Hiroki Muraoka – Third Shift – Traffic Skateboards – Video Part + Interviews


We’re proud to present Hiroki Muraoka’s part in Traffic Skateboards’ new full length video ‘Third Shift‘. Watch Hikori’s swift feet grace the streets of Tokyo and the East Coast. To accompany the release of his part we have interviewed the filmers of ‘Third Shift’ John Valenti and Pat Stiener as well as Hiroki Muraoka himself which you can read by scrolling down. Support this very rad company and buy the Traffic Skateboards ‘Third Shift’ full length in physical form here. The part was documented by John Valenti, Pat Stiener and Yosuke Maruyama.

Interviews by: Heywood Ward

Photography by: Cole Giordano, Pat StienerJersey Dave & Shinsaku Arakawa

John Valenti & Pat Stiener Interview by Heywood Ward


Third shift is the latest video offering from you guys at Traffic, and one I’m very looking forward to seeing in full, how was it making and editing the video together? 

John Valenti – Thanks. Stoked for it to be out there in the world finally. This was the second Traffic video we worked on together. Hyped on how everything came out.

Pat Steiner – Hah, there was a love hate relationship for sure. Mostly, it’s smooth sailing though, you just have to learn to compromise and pick your battles. Skate videos are a labor of love, so you can get really attached to an idea and it’s hard to let them go sometimes. I think it’s better to care about the presentation, and fight it out – as opposed to someone making a video where they’re just throwing tricks together without any care at all.


Did you always see eye to eye on tricks and who had the overall say on the music choice? Did you let riders choose their tracks at all?

J – We definitely don’t see eye to eye on everything but I think that’s a good thing, I think that helps with editing. Working together helps to try ideas that maybe we wouldn’t have thought of on our own. I like to let the skater pick a song then let Pat approve it then if everyones happy I’ll start cutting it up.

P – Valenti and I usually always agreed on tricks, he looks at it more from the filmer perspective, and me from the skater perspective. So there’s a good balance there. I probably had the overall say on the music, but it always comes from what the skaters want. Sometimes they have a song that is perfect and ready to go, and sometimes they’ll want a song that just doesn’t work. It just goes back to compromising and finding the song that makes everyone happy.


How was it filming for this video project and was this video mostly filmed during the Covid pandemic?

J – It was good. For the most part it all happened organically. We did one road trip and everyone stacked, so we just built off that. We were trying to get it out by Summer but once covid happened it slowed everything down a bit.

P – It’s just like our last videos, we never really have a plan they just kind of happen organically. The guys are always out filming, and then after a while you start to see what you have. We started to realise we had a lot of stuff right before the pandemic hit. Then that kind of slowed things down a bit with the lock down. By the time Summer came we were out more and more as things got a little more lax. A lot of businesses were still closed down, so it worked in our favour sometimes dealing with security guards etc.

Photo: Pat Stiener

John you filmed the majority of this video, how was it filming with Hiroki, and the rest of the team? Could you share some insights into this? Were there any standout moments for you?

J – I love skating with Hiroki. He’s so consistent and lands everything quick. Also just the best dude off the board which is more important to me. The Traffic team is awesome. Everyones friends and we all keep in contact daily through a group chat that’s been going on for like two years already.


How did Covid affect you all with finishing this video? Were there some tricks and/or trips you had to just put on hold because of travel restrictions?

J – We wanted to take like two more road trips but obviously once Covid hit we didn’t. Definitely delayed everything but we still managed to get out there and get some stuff during the worst of it.

P – Yeah, there were a few trips that we had to cancel. You can’t exactly travel and stay at someone’s house or at an airbnb during a pandemic. It def put a halt on some things, but we made it work.


What were some of the overall highlights with filming for Third Shift

J – Just being able to skate with my friends is always a highlight. Always about making it fun.

P – There were a lot of highlights, but I really enjoyed our North East couch tour though. It was fun just getting everyone together in the van and out on the road. Those are always the best times when you get out of your comfort zone.

Photo: Pat Stiener

What were some of the clips that stood out to you both from filming this video?

J – So many clips, but I think Hiroki’s Ollie through that square was a standout clip. He did it twice and managed to not hit his head. Didn’t really even make sense to me but came out sick.

