Daewon’s skill on a skateboard is so great that we often become immune to the complexity he exhibits. Linking tricks together like a real-life Tony Hawk Pro Skater character, there’s really little else to compare him to. Well, maybe besides his good buddy Rodney Mullen, who he’s recently come to share a board sponsor with at Almost.

As many of the current professional skateboarding population twiddle their thumbs trying to figure out what and where they want to skate, or even struggling just to attain that motivation, Daewon is out there pumping 60 dollars in gas into his Navigator every other day. He sets his mind on something and does it—like he has his entire career. You see, this is not the first Daewon Song Pro Spotlight, just his first since 1997. And by the way he’s talking, he may be the first person to attain three by 2011 or so. Daewon Song refuses to see an end.

When’s the last time you grabbed your board?

Yesterday at Torrance skatepark. I’m a local there. I grabbed the hell out of my board. Look at my fingers. My 360 judos are so sick right now. I have a big judo, seriously. I’m trying to push ‘em for 2004. I tried to get Seu (Trinh) to shoot one, but he refused ’cause we were at a skatepark. I told him we could’ve made the ramp look like an old ditch, but he wasn’t into it. I was so bummed.

Who’s got a bigger spot book, you or the average skateboard photographer?

The average skateboard photographer, for sure. Actually I do have a lot of spots. I don’t have a book, though. I’ve been thinking about making one.

In the past your photos have been mostly based on documenting the difficulty of the trick. What’s your biggest motivation these days? Are you looking for the weirdest spot, or are you looking to only get that good trick?

With a photo, I’m interested in having it look something like art. Seu will show me an example of how it’s going to look (through his digital camera), and if it looks amazing, I’ll get pumped and want to do it. But with photos, I always want to find a unique spot, so it looks a little different from the average photos people have had.

And so it’s different from your typical crazy tech combo sequence?

Yeah. For me, I had the worst syndrome. No matter what photo I had, everybody thought there had to be a (picnic) table under me, in the background, or on top of my f—kin’ head. I wanted to get away from that whole thing.

Do you think you’ve shaken the picnic-table syndrome by now?

I hope so. I’m not hating on picnic tables, they’re great. And it’s not something where it’s a drug like, “Oh my god, I’ve gotten off picnic tables.” It’s more like I’ve had my day with the picnic table and I’m over it right now. Who knows, I might be into it later, but right now I’m more focused on finding unique spots.

How many tricks inside a single combo are too many?

I got to a point in the Second To None video where I did a trick with four things in it. After a while it starts to get kind of annoying. When you think about it, “Holy shit, dude, you have to cut it out.” I like it, but maybe two or three at the most. It can’t get out of hand and keep going. Somebody has to cut you off.

You get to looking like Tony Hawk Pro Skater comes alive.

Exactly. You can’t do a kickflip at a demo anymore. You need to do a 900 flip. Parents are like, “Wow, that guy kickflips. I’ve seen you do that in the game.” Seriously, I was at a demo doing a kickflip and a tre-flip, and the parents are like (makes a stone face). But then you pick your board up and twirl it around your arm, something you can’t do in the game, and they’re like, “Holy shit!”

As much as you’re a fan of picnic tables, you’re a fan of roof gaps—some of which are ridiculous. Do you ever doubt yourself or at least think of the consequences before skating one?

Yeah. That stf goes back to guys like Jeremy Wray. They opened it up. That water-tower gap he did was really outrageous. The things I do could never equal that. Anything can happen. You can always hit upon a soft spot and hang up. I think about falling straight down a roof gap, breaking my back, and I could be crippled.

The thing is, I really never think about it. I just go up there and try to get it. After you do it, you stop thinking about it. Of course, if I go to a three-story shack, I’m going to be like, “Whoa.” I like being high up, or just the fact that something could possibly happen to you. It’s a good time. Everybody who does do it knows exactly what I’m talking about. Your adrenaline … and that uncomfortable jump where you just make it to the other side, that’s the best feeling.

