Mouthing Off: Lee Yankou

Next up in our series of Mouthing Off interviews leading up to the premiere of Osiris’ new film, Never Gets Old, is Canadian transplant Lee Yankou. Lee’s known for his mega pop and ability to get up on ledges and rails that just aren’t possible for your average skater—even pros for that matter. Originally from the Toronto area, and currently living in San Francisco, he’s been on a tear filming for two parts over the last year. His jaw-dropping Roll Call in our June 2012 issue saw Lee transitioning from finishing up the Think video and going full-bore into this all-HD Osiris project. Currently down in San Diego for a week to hit some Sk8mafia-approved spots, we took Lee out to a nice lunch at Pelly’s in Carlsbad accompanied by Osiris TM Cuong Lieng and marketing boss Jason Hainault for some bangin’ seafood, laughs, and this Q&A.

Interview by Blair Alley

Street crossbone. Photo: Chami

How's the filming been going for the video?
It's been good, I've been healthy and just trying to skate as much as possible. I've been in S.F. and now I'm down in San Diego. I finished filming for the Think video earlier this year.

Yeah, when did the Think video come out? In the Spring, right?
In April.

So you went straight into filming for this?
Yeah, I had some HD stuff filmed and the Think video was all VX, so all the HD stuff is going to Osiris.

Were you able to put stuff away for Osiris while you were filming for Think?
Yeah, all the stuff from the Osiris trips. We had a couple fun filming trips to Vegas and Arizona. Shout out to the homie George who showed us a good time and some good spots!

Who's part are you looking forward to in the video the most?
I'm a big Duffman fan ever since That's Life—and even before that. I've always been super psyched on him and can't wait to see what he's got and his song choice too.

How much of your part is going to be San Francisco footage versus other places?
There's definitely gonna be some footage from the Vegas and Arizona trips, but there's gonna be a lot of San Francisco stuff. Also some Portland (Oregon) footage from a little Think trip we did up there.

Who do you skate and film with up in S.F?
Pretty much just all the Think guys. Justin Carlson—homie, filmer, TM. Russ (Milligan), Josh (Matthews), Adrian (Williams)—whoever is in town, and Dan Z.

Frontside five-0. Photo: Chami

How long have you been living in S.F. now?
I've been going there for about five years, and officially living there with a visa for over a year now. I like that place. No disrespect to San Diego or L.A., but it's an awesome city and it's where I want to live.

Did you get any Canada footy for the vid?
I wish, but in the past year, I was only up there for ten days. It'd be awesome to have a Toronto trick in there for sure.

Do you have a good time down here in San Diego, staying with Cuong?
It's an awesome time. Lots of laughin' and dude, fun in the sun, man! If you're out there skating, there's not really too much more you can ask for.

You like skating San Diego?
I've been absolutely psyched on the spots we've skated so far. Anywhere you go, the new stuff is motivating because you can't just go back to it next week. I'm super hyped on S.D. skating.

Have you gone out with the Sk8mafia since you've been here?
We linked up at the skatepark with Jamie (Palmore), Jimmy (Cao), Kellen (James), and saw Larelle (Gray). I love the 'Mafia man. I just wanna see someone land a bangin' trick and see them all throw up the 'Mafia sign. And I wanna skate with (Peter) Smolik or Li'l B (Brandon Turner) man, that would be rad.

We kind of had a Smolik experience yesterday, I mean, he wasn't there, but he was there in spirit.
Dude, Clairemont! I was psyched to skate a spot that Smolik has had some tricks on—some bangin' ass tricks.

Kickflip stalefish in Clairemont for Smolik. Photo: Blair

How much longer do you have to film?
I guess the absolute deadline is the 20th of October. It's creepin' up, I guess this is crunch time.

Are you going for some crunch time tricks?
I'm trying not to put any pressure on myself. I'm just gonna go skate and if a cool spot comes my way, I'm just gonna go with the flow. If I like it, try to get something good.

Are there any classic San Diego spots you want to make your mark on?
I definitely want to skate some legendary spots that I've seen people skate throughout the years. I have a spot list, but I like to go there and see what's working, throw out a couple tricks.

Do you have a song picked out for your part?
I guess we have a song. It's by The Kabbs.

Oh, the homies! San Diego band.
San Diego skate rock, right? Yeah, The Kabbs.

Are you coming back down for the premiere?
I will be here.

What do you do up in S.F. when you're not skating?
There's lots of good stuff to do in S.F., I've been golfing a little bit. We do it on the budget—I probably shouldn't talk about it, might be a little bit of rule breaking. I like to draw and get a little creative.

Jason Hainault: Being in S.F., you have to paint or sculpt something at some point to live there.
Especially in the Mission, I'm pretty sure it's mandatory. I'm just trying to fit in.

JH: Have you succumbed to the fixed gear craze?
I think if I had one, I would die in the first week.

Die of embarrassment!
[Laughs] Yup.

What's the difference in the skate spots that you find in S.F. versus San Diego?
Not too different. Like that spot yesterday, you could probably find something like that in San Francisco. The bank was a little bit crusty. I like to look at all the skate media, every little homie montage—especially in S.F. to try to steal their spots, man [laughs]. Get ideas, it's hard if you're staying in the same city to keep thinking up new spots you want to go skate.

How do you get around in S.F?
I don't like taking BART, I normally bike, skateboard, or hop in the Think van. I got a random side story, someone is tagging our shit. There's a "Think" tag right beside my garage, and then our van got hit with the exact same tag. It says like "Th" in brackets, and then "ink" after. I haven't seen it anywhere else around the city.

There's a graffiti writer in S.F. that writes Think?
It's not that well done at all. I'm kind of curious about it. I wonder who would be doing it.

JH: Jake Nunn!
[Laughs] I don't know but it's funny either way.

What's next for the Think team? That video was good.
We got the homie Josh Matthews coming out with a TransWorld part. I'm excited for the new TransWorld video!

Have you been sitting in on the editing of your part?
I haven't seen anything yet.

Are you gonna come down before the premiere and give some input?
I'll check it out now, maybe see a rough edit. I feel like, they're the editors and the filmers—they're not gonna make it look bad. I trust their opinion. Let Jim [Kappel] do what he do.

Cuong Lieng: Favorite Canadian skater?
I have to go with Appleyard, he's from just outside of Toronto.

Crooked grind. Photo: Chami

Get ready for the worldwide premiere of Osiris' full length video Never Gets Old premiering right here on skateboarding.com.