20 Questions – Kyle Leeper

1. You were only supposed to be in Barcelona for a couple weeks-how did it turn into a month and a half?

Well, basically it’s paradise for skating-skate spots for days. I started to get lots of shit done, and then Oliver (Barton) told me I could stay at his house and we could shoot this 20 Questions. And then ads and all other types of good shit came out of that trip. The whole crew was there for a couple weeks and bounced, but I was like, no way, that wasn’t enough time for me. I was loving it and figured if I was already there, I wasn’t leaving yet.

2.

The last couple of years you’ve been on a mission. What sparked the fire? I realized that I was getting older and I had to make a decision to skate 100 percent and try to have a career or find a new lifestyle. I knew I didn’t want to do anything else, so I was like, “I’ve got to do this.” For years it was all about skating with my homeys I grew up with-skating curbs, doing slappies, drinking beer, and skating the mini ramp, which is actually the best part of skating, but it wasn’t going to pay the bills. I just started to take it more seriously.

3. You’re originally from Encinitas, California, but you made a temporary move to Sacramento in 2000. Why Sacto?

Ahh, I love it there. Basically I’d lived in Encinitas for most of my life and I was ready for a change. I was always going up there on skate missions. I met a lot of cool people, and the skate scene was good, too. I’d known (Brandon) Biebel for a while, and my good friend Andy lived up there. I had just met Stefan (Janoski), and he was looking for a place to live. We hung out for a while and clicked right away. We came up with the plan to get a house and have my girlfriend move in, too. Those were some good times. I still go up there every couple of months. It’s a good change from Southern California. But I like to be near the ocean, so for now I’ll be here (Oceanside).

4. Seeing the journey you’ve been on to finally make skateboarding your career, is it a relief to be pro, or is it stressful because of the pressure?

I think it’s kind of both. In a way, it took so long it’s like, “Yeah, it finally happened.” But at the same time, nothing really changes-you’re still the same person. But I do feel the pressure now and again. Everybody wants photos, you always have to be on point. You need to be here and there at the same times-deadlines from everybody. But I think it’s good to be busy instead of having nothing going on.5. Your dad used to take you to Lakers games as a kid. What was the first game you remember going to and who was on the team?

Wow, that was a really long time ago. I don’t remember who was playing, but I do remember going to the Forum and all the different smells in there. Sometimes I smell things and it reminds me of being there as a kid. I remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, A.C. Green, Michael Cooper, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Kurt Rambis, Pat Riley … I remember more, but those are the main ones from early on.

6. How is it that Stefan’s little Boston terrier, Liam, bullies around your boxer, Lexy?

What? Who said that? No way! Actually it’s kind of true. Liam’s got short man’s complex and no social skills. He doesn’t know how to act around other dogs. My dog’s laid-back, she doesn’t really have any fighting skills. She just chills and likes to lick your face. But if Liam gets to be too much, Lexy will pu

t him in his place.7. Who’s the most underrated skater?

A year ago I would’ve said Omar Salazar but not anymore. Now he’s overrated. Nah, I’m just kidding. No, but really, Omar’s killing it every day.

But the most underrated I’d have to say is Ronson Lambert. People have no idea about this kid. Lately I’ve been trying to skate with him more ’cause he gets me really psyched. Every day he makes up new tricks at Moonlight (Beach-the only spot to go in Encinitas, a curb and flatground that isn’t flat). He’s always there ripping and then Carlsbad skatepark every night. He’s goteriously unbelievable skills, just wait and see.

8. That might be the kid, but then who’s the man?

I can’t decide between Danny Way and John Cardiel, so I’ll just say both. They’re both on some other shit. To see either one skate in person or video gets me so stoked-they’re the gnarliest on vert and street.