Since you’re deemed a technical skateboarder and that doesn’t seem to be as “cool” right now, at any time have you ever thought your career was threatened because you don’t succumb to long hair, tight pants, and handrails? And especially after Deca and Artafact didn’t work out, did you ever feel pressured to change your image?

I never felt threatened. The times change and all, but I’ve been in this industry so long that I’ve seen it change up and down. The people who evolve into what’s hot and what’s not—I’m not gonna hate ‘em for it, but I wasn’t ever too much into that.

As far as technical skateboarding, I’ve just kept doing what I do. You’ll always have a group of individuals who will focus on and respect a certain aspect of skateboarding (no matter what’s cool). I love what I do, and that’s what I’ll always do. Hey, but I am growing out my hair—hopefully, that works (laughs).

That leads perfectly into my next question. How long have you been cutting your own hair?

For about six years. I’ve had so much bad footage where my fade has been so high it looked like I had a Mohawk. It was an unintentional Mohawk. I wanted the tightest thin fade. Lately I’ve been filming and been in Barcelona, and my wife’s been away, so I haven’t touched my hair. I’m not gonna grow it into a Fabio ‘do. I’ll probably leave it at the rate it’s at now, I’m not trying to have a Samurai ponytail (laughs).

Looking back at some of your old sponsors, you used to ride for Echo—now Ecko—clothing. What do you think when you look back on that?

Back then it wasn’t weird because I didn’t even know what Echo was. I knew it was clothing, but I didn’t know what type of clothing it was. They sent me the craziest shit, shit that I’d never wear skating—these huge jackets with rhinos on the back and stuff. I was pumped, though, “Dude, this is sick.” I’m not gonna hate. Or think, “God, what was I thinking?” I’m gonna say I should’ve known better. They’re still around and are still killing it. Hey, I had a little part to do with that, and hey, it was fun. Done and gone, no regrets. I thought you were going to say Grind King.

Feel free to explain.

No, Grind King is sick, dude. Growing up as a skateboarder, I was always into the things and companies that weren’t considered “the elite.” I liked skating for Grind King. I was on Gullwing. It was sick—I was pumped. I didn’t get on Grind King because I wanted to be surrounded by some elite group of pros—I rode for Grind King because the trucks grinded so f—king good and they turned. I like my trucks wobbly, and the trucks turned so crazy. And the people there were cool. But now I ride for Tensor.

What did the downfall of Artafact teach you?

With Artafact there actually was no downfall—that’s the thing. People think, “God, what’s Daewon doing? Deca was around three years—that got canned. Artafact just came out six months and now it’s Almost? What’s going on?” Here’s the whole story.

With Deca, those three years were great. I was surrounded by friends. Everyone (all the riders) on Deca were great skateboarders. But I wanted a change for myself, to be a part of something a little different. I think people were sick of the name and the direction the company was going. Boom. We had to can the whole thing. It wasn’t like the company went bankrupt; it was just the fact that we wanted to start something new.

So Artafact came about. We tried to do that for six months—it was fun. The ads went the direction of how I’ve been taking my photos now. So Rodney wasn’t on enjoi anymore, and we had talked and thought, “Hey, what if Rodney gets on Artafact?” But then we thought, “Would that make a difference?” Artafact didn’t get too much attention. We didn’t have any big-name pros; it was kind of mellow. The direction we were trying to shoot for, people just weren’t feeling it.

Then we said, “F—k it,” let’s unite and start Almost. It was an agreement to keep the riders from Artafact, let that gradually fade away, and then we’ll do Almost. Then we brought in guys like (Greg) Lutzka and (Ryan) Sheckler. Now it’s becoming something I wish Artafact could’ve been, but it has a little more humor to it. And it’s more (representative) of how everybody (who skates for it) is. I like scaring people—I don’t think Artafact was too scary.

What’s the actual meaning behind the name “Almost”?

