Lead photo courtesy of Stephen Lawyer
Stephen Lawyer is your favorite Instagrammer’s favorite skateboarder. A supremely talented 26-year-old, Lawyer has amassed his own dedicated social media following, thanks to his IG video edits featuring impossibly-technical ledge tricks with more body twisting and feet contortion than a Cirque Du Soleil performer. With SoundCloud rap scoring the clips, his tendency to wear tri-color camo pants, designer snow goggles, and other outré outfits, Lawyer has become one of the skate industry’s most polarizing figures.
But offline and outside the skate park, Lawyer’s talent speaks for itself; so much so that San Diego-based skate company SK8Mafia decided it was time that he joined the pro ranks, and subsequently released his own board in iconic camo print. Lawyer’s professional promotion coincided perfectly with his latest video part, FAMO, a barrage of tech wizardry, long lines, and heavy hammers (in other words, really difficult tricks, pulled off back-to-back-to-back).
To celebrate Lawyer’s newly-minted pro status, MERRY JANE got on a long distance phone call to interrupt the skater while he was on vacation in Barcelona. As he skated home from MACBA, we discussed the mindset behind some of his most absurd tricks, what it was like spending a chunk of his teenage years jamming in Tony Hawk’s backyard, how to get a phished Instagram account back from Turkish hackers, and more. Welcome to the last Ganja Grind of 2018. We’ll be back after the holidaze with more interviews with your favorite pro skaters, as well as breakdowns of all the latest video parts, fashion trends, and shit talk throughout the industry.
MERRY JANE: What’s up dude, what are you up to?
Stephen Lawyer: Shit, out in Spain visiting my girlfriend, skating. My girl is from Italy but she lives here in Barcelona, so I’m here to see her. Chilling, filming — just out here by myself.
I know you’ve been doing a bunch of interviews lately, so I won’t harp too long on background stuff, but can you give folks a quick intro on how old you are, where you’re from, and how you got into skating?
I’m 26 and I’m from San Diego. As for skating, I got a Zero complete for Christmas when I was a kid, but that got stolen the next day. I had been BMXing, rollerblading, playing baseball, doing kid shit. At 11 or 12 I got heavy into baseball, but I would skate to practice, and I started to really enjoy my time on the board. It was my alone time, it kept me grounded and stress-free. I was skating in my baseball cleats and in the grass, and eventually I just got tired of being on a team and having some grown-ass man yelling at me all the time. I already had my dad and my mom telling me what to do at the house, and now I had this coach telling me what to do. I got hella tired of it, and that was it with baseball, and I started skating everywhere, every day.
I heard you used to hang out at Riley Hawk’s house a bunch, skating his backyard park and playing music… did you ever get to smoke with Tony?
We grew up skating and playing music together, and even lived together for a little while after he bought a house. When we were young, he had drums and guitars, so we would always go to his house. But no, I never smoked with Tony. I’ve smoked with Riley too many times to count, but not Tony. I did get to do some dope shit with Tony, though. For his 40th birthday, I got to go to Vegas with them on their private jet. Shaun White was there [laughs]. I went to another of his birthdays at Disneyland, and he had pretty much the whole shit rented out so that we didn’t have to wait in any lines. That was crazy. Tony Hawk shit.
You just turned pro last month. Has your everyday life changed since you got your name on a board?
Honestly, nothing’s changed. It’s still just everyday shit. I’m skating down the block right now heading home, just cruising. Only difference right now is being in Barcelona instead of SD, but other than that I’m just chilling man.
I designed four full pieces. So four tops and four bottoms, and then a long sleeve. The first one comes out pretty soon, and the shop Tillys already picked up the first set, so I’m pretty stoked on that. They’ve got like 220 stores or something. It’s gonna be wild.
Will those be swishy pants?
Yeah, it’ll be track pants and a track jacket.
Whenever anyone talks about your style, they always mention the tri-color camo pants, but I always think of you as the guy that skates in designer track pants. Do you have a favorite pair?
I love everything, man. I dunno if there’s any favorite, though; they’re all pretty similar. I just like the patterns. But really, I’ll wear anything if it looks sick. If it pops, I’ll wear it. I’m going today to pick up a pair that my homie made me out of a Louis Vuitton camo print. They’re so tight.
How did you feel about Tyshawn’s SOTY win?
I think he deserved that shit! That fakie flip across that street gap won SOTY on its own. Every contender had some crazy shit, but his part was just so raw. The style on that nollie flip over the trash can was so hard — the way he just throws his hands in front of him. So sick.
Last time we were on the phone, we talked about the California cannabis companies that were hooking you up. What’s up with your weed sponsorships these days? Do you still have a couple companies taking care of you?
