enjoy good things, or do you mainly enjoy bad things that are so bad they’re good?
I really enjoy good things, but often things that are supposed to be good aren’t good or are disappointing. I think I like the same things that people are looking for in “good” art and movies, but I have reservations that I can’t get past. So if it’s otherwise good other than this one thing, it ruins the whole thing.
What are some of those sticking points for you?
What’s one example?
Mid 90s? It has lots of other problems past it’s coolness. But one problem is that it’s supposed to be so cool. And that’s not cool. It shouldn’t be a goal to make something that’s cool. It’s inherently lame to try to make something cool. It should be a side effect of a good project.
I think that’s something that you and I have in common, in terms of the things we make together. We like to make something we think is interesting, and hopefully people like it. A lot of the things we’ve made together aren’t particularly cool by the usual standards.
No. They’re not.
But luckily, maybe some people think they’re cool in the end.
Or not. And I think you and I would be just as content if people weren’t into it, because you’re happy with it yourself.
I want people to like the things I make, sure. But…
I don’t think you take very much into account an expected audience response.
Yeah. I guess that’s why, when I make things, it’s purely as a hobby. Or I don’t know if that’s the right word, I take it seriously, but it’s not on a professional scale. I’m not getting paid to do the things I put my artistic effort into because inevitably, because people want them to be a little cooler, or different.
And you’d have to try to please other people.
Which is fine, I don’t mind people being pleased, but I don’t think it’s the goal.
For example. In my opinion, you’re an immensely talented and unique photographer. You do amazing photo shows, but only show them in your own living room to close friends. Which I think is a great and interesting way, and definitely is the best way to experience them. But I think that a lot of people would enjoy the work that you make. So would you ever be interested in trying to expand your reach, and get them seen by more people? Whether that means doing larger shows, or letting them free into the world, or more web presence? Or would you prefer to keep them more personal and intimate?
I’m definitely down to have them looked at by more people. I’ve had two public showings since I started doing the slideshow’s, which was about four years ago. But often, people who make things are either good at making them or selling them. I’m definitely not good at selling them. Gotta think of the right venue. I have one show that is about 20 minutes, so it couldn’t be it’s own event. I’d have to find a way to fit it in with other things.
In a lot of your shows, it’s tied in with your narration. Which maybe is a limiting factor.
I’ve also been doing them with live music, no narration. When I do them in public, I play live music.
Which also means you need to be there in person.
Would you ever do them in a way that things can be in display, and you don’t have to be there every time?
Maybe pictures on display, but not the slideshow’s. A huge part of it is the audio… Maybe it could be done. I’d just have to figure out a way to record it, and amplify the sound of the projector with a contact mic.
If there were such a thing as the friend SOTY, of all your friends, who would it be?
The first name that comes to mind is Leo Gutman, every year. Although he always claims he doesn’t skate that much any more. I actually can’t think of seeing him really skate this year, to be honest. I’ll keep thinking.
(Alex Reyes) I thought you were going to say Antonio [Durao] since you skate with him all the time.
He’s a skate freak for sure.
He’s insane. Although I don’t think he’s had “that part” yet. Maybe let’s talk about that. What do you think about the fact that we live in a “post skate part” world? Do you think we’re past skate parts?
No, people are still making parts. But before, people who had less access to media would have made parts; now, most of the parts that come out are from people who are contractually obligated to make parts. Or, only people who have both lots of free time and media access. But mostly it all just goes online.
So maybe it’s only older guys, and young kids making parts now.
Or Japanese skaters. They’re still filming parts. But actually that’s changing too. The younger kids there are just putting things on the internet now.
How many parts do you think you have left in you?
One. I got one left.
When was the term “part” first used? We have this idea of it being important, but it’s really not that old of a concept.
If you could share a part with anyone, who would it be?
Kenji Nakahira… I’m still trying to think of the Friend SOTY.
Onto tricks. What’s your white whale? You’ve been crossing some off lately.
I crossed one off. Theres still a lot out there.
I know the photo is in this interview. So walk us through the process.
There’s a grate that you prop up at Blubba, between a bank and a wallie. Maybe 50 degrees. Some people skate it like a bank, or you can wallie off the end of it over the hole. A long time with you, we filmed a wallie late front shove off it, which was in Tengu. Then we tried to film a wallie front bigspin.
Yeah. I went back again to film it with Jacob Harris, Marshall Nicholson, Chris Thiessen, Ricardo Napoli, Dima (Brylev), Takeshi Nagamatsu… I may have tried to film it with John Valenti. Anyway, more than five filmers.
In what timespan?
Since Tengu. Which is six years. Each time I’d usually try it for at least three hours, then get so tired and be incapable or riding away. I landed it so many times, but never rolled away.