Almost is the best thing because it’s the biggest excuse ever. “Hey, is your video part done yet? Almost. Did you pass? Almost. Did you get your trick? Almost.” That’s the way the name came about, through all the excuses everyone always has. It’s the best working word ever. And then people think that it’s China wood we’re using, but it’s not. So we use it as a joke and say it’s Almost made in the U.S.A. It’s 100-percent maple, pressed in China. It’s like you buying me a Big Mac and having you deliver it to my house. Dude, this ain’t really McDonald’s, fool! It’s the same thing.

If you could take five of the most random skateboarders on a road trip, who would they be?

Jeremy Wray. I would take Rodney for sure. (Dan) Drehobl, he’s so good. Dude, (John) Cardiel. And Seu Trinh. Not the photographer Seu Trinh, but the skateboarder Seu Trinh.

When you take a look out into the pro field, which pro emulates what a perfect pro should be?

I like a lot of the well-roundeds, but I’m going to say Eric Koston. He does a good job. He’s really well-rounded. He doesn’t let all the hype of contests and other stuff interfere when it comes to a legit video part. He’ll always come through, and I respect that. That’s good. Marc Johnson always comes with a straight video part. Rodney Mullen as well just because of how long he’s maintained. And when I go skating with the guy, his motivation is still like a twelve-year-old kid. He’s nonstop. He’s out of control.

So you think the video part is the most important thing in pro skateboarding?

I think a video part is finally where you express yourself. In the skateboard industry the hating is at its highest right now, “Why is this? Who is he? What does he deserve that for?” That all goes down. When your video part comes out, that’s when you get to let people know exactly why and for what reason you have anything. I’m not saying it all depends on it, but our careers are based around video parts. Everybody knows it. That’s when you’re judged, that’s judgment day. Whoa, that was deep (laughs).

What in the hell is with your crazy white boots?

I call ‘em the Don Johnsons. I got that from Tim Gavin, though. The thing is, you’ll see me buy a pair of shoes, and I’ll wear ‘em for like three years. I’m not too much of a shoe guy. I wear my DVS shoes to skate in, but then I’ll buy one pair of shoes and rock ‘em forever. The new white ones are the Don Johnsons. They look like Wallabee boots. It’s funny ’cause everyone talks so much shit. They look at ‘em and go, “Holy shit, what’s this guy thinking?” It’s funny to me, and I love it. I feed off it. I know ge for myself, to be a part of something a little different. I think people were sick of the name and the direction the company was going. Boom. We had to can the whole thing. It wasn’t like the company went bankrupt; it was just the fact that we wanted to start something new.

So Artafact came about. We tried to do that for six months—it was fun. The ads went the direction of how I’ve been taking my photos now. So Rodney wasn’t on enjoi anymore, and we had talked and thought, “Hey, what if Rodney gets on Artafact?” But then we thought, “Would that make a difference?” Artafact didn’t get too much attention. We didn’t have any big-name pros; it was kind of mellow. The direction we were trying to shoot for, people just weren’t feeling it.

Then we said, “F—k it,” let’s unite and start Almost. It was an agreement to keep the riders from Artafact, let that gradually fade away, and then we’ll do Almost. Then we brought in guys like (Greg) Lutzka and (Ryan) Sheckler. Now it’s becoming something I wish Artafact could’ve been, but it has a little more humor to it. And it’s more (representative) of how everybody (who skates for it) is. I like scaring people—I don’t think Artafact was too scary.

What’s the actual meaning behind the name “Almost”?

Almost is the best thing because it’s the biggest excuse ever. “Hey, is your video part done yet? Almost. Did you pass? Almost. Did you get your trick? Almost.” That’s the way the name came about, through all the excuses everyone always has. It’s the best working word ever. And then people think that it’s China wood we’re using, but it’s not. So we use it as a joke and say it’s Almost made in the U.S.A. It’s 100-percent maple, pressed in China. It’s like you buying me a Big Mac and having you deliver it to my house. Dude, this ain’t really McDonald’s, fool! It’s the same thing.

