Kyle, Studio 31.24 interview for

I met Kyle briefly last year on a Friday afternoon during a video shoot produced by Stay High Crew. They were creating visual contents for Pretty Nice & DemarcoLAB next collaborative project. Once there I noticed a bunch of skaters warming up, Kyle was one of them. Coincidence or not I stumbled on him once again after the discussion I had with Trix from Waiting Room, he kindly invited me to a photography exhibition held at Studio 31.54, which turned out to be the latest exhibition/showroom space inaugurated by Kyle. The following day I sent him a message out of curiosity to know more about his past, early beginning in skateboarding, TPOOC and his new project: Studio 31.54.

à Taipei : une discussion avec Kyle, Studio 31.54.

Interview & Photography Farade Nicolas

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Where did you grow up?
Kyle: I was born and raised in Taipei. I went to Fu Jen University in Xinzhuang where I studied sport, I was in the Basketball program. I have been playing Basketball since Junior High School. I don’t have time to play anymore since I attend College and I have a lot of stuff to think about in between the Studio I am managing and skating, it’s a lot to handle…

What age did you start to skate? Can you tell me how did all started?
Kyle: Around 8 and I am 26 this year. Actually, I didn’t start with skateboarding but roller blades, because I think no normal Taiwanese parents will let their kids do skateboarding! My auntie always took me to the skatepark, that is when I saw for the first time people skateboarding, it was something special, I was thrilled. When I got home I found my cousin’s skate, I barely knew that she was skating! I took hers, she was mad at me (laughs). Since then I didn’t stop, I was skating nearby my place...

You were spending a lot of time outdoors, skating?
Kyle: Pretty much because it was during Summer so I spent a lot of time practicing every day at the skatepark, from 12 until 8 or 9 pm…

What kind of skateboarding set up she owned, do you remember?
Kyle: She had a Girl board, I forgot what kind of wheels or trucks she had…

What about the board size, wasn’t it too big for you?
Kyle: Not really if I’m correct it was a 7.5… I kept it for a year then, afterward my parents bought me a new one and some shoes, it was hard to find my size though!

Which footwear did you use to skate with?
Kyle: Etnies, I can't remember which one though.

I remember that I used to watch a lot of skateboarding videos before going out to skate. What about you?
Kyle: I didn’t, at that time I wasn’t aware of all of the things that surround the skateboarding culture. I couldn’t ollie for the first 6 months however I tried to do some grabbing tricks. My friends were practicing varial kickflip but it was too hard for me. I was able to inward heelflip after two, three essays, it’s definitely one of my favorite tricks.

Which tricks you cannot do?
Kyle: I would say, varial heel, I don’t know why I just gave up, I can’t really feel it.

Any videos that blew your mind later on?
Kyle: Well like I told you when I started skating I didn’t watch any of those promotional videos but if I can list one of them it would be the classic 411VM (). Once again, there wasn’t all the information we could get nowadays from the Internet, you had to buy the tapes then watch it at your home.

Where did you get that tape?
Kyle: Jimmy Skate shop, they gave it to me as a gift.

Oh, did they sponsor you?
Kyle: No, I was going there very often just to buy stuff. They got some of the best skateboarding gear, I also got to meet a few Taiwanese OG skateboarders by hanging out there, it was an inspiration to be able to stand alongside those guys, a real motivation for me to keep going further.

At what point did you think about making a more serious career?
Kyle: I think I would speak for most of us by saying that when you’re young you don’t think too much about being sponsored, earning money, you just want to have fun with your friends. I know it sounds cliché but it is what it is. You don’t think too much about what style you want to develop, what tricks you want to learn, you just grow, learn things along the way and that’s it.

True. When I met you last year it was during a photo shoot with other guys. One of them mentioned TPOOC, being your crew, right? Can you tell me more about it?
Kyle: TP means Taipei and OOC: Out Of Control. Sometimes we say TPOC other times TPOOC, it depends. It started around 2015. In the beginning we were chilling, skating together, nothing serious. Before I met those guys I wasn’t street skating, I was hanging out with people that were mostly going to skateparks. For me, it was a kinda boring so I began to skate on the streets, when I met them, we were almost the same age, it clicked instantly. We decided to form a crew, to shoot videos, pictures and else, unfortunately, the video we made was taking off Youtube…

Because of the music license? Did you made produce some merch afterwards?
Kyle: Probably, who knows? Yes we did, I have a friend who’s a graffiti artist. Wait a second (he stood up to grab something), have you seen this logo?

