Spencer is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. Not just at Skateboarding but everything he does. His style of skateboarding is so complex I can’t even comprehend some of the tricks that he does or how he even thought of trying them. My favorite quality he has though is how he carries himself. He has no problem telling people how it is, no beating around the bush about it. Some people might take that as negative but at least you know he’s not talking shit behind your back. He stands up for what he believes in & if he backs you he would do anything for you. I’m very fortunate to have Spencer as a team rider for the shop & as a good friend. On that note watch this part & be ready to hit the slow mo button. -Gary Smith
As far as this year goes, where have you ventured off too, on the shredder (consisting of 8 bearings and 4 wheels)?
The past year I’ve been out to California, the Midwest and down south, but I’ve primarily stayed out on the east coast to finish up the part I’ve had in the works for the past 2 years.
For what video?
I have actually been working on several video projects all at once. I was filming for the TC mixtape #15 , the Vu Skateshop video, a barcelona part, a part that is specifically at my hometown spot “the ridge” and I have also been working on a full length street part that I hope to release with Lockdown Skateboards in the next few months.
You’ve taken affirmative action on traveling. What is it like being in 3 states for winter, and very little time in your hometown B’more?
It was great for more reasons than the weather. I always enjoy seeing new things, meeting new people and skating different spots. You find out a lot about yourself on the road because your taken out of your comfort zone. It’s always a learning experience, so I always look forward to traveling. Baltimore is where I was born and raised but I don’t plan on staying here forever. I foresee a move to the west coast in my future.
When the season shifts to winter, where do you prefer to be, East or West?
The west. You can’t beat the east coast fall season, but as soon as all the leaves are off the trees its a wrap. I honestly like to spend the majority of my time outside and the black ice, wind, and salt on the ground really gets in the way of that obviously.
What brought you to the 8mile?
“THE CREW” TC mixtapes. For those that aren’t familiar with the movement; TC is a group of skaters/homies that are all about street skating and bringing new ideas and innovation to the game. I met Cody Cepeda at the es game of skate a few years back and ever since then we kept in contact. I felt like the TC movement was something I could relate to, so I ended up having footage in Mixtape #13. Then I came out here last September after that dropped. We ended up finishing Mixtape #14 and a United Nations for the Berrics by the end of 2011. I spent the majority of 2012 in Michigan working on TC mixtape #15. It just dropped on the Berrics and YouTube so if your reading this go peep that shit when you get the chance!
What was it like for the first time sneaking off to Barcelona to end the summer?
Barcelona was amazing. All of the spots are damn near perfect and no one really hassle’s you for the most part. It reminds me of how the 90′s were in the US, when you could actually get away with skating all of the marble and granite plazas in the downtown areas. It’s not like the current American skate scene whatsoever. I feel like here everything is going more in that Street League direction “train at the park then go hit the streets and film a part attitude”. But when I was out in Barcelona it was the exact opposite. When I would hit MACBA everyone would just be enjoying the session, drinking, smoking, learning new tricks, playing games of skate and just having a good time. I went for a week with my friend Nick Midwig who happens to be one of the best filmers I’ve ever met. He put the idea together to go out there and filmed a mini part with the Phantom HD camera which we used for an earlier project in 2012. Its obviously a lot of work to get an entire project done in one week so most of the time was spent getting footage and traveling to and from spots. By the end of the trip I could barely walk.
The Phantom project is a creative thought. Who’s the Phantom behind the mask-project?
Nick Midwig who is a long time skate filmer thought of the idea. He has gone on to film a lot of other things from tv commercials, documentaries and movies outside of the skate world. Through his hard work he now has a lot of access to film equipment and resources that the average skate filmer will never have. He approached me with the idea to go film a part in Barcelona with this Phantom HD camera. The whole concept of the project was that we would have the same piece of equipment that people out in Hollywood have to make it look amazing from a cinematic point of view but at the same time have it meet my world of raw street skateboarding. We didn’t want to compromise the level of technicality for the sake of art. The idea was to make them blend together and do something that no one has ever done before. We are in the editing stages right now.
At the time of the introduction, what was the nature of starting a new film production like this one?