If you could take five of the most random skateboarders on a road trip, who would they be?

Jeremy Wray. I would take Rodney for sure. (Dan) Drehobl, he’s so good. Dude, (John) Cardiel. And Seu Trinh. Not the photographer Seu Trinh, but the skateboarder Seu Trinh.

When you take a look out into the pro field, which pro emulates what a perfect pro should be?

I like a lot of the well-roundeds, but I’m going to say Eric Koston. He does a good job. He’s really well-rounded. He doesn’t let all the hype of contests and other stuff interfere when it comes to a legit video part. He’ll always come through, and I respect that. That’s good. Marc Johnson always comes with a straight video part. Rodney Mullen as well just because of how long he’s maintained. And when I go skating with the guy, his motivation is still like a twelve-year-old kid. He’s nonstop. He’s out of control.

So you think the video part is the most important thing in pro skateboarding?

I think a video part is finally where you express yourself. In the skateboard industry the hating is at its highest right now, “Why is this? Who is he? What does he deserve that for?” That all goes down. When your video part comes out, that’s when you get to let people know exactly why and for what reason you have anything. I’m not saying it all depends on it, but our careers are based around video parts. Everybody knows it. That’s when you’re judged, that’s judgment day. Whoa, that was deep (laughs).

What in the hell is with your crazy white boots?

I call ‘em the Don Johnsons. I got that from Tim Gavin, though. The thing is, you’ll see me buy a pair of shoes, and I’ll wear ‘em for like three years. I’m not too much of a shoe guy. I wear my DVS shoes to skate in, but then I’ll buy one pair of shoes and rock ‘em forever. The new white ones are the Don Johnsons. They look like Wallabee boots. It’s funny ’cause everyone talks so much shit. They look at ‘em and go, “Holy shit, what’s this guy thinking?” It’s funny to me, and I love it. I feed off it. I know people look and go, “F—k, when’s Daewon going to get new shoes? He’s been rocking those since Australia … since Barcelona.” I’ve been rocking my shoes for seriously a good eight months straight. They’re f—kin’ hot.

You obviously don’t buy shoes, but you spend your money like water. Where does it all go?

For a while I’d go on dinner splurges, take everybody out to eat. I enjoy stuff like that. I think of it as a good time, and what else to use your money on but your friends? I’m not trying to sound like Goodwill over here, but I’m just trying to say, spend your money. What are you saving up for? Of course there’re certain things you need to save for, but spend it. Have a good time with it.

Who do you consider your friends in the skateboard world?

I’ve revolved around the same people my whole life. Rodney Mullen, first of all. He’s the one who brought me into this industry. My friend John who works for American Airlines, skates, and films. My friend Carlos, my friend Daniel Castillo. Every time people see Daniel, “Where’s Daewon?” Every time they see me, “Where’s Daniel?” And then new people who I work really well with like Colin Kennedy (DVS filmer), Seu Trinh, Cooper Wilt, Chris Haslam. As I’ve gotten to know these guys, they’re really genuine people. The thing is, I don’t really get involved with the whole scene. You never see me out. Oh, and Luis Cruz. If you see me out skating, you’ll see me with John, Carlos, Luis, or Daniel.

You don’t like skating with a whole lot of people, do you?

I don’t care anymore, but I don’t go searching for the hottest pros to go hang out with.

Is it true that you purposely don’t clear out your cell-phone messages so that no one can leave you one, and that way you can’t be liable for not returning phone calls?

First of all, I have that Boost phone. And I’m not trying to plug it in, but I’m stoked on it. Damien there has done the greatest job of hooking me up. But the phone rings every f—king hour and the message button goes nuts. The maximum number it can hold is 30 messages. I wait a month ’til it automatically erases ‘em. It’s not that I avoided ‘em, it’s just that I didn’t want to deal with ‘em (laughs).

