If you asked 100 professional skaters to define what it means to be a pro, I bet you’d get a different answer from every person. Some might have a very technical definition having to do with video parts and names on boards, whereas others might let a personal sentiment define pro skating as an emotion.
Myles Willard’s take on things might be different based on the fact that, despite having a pro board for Toy Machine, he’s still flow for a few of his other sponsors. Most skaters might feel some type of way about this, but due to Myles’s level-head and humble nature, he seems well aware that if he just keeps working hard, more good things will come his way.
Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for Myles’s latest part Myles and the Machine and until then, give this a read and get to know him a little more beforehand.
If I Venmo’d you $10,000 right now what would you spend it on?
Woooah. I have to spend it? I’d probably just try and get something to get me across town, you know? Get a little car. The rest, a lot of it would probably go towards records or just a bunch of old skate videos. The Secret Tape might just take all the rest of the money.
Any skate videos in particular?
I don’t have Photosynthesis, but to have the orange tape would be sick. I would love to get my hands on Mosaic. I would love to get a whole 411VM stash. A dude I know in Baltimore has a big lineup of 411s and to see all of them lined up is so satisfying. I love to watch old 411s and see how stuff cycles all together and you see the change throughout the videos. I love seeing the changes in tricks and clothing and filming.
411VM was before my time but I had a couple, maybe two or three tapes, and my neighbor gave me some. To be there and get them in the mail monthly, I couldn’t even fathom how sick that was.
How long do you have to live in California until you become lazy and spoiled?
[Laughs] Shit! Not that long, for real. Every day is sunny and you know the sun is going to be around tomorrow and you don’t have to deal with the weather changes. It can get easy to just write off the day. I’ve been here for four and half years now, coming on five. I still have a Maryland ID, though.
How would you define your job as a pro skater?
Shit dude, I don’t even know sometimes. I mean, when I just think of it on a basic level; the company is using you, your name, and your image for marketing, and you get paid for that. Aside from that, I think any feeling of being pro would be a personal one, like whatever anyone ties onto it.
What do you tie onto it then?
I grew up loving Toy Machine, and then started getting boards, and then I turned pro for Toy. I think that was more personal in just validating myself and my younger self. Also, I think it gives me a position where I can maybe strike some inspiration in other skaters.
Right before I turned pro, I started to lose faith in a sense. I try to keep expectations low with everything, so I just tried to not even think about it. It was like a little kid’s dream and then I came down like, “I don’t think turning me pro is on their radar, I don’t think that’s what they’re doing right now,” and I kind of got okay with it not happening. Then it happened. It was a huge surprise.
Do you think that skateboarding is regressing, in terms of ability? Some people say there are pros from the ’90s who were doing stuff that pros couldn’t do today.
I think I know what you mean, but I don’t think it’s regressing. I think that now there’s room for all sorts of skating and all sorts of people that want to watch. There’s an overabundance of skating where you can kind of pick and choose exactly what you want, which I think is awesome.
Lately, in terms of what I want to watch, it’s basically just fun and creativity. Stuff that’s usually bone-crunching or extreme hasn’t caught my eye as hard. I’ll still watch it to appreciate it, especially if it’s my friends. I like fun and creativity—what someone does, how they work a spot, that’s pretty much all I’m looking for.
But that doesn’t make you feel some type of way? Like, some people are making big money or getting on companies that you’re flow for?
I wouldn’t say I feel slighted at all. Sometimes it’s not even about what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it. I don’t feel slighted in any way.
Have you ever thought about hanging out with any of the Supreme kids and posting it on Instagram to gain some clout?
[Laughs] No, not for that sake. They seem like they have fun and they seem like cool people. I’d like to hang out with them for the sake of hanging out and skating, but not any sort of weird benefit or something. I don’t even know if that’s how it works, but that sounds funny. I’m always down to hang out with whatever crews and befriend people if I’m a fan of their skating. To have an ulterior motive kind of style bugs me out.
When I first got out to California I was getting a little Nike hookup and Sinclair would tell me, “Yo, you should try and be around this person”, and, “Go meet up with this person and this person.” I’m like, “Dude I don’t know anything about this dude….” That stuff would feel kind of unnatural to me and I’d steer away from it, which probably didn’t do me any favors, but it’s just really hard at the moment. I don’t know this dude, I don’t even know what he looks like, I’m solely meeting up because we’re involved in this thing together, you know? I always like to think if we cross paths and we click, that’s awesome, but I don’t want to force some shit.