The introduction felt great. I have so many ideas and there is so much work that I want to put into video parts as well as helping to progress the culture. I’m not new to this world and the fact that people are finally starting to recognize and pay attention makes me want to work much harder. I’m just thankful to be here with the same passion I had when I was learning my first kickflip. There’s still so much to be done and I’m excited for what the future has in store.
How is your nest different from Perry Hall and other locations in B’more?
It doesn’t get any more suburban then Perry Hall. Everything’s so spread out and there’s really no sense of community in that place. Most of the people drive nice cars and all the houses are on the new age “all look the same” program. There’s also nothing to skate out there. I grew up in the row houses on the North end of the Baltimore City. This area called Idlewild. It can definitely get crazy at times and I’ve seen some crazy situations go down. “I’ll keep it 100 percent honest, there’s some real people in this city but for the most part its a very racist, negative, segregated town. There isn’t much anyone can agree on accept liking the ravens.”
I recall your part of town to be sketchy. Is it true? Have you been a potential victim of your society?
Yea I would say that. A lot of people I grew up with were in the “Game”. I’ve had a couple close friends get shot, some are in jail and a lot of them also have kids now. I would say that this whole generation as a whole could be classified as potential victims of society. Just the way certain lifestyles are marketed on us really have a negative effect on the way we view each other and ourselves. If you haven’t tapped into that “3rd eye” or heightened sense of awareness, it’s really easy to lose yourself out here in all the chaos. Maybe that’s everywhere these days?
Back in 2009 or 2010, you almost became a victim. But how?
I was skating home one night and a dude popped out from the behind a car with a knife. He looked high off something.
Whoa, what was your first instinct?
I picked my board up and used it as a shield. The knife dug into my board. I don’t know if he was on the zombie shit like they be on in Miami. East coast period is wild as shit. That’s why I skate, to get away from shit.
What happen to the deck that saved your life?
I think it was one of my old Plan B boards.
How was your time occupied, before skateboarding, music, and traveling merged into the picture?
Just random ignorant kid shit like getting into trouble [haha]… At that time I was young just running the streets with the neighborhood crew. We were always trying to have a good time and get into some wild shit. Wether it was playing basketball, getting into fights, intentionally breaking windows, or messing with random people I was always outside for the most part. I guess it was that same adrenaline rush you get out of doing some mischievous shit that made me gravitate towards riding a skateboard.
Art/poetry is beautiful, like the art of setting a foot on the board for the first time. When did you pick up a board?
I picked up a board in 99′. It all started because of my homies and the fact that it was something to do. I started to realize it was one of the only positive outlets I could relate to as a teenager. That and the raw feeling of progression are what made me stick with it for so long. As you get older you see people come and go and it can suck to watch people you really care about quit. I’m in this for life though. Skateboarding is more then a sport or art form. For me its a way of life, culture and very theraputic when dealing with the rest of the ups and downs you go through as a person. I’m also curious to see how far I can take my skill level. This time next year, I want to be 100 times better then I am now! That is why I stick with it.
For the record, what deck company served the first slice of flow life?
It was Plan B when they were under Syndrome distribution. That was back in the VHS sponsor tape days. Jason Maxwell liked the footage I sent, I ended up meeting him at the es game of skate finals in San Diego. He hooked me up with Silver, Fkd and Plan B that day.
Now that The Ridge has vanished, where do you skate regularly?
When I’m out in Michigan I skate Pine Grove park. When I’m in Baltimore I try and skate the Lyric or some random spot in the city on the weekdays. On the weekend I try and either hop on that megabus and head up to NYC or I’ll try and make it to Philly or DC to skate with my friends there. “The ridge is back since last winter.”
How did the ridge get back?
We went on a hiatus with it, and they left one section at the top where the concrete wasn’t destroyed, but there is some damage and it’s not as much space. But we can make something out of it, somewhere to practice and meet up. It’s on a hill so we get blown around out there though.
What are a few common rituals before and after a session?
It’s really random. Sometimes I’ll just cruise around whatever area I’m in to get a feel for it. I’m always digging for records, watching movies, reading and just kicking it with who ever is cool. I’m working as an auto mechanic. I pull out transmissions, they get rebuilt, then I reinstall them. I’m still in the process of learning everything, but my boss is teaching me a lot. It’s def a good side hustle.
You really expand the word potential. How did you go from skateboarding, engineering to a mechanic?
