Kyle Chin is a skater with a vision; he sees skateboarding as an outlet of expression and a springboard for personal growth. His approach to skating is one of inclusion, expression, and education. At Wheelbase, we are down with all of that shit. We are also down with Kyle because he’s got some serious on-board style—the way he calculatingly, yet effortlessly, flows down a hill is both inspirational and ninja-buttery. Plus, the Chinchilla likes riding motorcycles, which we also think is pretty bitchin’. Welcome to the Kyle Chin Interview. Please Enjoy.
Are you, or have you ever been, a Ninja-man? Please be honest.
No formal training, but I have been practicing by sneaking up on people at work and scurrying into the shadows when the cops roll up to our parking garage sessions. . .
If you had a pet Chinchilla would you name it Kyle? I definitely would.
No way, man! If I ever mentioned my chinchilla in conversation, it would just sound like I was talking about myself in the third person. . . and that’s awkward.
Or are you saying that you would name your pet chinchilla “Kyle”. . . ? ‘Cause that’d be a little more than awkward.
Enough of the funny stuff—so what’s the Kyle Chin story? Where ya from, what’s your interests, and how did skateboarding come to be one of your passions?
I grew up in Oakland, California and moved down to Los Angeles for college. I messed around with a street skate in middle school but never got very good. I brought it to UCLA to ride to class and subsequently discovered “longboards” and soft wheels that made for a much more enjoyable ride. Pretty soon some of my friends introduced me to sliding, and that’s when I really got hooked.
A few of my other interests: guitar, manual transmissions, sustainable energy, and education in general (both teaching and learning).
Many out there may not know this, but as well as being a ripping skater, you also studied engineering at UCLA. I also know that you helped to build a rad skate community at UCLA. I remember rolling with you on one of the parking garage sessions. Good times! Are you still involved with the UCLA skate community? If so, how is that going?
UCLA is the reason I am skating today! Most of the friends I made in college were skaters (and usually also engineers, by coincidence), and spending so much time together skating, studying and hanging out really instilled a strong sense of camaraderie and a collective desire to see our skate crew grow into a tight knit yet inclusive community.
At its height, we were holding a session or two plus sliding clinics every week. It was really cool to meet so many new riders and to interact with them on such a variety of levels, whether it was getting comfortable carving, learning to footbrake, or refining our technique on some exciting new slide.
Over the years, the UCLA skate scene has waxed and waned from members coming and going (not to mention growing scrutiny from UCPD). Today I believe it’s on a rise, as several people are getting more involved in riding and taking the initiative to bring everyone together and keep things rolling. I’m freakin’ stoked to see them all getting better every time we skate and reppin’ UCLA at local sessions and events. I try to stay tied in with the crew as much as possible and am looking forward to plenty of good times in the days ahead.
When we were working at Loaded & Otang together, you were playing more of a skate role; but now I’m noticing you taking a larger behind-the-scenes role over there. Tell us a bit about that shift and what we can expect to see from you in the future.
When I first came aboard, most of the knowledge I had of Loaded was what I had gathered as a rider and friend of the company. So a lot of what I took part in during those early days (aside from dipping my feet into some of the marketing roles I’ve taken on to date) was really based off of my interest in skating: riding in videos, doing photo shoots, trying my hand at some camera work, etc. It was all much more geared toward the riding/media side of things.
After working in-house for about a year and a half, I’ve gained a much more comprehensive understanding of the company as a whole. Not only have I really come to appreciate all the different roles at Loaded that allow us to continue to grow; I’ve also had some time to get a better sense for the kinds of work that are most interesting and stimulating to me as an individual. Nowadays I’m putting most of my energy into marketing and R&D. I enjoy both a lot and plan on staying active in both, though I’m particularly excited to chow down on some more technical engineering work on the R&D/manufacturing side of things.
Now, that’s not to say that I don’t value spending time out there on the hills—quite the contrary! It’s just that I now see riding as just one of many ways I can contribute. I personally get more gratification out of having full-time responsibilities and find that this kind of role actually allows me to connect with a lot more people and have a much broader impact on the sport as a whole than I would if I were just out skating all day.
For many of us, the first glimpse of your skating was from the Orangatang video “Let Go”. I think that video is still one of the most viewed in downhill skateboarding—and for good reason—that video is sick and definitely raised the bar for downhill videos, both in filming (Adam Colton) and skating. Can we look forward to seeing another feature video from ya anytime soon? The only answer of course is yes. Ha ha!
Ha ha, thanks. I love working on videos with Adam, but I’m not in a huge rush. Adam’s been putting out a ton of great videos with some of our ambassadors, and there’s still a bunch more just queued up and waiting to be released. I’m stoked to see how much talent, style, and great vibes they’re putting out there.
I’m sure I’ll hop in on a video at some opportune moment. . . Maybe once the freeride/DH board is all finished up?
Recently, your pops hooked you up with his old classic motorcycle—a very nice Honda CB750. I think we have a picture of you with it for this interview. I personally believe that skateboarding and motorcycle riding have so much in common. I remember you agreeing with this to some degree. What are your thoughts on the skateboard/motorcycle correlation and what are your plans for your new bike?
