When I messaged Dougie George about doing this interview, he responded immediately that he’d been thinking of, “ways of going about it that weren’t as much of an interview format.” Rather he wanted to let the photos lead the text, using the images as a springboard to discuss “the experiences of being in different places and skating and taking different influences from people around you.”
This willingness to immerse himself in the project warmed my shrivelled little journalistic heart. Dougie’s dedication to skateboarding in its cultural as well as physical form – the fact of his throwing down an obscure variation of an oft-maligned trick as the ender to his Butter Goods part in homage to Rob Welsh’s part in Free Your Mind should tell you everything you need to know, really – is married to an analytical bent which sees him able to soak up influence and convert it into what is happening to the skateboard under his feet. This was summed up in a story he told me as we chatted via video call;
“I recently shot a photo for a Butter Goods ad doing a frontside noseslide down a handrail. I was working at Selfridges when I was in London, teaching skating at the bowl, and one day I saw Erik Ellington walk past with Louis Slater. I didn’t get to talk to him or anything, but it was sick to see him in person and I sat by the bowl and watched all of his footage ever.
“I’d been filming with Brayden Slezak and he was sending me spots, and he sent me this photo of a nine or ten stair handrail, quite tall and wooden on top. I’d been watching all this Ellington footage, and I went to this spot the next day and ended up doing the frontside noseslide down a handrail. I’d never done that before, and it was literally because I saw Erik Ellington and had that hype. Things like that really help my brain click. I need that support – support from a filmer, or from the others skating, or from Dale Starkie spotting cars in the street, or from a pro walking past who doesn’t even talk to me.”
His friend and regular video project collaborator Al Hodgson put it to me that, “he’s very interested in skateboarding technique, and trying to find out from different skaters how to do certain things and how they approach skating.” As a student of this, “he’ll talk to transition skaters about how they manipulate their bodies on a transition, then to tech skaters or rail skaters. He wants to be able to scratch away at a little bit of every kind of terrain.”
While you won’t find any hesh transition photos or flip in/flip out sequences in this particular article, I wouldn’t put it past him. In fact, he had recently paid a visit to Crowhurst Bowl and was as stoked on getting to skate that rusted deathtrap as the most carve-addled bowl troll. This appreciative yet critical eye comes across in his skateboarding and, I hope, will similarly make itself present in the following words from him.
Frontside Wallride Nollie ~ Photo by: Reece Leung
This spot is really cool and has a long history of being skated. Dale (Starkie) has gone off the top rope and into the bank, which I would never consider. Even with tricks on the bank, I don’t like doing tricks on steep banks. It’s steep and it’s hard, I’m not the guy for that. At first I didn’t think I was going to skate the spot, but the wall aspect and the idea of doing a nollie back in from the wallride… it’s not a freebie, but I wouldn’t do that trick if it wasn’t for being at the spot like that. It’s nice to hit it in a way a little bit different, but also the only way I could manage to hit it. I put my board down and was like, “Damn, Jeremy (Jones) would do this.” I could picture him just doing that, and I was trying to embody him when I threw my board down; “I’ve got the Jeremy feet!” Influences are such a huge part of being able to see how spots can be approached. If I hadn’t seen him skate I would likely have never had the idea or understanding to be able to do the trick. I love getting something when you don’t think you’re going to skate a spot. It just calls for something a bit different. That’s why I keep skating, I always want to be able to do something at a spot and it’s the best feeling when it pays off. I don’t want to be on a skate trip where I sit down at spots, I want to skate everything I come across.
Push 50-50 Grind ~ Photo by: Reece Leung
I actually skated this when I lived in Brighton four or five years ago, but only ground it a little bit before I ollied out to the side then ollied down the set. My mate took a photo, and I remember posting it on my Instagram at the time and a mate commented, “What, all the way along and down? Crazy!” Shit, no I didn’t. So it was nice going back to Brighton, I was walking around early one morning looking at spots and I realised it was doable. I stood on it, pushed into it and ground most of the way just on my own. I don’t think any of those tricks are the most gnarly, impressive or insane, but they give you the feeling that you’re searching for.