The most recent time was with Cole Giordano, who shot the video and also the photo. I decided to commit entire each try, which I guess is what you should do in general. But try to land no matter if the board is with you or upside down. One time I just flung it and it did a bigspin heel, and stuck it, and that seemed to work way easier than just the bigspin… So I started just doing that. That first trip there with him, I stuck it, then had to go back again and rolled away. It was basically a war of attrition, I didn’t give up, and eventually the trick gave up. I won. Which is usually how it goes. When the main factor isn’t bodily harm, either you’re going to give up or the trick is. If you try it long enough and you have people you’re willing to put through horrible things to record your stupid trick, you’ll be able to do it.
There are some skaters who it seems that they land things effortlessly, yet really it comes at the end of a grueling war of attrition, like you just described. And you’re like that, when you land your monstrous tricks, they look easy just because of your style, although everyone is soaking in sweat. Unlike other skaters, who look like they’re almost going to die every time they try a trick, but in reality it’s very controlled and they’re very consistent. Like Franco, he’s one of my favorite skaters in New York; it looks like he’s just barely in control, but really he lands things almost every try. His skating looks exciting and risky, because it looks as if he could slam at any moment, which I absolutely love.
One thing that gives me away is how the pants are always two-toned with sweat. The chronic swamp-ass gives it away.
You have a Friend SOTY yet?
Still thinking… We should talk about “edits”.
Oh yeah. I had no idea what an “edit” is.
Which is surprising, since you’re an editor.
So what is an “edit?”
Edits are basically when, and this is an old man trying to figure out what the youngsters are up to, so please take it with a grain of salt, it’s when they like a song, and some girls looking cute, and skate tricks and such, and you edit them together, and that’s an “edit.” And people love them. And the things that you and I have made appear a lot in “edits.”
I’ve been informed that the one clip from your Spirit Quest part is the second-most reposted skate clip in history.
Is the first the one with the guy tripping with coffee?
Too bad I think that that one has to be fake… For the number two claim, I think I probably feel the same as the guy who tripped with the coffee. I’m happy about it. I love the insight it’s given me into a culture I knew nothing about. I love the comical, reckless ignorance that it’s given me insight to.
How do you feel about the increasingly worse quality it devolves to with every repost?
I think that’s a stylistic thing. Like with memes, some of them are ultra-solarized so that you have no idea what’s going on. It’s funny how we watched it unfold. At the beginning, we were upset that it was being reposted in such low quality, because it’s beautiful. But halfway in, it got so out of control, that now everything makes me happy, because it’s so different than what I thought it would be. I think it’s been seen by maybe 20 million people by now.
I think many, many more.
Maybe a lot more. Hood Clips posted it. If You High. Cheech and Chong’s official instagram account. That one depressed me a little. To have them have some intern repost some “high” video kind of bummed me out.
What we’ve been noticing recently is that the upside-down clip has somehow become synonymous with the word “trippy.” So much that it’s even being included in “edits” out of context. You don’t even see the full “trippy” effect of the match cut.
The edit won’t even have the edit.
But it’s passed into the common Instagram vernacular for “trippy” so it’s just in there for a second.
So people see it and know, “Oh, this video is trippy.” I love it.
You’ve become a meme.
The image of me skating has. But out of maybe 20 million who have seen it, maybe ten thousand know that you made the video, and maybe 200 know that it’s me. So out of 20 million, maybe 200 know that I made the video. Even friends of me probably don’t know. People who I know. So it’s just an image of a person skating. It just so happens that it’s me, but it’s detached from my person. Which is just the way things go, and it’s allowed me to see that. It’s just a perfect storm of weirdness.
For some back-story, the first time it blew up, and the reason it is still always shown in horrible quality today: The first time it got on the internet, it was on Vine, and it was Pat Steiner’s account. And he was filming it off his TV screen, with his own reflection in the video. And he stopped recording before the final match cut. And so that is the version that’s still widely reposted, getting worse and worse over time. Pat’s face is still in it.
People’s sense of ownership is insane. People are insulted by not being given their credit, like “Y’all don’t even know about the original video, which was by Hood Clips.” A lot of people somehow thought it was a skater called Lazie, who they claim passed away. “What skater is this?” “It’s Lazie, he passed away, R.I.P. Lazie.” And the song? Forget about it. I made the song with Ty Flowers, a great musician. I think the song adds a lot to the “trippiness” of the clip. And people’s sense of ownership over even the song got out of hand. At one point a Soundcloud rapper sampled it, and that got some popularity, so whenever people asked about the song, people would say it was that rapper. Luckily. Now, it’s never attached to the song, and is always with some trap song, and I can watch from a third person point of view over who owns the song.
Is there a single favorite repost?
The one I’m happiest with was Hoodclips… The text they added was “I’m shooketh.” And on top it said “When I eat edibles and skate.” And it had a wide-eyed emoji. The whole thing has expanded my vocabulary. I know how to talk to youngsters now. I love the comments.
Okay. Parting words? You still have to decide your Friend SOTY.
Yeah, I’ll give the Friend GOAT-OTY to Leo Gutman. I’ve had the whole conversation to think about it. It’s Leo. The Greatest Of All Time – Of The Year.