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Ishod Wair is so prolific, skateboarding almost takes his contributions for granted. Since coming up, you can look at any calendar year and there will be a grip of Ishod footage—great Ishod footage. Since winning Thrasher Magazine’s “Skater Of the Year” award in 2013, he’s been a perennial nominee for the honor. Having recently launched his own website where he’s offering product drops to benefit The Ben Raemers Foundation and ending the year with yet another heavy part in Javonte Jolly’s GODSPEED, the champ has more cooking for 2021, including an upcoming part and projects with Nike SB later in the year.
Oh yeah, he also rides for Parade World now, so here’s an exclusive conversation with Ishod Wair.
I want to talk about the clip at the end of your GODSPEED (Davonte Jolly) part where you’re talking to the cop, wishing each other “Happy New Year,” and then you say, “I like that. A good experience with a police officer… it gives me hope but not that much.” That’s amazing editing.
It is nice having good experiences with police officers given the fact that they can end your life. I do have hope that things can get better but like I said, not that much. I say what I feel. And what I feel is that a lot of cops abuse their power but there’s good cops out there. A lot of times you encounter a good cop but there’s a bad cop with them, you can almost see them being peer pressured into being an asshole. I've definitely been skating before and everything is super mellow, cop comes up—older cop comes up and he's tweaking—and the younger cop is like, ‘Uh, yeah, sorry… ‘
Totally. Were you happy with GODSPEED?
Yeah, it was good. For me it was just homie video vibes. I wasn’t really worried about the deadlines. I was just going out with the homies everyday and seeing what happens. I usually approach every video like that until you get down to the nitty gritty and the video is about to come out. I pretty much just try to go skate and not think about it. The video (GODSPEED) was originally supposed to come out last May but then quarantine happened and everything kind of got fucked up. We were supposed to be filming the last portion from January to May, there were trips planned but it was all cut off. It’s for the better. The video became much better because we had more time. From the middle of quarantine to the end of the summer, I was not filming. All I would do is skate Nike Park, be super bummed and depressed, break my board and go home. Some things switched up though—it wasn’t the deadline—and everything felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders, I started skating again and I got a bunch of footage.
You’re one of the only skaters that can have a really gritty VX East Coast part and then something super crisp such as GODSPEED and it all feels seamless. Are there other ideas or types of parts you want to try and film?
It’s more that you want every part to be your best—your defining part—but there’s always issues that come up… availability with filmers. If I have someone that’s dedicated to film me every day and is not gonna sway by other people’s decisions and schedules. There’s a lot of times where you think the day is going to be done, then you go, ‘I wanna check out this spot.’ The filmer goes home and the spot happens to be sick and you want to get a clip—no filmer. That happens a lot.
You have so much output - we almost take it for granted that every year there’s going to be 2-3 full Ishod parts. Do you have a favorite?
There’s reasons why I like them all but my Nike SB part was definitely the easiest to film because Jason (Hernandez) was so professional about every aspect of his job. ‘Oh, you wanna skate this? Let’s skate this.’ Motivated. There are times when people are scared to go to a spot because they don’t wanna get a ticket from a cop. He motivates you to skate it—he’s ride or die. That’s a good type of person to have. You’ll talk to him about skating a spot and you don’t have to say anything. The next time you show up he’s got it all Bondoed up and ready. You know what I mean? That puts you on the spot too because if you say you wanna try something on a spot, he’ll make it skateable so you better not be bullshiting. He really makes the situation the best possible outcome. He’s got all the different cameras, the second angle set up, he’s got it down. Working with him was a very good experience.
Is there added pressure when you’re filming for a big sponsor opposed to a homie video?
I feel like it really just depends on how I’m feeling body wise. If I have a project coming up and I’ve been hurt for three or four months, it’s going to cut down the amount of footage I can have. If I physically don’t have the time to get as much footage as I want, I won’t be upset at how the part turns out. It is what it is. Obviously, I want everything I do to be the best it can be but it’s not a perfect world.
Now that wellness and self-care is more accepted in skating, that has to make things easier. Can you talk about that and working with Just Live?
Honestly, I’ve always been aware of that type of stuff but just recently partnered up with people that are actually doing it. I’ve always liked CBD products and tinctures and all that but I never really had a specific company that I was with and could consistently get stuff from. I would pick CBD over opioids every time. Opioids work for the short term but you get addicted to them. There are some very heavy effects. You need to take enough time for your body to properly heal and come back strong because opioids just mask the pain. They don't actually solve the issue. I feel like there’s a big thing in the past—I wouldn’t say it was not cool to go to therapy—but people wouldn't take physical therapy and recovery as seriously as they do now. When you're really hurt bad—say you need surgery—you should not be drinking, you should be taking ample time—extra time—to get back to where you need to be. You need to be back at a hundred percent so you're not putting wear and tear on your body. You tear a ligament, you mess up your cartilage and you're still skating on it for like however many months and not addressing it your cartilage is going to be exponentially weaker than if you took care of it. And you might not feel it immediately but 10 years down the line your knee could be strong but instead, you skated on it for a year with a half hurt knee so the life expectancy of that knee will just be lower. I feel like people weren’t proactive about how they used to address injuries.