I love Brighton for its spots. It’s kind of where I got back into skating street properly, when I went down for uni and got into that scene with Harrison Woolgar, Michael ‘Moose’ Tarry, Dan Fisher-Eustance and Al Hodgson. That’s where my spark for skating street properly took off, it’s such a nice little city that you can just push around and hit all these weird, crusty little bits. Seeing those people’s approach to spots down there, like Harrison, or Zane Crowther who lives in Manchester now, was a big influence. They hit everything in such different, creative ways, that’s exciting to see. I grew up in the States, we moved there when I was eight and I lived there for eight years, and I don’t know if I’d stayed that I would have the same appreciation for skateboarding that I do having come back here. I probably wouldn’t be as sparked on it as I have been here.
I actually tweaked my ankle the day before Reece got there to shoot this one. My mate Ellis rolled away from a trick I was spotting for, and when I realised he was safe I got out of the way of him so he could carve out. I was running backwards, my foot went off a curb and I rolled my ankle, it was peak.
Frontside Smith Grind ~ Photo by: James Griffiths
We had to apologise to one of the neighbours here because of how noisy it was. I think Moose might be working on something and he did a ******** ********* during that session which Griff shot as well. He’s a legend, I met him when I moved to Brighton but he’s been in Barca for almost six years now. He’s another person I think of as an influence. I like hearing about people’s approaches to skateboarding, it helps me to see how someone skates but also to know how they think about it and maybe trick their minds in order for it to be simple to them in a way. You’ve got to get everything straight in your head, you can’t be thinking, “This is impossible,” while you’re trying something. People like Gabriel Summers, his approach to skating and jumping on handrails is psycho but having him explain it definitely helps your approach. Moose is one of those people as well, he was jumping on handrails in Brighton from the get go. Seeing that approach is pretty exciting and it makes me want to do it. The front smith was off the back of wanting to skate it with Moose.
Backside Lipslide ~ Photo by: James Griffiths
This one’s right on the side of the Thames, just below London Bridge. Supposedly, I’m banned from that walkway because of it. I was filming with Quentin Guthrie, I think I had done the trick three times for him to get it how he wanted it. He wanted a roll up shot, because you roll up on these thin bricks where on one side is the Thames Path and on the other is quite a big drop into the river. We’d been kicked out, I’d done the back lip and we filmed it but two security guards were there telling us we had to go. Quentin said that he kind of wanted a roll up shot, and we had to do it then so the light was the same, so as it was the last thing we were going to do I thought I could get up there and film the throw down – those dudes weren’t going to push me off the wall into the Thames. I went up there, we filmed the clip, I got into the back lip and jumped off and they were fuming. I don’t know why I gave them my name, I guess I didn’t really care, but they took my name and told me I was banned from there and if I came back I’d be arrested. So apparently I’m banned from the Thames Walk, but I’ve been back and no one has said anything.
The funniest thing is, I went through all that and Quentin didn’t even use the footage in the video. But it will be used, I’m actually working on a project with Quentin and Al Hodgson jointly filming at the moment. I’m stoked to be doing something with the two VX moguls.
Frontside Crooked Grind Photo by: Rafal Wojnowski
We used to call this one Quentin’s rail. He went there originally with Dom Henry and Smashley, Dom was originally going to skate it but he didn’t want to when they got there. Because Smashley had come out and Dom wasn’t hitting the rail, Quentin ended up doing a frontside boardslide down the rail that Sam shot. I think a couple of other people have skated it, but in our little circle we’ll always call it the Quentin rail. Aaron Jago did a Bennett grind down it, which is crazy. I think he’s the only other person to hit it recently, but I might be wrong.
Me and Charlie have talked about skating it for a while, so it was good to finally go there. Charlie did a backside 180 nosegrind down it that was in Assets, Quentin’s New Balance video, and I did the front crook. Rafski had come out to hang out more than shoot anything specific so there wasn’t any pressure on it. Sometimes when you go out with a filmer and photographer there’s that element of pressure to do stuff, and I don’t necessarily perform under pressure. I like to just go and skate and see what happens. That comes into what you asked me about where my favourite places to skate in London were, and I couldn’t answer because my favourite skates are where we go somewhere I haven’t really been before, mooch about and find things. That can result in failure if you don’t find anything, but the feeling when you do find something new and skate it makes it worth it.
