Ray Kronenberg is probably a name that is still fresh in your mind thanks to the exceptional promotional video he created for the Razors Cult White that dropped last month. The black and white product push was not only a great and varied performance from Kronenberg, it was one of the best non-pro skate adverts Razors have released in years. You know a skate promo has struck gold when everyone is sharing it and saying only good things on social media – because that is rare! It kind of makes you wonder why Razors don’t utilise lesser known team riders with this level of ability more often.
He is arguably one of the best skaters America’s South has to offer but Ray Kronenberg keeps a relatively low profile. In fact, the last full section we saw from him previously was his Cult Revolution section back in 2014, which featured impressive lines and brilliant set pieces times to some gritty Memphis rap track. Aside from that, you have to look back through the archives of Possessed online edits in order to see him shredding alongside the likes of Quintin Lamb and Taylor Popham.
The reason we got in touch with Kronenberg to conduct this interview is because he had two standout tricks in last year’s Chinatown Hardware video Paycheck and we hoped it was simply a taste of more to come. It turns out that our assumptions were correct and he has finished filming for a full length video that will be dropping soon. He also has another Razors project in the works but has told us that’s currently under wraps for the moment as it is still very early days. While we wait for more fine examples of the Chattanooga, Tennessee native’s blading, we decided to quiz him on what he has been up to recently and get an insight into his plans for the future.
Wheel Scene: Congratulations on the new section, it’s amazing. I think more companies should make skate promos like that. How did it happen?
Ray Kronenberg: I had heard rumours of the white Cults for about a year, I guess. When we did the North Carolina tour to promote the Red SL, Jeph Howard had mentioned it to me. For the most part, there aren’t many people that ride Cults on the Razors team. I know Alex Burston and Stefan Brandow ride them. Jon Fromm also mentioned they were coming out and he was surprised Geoff Acers hadn’t sent them to me. One day Geoff messaged me and he said, “I’ve got a surprise for you.” I thought he was sending me a new set of SLs or something, so when I opened the box I was like, “No way! The white Cults are finally here!” He said, “Make an edit. You have until the 25th of the month.” So I called a friend, Cameron Martin, who made the edit. We met up that weekend and filmed one day in Nashville and one day in Chattanooga and then he edited it and sent it over to Geoff. I figured other people had got the skates too and it was going to be a kind of montage.
But you just said you sent them over an edit.
Sorry, I mean the first day we went out filming. I figured it was just going to be multiple people promoting the skate because he told me to send him raw clips too. Once it came down to it, I told Geoff how many clips we had gotten, we sent him a couple, and he said, “Just make an edit.”
Well, the promo came out great. Maybe it will inspire Razors to give lesser-known riders on the team a chance to promote their new non pro model skates in the future. How pissed were you that both Razors and Be-Mag managed to spell your name wrong?!
(Laughs) Oh, man! I don’t care. It happens all the time. People always misspell my name!
Your name appears on the graphic at the start of the edit! There is no excuse for getting that wrong!
(Laughs) Yeah, I guess so!
When we originally spoke to arrange this interview, it was around about the time of Blading Cup and you were living in California, is that right?
Yeah, me and my girlfriend were living in Los Angeles.
How long were you there for?
I think about ten months.
Why did you decide to move there?
Change of pace. Oh, and Mike Buckalew. Mike moved out there and I called him one day and asked him how things were going. He told me it was awesome and they had been skating a lot. He was like, “You gotta come visit.” Me and my girlfriend Annie were like, “Fuck visiting, let’s just move there.” We packed up and left.
(At this point Ray’s girlfriend says something to him off camera.)
What did your lady just say?
She told me to tell you about the video that me and Mike and Taylor Popham all filmed and are putting out soon.
That’s pretty funny because I was planning on asking you about Taylor later, but now we can get to that. But first, is Mike Buckalew the guy that does all the tattoos?
That is his friend – Austin Barrett.
That’s it! I always get them mixed up for some unknown reason!
Mike Buckalew used to run an online edit thing called Southern Legacy and he filmed for Rejects. He’s from Alabama. He used to skate with Charles Dunkle and all of those dudes.