P – Hmm, there’s so many clips I love for different reasons, so I’ll narrow it down to three off the top of my head. Hiroki does an ollie that is completely insane. It’s funny cause we were just skating around that day and Hiroki stopped me and was like let’s go back to this spot I found. We skated back and I was like, where’s the spot? Only Hiroki would have the vision to see this random metal sign as a skate spot. Luke Malaney has a switch pop shuv in his part that he really wanted to get. Things weren’t going his way, and it was the last weekend to film so he was stressing. We drove all the way out to Jersey for this trick, and when he rode away I was super psyched for him… and very relieved. James Sayres has a hardflip in the video that he got absolutely destroyed on. We were in Philly and it was the last spot of the day before we drove back home and it started to feel like it wasn’t going to happen. He would put it down every try, but riding out the banks was so tough. He kept battling it and finally hung onto one and rode it all the way out. When he got all the way to the street and was home free everyone erupted.


Are there any parts in particular you’re most looking forward to people seeing?

J – I’m excited for people to see James Sayres part. Love watching that guy skate. Also really like Kevin Coakley’s skating/footy. Everyone put in work.

P – I’m excited for people to see James Sayres and Josh Feist. They’re the newer guys so people haven’t really seen a lot of footage from them. I think this might even be Sayres first official part. So I’m hyped I got to be a part of that. I also am excited for people to see Luke Malaney, he’s been putting a lot of work into this part and it shows.


How much of the legend that is Ricky Oyola can we expect to see? What’s it like filming with him? 

J – He’s got a few appearances. Shout out to Jake Todd for making some Ricky sessions happen.

P – He makes an appearance, I’ll just leave it at that. Any day out filming with Ricky is super fun, it’s the best without a car when you can push around spot to spot and grab some beers on the way. The sessions usually get sparked, and he always has tons of good stories to share.

Photo: Pat Stiener

Pat will you be skating to a song as catchy as the one in your Static 3 part? All these years later I still find myself humming that tune. 

P – Hah, that’s so funny. I don’t know if any song can compete with that White Flight hook. This one’s a slow burner it might not get you the first time, but after a while it’ll burn itself into your head.


I saw you still managed to hold an in-person premiere for this video, did you ever expect to be hosting a skate video under such unique circumstances? How did it go?

J – I thought premieres were done, but I’m glad we figured out an outdoor solution. I was a bit nervous about people not showing up but we had a good turn out and happy to see everyone for the most part had a mask on and we didn’t get shut down by the police.

P – No, I never imagined any of this. I think it went as smoothly as it could go for an outdoor DIY premiere. We had a good turnout, without any technical difficulties – super rare for a skate premiere.


Do you think the days of packed out theatre premieres are behind us for now?

J – It’s hard to rent a venue in New York City to host a premiere, so maybe this is the new norm for premieres? Definitely a lot cheaper.

P – Yeah, they’re behind us for the most part. They were already so rare even before the pandemic. It’s a shame cause those are the best ways to view a new video. Everyone together in the same room screaming incessantly at a screen is always a great time.

Photo: Pat Stiener

When will the whole video be out and do you also plan on a physical release of this one?

J – I believe it just dropped on DVD, and will soon be online.

P – Yeah, there should be a dvd available as you read this. Link here. Also the whole video will be online sometime in December.


Pat you’re involved in graphic design and being the team manager at Traffic, how is that going and how do you manage a team across continents? How is it finding the time to skate/edit/design/team manage? Is being an exemplary multitasker a requirement to get on the team? Hiroki also seems to manage this extremely well.

P – Well Hiroki is a true professional, so I don’t have to “manage” him too much. Working in the skateboard industry you always feel like you’re on the clock, even if you’re just out skating with friends. There’s always ideas flowing for graphics, or something that could be done for social media. It never ends. You just have to stay on top of it. Luckily I have some guys on the team like Mark (Wetzel) the Shark who help out with graphics as well.


I have to ask you both given your ties with Theories of Atlantis, what’re each of your takes on conspiracy theories, things like Qanon, and do you have any theories you’re into?

J – Fuck Qanon. Haha

P – I really enjoyed this podcast called Wind of Change. It’s about the CIA writing a popular rock song, and all sorts of other things they were producing in pop culture to influence us. Def check it out. Other than that, I usually don’t dig too deep into the conspiracy hole because it never ends. My take on Qanon is it’s trash, and it’s really sad watching these people get brainwashed. It’s kinda scary to watch facts and science fall to the wayside in exchange for the idea that there’s a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring. I don’t get it.


Whats next for you both over at Traffic and personally? Still celebrating Trump being voted out?

J – I’ve been filming a personal project in the background of this video for a while. So hopefully will be dropping that next year sometime.

P – Just keep skating and putting out more projects. We have some stuff already lined up to watch out for next Summer. Ha, I celebrated very hard that day, I think the whole world was. Now we just need to focus on Georgia, so we can hopefully get a majority in the senate.