That was a good day, I think it was in Ladywell. We were walking around places I’d never been, even though I’ve lived here for years. Charlie was skating the rail, Rafski was shooting, Quentin was there and it was his rail, and I realised that if I wanted to skate a rail then now was the time. I started getting pretty close, I’d front crooked a skatepark rail before but it’s always different when you’re skating street. I thought I’d do it quickly, but then I started struggling. One of the tries, Charlie put down a tenner if I made it that go. Quentin backed it up, then Raf did, so I had £30 if I landed it. I went for it, but instead of front crooking it, something was wrong and I did a frontside willy grind down it. I was so hyped because I’d never done that trick before, though obviously no one was paying me for that.
Anyway, Charlie ended up doing his trick and I was still figuring it out. Quentin at the time – I have a photo of this – was wearing two Butter Goods pieces, which got me hyped as we’re the Butter guys over here. It was a matching plaid shirt and hat. I yelled at him, “Yo, I’m going to do it right now… turn your hat sideways!” I made him wear the hat sideways for maybe 40 minutes before I finally did the trick. He was annoyed, but it was actually getting me hyped.
Ride On Backside Nosegrind Revert ~ Photo by: Reece Leung
The ride on tailslide, the push 50-50 and this trick are all kind of freebies in a way, the spot gives it to you. Well, Dale gives it to you – he’s the one who bondoed the Wakey ride on grind thing. Albie (Edmonds) back tailed it and he popped into the back tail, which is psycho. Dale switch crooked it. It feels better rolling away on that than some smooth marble, when you get the right one. Everywhere I am, I’m looking for things that are potentially skateable, and things like that feel good. Changes in the texture on the floor, rolling through a crusty bit to get to a smooth bit, those are good feelings. Holding on through some crust in the street feels like you’re doing a trick. The question you asked me about choosing between a city plaza spot or obscure cobbled crust, I thought that was interesting. I would like both. I like skating plazas but I have a problem with them as well. I’m not necessarily going to do a ledge trick, but there’s usually some different way that you can skate them. They’ve not always been skated in certain ways, and the idea of going to somewhere like Love Park and finding a new way to skate it is the coolest thing to me. The best feeling is finding your own stuff, making something out of something that people aren’t making something out of. So being in an obscure, crusty town is exciting to me… as long as there are enough spots. If there’s only two semi-skateable spots, you’re going to hit them both then want to move on.
Ride On Frontside Tailslide ~ Photo by: Reece Leung
This spot was hit by Ash Humphrey in one of Al’s edits, Pavilion. He did a frontside 50-50 down it, back when it was kind of harder to skate. Now they’ve changed that playground, it’s opened up a little bit more and I went there and realised it would be great for that trick. I don’t really do tailslides, but that spot kind of wants to be slid. It’s a nice feeling when the spot gives you a trick. Whether the spot is worth filming on or not, scratching a grind on an evil curb often feels better than doing a trick down a perfect stair set. Chasing this feeling, the goal is to be able to hit every “spot” you come across and to be able to make something out of anything.
Backside 180 Fakie Nosegrind Revert~ Photo by: Reece Leung
Another trick that I’d like to say I can do, but rarely roll away from. This ledge having a bank 45° to the end of the ledge not only made the trick more accessible, but also made the trick look cool and make more sense… but I’d like to think that wouldn’t I haha. We filmed this one a few times, Al getting a few angles to complement some of the tricks I filmed for the project with Quentin. I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with Al and Q, who are just as keen on hitting little spots even if the trick isn’t super crazy. Both of their unique views on capturing spots has helped me a lot in seeing the value in trying to film on a bunch of different spots, textures and places. Reece also put a lot of work into this one – it was super busy and tight, yet he still managed to stitch up a shot isolating the trick in the middle of a busy environment. Skating is a very individual “sport” and yet we would all be nowhere without the support of others. Sometimes you need to put the board down and focus on keeping the conditions of the session optimal for whoever is trying a trick.
I’ve been very lucky to be able to work with talented photographers, videographers, skateboarders and brands that help me do what I love to do in ways that suit how I skate. Thank you everyone that’s always been supportive, it means the world.
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