9. What was the first video you remember influencing you?

I’d seen Bones Brigade videos growing up and really liked ’em, but still did other things like played soccer and baseball. But the first time I saw Plan B’s Questionable I tripped out. I really hadn’t seen anything between Animal Chin and Questionable. I didn’t follow skating around that time, so I missed H-Street and all types of other good stuff, so when I saw this I shit, I couldn’t believe it. I was getting into skating again but didn’t know shit about it. We used to skate in our driveways and just make tricks up-we didn’t know anything else. We really didn’t have any influences, so at the time we were barely doing kickflips, varial flips, and railslides. I borrowed Questionable from my friend at school, Ryan Leander. He told me I had to see it. He was this kid I looked up to because he was down and knew everything about skating. So I borrowed a copy on an 8mm tape and took it home to watch. I put on (Matt) Hensley’s part, the intro, montage, and (Pat) Duffy’s part came on and me and my homey Nick were tripping like, “What is this?” We had no idea this was possible-laughing at it, totally blown away. And then my dad told me, “Come on, it’s time to go to baseball practice,” but I couldn’t leave the TV. I was totally hooked. I went to practice and all I could think about was that video. Plan B Questionable changed my life-from then on skateboarding was all I ever wanted to do.

10. What’s up with your Mexico escapades?

Yeah, man, I love me some Mexico. My homey Ryan has a house a couple of hours down right by the beach. We go down and kick it there, especially in the summer. Basically it’s the best place to go-only a couple hours away and it seems so far away from everything. We wake up and surf three or four times a day, sometimes more, go fishing, and drink lots of beers. Other times we don’t stop at Ryan’s-we keep going down and go on some adventures deep into Mexico. One time we went to Scorpion Bay. That was probably the best trip I’ve ever been on-I think it’s like fifteen hours down into Mexico. It’s a cheap, close getaway to go chill and forget about everything for a while.

11. What’s the story behind the Geo Metro?

Which story do you want? There’re hundreds! I’ll just tell a few. The car came from Stefan. It was his old car from years ago. He gave it to me ’cause he got a new car. I took it over, took it to the mechanic to get a tune-up. When they opened the hood they bugged, “What are you doing? When was the last time you changed or even checked the oil or any of the fluids?” I was like, “I don’t know. I got the car for free the other day.” I don’t even know what year it is or how many miles it has, but it still charges on strong. Well, actually not really. It needs a new clutch, and there’s always something wrong with it. It might be time to retire the Geo, but I don’t know if I can. There’re so many good stories involving that car. Maybe I’ll just leave it on the side of my house a little while longer. It’s nice not having car payments, though. Thanks, Stefan, I love the Geo.

12. How come we’ve never seen you jumping down El Toro?

Because I don’t know how to get there (laughs). No, I don’t know. I go there by myself sometimes when no one’s around. No, I’ve never been there, but it doesn’t look like too much fun. I respect the people that can jump down it. I can’t imagine what would happen to me if I tried.

13. Who’s the best crew for a shred?

It depends on the mission. If you’re with the Dying To Laugh crew, it’s John McGuire, Casey Collins, Ryan Wiley, and Spencer Tescarino. If it’s a full skate mission, it’s Stefan, Richard (Angelides), Biebel, Omar, and Homey Travis. That’s the crew somehow everything just works out. Everyone’s hanging out having fun, and the next thing you know you’re getting shit done.14. When you think to yourself, “Wow, I’m riding for Black Label,” besides the obvious answer of John Lucero, who are you appreciative to put your name up alongside as far as past riders and legacies go?

Well, I don’t know who all rode for Label back in the day, but the one I do know is Cardiel, and like I said before, he’s the man. I was surprised to find out Gino (Iannucci) was on. And Jason Dill, I was also surprised by that one. That’s pretty cool. Oh, and also Jonas Wray.

15. Your Subtleties part brought a lot of creativity and power back into skateboarding. What, if anything, do you think is missing from skateboarding today?

How about Brian Lotti, Ocean Howell, Jovantae Turner, Drake Jones, and Jason King? I guess if anything’s missing I’d have to say the buttery styles that all these guys possess. I’ll probably think of more people to add to the list later and be bummed I forgot.

16. You’ve just been well deservedly graced with your first pro model. Was the Mr. Potato Head hand selected by you?

No, actually Mr. Potato Head was one of Black Label’s first boards. It’s part of a fifteen-year anniversary series. It was Shawn Martin’s first board. He’s from Sacramento, so they gave me that one because everyone associates me with Sacramento. So that was cool-I’m psyched on Mr. Potato Head.