Right, gotcha. So tell me about this video.
It’s called Eight Down. I’m not sure if he’s going to be stoked about me doing this, but… (Laughs) Matty Schrock has a part, Phillip Moore has a part, Taylor Popham has a part and I have a part. And then there’s footage from me filming my friends all around the south for about a year and then Mike Buckalew filming in California for about a year and all across the country. He took a two-month trip across the country and stopped in Denver, New Orleans and Texas, so he filmed a bunch of dudes from all across the country. It’s gonna be… It’s gonna be cool, man.
Do you have any idea when it’s going to be out?
No, I don’t, actually! I need to put some pressure on Mike. I sent him a text today and told him to drop it, and he said he’s editing it still. He said that everyone having eight-minute parts is too long, so he’s going to chop it down a little bit.
Eight minutes?! That is a long-ass section!
Yeah. Originally, I was the only one who had an eight-minute part, but then everyone else was stacking clips and sending more in. But Mike decided that eight minutes is too long. He made that video Turn Down The Suck for Shredweiser – it’s not exactly in the style of that but it’s a homie video. Nothing too crazy. I don’t think we’re going to charge anything for it. We might have a donation option and give half the money to charity, to the homeless, we were thinking about doing that.
It’s interesting that you say that because it seems like everyone is trying to release a VOD these days, even people that aren’t really well known.
Erm… Billy O’Neill’s Haitian Mag part was free.
Exactly! If that was a VOD, people would have been happy to pay the money.
I would pay money to see him skate any day.
But that section was insane and it was free.
Exactly, he did it for free. I respect people for trying to make money from skating, but I’ve always kind of accepted the fact that… I mean, I went and got a construction job for that reason cos I know I am not going to make money doing this. I do it for fun.
Yeah, it’s not a career option. Have you seen any VODs that you thought were worth the money?
I guess it’s a touchy subject because I never buy them. There’s a lot of people’s that I’ve seen that were amazing – I don’t know if I want to admit to that!
Well, if your friend buys it and lets you watch it, what’s the harm in that? You are still allowed to have an opinion.
I don’t know. I am kind of salty about people talking shit on the internet. I don’t think people should publicly voice their opinions on the internet so much.
My stance it, as long as it’s constructive and not just senseless abuse, it’s okay. If you buy a video, you are entitled to say what you like and don’t like about it – just like you would with a film or an album.
Yeah. I guess I am more talking about in general instead of when you purchase something. The fact that there is so much hate in skating and it seems like everyone hates each other. It’s like, “Me and my friends don’t hate each other!” Everyone has different styles, different races, different genres of music that they listen to and that’s what makes us cool…the variety.
The problem with social media and website comments is they would have you believe a negative image of blading that doesn’t necessarily exist in real life. Hell, lots of the people that post on the message boards readily admit they don’t skate anymore or seldom skate, yet they are incredibly opinionated about a sport they don’t really take part in any longer!
Technically, some of them aren’t even bladers anymore – they are just spectators with too much time on their hands – so you can kind of just laugh it off.
Yeah, that is a good way to look at it. When I go out, I don’t experience this hate that I see on the internet. That’s the fun part about it – everyone is just having fun. But when you look on the internet, it does seem like everyone has something bad to say about it! I don’t even really use Facebook, so it doesn’t faze me too much. I just figured I would say something about it!
Dammit, we got off topic! Back to LA. Aside from making the video, what else did you get up to while you were out there?
Erm… Well, I worked at a hash oil company and…
(Laughs) Why is it everyone moves to California and seems to get a job at a dispensary or…?
Because it’s fucking awesome, dude! (Laughs) The work is easy, they pay well, you are surrounded by good things. You have time to skate and you don’t waste your body swinging a hammer every day.
What did your parents think about the fact that you were working for a hash oil company?
Oh, they didn’t care. They were cool with it. (Laughs)
So your folks are pretty liberal?
Yeah… I brought them some treats back, let’s just say that!
Okay. What were the highlights from living in LA?
It doesn’t get gloomy that much in California, Right now, it’s quite gloomy outside. The sun is always shining in LA. The skating and being in a new place, surrounded by 11 million people, it was pretty wild.