I think it’s pretty natural for downhill skaters to share an affinity for motorcycles and cars. There’s a considerable overlap since we all seek out the same kinds of twisty canyon roads on which to haul ass. The only real differences are in the riding ergonomics, transmission (or lack thereof), and methods of speed control. Motorcycles are probably the closest motorsport relative to skateboarding because of the lean-to-turn mechanics.
I’m super pumped on the 750! It’s a K3 (1973 model) and is a totally different beast from the Kawasaki EX500 I’ve been riding since college. Even though it’s nowhere near as high-performance as modern sport bikes, it’s an absolute blast to ride because it has so much character and classic badassery. The bike’s never been stock while it’s been in my hands (at the moment it’s got a Kerker 4:1 exhaust, aftermarket suspension, lower handlebars, and a custom seat), and I dig it a lot in its current state. Down the line I might consider making some ergonomic/aesthetic changes: maybe a café racer seat, clubman bars, rearsets, etc.
I always ask this one: Who are the top-three skateboarders that have influenced you?
Adam Colton, first and foremost. Natural skate guru, supernatural fart factory, and great buddy. He’s taught me so much of what I know on a skateboard and has always pushed me just hard enough to get my complacent ass out of my comfort zone and trying new shit. Adam has played a huge part in bringing me to where I am today as a skater, and there’s still no one else with whom I’d feel more comfortable raging down a hill together.
Chris Dahl. Most of my skateboarding life has been spent tech sliding, and I have always looked up to Chris’ incredible technique and unmistakable style. He’s an absolute ninja on hard wheels and really changed the way I thought about tricks and sliding in general.
Brad Edwards. There are few who skate with so much intensity while maintaining such calm composure. His skating has this unique, heartfelt honesty and expression to it that’s always made me want to go out and ride to catch that experience firsthand. Ultra smooth, fluid and flowy.
While out skating the other day you and I discussed the subject of “hating” in our community. The shared sentiment was that it pretty much sucked, and much of it was super unproductive. I know that all families have their share of infighting and quarrels, but what are your thoughts on this, and what do you think we can do to keep shit positive and inclusive?
There is always going to be shit that you dislike or disagree with. But I think the manner in which you choose to vocalize those dissenting opinions reflects strongly on your character. There are some voices in our industry that employ some rather hostile and malicious marketing (for lack of a better word, I suppose). Whatever their intentions may be, the results amount to what I view as a pretty unhealthy dose of negativity.
Personally, I feel that the hating and shit talking should be minimized on the business end of things; it’s just unprofessional. Spreading bad vibes is not only puerile but also much less productive than taking positive initiative. Just as consumers vote with their wallets, I think companies should avoid getting tangled up in drama and instead use disagreement as an impetus to take action and actively drive skateboarding in the direction that they want to see it go. Don’t like a competitor’s product? Make something different instead of bashing it. Think someone else’s videos are shitty? Make your own, and make them better. Being proactive won’t just make your company better; it will also inspire others to follow suit and keep the whole industry fresh and growing.
The trash talking got old a long time ago. Getting hung up on putting other people down is a wonderful way to waste creative energy that could be better spent. Actions speak louder than words, and I think that real innovation in the industry will shine through without the need to build a culture of negativity.
I asked Louis Pilloni something similar to this in his interview as well, but being that you are so entrenched in this scene and industry—but from a different perspective—I think it’s a pertinent question to ask you too: What do you think the future holds for our scene of “alternative” skateboarding? How and in what directions do you see the culture growing and thriving?
It’s interesting that you mention the idea of “alternative skateboarding”. I suppose downhill, sliding, and longboarding in general could certainly be seen as alternatives to the genres that have received the most attention as of late. There’s still a palpable disconnect between the “skateboarding” and “longboarding” communities, but I feel like it’s just a matter of time before people start to realize how closely related it all is. Once they take off their blinders, I think there are a lot of people out there who could really stand to get a lot more out of skateboarding. It doesn’t mean you have to become a master of every discipline (I’m definitely not), but venturing outside of what’s familiar/comfortable and working a bit of variety into your skating can really spice things up and let you have more fun. A lot of it just boils down to having an open mind, and I think skateboarding culture as a whole is going to start moving in that direction down the line.
Very stoked! Thanks for doing this interview man. Let’s lower the curtain on this presentation with your shout-outs, thanks yous, and whatever else you’d like to get out there to the Wheelbase readership.
Cool beans. Thank you Marcus for getting together with me on this interview—always a great conversation. Much love and gratitude to Loaded for bringing me into such an awesome family and encouraging me to foster my passions. I’d also like to give shout-outs to my dad for passing me both the classic bike and the love of motorcycles (and speed in general), Michael and Carpy for restoring the beauty, and my mom for putting up with the aforementioned love for speed. Final word goes out to the UCLA skate crew and everyone in the global skate community for always welcoming me with open arms and making me so stoked to be a part of it all.