I think it was looked at as some jock shit in the past.
Yeah, it was like, 'fucking drink a beer suck it up'. You'll be fine.
A while back you did a 'Favorite Skater' board graphic with Real and you picked Guy Mariano which I thought was interesting because he’s a very different skater than you.
He skates unique spots in a different way. My favorite skater fluctuates, it’s so hard to have one favorite person. There are so many amazing skaters, but he takes skates spots in a different way and does really difficult things. Guy’s just super dope.
Did you get to know him skating for Fourstar?
Yeah and with Nike Park. He was the person whose name was on the lease for years and years, so I was dealing with him even before it was Nike Park. A little bit on Fourstar but I got a lot closer with him. Guy Mariano is the man—a legend in the flesh. Still doing it.
Not to get all Mikey Taylor on you but what are you doing outside of skating to take care of yourself long term?
I've had stocks and then and I bought my first property when I was 21 and I'm 29 now. I’ve had stocks since I was 18. I don’t have a “business plan” of what I wanna do after skating though.
Who advised you at 18-years-old to buy stocks?
Jim Thiebaud. He put me on the right path and helped me acquire a financial team ever since I was a legal adult. I’ve been pretty set up in the sense of having financial clarity and having people to help me out.
Has Jim and your relationship been central to you being on Real for so long?
Yeah, the whole family. The first time I came out to California was for the Wallenberg contest. I was only there for the weekend then I went back out to Sacramento for a month and then I went to San Francisco to film for what was supposed to be a few weeks. They told me I was on the team and I was about to have a part in the Real video. From there on I was with the dudes all the time—people thought I was from SF because I was there so much. Jim… everyone at the Deluxe family, big love. There’s like no reason for me to want to switch it up. They've kept me happy, they’ve done right by me, and they’ve been understanding of everything I need to do. They’re really supportive in every way
Someone in your position could easily start to get into being an influencer or becoming a personality that’s larger than skating but you come off as so true to skating.
Even though I have a big Instagram following, I’m not an internet person. I’m good at my phone, I’m not good at the internet. I’m not good at talking to people online. My Instagram is mostly just me skating. I communicate with people in real life… online I’m really brief. I don’t mean to be a dickhead to people, it’s just not the type of person I am. I just look at skate videos and comment when I see things I think are sick. I really try to engage with people but I look at all the DMs and get anxiety. It’s too much.
Yeah, I don’t know, I guess it’s just the love of being a skate rat. So much stuff comes out now that it’s hard to keep up with everything in skating. You used to just go on a couple websites and feel like you knew what was going on. Now there’s so many good outlets to see skating—all the Euro stuff, stuff happening in LA, there’s people killing it all over the world. My life definitely still revolves around skating but there’s more than just that. When I was 17 that’s all I thought about—I didn’t care about anything else. As you get older there’s other things. Even if I don’t like the tricks (people are doing) or think they’re tasteful, I like to see the difficulty… it’s just sick to see people doing new stuff. I personally don’t like to do that new stuff because it’s usually too complicated—it’s nasty to try to jam too much into one trick. I’d rather see someone do not the hardest trick ever done well rather than the hardest trick ever done with a tic-tac. That’s just me.
I’m the same way in that I like to see what’s going on and will check out things out of my wheelhouse but then really have an appreciation for it.
That’s what’s sick about skating. Everyone can like what they like. Skateboarding is so hard to categorize in that it’s a sport but more of an art—it’s how you see it because it’s an active thing. Someone can do a nollie crook and it looks like shit then someone does one and you think, ‘I could watch that for the rest of my days on the planet and I’ll be cool with it.’ You can’t knock something even if it’s not your thing.
How have you been handling the pandemic and all the travel restrictions?
I was honestly kind of depressed. There’s fluctuations of ups and downs. It's tough mentally, not being able to see people… not being able to see your family. There were even restrictions in my building where I couldn’t have people over. I thought about moving back to the East Coast but I have two pets and you can’t fly with two pets. Everybody went through their quarantine depression. This is the most time I've had on my hands in 11 years. Even when I’m hurt I’m traveling to do a signing or something. Both of my sisters have kids and I don’t get to see my family that much so the fact that there was time for me to have a schedule and live a somewhat normal life and kick it at home with my family—my mom, my dad, and my sisters. That made me think about moving home (to the East Coast) but that didn’t end up happening.
Is there something you’re looking forward to doing when you can travel other than see family?
Just travelling outside of the country. I want to go to Barcelona. I see them and their quarantine experience and they’re just stuck with a bunch of dope ledges. Yo, a beach city with a bunch of dope ledges? Barcelona sounds mighty fine.
All photography: Zander Taketomo
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