LONGBOARDMAG.ES Interviews Kyle Chinon 14/01/2011, 16:22.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Juan Gómez of LONGBOARDMAG.ES in an interview. I had a lot of fun reading his questions and sharing my thoughts, and I hope you will enjoy reading them.
Click HERE for the original interview in Spanish or click below for the English version!
INTERVIEW WITH KYLE CHIN OF LOADED BOARDS
By Juan Gómez. Questions 1-4 submitted by LONGBOARDMAG.ES readers.
Here we have the interview with KYLE CHIN, a true role model for his open and humble character. But first, a small intro: Kyle Chin is an employee and ambassador at Loaded Boards and Orangatang Wheels in California. Born and raised in Oakland, he moved to Los Angeles to study mechanical engineering at UCLA. It was there that he first encountered longboarding and quickly developed a strong love for the sport. He became close with the Loaded crew, eventually joining their team and taking a full-time position after graduating. When he isn't working or skating, he's probably playing guitar.
Boneless 180 on bank. Adam Colton photo.
1. Roman Ortiz: The whole world talks about Loaded's marketing. People say that, besides making good boards, they are doing a killer job in marketing that makes everyone want one - preferring them over other good brands.
I'd like to know: WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE BUDGET IS DEDICATED TO MARKETING? Also, congratulations - it really is good, dynamic, and effective.
Kyle Chin: Thanks for the kind words, Roman! About 107% of our budget goes toward marketing, leaving 11% for production, 1% for payroll, and 3% for canned tuna. We usually burn through the extra 22% when we light our farts on fire.
2. Quim Lucha: How did you get sponsored by Loaded?
Kyle: I met the Loaded crew around 2007 when Adam C. first came out to California. The two of us (along with my good friend Evan from UCLA) decided to film a technical sliding video for fun, and it ended up becoming the Loaded Slide Gloves video. I continued to focus on sliding for a few years, but in the summer of 2009 Adam decided that I should give downhill a shot. I got hooked immediately, and we started skating together often and shooting photos. The sponsorship with Loaded eventually developed from there; I was stoked to get involved with the company more directly, and they were really welcoming and encouraging.
3. Redrik Zuñiga: What inspired Loaded to make (in my opinion) the best longboard deck, the Dervish?
Kyle: Both the Vanguard and the Dervish were designs inspired by snowboarding, but they drew from different styles within the sport. The Vanguard uses a parabolic sidecut to achieve very quick, responsive maneuvering with lots of “micro-control” and a softer feel. The stance and wheelbase of the Dervish were influenced by the Vanguard, but this time we wanted to create a snowboarding experience that was less focused on carving as its primary application and instead gave the rider a stiffer, more powerful response with lots of pop and energy (more “macro-control”). We achieved more stability through straight sidecuts and drop-through truck mounting.
The Dervish was influenced by the Kebbek Flushcut and other board models they had been producing. We admired the symmetry and clean designs in these boards and wanted to follow their lead. We had experimented with drop-through truck mounting in the past, but the oak construction we were using just didn’t provide the necessary strength and durability. Everything changed when we moved over to bamboo, a more robust yet still responsive material. Bamboo was really the factor that allowed us to combine flex characteristics and drop-through mounting, both of which manifested themselves in the Dervish. As always, we sought to design the board in as clean and minimal a way as possible. Form follows function, and we’re pretty happy with the results.
Driveway early grab. Adam Colton photo.
4. Ricardo Colmenares Arias: What marketing strategy did you guys come up with to make Loaded so famous? Videos? Contests? How did you make yourselves so well known in the longboarding world?
Kyle: Microchips. Lots of them. Implanted in the brains of consumers.
Our marketing strategy has always been to impart the experience of riding to the customer. This originally started with sending free demo boards to shops so customers and employees could try our boards firsthand. Today, this has evolved into our YouTube-based videos, which we produce with the goal of evoking a visceral experience for viewers around the world. Overall, our marketing is driven by our mission statement: to promote board sports through performance, community, and creative expression.
5. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: How did the idea of creating Loaded Boards come about?
