There has been a lot of chatter regarding Connaire Skerritt’s potential to carry the torch for the new generation of British blading and it looks like 2015 is going to be the year where we see if he can deliver on all the hype he has generated.
A good reputation goes a long way in this minuscule extreme sports subculture that we call blading, particularly when the pool of participicants appears to be shrinking with each passing year. In a sport where everyone pretty much knows everyone and even an unsponsored skater from the middle of nowhere can become a recognisable face after a few well-received edits – Geoff Phillip is a good example – it has never been more important to establish yourself as someone who stands out from the rest, someone who is worthy of closer attention. As the lines between professional, amateur and flow rider become even more blurred in terms of ability, exposure and, let’s face it, salary, it has arguably never been harder to get a foot in the door of the fragmented blading industry. The aforementioned Geoff Phillip has released a plethora of celebrated edits over the past couple of years and some might argue he even upstaged Eric Bailey with his two sections in Snake River Special 2, but he still doesn’t have a single sponsor to his name.
Connaire Skerritt appears to have broken through the blading industry’s sometimes seemingly impenetrable force despite the fact that he only has two sections out to date – a street section in a DRC production and a park section courtesy of Mark Worner – as well as appearances in various online montages. He has already been picked up by Slaptap and Shapedbythecold and, during the course of gathering photos for this interview, he was added to another team. Back in January, as part of The Rumour Mill 2015, we predicted that the Weymouth resident could be the next blader to get hooked up with Valo in the UK. Well, we hate to say we told you so – no, we don’t – but it seems that we were right and it has recently been made official that he is now representing Jon Julio’s boot brand. In fact, he has just finished filming for his Wheel Scene video profile, which will also serve as his introduction edit for Valo. There’s a saying about two birds and one stone that seems particularly poignant at this moment in time.
Skerritt’s imaginative take on blading has garnered praise from various respected figures in the blading community, both in Europe and the USA, and it seems like his profile is rising at a steady rate. You only have to look at the caliber of individuals reposting his Be-Mag interview and online edits to get an idea of just how much of an impact this guy is starting to have, and the potential for it to grow exponentially should he continue at this rate. The best part of it all is – it couldn’t have been more organic. Skerritt has won over the hearts of many of his contemporaries in the purest possible way; by being a fascinating skater to watch and a pleasant person to have a conversation with. He has got himself out there, visited other cities and countries, and it seems that the community has taken notice.
This interview took place in two parts, with one discussion occuring before Skerritt was about to embark on his first Winterclash experience with a mob that consisted of Jon Lee, James Bower, Blake Bird et all, and the second happened after Laced when he found out he had secured a place on the Valo UK team. When we first spoke to Connaire he had just downloaded Haitian Magazine’s Lost Tapes and was pretty excited with the result, so it seemed like as good a place as any to commence questioning.
Wheel Scene: What were you up to today?
Connaire Skerritt: I was just at work.
What do you work as?
I work as an engineer technician for an electronics company. Since I got home, I’ve pretty much done nothing besides watch Lost Tapes.
What did you think?
I don’t think it would be wrong to say the best bought thing since this VOD/Selfy deal that’s going on began.
That’s a bold statement! What about it in particular appealed to you?
Too many things – the way it was cut, running time, song choices… Above all, I think the fact it didn’t have a stand out section but I enjoyed every section that was in it, so it’s easy to watch the whole thing over and over without having to skip a section I don’t particularly like…if you know what I mean.
That sounds like as good as reason as any. What do you think about the whole VOD thing overall?
I’m all for it. DVDs will become obsolete soon enough. The way I see it is, if all the VODs came out on a DVD format, I probably wouldn’t have got half of them due to being impatient and having to order it through a shop, then waiting for the delivery. I would rather just do the VOD and have it in half an hour! (Laughs)
I don’t know how I feel about the whole VOD thing. I like the fact you can instantly download videos but the quality of the ones released so far has been wildly variable. Some have been great, but some have been pretty terrible.
I do agree about that point on the VOD though. I guess it’s a bit of a gamble as to which VOD you put your money in.
Anyway, that’s enough about that jazz. Let’s talk about you! It seems like you are the guy everyone’s talking about at the moment. How does it feel to be the person everyone thinks will be the next big UK skater?
(Laughs) I don’t think anyone’s thinking that, man. I mean, I kinda just like to skate and if some people are digging what I’m getting up to on the blades then it’s just a massive bonus, you know.
Nice try with the subtlety! You have Haitian Magazine’s Brian Bina talking about how awesome you are and bladers from around Europe and America sharing your Be-Mag interview. How do you explain that?
(Laughs) I was genuinely surprised as shit to see how much sharing that article got…..and that’s kinda what I mean, to see people are liking what I’m getting up to is a bonus.
It’s pretty crazy because all they have seen of you are your appearances in the DRC edits and your park edit. At least, that is all I have seen. You must be making quite an impression if they can get that hyped just from seeing you in montages.
Yeah, I think that is pretty much it for what I’ve put out edit-wise. I guess where people have taken a liking to the DRC edits and also Worner for putting that edit out for me last year may have helped.
Either that or you are an incredibly personable guy and that results in everyone who meets you liking you.