17. Do you set goals for yourself in the skateboard world?

No, I don’t set goals. Sometimes I’ll write spots down so I don’t forget, and sometimes I’ll write down a trick if I think of one. I write everything down. I forget a lot. I’m kind of like that guy in the movie Memento, but not really as bad. But no, I don’t set goals except to try and skate every day and do 1,000 kickflips a day-and a couple pressure flips maybe.

18. Which stock trick should you have down that you don’t?

I can do any trick, doesn’t matter what it is, rain or shine (laughs). No, I don’t know-what’s a stock trick? It’s different for everyone. For some people it might be switch 360 flips, but for me, I’m not really good at heelflip tricks, so I guess that’s one.

19. Who’s got the best style today?

There’re a few good ones, but the one that comes to mind right now is Kenny Anderson. I’ve always been psyched on the way he skates, everything about it. The way he pushes and does his tricks makes me want to skate. Also J.B. (Gillet)-he’s got a really good push and amazing tricks.

20. What inspires and motivates you?

The ocean, surfing, friends, skate spots, music, Motà®rhead, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Modest Mouse, Andre Nickatina, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ween, the Beatles, Kut U Up, Yovee, the Pixies, being out of town and seeing new places, Johnny Cash, The Streets, Jon Holland, briefcases full of money, and my dog Lexy.chard (Angelides), Biebel, Omar, and Homey Travis. That’s the crew somehow everything just works out. Everyone’s hanging out having fun, and the next thing you know you’re getting shit done.14. When you think to yourself, “Wow, I’m riding for Black Label,” besides the obvious answer of John Lucero, who are you appreciative to put your name up alongside as far as past riders and legacies go?

Well, I don’t know who all rode for Label back in the day, but the one I do know is Cardiel, and like I said before, he’s the man. I was surprised to find out Gino (Iannucci) was on. And Jason Dill, I was also surprised by that one. That’s pretty cool. Oh, and also Jonas Wray.

15. Your Subtleties part brought a lot of creativity and power back into skateboarding. What, if anything, do you think is missing from skateboarding today?

How about Brian Lotti, Ocean Howell, Jovantae Turner, Drake Jones, and Jason King? I guess if anything’s missing I’d have to say the buttery styles that all these guys possess. I’ll probably think of more people to add to the list later and be bummed I forgot.

16. You’ve just been well deservedly graced with your first pro model. Was the Mr. Potato Head hand selected by you?

No, actually Mr. Potato Head was one of Black Label’s first boards. It’s part of a fifteen-year anniversary series. It was Shawn Martin’s first board. He’s from Sacramento, so they gave me that one because everyone associates me with Sacramento. So that was cool-I’m psyched on Mr. Potato Head.

17. Do you set goals for yourself in the skateboard world?

No, I don’t set goals. Sometimes I’ll write spots down so I don’t forget, and sometimes I’ll write down a trick if I think of one. I write everything down. I forget a lot. I’m kind of like that guy in the movie Memento, but not really as bad. But no, I don’t set goals except to try and skate every day and do 1,000 kickflips a day-and a couple pressure flips maybe.

18. Which stock trick should you have down that you don’t?

I can do any trick, doesn’t matter what it is, rain or shine (laughs). No, I don’t know-what’s a stock trick? It’s different for everyone. For some people it might be switch 360 flips, but for me, I’m not really good at heelflip tricks, so I guess that’s one.

19. Who’s got the best style today?

There’re a few good ones, but the one that comes to mind right now is Kenny Anderson. I’ve always been psyched on the way he skates, everything about it. The way he pushes and does his tricks makes me want to skate. Also J.B. (Gillet)-he’s got a really good push and amazing tricks.

20. What inspires and motivates you?

The ocean, surfing, friends, skate spots, music, Motà®rhead, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Modest Mouse, Andre Nickatina, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ween, the Beatles, Kut U Up, Yovee, the Pixies, being out of town and seeing new places, Johnny Cash, The Streets, Jon Holland, briefcases full of money, and my dog Lexy.