You have two video parts about to come out in the next ten months. You’ve obviously had ample time to film—are you going to be happy with the outcome of each?

The DVS video—we’ve been talking about that video for a couple Septembers. But this September will be the actual premiere. And then Round 3 will be out in March. I’m going to be happy. The two parts are going to look a little different from each other. Round 3 will be more of what I usually do with the Round 1s and Round 2s, while the DVS part will look more like what this interview’s looking like. I want each part to have its own personality, I don’t need to have two of the exact same video parts.

Most of your colleagues you grew up skating with are either on the downside of their careers or have fully retired to industry jobs while you’re still here skating every day, inventing, and seeming like you haven’t even reached the apex of your career. What do you credit your longevity to?

It’s just me—I just skate. I wake up, and I’m motivated by trying new things. There’s always progression. There’s no limit on skateboarding. You don’t think about it, you just go and do it. All of a sudden something comes up and you go for it. The progression is fast, but there’re still so many things that aren’t done. Basically there’s no limit to skateboarding. It will be forever. There’re always new tricks. There’s never, “Oh, there’s nothing left.” That will never be.

Where do you feel you are in your career? Uphill, downhill?

Within skateboarding I feel like I’ve always been in the same position: skateboarding, making sure that I keep up. I love filming video parts where I can show kids new things, showing them what is possible on a skateboard. There’re new things you can try. You don’t have to stick with watching the same thing over and over again and be stuck trying the same thing the rest of your life.

When it gets to that point, will you know when to hang it up?

For me, I’ll never hang it up. I’ll keep doing it. I don’t care. The way I look at skateboarding, I don’t see it moving. I see things changing. There are individuals making the sport progress and doing new things, but the majority of skateboarding is stale right now. It’s just the same stuff where people only seem to be doing it bigger. I’m gonna keep doing it as long as I can. I just look at Rodney. Rodney will be in it forever. He’s at his peak right now. When you see his footage, you’re going to flip out. It’s shit that nobody thought they would ever see.

I feel you can just keep going and going. Some people might not like it, but I don’t really care what people do or don’t like about me. That’s not what I’m in it for. “Oh, I hope he likes me. I hope this kid is feeling me.” I just do what I do. Whoever likes it, likes it. Whoever doesn’t, that’s not my problem. Everyone does their thing. No matter what they do, I give respect to all skateboarders. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t think there’s ever going to be an end.ple look and go, “F—k, when’s Daewon going to get new shoes? He’s been rocking those since Australia … since Barcelona.” I’ve been rocking my shoes for seriously a good eight months straight. They’re f—kin’ hot.

You obviously don’t buy shoes, but you spend your money like water. Where does it all go?

For a while I’d go on dinner splurges, take everybody out to eat. I enjoy stuff like that. I think of it as a good time, and what else to use your money on but your friends? I’m not trying to sound like Goodwill over here, but I’m just trying to say, spend your money. What are you saving up for? Of course there’re certain things you need to save for, but spend it. Have a good time with it.

Who do you consider your friends in the skateboard world?

I’ve revolved around the same people my whole life. Rodney Mullen, first of all. He’s the one who brought me into this industry. My friend John who works for American Airlines, skates, and films. My friend Carlos, my friend Daniel Castillo. Every time people see Daniel, “Where’s Daewon?” Every time they see me, “Where’s Daniel?” And then new people who I work really well with like Colin Kennedy (DVS filmer), Seu Trinh, Cooper Wilt, Chris Haslam. As I’ve gotten to know these guys, they’re really genuine people. The thing is, I don’t really get involved with the whole scene. You never see me out. Oh, and Luis Cruz. If you see me out skating, you’ll see me with John, Carlos, Luis, or Daniel.

You don’t like skating with a whole lot of people, do you?

I don’t care anymore, but I don’t go searching for the hottest pros to go hang out with.