Kyle: When Don (the owner of Loaded) was attending college in New York City, he used to commute on skateboards. He had the desire to ride something different that would emulate the sensation of snowboarding, so he began making boards out of old snowboards. His hobby became a serious source of stoke for him, and eventually he wanted to share that excitement with the world.
6. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: What line of products do you think could be advanced the most technically?
Kyle: Wheel performance can be changed quite a bit through different shapes, cores, and urethane formulas, but I think deck and truck designs have the most room for growth. Deck designs have been relatively simple for a long time, but people are starting to really explore new directions and experiment with what can be done with concave and other complex contours. Now, complexity doesn’t imply superiority, but I do think it opens up a lot of doors to find ideas that are effective. Composite construction techniques are already allowing for strong and lightweight decks, and I’m sure technology will only progress in the days to come.
Trucks also definitely have tremendous potential for innovation. The most popular designs out there are based off of two or three fundamental steering geometries, but who’s to say that these are optimal for the various skateboarding disciplines? Looking at how many other creative and interesting designs have been explored to date, it’s exciting to think about how many more we might see further down the line.
Toeside drift in Malibu, CA. Max Dubler photo.
7. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: How do you guys at Loaded view the evolution of longboarding? Where are we headed?
Kyle: I think skaters used to dismiss longboarding as something easy—a sport for those who didn’t have the skill for street or vert skating. But now, longboarders have really stepped up the difficulty and creativity in many styles of riding (downhill, freeriding, freestyle, etc.) to a point where I think it’s becoming hard for mainstream skateboarding to knock it. Longboarding is being regarded less and less as just an “easier” version of street skating; I think people are beginning to recognize it as something unique, elegant, and respectable in its own right.
We are already seeing a crossover of riding styles (such as the blend of freeriding and sliding with street skating), and I think the lines will continue to blur in the future. As for specific disciplines, I think the baseline skill level in downhill is going to skyrocket. One day it’s going to be pretty typical to see ambidextrous riders bombing and sliding comfortably in both stances. A handful of people have worked their way into the territory of soft-wheel standup 360s, which I think is a huge milestone in freeriding. Bigger rotations, more shuvit-type tricks, and doing it all at faster speeds are what I anticipate for downhill freeriding.
Above all, I think one of the most valuable contributions that longboarding has made within skateboarding is to make the sport more accessible as a whole. For a long time, a standard street deck with hard, tiny wheels and trucks that wouldn’t turn was the first thing that came to people’s minds when they thought about buying a skateboard for leisure or transportation—and that’s not always the best board for those purposes. I think the popularization of longboards has opened up the sport to a lot of people who might have shied away in the past.
8. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: Have you thought about growing the Loaded catalog? How about Orangatang? Something new for next year? A preview, please!!
Kyle: Well, we've decided that we would prefer to promote extreme "slowboarding" instead of speedboarding. Accordingly, we are developing new tools like the Loaded Slowboard to help riders all over the world lose races by unprecedented and mind blowing margins.
Hahaha. The freeride/DH board is top priority right now, along with something a little more “chill”. But there are a lot of really exciting ideas brewing at Loaded and Orangatang right now. Jet propulsion, kicktails, chimpanzee brassieres… the madness never ends.
Kyle riding through Cowzer's corner at Maryhill with his friend and teammate Georges Siddiqi. Blake Smith photo.
Kyle riding through Cowzer's corner at Maryhill with his friend and teammate Georges Siddiqi. Blake Smith photo.
9. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: How do you view the growth of Loaded in Spain?
Kyle: The longboarding community is growing rapidly all over the world, but I can’t believe how big the Spanish skate scene is getting! Here in California, we’re definitely jealous of the huge crew of female riders (who shred hard!), but the sheer number of skaters in Spain is incredible. Not only are there tons of passionate riders, but there are also plenty of talented cinematographers like the guys at PerroPro and Triángulo. They are putting out great videos that are really inspiring people everywhere around the world, and that’s the kind of energy that truly fosters the growth of the global skate community. Also, 40sk8 LongSchool forum (cibertaller.com/40sk8) provides a fantastic resource for longboarding news updates, exchanging information, and making connections. Finally, FortRATE (our Spanish distributor) has done incredible things bringing people together at events and really acting as a community center… respeto!
10. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: What is most important to you when you design a new board? Is there some quality or characteristic that every Loaded must feature?
Kyle: Above all, we design our products to perform. Pricing is secondary to performance—not the other way around. We try to adhere to Occam’s razor and pursue design solutions that are as simple as possible while still attaining the desired results. We aim to create boards that are versatile, even to the point where consumers will discover novel uses for them and take them in unexpected directions. The Dervish is a perfect example. We designed it to be primarily a freeride, snowboard-style ride and never predicted that it would become such a popular board for the kind of freestyle tricks that Alex Limbach (“FlatTop”) and other riders would devote themselves to.
One unifying characteristic of Loaded boards is internal flex. We feel that various types of flex can really enhance the riding experience in many disciplines. Sometimes this could be a powerful, energetic flex to launch you out of turns; at other times it might be a subtle, dampening flex to provide a kind of suspension in your riding. Not every board needs flex, but to dismiss flex as a design criterion is to overlook a potentially valuable component of the big picture.
The inspiration for our products tends to be internally driven. We do listen to customers and take their feedback into account, but above all we like to stay true to our own passions and design products that we ourselves want to ride. Usually one of us will have the desire to ride a certain kind of board, and we’ll start exploring concepts from there.
We try to create boards that are highly functional but also unique. If someone else has already made a great board, we aren’t going to copy it just because we like the idea. We love all kinds of skateboarding and enjoy riding lots of boards made by other companies. It allows us to support each other and also gives everybody lots of opportunities to explore new ideas.
11. LONGBOARDMAG.ES: Why did the Dancer disappear? And what can you tell us about the new Bhangra? What really makes it a better board?
Kyle: Basically, we wanted something more versatile—something we could feel comfortable riding on any terrain. We achieved this with the Bhangra in several ways. It’s shorter and lighter, making it easier to throw around for sliding and freestyle. The mild concave, rocker and damp flex create a very ergonomic standing platform that really locks you in for slides and provides a comfortable, “cradled” feeling for dancing. The nose and tail kicks are upturned and provide different amounts of leverage for different moves. Finally, the griptape pattern has been designed to give you more grip on the nose and tail for manuals and shuvits, more grip on the rails for confidence while sliding, and less grip on certain areas along the spine of the board, allowing for easier spins and pivots while dancing.
For more info on the Bhangra, check out the Loaded Blog here.
LONGBOARDMAG.ES: I'd like it if you could leave us with one piece of advice for the fans.
Kyle: Always remember that, no matter how good you get, you are just one member of a worldwide family of skateboarders. I think too many skaters these days are getting absorbed in their egos. To me, that’s not cool. In my eyes, one of the most laudable aspects of longboarding is its sense of tight-knit community and inclusiveness. It’s important to balance pride with humility. If you find yourself turning into a super shredder, be proud of it! But don’t forget that you worked up to that point, and that 90% of skating is about the ongoing commitment to grow in your skills. And there is always room to improve. Practicing, falling, working on new things and finally learning them are what makes skateboarding such a rewarding pursuit!
So seek and offer advice readily. Learn from those who are better than you, and extend a helping hand to those who could learn from you. Teaching others is one of the most enjoyable parts of skateboarding for me, and I think everyone should embrace that exchange of knowledge. It’s the only way the sport is going to keep growing.
LONGBOARDMAG.ES: Agreed, Kyle!
Adam Colton photo.
Favorite band or musician?
I love a lot of different groups and genres, but I think Metallica will always be my favorite.
I can't resist sushi.
Your inspiration on a skateboard?
Air and freedom.
If you had to choose one board, what would it be?
The Loaded freeride/DH board.
The last book you read?
I just finished and am currently rereading .
I enjoy playing the guitar and finding other ways to appreciate nature.
Malibu and San Francisco (for the skating).
Thanks, Kyle; it's been a pleasure! - Juan Gómez