Are there any pros’ careers that you hope to emulate?
I wanna say that I don’t want to try to directly emulate someone or rip off someone, but I think people I look up to are Jake Johnson and his lack of social media. I also think someone like Heath [Kirchart], where he kind of faded out on his own. Both of those guys have a solid body of work, in a sense, and they do it on their own terms. I like that you don’t get to know too much about them. You just know their skating and the way they both handled their careers is cool.
What is the shoe sponsor game like, for an outsider?
I couldn’t tell you what to do and what’s right. I’m wearing Vans, and I like them. I’m not fully on or anything, just flow. I guess all I can really hope out of it is that I’d love to go on trips and be more involved with people on the team. That would be a blessing, but I’m not going to set my expectations too high. I just want to skate.
Are there any ritualistic things that you do to your setup, like gear-hack style?
Nah, I don’t do anything really, dude. I might wax the wheel-bite spot if I’m wheel-biting a lot. In terms of like setup-wise, I try to leave it alone.
I was talking with some of my friends and they said they don’t take the warning sticker off their boards before they grip it. I was like, “Woah!” That’s the one ritual where I’m like, I have to take that fuckin’ warning sticker off. They were like, “Dude, it’s a fuckin’ sticker, it’s whatever, it doesn’t matter.”
You do some claymation stuff, right?
Oh, yeah. I haven’t done it really since then, but I started messing around with stuff when I first broke my ankle in 2018. At the time my girlfriend and I had gotten some clay so we were just messing around with it.
Process-wise, dude, I don’t know what I’m doing at all. It was just trial and error of getting shit to stick. Even on that one video, you can tell the phone angle changes a thousand different times because I don’t even think I had a tripod and I was just lining it up like, “Yeah, this kind of looks like the last one” [laughs].
I always try to dabble with different stuff when I’m not skating, not that I’m necessarily good at any of them, but it’s fun to mess around with things like clay, trying to draw something, or even flipping through a Nat-Geo and trying to collage a little something. I just try and keep the brain going, with no expectations, just to do something.
I heard you lived in a hectic skate house. Is that true?
Yeah, it was a two-bedroom apartment with eight people. There were two to three people in the living room, I shared my bedroom, and my other roommate Julian [Heller] had one homie in there for a couple of months. It was so gnarly.
It was like that for three years or so and eventually, two of the homies moved back to Maryland, and another homie moved in with his girlfriend, so it slipped up really quick. Now it’s me and two others. We were the loudest apartment in the complex and now we’re the quietest.
“There was also a pretty big lizard that we found in our apartment once”
What was the grossest thing you’ve witnessed there?
The trash and dishes would pile up and that would attract some bugs every once in a while, and it got crazy. It would be a mix of ants in the summer and mosquitos. I don’t want to make it sound too crusty but there were definitely some cockroaches in there. If you went in the kitchen at night you’d flip the light on and see all the bugs and shit. But that’s long gone now.
There was also a pretty big lizard that we found in our apartment once, but I think he just wandered in from the outside. My roommates would say otherwise, but I would say that shit was damn-near a foot long. I swear it was a pretty big fucking lizard.
Did any of your roommates ever come into your room drunk in the middle of the night or anything like that?
Damn, that’s funny you mention that. I had two roommates who would sleepwalk either because they were drunk or they were just sleepwalking. There were a couple of times I woke up to one of them sliding in my bed. Another roommate slid in and all he was wearing is a tank top [laughs]. I would wake up and be like “Yo! This ain’t your spot!” I haven’t thought about that in a while.
We’re right next to a bar too, so for a little bit, some of the other roommates would bring the after-party back to our place. There was a point for a while where I was just smoking a bunch of weed and I didn’t want to go out. I was pretty much just cooped up in my room. Now, since I haven’t been smoking for the past three months, I’m actually kind of excited to go and hang out with friends, grab a drink or something.
Have you noticed a difference in your skating since you stopped smoking?
I think it just makes me skate more. In terms of ability, I’m not too sure. It’s just that I’m not thinking about the worst-case scenario as often. I think I do that a lot when I’m smoking. It’d be easy to like, “Damn, I’ve got heavy legs, I could probably clip my feet and fuckin’ faceplant.”