Is it true that you purposely don’t clear out your cell-phone messages so that no one can leave you one, and that way you can’t be liable for not returning phone calls?

First of all, I have that Boost phone. And I’m not trying to plug it in, but I’m stoked on it. Damien there has done the greatest job of hooking me up. But the phone rings every f—king hour and the message button goes nuts. The maximum number it can hold is 30 messages. I wait a month ’til it automatically erases ‘em. It’s not that I avoided ‘em, it’s just that I didn’t want to deal with ‘em (laughs).

You have two video parts about to come out in the next ten months. You’ve obviously had ample time to film—are you going to be happy with the outcome of each?

The DVS video—we’ve been talking about that video for a couple Septembers. But this September will be the actual premiere. And then Round 3 will be out in March. I’m going to be happy. The two parts are going to look a little different from each other. Round 3 will be more of what I usually do with the Round 1s and Round 2s, while the DVS part will look more like what this interview’s looking like. I want each part to have its own personality, I don’t need to have two of the exact same video parts.

Most of your colleagues you grew up skating with are either on the downside of their careers or have fully retired to industry jobs while you’re still here skating every day, inventing, and seeming like you haven’t even reached the apex of your career. What do you credit your longevity to?

It’s just me—I just skate. I wake up, and I’m motivated by trying new things. There’s always progression. There’s no limit on skateboarding. You don’t think about it, you just go and do it. All of a sudden something comes up and you go for it. The progression is fast, but there’re still so many things that aren’t done. Basically there’s no limit to skateboarding. It will be forever. There’re always new tricks. There’s never, “Oh, there’s nothing left.” That will never be.

Where do you feel you are in your career? Uphill, downhill?

Within skateboarding I feel like I’ve always been in the same position: skateboarding, making sure that I keep up. I love filming video parts where I can show kids new things, showing them what is possible on a skateboard. There’re new things you can try. You don’t have to stick with watching the same thing over and over again and be stuck trying the same thing the rest of your life.

When it gets to that point, will you know when to hang it up?

For me, I’ll never hang it up. I’ll keep doing it. I don’t care. The way I look at skateboarding, I don’t see it moving. I see things changing. There are individuals making the sport progress and doing new things, but the majority of skateboarding is stale right now. It’s just the same stuff where people only seem to be doing it bigger. I’m gonna keep doing it as long as I can. I just look at Rodney. Rodney will be in it forever. He’s at his peak right now. When you see his footage, you’re going to flip out. It’s shit that nobody thought they would ever see.

I feel you can just keep going and going. Some people might not like it, but I don’t really care what people do or don’t like about me. That’s not what I’m in it for. “Oh, I hope he likes me. I hope this kid is feeling me.” I just do what I do. Whoever likes it, likes it. Whoever doesn’t, that’s not my problem. Everyone does their thing. No matter what they do, I give respect to all skateboarders. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t think there’s ever going to be an end.ids new things, showing them what is possible on a skateboard. There’re new things you can try. You don’t have to stick with watching the same thing over and over again and be stuck trying the same thing the rest of your life.

When it gets to that point, will you know when to hang it up?

For me, I’ll never hang it up. I’ll keep doing it. I don’t care. The way I look at skateboarding, I don’t see it moving. I see things changing. There are individuals making the sport progress and doing new things, but the majority of skateboarding is stale right now. It’s just the same stuff where people only seem to be doing it bigger. I’m gonna keep doing it as long as I can. I just look at Rodney. Rodney will be in it forever. He’s at his peak right now. When you see his footage, you’re going to flip out. It’s shit that nobody thought they would ever see.

I feel you can just keep going and going. Some people might not like it, but I don’t really care what people do or don’t like about me. That’s not what I’m in it for. “Oh, I hope he likes me. I hope this kid is feeling me.” I just do what I do. Whoever likes it, likes it. Whoever doesn’t, that’s not my problem. Everyone does their thing. No matter what they do, I give respect to all skateboarders. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t think there’s ever going to be an end.