To continue with the IWD hype this week we’ve uploaded an interview with Manchester based Kizzy Yuill, she chats to Joe Gavin about doing backflips on BMX, being the first girl to work in NOTE Shop, the importance of print magazines, her artwork / graphic design and much more! This interview was lifted from Issue 24 of the mag. Get hold of a physical copy here!
Introduction by: Guy Jones
Interview by: Joe Gavin
Photography by: Reece Leung
Artwork by: Kizzy Yuill
Firstly thank you so much to Kizzy for being in these pages, it’s beyond a pleasure. Having never met Kizzy myself, I’d keep hearing Reece say “Kizzy got something gnarly today,” and talk about how sound she was. Seeing these photos got me so hyped, reading the interview Joe did with her obviously got me equally as hyped, and I feel confident that you could broach any subject to her and she could discuss it or at least humour you with a decent response. Major yell exit to Joe Gavin for unearthing these factoid treasures about backflips, firework design and more and shout out NOTE on two of the finest having a discussion for our humble publication.
So Kizzy, tell me where you’re from and how you ended up doing a backflip on a BMX?
Safe! I’m from a village called Bentham, it’s technically North Yorkshire but right on the border of Cumbria and Lancashire as well. The arse end of nowhere basically, loadsa sheep. We somehow managed to get a little council built skatepark there in about 2011/12 that was semi decent and was pretty much the only thing to do around there. My parents bought me a BMX off eBay for Christmas and it went from there really. I had a bit of a dark spell on a scooter, but came to my senses and was back on a bike before long.
You think you still got it? What if someone offered up loads of cash for a first try backflip out of a jump box?
I reckon I’d give it a good effort for the right price haha! I’d definitely want to send quite a few into a foam pit first and I’d still be absolutely bricking it, it’s been years since I’ve been on a bike! Backies are one of them though, they’re actually not that hard technically – you’ve got to commit 100% though.
What made you transition into skateboarding?
I took some pretty heavy injuries, the final straw was fracturing my spine doing a backflip up a step-up. I was dead lucky that it wasn’t more serious but it was still a pretty long recovery process. I did get back on it for about a year afterwards but I lost my bottle a bit – looping out on the back wheel is a pretty common slam on a bike and I can’t really afford to do it again. I remember going to some comp in Barrow just after I’d started riding again and my mate entered my name without me knowing, I suddenly had loads of heads shouting at me to do a backie so I just had to go for it – probably the scariest moment of my life though! Not long after that I moved to Manchester for uni and started going down and skating Pump Cage, mostly on the girls night to start with. I met a sick little crew there and just got hooked from then on. I blagged getting a coaching job there at some point, I was still pretty crap but that was kind of an incentive to progress so the kids I was meant to be teaching didn’t show me up! I’d always followed skating a bit growing up and quite a few of my mates skated so I had a bit of a head start from pissing around on other people’s boards, it felt like a pretty natural transition from bikes. Also the skate scene and skaters in general are waaay more sound than the BMX scene in my experience. I feel like BMXers are more jocky than skaters; maybe that’s just because I was a little park rat and went to Rampworx too much though haha.
You’re not afraid to commit and take a deep slam, do you think in comparison to being on a bike skating is kind of mellow?
I think that definitely helped when I started skating to be honest, on a bike you tend to be going faster and hitting bigger spots/ramps so the slams suck a lot more. Going from riding massive boxes to skating a 4ft mini felt pretty chill. These days I feel like I’ve gone the other way, I barely skate ramps anymore so anything over 5ft feels massive now!
How did you end up in Manchester?
I couldn’t wait to move here! I spent most of my spare time and money from age 13-18 getting trains from Bentham to come ride in Manny or Liverpool. Originally I was only gonna come for one year to do an art foundation, then I was planning to go to either Leeds or Glasgow but I met so many mint people and had such a good time in Manchester that I didn’t want to leave. I still haven’t, six years later.
How does it feel to be the first female to ever work at NOTE?
Before I started I didn’t even realise that no other girls had ever worked there. I remember someone telling me that Splodge had got a lock fitted on the toilet door and hearing about the sexy posters in the bog coming down hahaha. To be honest I felt more weird about barging in such a tight group of mates than worrying about being the only girl. Obviously though, everyone is an absolute lej and made me feel at home dead quickly.
Do you sometimes get a bit over being asked about things relating to girls skating as opposed to just being asked about skating in general?
Yeah, there is a bit of that definitely. I grew up playing in footy teams often as the only girl and later on going to skate parks with a group of boys, so it didn’t really cross my mind at all as I was used to it. In my head I skate. I don’t “girl skate”, that’s not a thing. I think it’s sick that girls have grown our own unique scene and there are huge benefits to that in making people feel comfortable in a space that is traditionally so male dominated. It increases exposure and I also think that it’s introduced a more supportive way of learning tricks that works well for some people. For me, though, I feel like there is a bit of an issue with male/female skating being too segregated; for example I definitely know girls who will only feel comfortable skating at girls’ nights and still don’t feel comfortable skating when guys are there. The whole “you’re actually pretty good for a girl” thing does my head in though – you don’t feel the need to approach any lads here and comment on their ability, why me?