I feel more level-headed and clear-minded. Before if I’d get a trick, or put in a couple of hours where I was sweating, it’d be easy to justify, “Alright, I skated today, I’m gonna smoke now,” and just move slow the rest of the day. Over the past three months, it’s been like skating all day every day, not stopping until I get home, which has been nice. But now I get sore [laughs].
Did you quit cold turkey?
Yeah. I kind of just had a night where I was like, damn, I’ve been feeling more bad than good lately for a couple of weeks now. After that, I just haven’t smoked.
If you could go back in time and stop yourself from smoking weed, would you?
Yes and no. I still had a great time when I was smoking weed and I think it helped at certain moments. But there are definitely times and feelings I wish I would have recognized where it wasn’t helping, but I relied on it. But, to each their own, it’s different for everyone?
I know you own a bunch of vinyl, what would you say is your most played record?
I think Bug, the Dinosaur Jr record is what I run a lot. I have On the Beach, the Neil Young album, too. Oh, shit, I got The Unseen by Quasimoto and that shit gets a whole lot of play. It’s two records and it looks and sounds sick.
Are you one of those, “Music just sounds better on vinyl” guys?
Nah, my speaker setup is kind of shit [laughs]. I just really like the feeling of it being big and physical. I like having to get up and flip it to the other side. I can hold the record in my hand and flip through the book or look at the art.
My room is covered in little things. I just have skate videos, records, and little knick-knacks. Just a bunch of things like that.
I’m not a minimalist at all. Very materialist [laughs].
Are you a hoarder or a collector?
Nah [laughs]. I don’t have that much stuff. Usually, I’ll spend enough time with things that I might give something away or get rid of it.
I wouldn’t say I’m a collector because I don’t have a particular thing I collect, I’m just on the hunt for things. If I come across stuff at the thrift store and it’s cheap I’ll get it. When someone comes over and just takes a minute to look at the walls, that feels good. It’s just like living in my own museum.
OK, let’s end it off fun. Fuck, marry, kill: Dan Lu, Mike Sinclair, and Ed Templeton.
[Laughs] Yo! Fuck Dan Lu, marry Mike, kill Ed.
How is it having Ed Templeton as a boss?
Man, he’s so cool. I haven’t been around him as often as I wish. But when I am, I’ll just look at him like, “Oh my God that’s Ed Templeton.” But he’s just super calm, down-to-earth. I got to go on a Toy trip to Germany and I went on a little tourist walk around with him and Deanna [Templeton]. Ed just knew all this information as if he was the tour guide. I kept that train ticket from that trip and now I have it taped to the wall.
With Toy graphics and ideas he’s super open. He’ll be like, “Send whatever my way, we just want to make whatever you guys want.” I’ve been excited about that. I’m trying to gather a little album of ideas on my phone to send over.
Is it weird to you that there are naked pictures of your boss online?
[Laughs] Nah, I don’t think it’s that weird. Shit, a lot of people are naked online. I don’t think I actively seek those photos of him out, but if something pops up, I’m like, “Woah, holy shit. That’s Ed, what the fuck?” [laughs]
HOW CHAD CARUSO SKATED ACROSS AMERICA
Chad did it the way most skateboarders would: independently and without much of a plan.
JOSH KALIS ON BUILDING AN INDOOR SKATEPARK WITH GRANITE FROM LOVE PARK
"Laying the granite tiles was the most torturous part because you’re on your knees. It was a month straight of doing 1,600 tiles."
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE OFFICIAL BROOKLYN BANKS COMEBACK
We talked with Steve Rodriguez about the imminent reopening of The Banks, which has been in the works for 13 years now.
JENKEM MIX 126: ANTONIO DURAO
Much like Antonio himself, this one’s got it all… An auditory gumbo, if you will.
MEET THEO HAND, THE PHOTOGRAPHER WHO SHOT ALL YOUR FAVORITE ’90S PROS
Theo helped shape how skateboarding looks in the modern age, documenting names like Chad Muska, Tom Penny & Ali Boulala, all in their prime.
April 26, 2022 4:44 pm
Great read! Some refreshing perspectives.
April 26, 2022 7:33 pm
super solid all around, good shit jenkem!
April 27, 2022 11:05 am
Great head on his shoulder. Dude is going places for sure
April 27, 2022 1:18 pm
needs more flare. he should have 18+ buttons of flare.