I’d like to hope that has a good deal to do with it. Doesn’t hurt to be pleasant! (Laughs)
For people that don’t know, explain DRC. I know you are a group of friends from the south of England, but what does the name stand for and where did the sudden burst in productivity come from?
Democratic Republic of the Congo? (Laughs) Nah… In all honesty, it was basically a group page for bladers in the local area to see what was going down on the weekend. That then developed into, I think, a Vimeo page and it basically went from there. Productivity, I guess, has always been there, just needed a camera to capture it all. DRC – Dorset Rollerblading Club – is my take on it. You’ll have to ask the others what they think the C stands for. (Laughs)
DRC seems to have cemented a certain image, whether that’s to do with the music choices, the filming etc. Was that something that you all sat down and consciously decided upon amongst yourselves?
It’s funny because none of it was ever consciously thought out. The filming is a mix of everyone’s ability behind the camera, as well as everyone getting involved behind the computer to edit – perhaps that’s what gives it its image.
Perhaps! I heard you guys are all upgrading your equipment. Does that mean the look of the videos you make is going to change?
That we have. Gone for that legit HVX200 and Century mix. Personally, I think it will, without a doubt be a change, but I’m sure we’ll do our best to make it our own. We still will have the Mini DV/Hi8 cams though, it’s just nice to have a choice of either.
Are you guys working on anything at the moment? Any profiles, future edits, full-length videos planned for 2015?
So there will be another edit in the VP series of edits that will be coming out – that should be a pretty long edit. Other than that, collecting a lot more HD footage, I don’t think there is any end goal with that footage though. Other than that, I think that’s all we’ve got in the pipeline thus far.
Fair enough. What about the Wheel Scene section you are filming with Mark Worner?
Yeah, as well as filming with the boys, I’ve been keeping myself busy filming with Worner for this part and then hopefully, when I get back from Winterclash, I’ll start filming with Worner again for a possible part in the Slaptap video.
Slaptap video? Exclusive alert!
(Laughs) At least, I’m assuming it’s a Slaptap video – that’s what the trailer gave off anyway. (Laughs)
Apparently you are getting flowed Valo skates now and Sam is trying to form some kind of Valo UK team with you as a main part of it. Is sponsorship something that is important to you?
Yeah, Sam is the man! But as far as sponsorship is concerned, I appreciate the hell out of it, but it’s not something I go out blading for!
Glad to hear it! I guess what I mean is, have you ever had any aspirations to be on a team, travel and film video sections etc?
I guess starting out seeing sponsored riders travelling down to my local park gave me something to aspire to for sure, but now I’m more than happy to blade for myself and pay my own way. Anything I receive on top is, like I said previously, a bonus.
What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
So, for 2015, I’ve got a road trip to Winterclash with Jonny, Bower, Blake and a few others, Laced the weekend after that. I wouldn’t mind going to Barca, CPH, Rosklide Festival and NASS – that’s it for what I’d like to hit up.
What are your thoughts on the current state of blading?
To be honest, I’m not that all involved with how the current state of blading is. I try to not get that involved. In my opinion, obviously it’s not where it was but I don’t think it’s in a bad place at all.
Favourite parts? Least favourite parts?
Oh…favourite part of this year? It has to be that Geoff Phillip edit, right?! (Laughs) Least favourite part…. I’m not actually too sure about that one. I’ve not really come across one I’ve genuinely disliked.
Simplicity, creativity and well-performed tricks is what inspires me in terms of blading. Seeing someone do something so well-executed but has that little bit of creative or out of the box thinking is what I really like to see!
Ha! I was meaning favourite aspects of blading and least favourite aspects of blading!
Oh… (Laughs) I guess my favourite part is having something I enjoy the fuck out of more or less every time I skate and getting to know a lot of people through it. My least favourite aspect is the fact it’s crippling to the body. (Laughs)
How was Winterclash? Any good stories?
Stories from Winterclash… Other than it being a pretty messy time, as you’d expect, so it’s a little vague. Plus, I have the worst memory! Jon, Bower, Blake, Neil and Nat made that trip! They are a bunch of sick guys and girl! It’s the first Winterclash I’ve actually gone through with and skated in, and just meeting people that you don’t get the chance to meet otherwise… (Laughs) That doesn’t really answer your question but, yeah, I guess that’s what I’ve taken from this year’s experience.
Sam told me just got officially put on Valo. How does it feel and what does that involve in terms of sponsorship?
As for what it involves man, I haven’t a clue…If you mean what I get from it? Then I guess being part of something that is undeniably incredible is at the top!…and obviously getting hooked up with the merch helps a ton!
Sam told me you injured your hand. How is it healing up?
Yeah, currently got a small fracture on one of the bones in the wrist. It’s healing nicely and managing to skate with it, just trying to keep it up when falling over…would be ideal to not fall over at all! (Laughs) But, yeah, on top of that, I’m also having this problem with an op I had sometime last year on my coccyx kinda area, where they removed this abscess thing that’s kinda reoccurred. And finally getting my knee looked at as that’s been dodgy for almost a year and a half now. A little bit in the wars, but I feel like I’m skating with them just fine. (Laughs)
Photos: Sam Cooper
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