I can imagine it must have been a pretty significant lifestyle change from living in Chattanooga.
The city I live in has between 400 and 500,000 people. But just the sheer amount of things to do in LA and the amount of restaurants to go to, and all the skate spots. Here I end up skating a spot for videos multiple times and each time one-upping myself on the spot. In LA, you just end up finding another bad ass rail or another bad ass ditch.
If you loved it so much, why did you move back?
My girlfriend Annie got some really bad stomach ulcers and she couldn’t work and she wasn’t getting any better. At Christmastime her mum came to visit and we all decided that it would be best if we moved back here for her to heal up, which was great because now she’s feeling much better. She is able to go out and socialise and not just be bed resting the whole time, which is good.
Now that she’s better, what are your plans?
She really wants to move to Denver.
Why the fuck does everyone want to move to Denver? The weather is brutal!
Denver is so cool!
Why do I get the feeling this has something to do with weed again?!
Erm… (Laughs) No, it doesn’t, it doesn’t. A lot of my friends live there and I drove out there and stayed on a friend’s couch for about four months, so I already kind of know my way around there.
Don’t get me wrong, it looks great. The weather just looks extreme!
Oh, yeah! But snowboarding is fun, too!
I know a bunch of Texas guys moved out there but it seems like many of them are gradually leaving again.
Yeah, some of them are.
I have also heard some interesting stories about their time there…
Yeah, I have heard some stories as well! I don’t know what I can say about that. (Laughs)
I am getting the feeling that your girlfriend would be a better person to interview than you. She seems to know more about blading and what you have been up to!
She knows everything! I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the one responding to the messages that you send me. She is like my skate manager, it’s fucking sick, dude! I am really bad at responding and getting footage sent to people, I am better at just the skating part of the whole thing.
That sounds like 99% of bladers across the globe! Shit, I forgot to get back to Taylor Popham. Where has he been hiding?
He’s got a full part coming out in Eight Down and it’s very sick! He has not been hiding. He skates more than I do. Do you follow ripsfromdacrypt? It’s his iPhone Death Lens page and it’s really cool.
It sounds very ghetto!
Yeah! I think it’s a play on some Memphis rap thing or something.
More importantly, when are you, Taylor and Quintin Lamb going to hook up and make another video? People wanna see it!
I would love to do that. I have spoken to Quintin about trying to get Possessed back together but I am not sure that is going to work. I am sure we should be able to do something because we all ride for Razors.
When I interviewed him, he said you all have the same camera set-up now, so that would make it easier too. Hint, hint!
We did but he’s gone HD now. He doesn’t fuck with standard definition anymore. I’m still filming with the VX1000 and my fisheye is duct-taped on. All my batteries are falling out of the back but it still films like a motherfucker!
Fair enough! I love how loyal people are to VX when you could just pick up an HPX or an HVX and achieve a similar effect but not have to go through hours of tapes to collect footage!
Yeah, yeah! I like the way the HVX looks. I’d say my favourite was when David Sizemore started using it and he had the Opteka lens. Him and Chris Smith put out edits and it was like a crispier form of the VX. It’s like an HD VX1000. If I could afford one, I would buy one. I bought my camera for about $600 off Taylor when he was low on money on one time. I think the camera was actually bought under the same circumstances from Malcolm Heard. I am pretty sure it filmed Honeybaked and then Meet Your Maker, and now it has filmed Eight Down.
Hey, as long as it produces the goods, who cares how it’s done and what camera is used? Lost Tapes was filmed on a bunch of shitty cameras and it came out good.
Yeah, that was amazing.
Any other plans for the rest of the year, apart from earning easy money working for a weed company?
(Laughs) I don’t know. Hopefully, more skating. I don’t have any other projects lined up. Well, I do but I don’t know if I can publicly comment on it! My buddy Zack Leavell is filming another Dem Tennessee Boys video, so I may try to get a part in that. But it’s hard to travel between Nashville and Chattanooga just to film. I dunno. I could make it work.
Well, in that case, I think we are done here!
Photos by Annie Haun and Zach Leavell
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