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Words by Kevin Duffel. Portrait by Blair.

When Kyle Leeper bounced from Black Label in the midst of a ruined economy without another board sponsor lined up, people thought he was straight up crazy; it’s not exactly like he was a 21-year-old rookie pro fresh off the hype of winning Street League. But hey, a little pressure never hurt anybody, and after watching his recent etnies rain-skate clip and Stereo introduction video, it seems Kyle’s more motivated than ever. Maybe it’s all because the soon-to-be-dad realized diapers don’t come cheap.Whatever the case, here’s his take on it all.

Why’d you leave Black Label when you did?
There were a couple things, but I think it was mostly communication. I hadn’t been talking to John [Lucero] very much at the time. I had been on for a while and wasn’t really hanging out with all the guys. It just didn’t seem right anymore. It was time to move on. I still see those guys around all the time though, and everything’s still completely cool.

You left without having any other board sponsor lined up, right?
Yeah, a lot of people told me I blew it. They said, “Dude, you can’t just quit and not have a board sponsor.” And maybe I blew it, but I don’t know.

Yeah, it’s kind of like, why quit and lose the paycheck when the economy’s going through a dive?
Yeah, that’s what everyone was saying. They said, “You’re tripping. What if nothing else happens?” But at the same time, maybe it made me work a little bit harder, like “I’ve gotta make something happen right now.”

For sure. It felt like you were a little bit out of the spotlight the past couple years. But now, with the recent Stereo introduction video and the etnies rain skating video, it seems like you’ve been really motivated.
Probably, yeah. That really helped me out, so I guess it was a good thing for me to do. Maybe I should quit all my sponsors and start over [laughs]. No, I don’t know. I think I definitely realized, “I’ve gotta make some moves right now and get shit out there.”


Kyle Leeper’s Stereo intro video

Why Stereo ultimately?
I had a few different options and that just seemed like a good fit. I’ve always been psyched on the stuff they’ve done. I think they have a pretty cool vibe. I met up with them a couple times and everyone seemed super cool. I knew Clint [Peterson] from before, and some of the other dudes. It seemed like the best fit.

How is it compared to riding for Black Label?
I’m really psyched on it. I haven’t really hung out with everyone a lot yet. I’ve skated here [TransWorld Park] a couple times with the dudes. I’ve gone up to LA a couple times to skate with the dudes. It’d be cool to go on a trip though.

It definitely seems like Stereo suits you.
Yeah that’s what everyone says, that it fits more.

So have you been drinking more martinis since you got on to fit in with the whole vibe they’ve got over there?
I’ve only had one, actually. I should probably drink more, huh? My first graphic is a martini, so maybe I’ve gotta change it up and start drinking more of those [laughs].

Speaking of that–whose idea was it to have the Black Label bottle spilling into a martini glass for your first graphic?
It wasn’t my idea [laughs].

Was it a diss directed at the Label?
That’s the thing. On one side of the board, the Label bottle’s spilled, and on the other side it’s the martini. When they [Stereo] first showed it to me, they were like, “No, it’s not a diss. You’re moving onto this, ya know?” And I was like, “Yeah, okay, I’m just moving on.” But then I showed [Ben] Skrzypek and he was like, “Dude, you’re dissing the Label.” But I’m not trying to diss anyone. Label did a lot of cool shit for me: they turned me pro, they let me film a couple video parts, we did a lot. It’s just that I’m moving from one to the other. It’s a transition, it’s not a diss [laughs].


Kyle Leeper skating in the rain for etnies’ Rain Or Shine video.

Are you working on anything with Stereo right now? Any video in the works?
The video is in one year. I have no footage right now, so I’ve gotta get cracking. That’s good though. If you can stay healthy and motivated, I think a year is a pretty good amount of time.

So, in other news, when’s the baby due?
August 31.

New dad, new sponsor.
Changing it up!

You can finally pay for those diapers now that you’ve got a new check rollin’ through.
Yup, I hope so.