Yes, I have!
Kyle: Well, my friend made this and sent us the visual to see what we thought about it. At first, we mainly use the logo to produced stickers and then we decided to make our first tee shirt using this design. We also made some hoodies & jackets…

When did you get sponsored?
Kyle: When I was 10 years old. I was really lucky, it was only after two years of skating that I got this deal with Nike, it’s crazy!

How did it happen, did you send some stuff to them, like a sponsor me video?
Kyle: Not really, I was competing in a few contests here and there that’s how I got noticed. In that time there weren’t as many kids skating, to stand out was definitely easier, I could do tricks that not many could. I was also lucky to have one close friend who was well known from everybody in the skate community, he was filming and I think he made one of the first local skateboarding videos. You can’t find it on the Internet though, he only made a DVD version... This friend was working with Nike from time to time and he introduced me to some people there… Every month I received some new gears and got my first paycheck when I was 18.

Do you have a specific schedule, things to do now that you have a sponsor?
Kyle: Obviously wearing the brand and engage in contests. In term of pure contents, we were working on a video and sometimes I have to shoot some advertising stuff, that’s pretty much it.

How many guys are on the team now?
Kyle: Three, all living in Taipei.

What’s your favorite Nike shoe model?
Kyle: I usually skate with the Janoski and the Janoski « Dunk » and I think the Blazer silhouette is pretty cool!

Tell me the story behind Studio 31.54?
Kyle: Well, I am in charge of the distribution of a few clothing brands so I needed a space to manage everything. I met three guys when I spent some time in Shanghai. We were skating for the same company and at one point they decided to make their own brands. At the same moment with a few friends, we had our skate shop in Shilin area. We were distributing brands like Passport. Two years ago they asked me if I could help them expand the market for their brand, Hélas. I was pleased to help they’re all my homies. I found this location recently. A friend contacted me about it, suggested if I was interested. I didn’t have much space in my apartment, I had to find storage for all of these clothes, it was the perfect spot. It is like a showroom/studio, that’s where the name comes from and as for the number 31, it was the address of the store we had.

How do you manage the space? What’s going on a monthly schedule?
Kyle: Depends, at first we were throwing parties, events. Now it’s more like a Pop-Up store where I try to promote my friends, artists, photographers. As for now, I am sharing the space with Juno the designer of All Good Things. I am focusing on gathering people around the skate culture and throwing some music events.

I noticed that you have a brand downstairs you’re selling at the moment.
Kyle: Yes, Victoria a skateboarding brand from Hong Kong!

Is it hard to manage such brands like Hélas? You are the only distributor in Taiwan...
Kyle: A little bit mainly because it’s not a brand that people I’ve heard about and I am actually dealing with ten shops. I don’t go to their stores to do business face to face because sometimes it's a bit far away, however, I am fortunate to maintain a solid relationship with the owners, they are my friends.

What’s the great recipe to start a skateboarding brand nowadays?
Kyle: The answer is quite simple: just go skate man, always focus on that, keep enjoying yourself!

What do you think about the skateboarding scene in Taipei?
Kyle: It’s not that good even know a lot of people are skating, they don’t focus on filming, produce something concrete. Even myself when I was younger I always thought that you had to compete, win prizes and a lot of people think that way but I do not think that’s the essence of skateboarding culture, not at all. That’s why I made this space, to bring more life to it, more culture to showcase all these creative shades that the Skateboarding Culture is reflecting.

Where other places did you felt that kind of energy?
Kyle: Shanghai & Tokyo were two of my favorite cities to visit & skate, period. I mean Tokyo is Tokyo, you got a whole Culture there, it’s booming, it has always been a vibrant city. Shanghai has always been the place for doing business, you can make a lot of money there, all the big corporations invest a lot of money all around, therefore a lot of things are happening in the city. Unfortunately, in Taiwan, there is nothing much happening within the skate culture and that’s a shame, no pros come there, I want to create a movement. Past November I made an event Under the bridge skate spot, VHS came to do some demos, document everything.

There are not many skateparks around here.
Kyle: Not really, you have the spot I told you about, under the bridge & the Nangang skate park. In Taichung, there are two or three places where you can really enjoy a good skating but that’s it. There are some few associations but they don’t really care about building skateparks. I mean it doesn’t seem crazy to build a skatepark right? We have space, especially around the riverside, nearby the bridges you can build good ones…

Thanks Kyle!

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