One second, let me ask this guy for a lighter. [*Speaking to someone on the street*] Gracias amigo!
What’re you smoking on these days?
Right now just a ciggy. I smoked a fat joint while I was skating and I don’t wanna be too wasted when I get back to wifey. Sorry, what were you saying?
No worries. What’s up with your weed sponsors?
I’m actually not entirely sure what’s up at the moment. I was getting stuff from THC Design because they were partners with some Sk8Mafia homies, but they’ve started their own shit, and have turned the JSLV clothing company into a CBD and cannabis company. But actually, Stevie Williams [legendary street skater, cannabis enthusiast, and the entrepreneur behind DGK] hit me up the other day and asked me if I would be interested in a weed sponsor opportunity. Nothing is final yet, but hopefully we can get that going soon.
You have one of skateboarding’s most popular Instagram pages, but you recently got hacked and had to get your account back. What happened and how did you take care of the situation?
One day, I clicked on the app, and it said, ‘We noticed an unknown user trying to log in to your account from an Android in Los Angeles,’ and it even gave me a map of where it was at. So long story short, these hackers finessed the IP address to look like they were in LA, which is crazy. So it said, ‘if this isn’t you please change your password in the settings’ and this is in the app mind you, so I’m thinking okay, no worries and I change my password. Five minutes later it was gone. I was locked the fuck out. And then I don’t know how, but they got into my email, and everytime I would try to send an email to Instagram, it would come back in Turkish hella quick and not go through. Apparently, it’s just a team of hackers in Turkey that just take accounts for the followers and then post videos of themselves stealing accounts as a flex.
So then, like four weeks later, some random homie DM’d me on the new account that I had made, and said that he worked at Facebook and Instagram and could help. But he only had like 90 followers and I was pretty weary, I thought he might be a hacker, too, but eventually I sent him a selfie with my face and ID and he finally hit me back saying that he had made a new email for me and the password was “Switch50SwitchTreFlip.” So I was like, okay, this guy’s legit, that [temporary password he gave me] was named after the last trick in the video part I just put out, there’s no way a hacker would know that. And that guy looked like he had a PhD in mathematics or something, he didn’t look like he would know what a switch 5-0 switch tre is. He got me my page back, that guy’s a legend.
Did you lose all of your old IG videos forever?
Yeah, they took all my posts off. I’m not even gonna worry about trying to get them back, either. I still have the videos, but I don’t really want to repost them. But at the end of the day, fuck the videos. I’m just happy I got the account back. I was really discouraged, nothing was happening, so I’m just hyped to have it back.
GIF via Mostly Skateboarding
Big ups to that dude at Instagram. Going back to your latest video part, I gotta ask, what the fuck happened with that Barcelona bump-to-bar? Did you go to that spot with that trick in mind?
I’d had the idea in my head to do that for a minute, because I had skated the spot before, but it seemed impossible. So the next time I was out here, I said fuck it, and just started trying it. As soon as I started skating, it started to rain, though. I was leaving in a couple days, so I just kept on trying it. The way that bump is is sorta like a transition bump, so it’s hard to pop out of and you have to haul ass at it, and I wasn’t getting close. It was really hard to pinpoint the middle of my board where I could kick it off my feet and it would actually pop back up.
Did you ever catch it too early and hang up on your back truck?
No, I never hung up. I would either just ollie over it, run into it, or ollie over it and kick out. Eventually I stuck one, and it was like, ‘Oh shit, now I know it’s possible, I can fucking do it.’ And then maybe 20 tries later, I kept on sticking it, and figured out when to pop and that I needed to ollie a little bit rocket. Then on one try, I rolled away, man. I was insanely happy. It felt amazing, honestly. It wasn’t a back tail down El Toro, but I think it was something that people haven’t really seen before.
Nope, never. I just try to do it all late, and if you train your mind to wait, it works. That’s why I like body varials and those pretzel tricks, because I love doing tricks late. Even just to catch a kickflip fully, and then turn, that feels so good. I don’t even know why, it just does. Just to catch a trick and turn feels so good. I love the fake-outs.
Any last things you want to let people know about, or upcoming projects you want to hype?
Shit, just filming for another part. I think Mafia’s gonna drop another video. The deadline is in July, so hopefully we’ll have another full-length out around then. And look out for my clothes with Asphalt. But right now, I’m just on vacation, hanging with my girl and enjoying Barcelona. I just bought a one-way ticket, so I might just stay awhile and post up.
For more on Stephen Lawyer, revisit his episode of our 4:20 talkshow, "About That Time"
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