Hiroki Muraoka – Third ShiftTraffic Skateboards

Filmed by: John Valenti, Pat Stiener + Yosuke Maruyama

Edited by: Pat Stiener + John Valenti

Buy the ‘Third Shift’ full length DVD here 

Hiroki Muraoka ~ Photo: Cole Giordano

Hiroki Muraoka Interview by Heywood Ward


Hey Hiroki how are you doing over there in Tokyo right now? 

Very good, just been basically skating and make art pieces. I teach skating and artwork in a high school 3 days a week and I opened my own shop recently too. Also I just became a Dad so kinda hectic now.


Congratulations on becoming a father this Spring, I understand your son has an interesting name which may relate to skating, was this intentional?

Thank you. My son’s name is Sen, the meaning is -line- in English. My wife and I both love to do drawing, and so the line is the most important thing to making our art work. Also line is fitting for skating too. haha. A simple name is easy to call too, so it’s easy to remember.


That’s incredible, where do you find the time and how has it been balancing all of that?

The skate shop (Beat) is open on weekends only at the moment, and I can skate and make art work in my classes at school, so I can control by myself. And my wife understand my personality so I can go filming and drinking haha.

Hiroki Muraoka – Ollie Frontside Wallride ~ Photo: Shinsaku Arakawa

Could you tell us bit about the new store, Beat, and what inspired you to open it?

There weren’t any skate shops in my neighbourhood of Asakusa, but a lot of skateboarders living there, so I was wished to open up a skate shop to help out the local scene. Also I wanted to have my office there, so the shop is half skate shop and half office.


Did you face any difficulties in opening Beat and how has Covid affected you, if at all?

I couldn’t get enough skate parts to begin with when I was opening the shop, as other stores were buying up stock or stock was not available because of shipping difficulties, so I had a hard time at that time.


You’ve just dropped this incredible new part for Traffic, how was it filming for this with everything else you had going on? 

Actually I didn’t know I was having a part in the new video haha. Mostly the clips were filmed in New York City and Philadelphia when I went there last summer. And then I filmed few clips in and around my neighbourhood of Asakusa when Tokyo went into lockdown. So maybe this video part is shortest period of filming so far.

Hiroki Muraoka – Frontside 50-50 ~ Photo: Cole Giordano

So you didn’t know you were going to have a part? Sorry for spoiling the surprise! 

I didn’t know but I’m glad! It’s okay!


Was this one of the easiest video parts you’ve filmed?

It was just filmed quickly but I wouldn’t say easily, some of the tricks were really hard for me.


How was it filming in New York City and Philadelphia? What is it about the East Coast spots that you enjoy so much? 

I tried to skate at the neighbourhood type spots, like I didn’t want to go to famous famous spots. I wouldn’t get kicked out in New York and Philly so I spent a lot of time having so much fun skating.

Hiroki Muraoka taking it all in ~ Photo: Pat Stiener

How was it filming in the US compared with Japan? Do you see any similarities between East Coast spots and Tokyo?

I think that New York and Tokyo have a lot of similar style spots so I was able to do the same style skating, but it’s so much more chill in New York compared to Tokyo because the kick out in Tokyo is so quick.


What were some of your highlights from staying in and travelling around the US?

We went to the beach one day and a random dude sold cocktails there, he gave me free cocktails which were delicious. We then took a boat ride, that was super fun.


Anyone who’s seen you skate before knows of your fondness for the Gonz ollie, you’re still finding spots to make them on and make them more creative, is there a variation of this trick you are yet to try and do?

I wanna try to do a grind trick after that, but I’m still looking for the right spot for that trick. Hopefully I will find it soon.


You have a pretty stand-out board break clip in your new part, could you tell us bit about that? Do you have a favourite clip you got for this part? 

That board was already broken so I did that. I tried stay on the board but board was proper broke so I couldn’t so I fell over. My favourite trick is the last trick, the ollie.

Hiroki Muraoka sipping cocktails ~ Photo: Jersey Dave

How did you find the spot for the last trick and  how did you figure out if you would fit? Pat (Stiener) mentioned something about a cone?

First of all I had the idea of the ‘through the frame’ trick. Then I found a bank spot and a frame, but I was scared to try to ollie through so I tried to ollie over the cone a couple times first and we would pause the film to check my body. Then I thought I can do that trick if I can shrink my body enough.


Alongside riding for Traffic you now also having a hand in designing the board graphics, how is that and what’s it like being more involved with the brand?

It’s a lot of fun to make and design the graphics and have more involvement. I’m thinking about doing a collaboration deck between Beat and Traffic soon.


You’ve spent 2020 ticking-off some major life goals, what’s next for you?

I wish to spend more time on my design and art work, also we are currently making our shop video now too. Giving love for my family and spending time with them.

Photo: Pat Stiener