Photos by Mike Blabac
San Diego-bred Wes Kremer is a freak of skateboarding nature. The 28-year-old Sk8Mafia-4-Life lieutenant has been putting it down for years now, and was deservedly awarded Thrasher’s ever-coveted Skater of the Year honors in 2014 thanks to his incredible work in front of the lens. Numerous parts, insane wallies to grinds down hubbas, switch big spin flips, and his laid back style combined seamlessly to earn him the accolade.
Wes’s gregarious attitude and personality have also garnered the humorous “hemmie” the respect and love of many around the globe. From the Scandinavian Sour crew out in Barcelona, to skateboarding promoters in Brazil, Kremer is the kind of skater that brings infectiously high energy and laughs to whatever event he’s participating in.
Not just anybody can hold down a solid DC Shoes contract and remain loyal to their day-one skate crew and board sponsor for years, which definitely makes Kremer somewhat of an anomaly. Could it be thanks to the spliff-n-rip philosophy of the seasoned pro, whose first encounter with THC was chiller than most? You can tell from the occasional b-roll footy as well as constant stoner smiles and hijinks that Wes is having nothing but fun on and off the board.
MERRY JANE spoke with him shortly before he boarded a flight to attend the Helsinki Hellride and Copenhagen Open, and it was obvious to us that he’s got life pretty figured out. To Wes, it’s just as much about being stoked as it is about being dedicated to skateboarding.
Interviewing him a day before his European trip was an adventure in itself, as we lost cellphone connection midway through conversation, only to reconnect about an hour later and pick up like nothing happened. The culprit? Wes’ infamous and ancient flip phone, which needs an occasional slap to regain full functionality. For Kremer, it’s all about letting the good times roll (quite literally) and finding practical ways of extending his fuel for the fun.
Cheers to him and his contagious vibes.
MERRY JANE: You’re getting ready to head out to Finland right? What’s happening out there?
Kremer: There’s a contest that goes on there every year called the Helsinki Hellride. So I’m going to go and hang out for a week and see the homies. Afterwards I’ll be going to Copenhagen for their contest.
What’s the Helsinki Hellride like?
It’s this big group of friends skating and getting drunk. They have a bunch of different events going on with obstacles and they’re all fun; not too serious.
Nice. How’s the weed out there?
In Finland it’s actually hard to find, but when you have a solid connection or some good homies you can get some pretty proper homegrown. It’s super strict out there. They see it the same as a hard drug unfortunately.
What about in Copenhagen? Is it different?
Copenhagen is the exact opposite. It’s super laid back out there, really nice people and a beautiful environment. And they have the beautiful Freetown Christiania commune. I’m definitely planning on spending some time there.
It’s pretty much a free town that started up in the ‘70s. It was an old military base that was abandoned and these squatters and settlers took it over. There’s some law in Danish parliament that allows you to claim abandoned spaces as your own. So now they have a full community right in the middle of downtown Copenhagen.
What’s it like there?
It’s a break from the urban lifestyle. You walk in there and it’s a different world. It’s hippieville. I feel at home out there for sure. I’ve actually got some Danish blood in my ancestry.
When did you first get into skateboarding?
I used to see some of the kids in my neighborhood skate around. My neighbor had a fishtail board. I started rolling around when I was five or six, then a few years later my mom asked me if I wanted to go to skate camp. So I wound up doing it at the local YMCA and fell in love with it.
Did you have any favorite skaters or board companies?
I didn’t find out about the skateboard industry until I was about 11 or 12, when I started seeing skate magazines. I didn’t know what it meant to be a pro; I just heard that you got free skateboards and products. It was insane.
At the YMCA [in San Diego] I would see random pros like Tony Hawk, Danny Way, and Colin McKay.
What about a favorite skate video?
At that time it was The Storm by Osiris. They were out of San Diego and I would see some of the guys from their team around.
You’ve been down with SK8MAFIA for a minute. What’s made it such a long-lasting relationship?
With The Mafia, it’s like full family-oriented. I met everyone around the same time. Growing up, I was the youngest and I got jumped in when I was like 13, and those guys took me under their wing. We always skated and kicked it together.
How was the journey towards winning Thrasher Skater of the Year for you?