You’re definitely a role model to younger girls that want to start skating though, what advice would you give to a girl that’s thinking of getting into it?
Do it! It can seem daunting at first but the vast majority of skaters will be stoked to see you trying and will help you out if you need! The first time is always the hardest but trust, it’s well worth it. I see some people get worried that they can’t afford skate shoes or whatever, you really don’t need the best gear just to get started. As long as you’ve got access to a board and some kind of flat surface you’re good to go. Also it’s never too late to start. I think a lot of girls start a bit later on than guys, mostly due to being a bit more confident in themselves. I helped a 53 year old woman learn to drop in a few weeks after she stood on a board for the first time, I was way more buzzing on that than most things I’ve landed myself!
How important do you think magazines are in the world of online Insta-throwaway stuff?
I think mags are so important! I really struggle to keep up with the sheer amount of online content, but with a mag there’s a start and an end. To be fair though, I’m not very good at staying on top of my phone full stop. I also think that Instagram ruins so many videos because you just see the hammers reposted about 50 times before you get a chance to watch the actual vid! With a mag I think it makes it so much more tangible and makes you pay attention a lot more than on a screen. A photo in a mag is going to be there forever and feels special, whereas a clip on Instagram just gets swallowed up by the millions of other clips and forgotten about.
I remember meeting you at a gig and you were steaming and told me that reek wan (Raekwon) was shit live. He’s one of my favourite rappers and I had to let it slide, but what music are you into and what’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
Hahaha I was told about this actually, it’s about time you called me out for it. Unsurprisingly I can’t remember much of Raekwon, so I’m not sure why I was slating him. Sorry haha, that’s the kind of stuff that fuels the Beer Fear! I listen to loads of different stuff because I get bored pretty easily, at the moment I’m listening to a lot of garage and breaks tunes. I tend to just stick everything on shuffle and see what that dredges up. The best gig was probably seeing the Outlook Orchestra inside this massive colosseum with Roots Manuva, Jehst, Pharoahe Monch, Flowdan and others.
I always see you drawing sick little doodles and messing around with lettering and stuff. Is that something you would like to pursue in the future? I’m still waiting on that NOTE logo haha.
I did Graphic Design at uni and properly enjoyed it, but it made me realise I can’t think of anything worse than being sat at a computer all day every day. I do love drawing and designing stuff but don’t think I could do it full time, so I’m trying to find a way of using those skills but in a more practical way really. I do a bit of freelance design but reckon I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I did it loads. I’ve currently got a side hustle outside of NOTE doing fireworks, it would be pretty cool to get into actually designing the displays but we’ll see how it goes.
Who’s the maddest guy that works at NOTE and what’s been the funniest experience in the shop so far?
Ooh toughie haha. He’s going to hate this but I’ll have to say Chippy Lew, he loves a good ol’ tin foil conspiracy! The best one was when he watched a “documentary” on YouTube about mermaids and was convinced they were real, he came in telling us that some fisherman had found a washed up mermaid skeleton or something. He went back to try and find the video and realised it was a spoof documentary haha! Also he is a medical phenomenon, that guy is genuinely 70% lasagne and 30% brew. He somehow still absolutely kills it skating though, I think my body would collapse on his diet!
One of the funniest things was a guy who came in for a new pair of shoes, he bought a pair of Lakai’s without even trying them on first, which was a bit weird. He said he wanted to put them straight on so sat down and pulled out two of the gnarliest feet that have ever graced the shop floor. Like twisted toes, swollen flakey feet, grim little claws – the full shebang. No chance he could squeeze those things in on his own, it was a three man job so he enlisted the help of Cinch and Marcus. They pretty much took the laces out of the shoes but were still struggling hard. Cinch grabbed a spoon and tried to shoehorn this guys peeling feet in, with Marcus bracing his legs haha. They wrestled with that for a bit before eventually borrowing a legit shoe horn from a shop across the road, which just about did the job. The guy was stoked and went to leave with his new creps, leaving his old stinkers behind, which he’d trodden down the backs of, basically making them into a grotty pair of slides. Someone shouted after him asking if he wanted his old ones, the guy was just like “Nahhh. Terminate em.” Haha, slightly tretch I guess but at least he had a good sense of humour about it.
How has it been going out shooting photos with Reece? Did you feel any pressure at all or was it just another session?
It’s been sick actually, Reece is a lej, just dead chill and patient. It doesn’t feel like loads of pressure at all. I feel like it’s definitely pushed me a bit to think about skating spots I wouldn’t normally go to, which has been well fun. I swear he’s like a good luck charm or something as well, so far I seem to have always had a good skate when he’s about!
Anyone you want to thank or shout out?
I want to say big thanks to Baines (New Balance Numeric), Kendrick (Piilgrim) and the AMFAS boys for hooking it up recently, properly sorted me out! Big up Janven and Lillian for keeping the shop fueled, an army marches on its belly. Thanks Connie for being an icon. Shout out to Jay Stone for providing constant comedy guffs.