I got the job randomly, when I was having my car worked on. I gave the mechanic a bunch of old boards for his kids and he ended up offering to give me some work if I ever needed it.
That’s generous of you to give out boards when you have no car to rely on. Later this year, will you be in the east for the tormenting winter?
I’m here now trying to save some bread up and plot my next move.
How did you dabble into the art of music?
When I was growing up, my next door neighbors were really into music. For the longest time I would always go over there to hang with Michael and Marvin who also got me into skating. Anyway, we were always playing video games and listening to hip-hop in the basement, but then we would go upstairs and his parents would have the record player out with all the old school jams. I was exposed to all of that at a young age plus my dads amazing with any instrument that he touches. I always knew I wanted to do something with it one day. Hearing guys like Pete Rock, J Dilla, Q-tip and DJ Premier are what really inspired me to go get that MPC and make my own beats though.
Records brings back memories of my mother, she had over 50 records, she played them all the time. Have you sampled any instrumentals from a respected producer/artist of your interest?
I’ll sample anything I think sounds good to my soul/ear. A lot of times it will be older jazz/soul/funk records but it could honestly be from anywhere. If I hear a sound I try and isolate a specific part in my head and then chop, re-arange, filter and all types of other things to make it do what I am envisioning. I’ve sampled Marvin Gaye, Ahmad Jamal and Roy Ayers, just to name a few. I’ve made thousands of beats so it would be impossible to go over everything [hahaha].
By choice or offer, what producer or artist would you work with?
NAS, Talib Kweli, Kendrick Lamar, Elzhi, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Jay Electronica
What artists are you currently listening too?
The new Nas Album “Life is good”, Elzhi and other then that a lot of 70′s soul like The Sylvers or Curtis Mayfield.
What artists did you grow up on?
Nas, AZ, Slick Rick, Talib and Mos Def, Jay, The roots, Little brother, Outkast.. That list could go on for days.
Have you enrolled in courses for engineering?
Not at the moment, but I’ve been in the studio a lot the past year. In my own opinion the learning expereince is a lot more natural that way.
I agree, keep it natural, talent cannot be forced. It takes time, it’s like watering a plant/flower and watching it grow at its pace “naturally”. The schools, the teachers can only teach you but so much. Everything isn’t in the book, it has to be hands on, from first hand experience, it’s based on the student’s drive, interest and the time deposited into rising the craft. “What programs are you utilizing to create your instrumentals?”
I use Fl studios with the Akai midi controller. It works like the MPC and I can do all of my chopping, filtering and mastering all right there in the program. Then if im in the studio with an artist and were making the finishing touches i’ll use pro tools.
Is there a project coming up we should know of?
It’s possible. I’m still making beats every day and I’ve been producing for a bunch of other artists as well. I have a track dropping next month, with Malik Ferraud (a Baltimore local) “Nothing Comes Easy” complimented with a video.
Besides music & skating, is there another love out there?
Most definitely. I’m always trying to expand my mind and learn. I’m really into art and history. Poetry is amazing. The way a poet can manipulate language to paint a picture could be compared to the way someone like Nas goes about making a track. The crazy thing about my outside interests is that I would of never had such a level of exposure to them if it wasn’t for skating and music.
Now that flow has streamed down the drain, your deck situation has formed legitimate status due to the incarceration by Lockdown, what expectations do you have?
I just want to do whatever I can to help build the brand. It’s an honor to be on the same team as Brian Wenning and Ronson Lambert and it’s really just about keeping that raw street skating alive. I want to see the company blow up and for us to be able to tour, do demos and etc.
It all makes sense. Is this partly the reason you’re on Lockdown?
It was mutual. I’ve known Ronson and Wenning long before the company was ever thought of. I ended up skating with both of them at Love park. When Ronson came over here to the east coast, I ended up talking to Wenning about it and we made it happen.
What can we expect from Lockdown’s delinquents?
Expect a promo coming out in May with a part from Ronson, Wenning, me and more.
Who would you like to give thanks to?
My family, everyone who supports my skating & music, Vu Skateshop, Bob (at Nike SB), Jason Maxwell (at Syndrome), T.C. crew out in Michigan, and most of all Brian Wenning.
Interview conducted by Rob Larry
Questions by Rob Larry