To be honest I never pictured anything like that happening. I thank DC and The Mafia for throwing me on trips. What helped was just being on the road a lot and being exposed to different spots, cultures, skaters, and approaches. I learned a lot from it. It would get me hype to try something new and have fun.
How has it changed your life and career?
It’s gotten me more attention. A lot of people also congratulated me. I even had an ex-girlfriend that got mad at me because I didn’t tell her that I had won. She was like, “What else didn’t you tell me?” [laughs]
Are there any up-and-coming skaters that folks should we watch out for?
There’s a Mafia kid, Alexis Ramirez. He’s definitely learning on rapid fire. Another San Diego cat is Eric Winkowski. He’s in his early 20’s and he skates straight out of the ‘80s with a fishtail board and a bunch of old school tricks.
What do you prefer: a good drink or a good smoke?
I’d say a good drink with a good smoke. Best of both worlds. But if I had to choose one or the other, I’d definitely have to choose trees because they’re harder to come across, and beer you can always buy at the store.
Do you have a favorite strain?
I like sativas, man. Anything with THC. I like Moroccan Hash too. That’s a foreign delicacy [laughs].
Tell us about your love for hash.
It’s the flavor. They let it cure in some wooden boxes or something. Out here in Cali, there’s dabs and stuff, but if you get hash it’s not cured the same way as outside the country.
What’s your favorite way of taking in THC?
Rolling joints and smoking spliffs. I’m always rolling up weed cigarettes.
How do you roll up when you smoke?
I like to roll like they do in Spain, with a little bit of tobacco. My homies from there mix their weed and hash with tobacco and smoke it all day without getting too devastated. It’s more about sharing and making it last. I smoke a lot so it’s nice to be able have some and still socialize and skate. When you’re traveling you don’t always know when you’ll get your next bag of weed,and the whole crew wants to puff so you have to stretch it. As your bag dwindles down, your joints get spicier and spicier [laughs]. It’s an acquired taste.
Do you have a preferred paper when you roll?
I like a good thin paper. I try not to roll with stuff like Zig Zags, even as classic as they are. I got scolded by my Spanish homies one time when I handed them some. They said they wipe their asses with that kind of paper [laughs].
Do you remember the first time you ever smoked?
My dad had driven me and some friends to Carlsbad High to skate. I was with some other cats skating around and looking for stuff, and these homies were huddled up with a pipe. They asked me if I wanted some, and I did. I just remember cruising around, grinding the curb and realizing that I was high, but questioning it. I was chilling and thought it was tight.
What are you into besides skateboarding that folks don’t know about?
I like shooting photos. I shoot film.
How long have you been doing it?
Since I was 18. I literally have a couple of crates of prints and negatives from all my trips and places. I always try to keep a disposable camera on me.
Any plans to do anything with all of those images?
I was actually thinking of maybe sharing them after 10 years of shooting. So next year maybe. Once I get everything together I’d like to make a scrapbook. I have a bunch of random trinkets like drink tickets, contest passes, and weird stickers. It’ll be like an archive with photos.
What are some of your favorite places to skate?
I love Europe, especially Spain. I have a lot of friends there. Copenhagen’s always a good time. Australia is crackin’ too. South America is beautiful. Asia of course, too. I love everywhere!
Speaking of trees though, Uruguay is one of the best places I’ve been to. They completely legalized weed over there. They don’t have [public] stores but you can find it and smoke it in the streets. The people are also super nice and there are a bunch of good [skate] spots to hit.
If you had to pick one skate spot, which would it be?
I’d have to choose Rockba. It’s this little wallie rock at Venice Beach. I skate it all the time. It’s the shit. There’s always tons of foot traffic by it, but it’s fun!
You’re pretty tight with the Sour crew – tell us about that relationship.
Hell yeah, those are the homies. Six years ago, we went on a SK8MAFIA trip to Stockholm and met up with those homies and established a good friendship. They’ve also come over to the states to visit us. Almost all those guys live in Barcelona.
Are there any upcoming video parts that we should be looking out for soon?
Yea, DC Shoes is going to put something out for end of summer. The Mafia is also going to put something out before the year’s out.
Shoutout to good times. Shoutout to you. Thanks for the interview. Keep hyping it up!