Tom – How long have you been freestyle skateboarding?
Jesse – I’ve been skating freestyle since the early 2000s, about 20 years ago now. I was around 14 or 15 when I really got into it. Freestyle was even more underground at that time than it is now and had even less recognition in mainstream skating. We had a small community centred around an internet forum called the F-Forum. There was a small group of people; Bob Staton, Terry Synnott, Witter Cheng, Tony Gale, Lillis Akesson, Keith Renna, and Tommy Harward, Masahiro and Toshiaki Fujii, who were keeping freestyle alive at that time.
Tom – How long did it take to film your newest video part?
Jesse – I’d been wanting to film a new part for almost four years now. I started filming a new part back in 2019, while I was living in Thailand. I had a lot of ideas for new tricks that I wanted to share, but by the end of 2020 I was dealing with tendonitis in both of my Achilles that made it difficult to stand or walk. From 2020-2022 I was just stretching and icing everyday, going to podiatrist, PT, and trying everything to make my feet better. The new video is footage collected over the past year or so and even though I’m not yet quite where I want to be, I’m especially happy that I was able to put this video out, because I fought for it.
Tom – How did your signature board shape come to be on Decomposed?
Jesse – For the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Witter at Decomposed, and my new board really came out of his support and encouragement for my skating, and to make whatever shape that I wanted to skate. I wanted to make a unique shape that was larger than other freestyle decks but also fine-tuned for stationary tricks. I find skating a larger shape much more comfortable for footwork and rolling tricks, and even though it might take a bit more power than a smaller board, I think it’s worth it for the feeling and look. We added rail cut-outs to make the shape more unique and give a unique feel for rail tricks (also to make the deck lighter) and the nose is shaped for truck tricks. I also really wanted to have a popsicle tail for ollie-based tricks. I guess you could call my deck a kind of hybrid shape.
Tom – Favourite trick?
Jesse – 360 flips, both versions.
Tom – First person you saw freestyle skateboarding?
Jesse – First person was Rodney Mullen, then Lynn Cooper in the THPS “Friends” video.
Tom – Have you entered any events or done any skate demos?
Jesse – In the past I’ve skated in many of the World Round-Up Events, AJ Kohn’s Philly Freestyle contests, and a few other events here and there. Paderborn stands out as one of my favorite contest experiences.
Tom – Will you be going to the Freestyle World Round-Up this year?
Jesse – Not sure, time will tell! I would love to go.
Tom – What music have you been Listening to?
Jesse – Lately, I’ve been alternating between Thai Psychedelic Rock and Morlam music from the 60s-70s. Thai Rock and Filipino Alternative Rock from the 90s, also Lapalux.
Tom – What’s your current board setup?
Jesse – My Decomposed deck, Venture trucks, Mode wheels, Synopsis bearings.
Tom – Any last words or shout-outs?
Jesse – I’m just so impressed by the current freestyle scene. There’s so much skill and people are doing tricks that I never would have thought were possible. If I were to give any advice I’d just say – Don’t let anyone else’s opinions influence what you think looks or feels good on a skateboard. Have fun and skate the way you want!
One response to “Jesse Whalen”
Reblogged this on thInkStains and commented:
Another great interview, reformatted for easy reading!