The Follow Up: Kevin Braun
By Eric Palozzolo
Whatʼs up, brother Braun? Where does this message find you?
Yo, Iʼm in bed. Just finished watching this new Breaking Bad movie on Netflix.
Last time we did this you were an am. Now youʼre a pro. Whatʼs that like?
It hasnʼt been much different than when I was an amateur. I’m still skating and traveling pretty often. Learning and working with the NHS art department has been cool. I get to have some input and ideas on my board graphics. I’ve been enjoying that a lot. Itʼs cool seeing an idea you had get turned into a graphic.
Nollie flip frontside 50-50 down a chubba (chunky hubba)
We turned you pro at Tempe Halloween last year. Did you know it was going to happen?
I had an idea that it was coming soon. Earlier that year I got hit up about going on the second Am Scramble trip. Then I found out they pushed the trip back a couple months and learned that I wasnʼt going anymore. I took the hint from there.
Where you shocked? Did you cry? I think I would have had a heart attack.
Yeah, I was tripping. I had no idea how to react for the first 20-30 minutes. After it all sunk in I basically broke down and started getting super emotional. I had to leave the park and go chill in the parking lot for a little while. Ha!
Whatʼs it like being pro in 2019?
Itʼs cool. After talking with a lot of people that have been pro longer than I have, it seems different than it used to be. I think the presence of social media within the skateboarding industry has changed what it takes to be a pro in this day and age. Kids constantly want more and more content and footage to watch because itʼs so easily accessible for them.
Is all the glitter really gold once you finally turned pro?
Mostly, yes. Iʼm just excited to have the opportunity to be pro. Itʼs an incredibly fulfilling feeling for me. Being able to travel the world and making some money with an activity you truly enjoy is a privilege that many people donʼt get to experience. I feel very lucky.
Palm trees in the back, switch flips in the front, Braun knows how to party
So youʼre from the Chicagoland area. Have you ever participated in a hotdog eating contest? I remember growing up seeing that dude dip hotdogs in water and eat, like, 500 dogs in five minutes at the county fair when I was younger.
Yeah! I think his name is Kobayashi. But hell no. Iʼm a fat ass, but I feel like a hotdog eating contest would hurt after a while.
What do you say to kids in Illinois who are growing up far away from the skate industry but want to get involved?
Just enjoy skateboarding and donʼt stress about getting sponsored or involved in the industry. Your skateboarding will improve faster without worrying about what everyone thinks and it will be easier for you to grow into your own style and individualism. When youʼre old enough to move out on your own or take skate trips with friends, do it. Meet new friends; go to parties; skate new spots. Just be friendly and donʼt take skating too seriously. If you pursue involving yourself in the skate industry, take a mellow approach so you donʼt end up with a negative outlook on skating in the end.
Instagram, am I right? Making us work twice as hard. Whatʼs it like balancing video part versus creating viral content for the ‘gram?
I think it all depends on what you’re skating and how you’re feeling that day. Most of the skate clips I post on Instagram are when Iʼm warming up at a spot Iʼm skating, at a skatepark or out skating with friends organically and we didnʼt bring a camera out for the day. Sometimes Iʼm at a spot and know I can do a trick that will look cool, but wouldnʼt save the clip for a video part. Thatʼs usually something I would film for Instagram. Other times Iʼll go to a more gnarly spot and know that Iʼll be too intimidated or too sore to film a trick there just for Instagram. It all depends on how hyped I will be if I land said trick at said spot. If I know itʼs gonna take me a long time to land—possibly several trips back—and will be an epic clip, I will go with a homie that has a legitimate camera and save the clip for a video part.
Nollie heel, def. not for the ‘gram
Do you think kids still value video parts?
I think a lot of kids still do, especially the ones who are old enough to remember watching full-length skate videos before Instagram was a thing. Thereʼs something that will always be more nostalgic about watching a full video part that someone put months or even years of work into. Itʼs cooler to watch all of that person’s footage compiled together. It helps show the skateboarder’s diversity and range of talent better than seeing the person skate on Instagram.
When youʼre filming for a video part, how does that work? Do you have a vision of tricks you want to do or are you shooting from the hip, stacking clips and landing tricks?
Itʼs a bit of both. I know the tricks that I can do well and will try to find spots that I can do those tricks at. Recently, Iʼve been making lists of spots I want to skate and possible tricks I can do at the spot. But I usually donʼt end up doing half the tricks I have in mind on those lists. I get more excited to try a trick at a spot that Iʼve never been to or just randomly end up at. I personally feel more accomplished when I get a trick I didnʼt expect to do that day.
Thats sick. I remember in this part you did a half Cab crook to backside noseblunt. That was a random one. I had never seen you do that before. Did you get all the tricks you wanted for this part or was their anything that got away?
Iʼve never filmed a video part that I was 100 percent content with. Thereʼs always tricks that get away and tricks you can do but didnʼt find the right spot to do it at. I got robbed on a couple tricks, though. I almost did a nollie over this handrail into a bank that I would have been psyched on. The cops rolled into the school as I was trying it and everyone I was with was telling me it was my last try. I popped the nollie over the rail and almost fully committed but jumped off my board at the last possible second and tumbled down this steep bank. Somehow I didnʼt get as smoked as I thought I would. Then the cops kicked us out. Also, I got robbed on a trick I tried at the Pier 7 manual pad two separate times. I always want to get some random tricks Iʼve never done or thought of before in my video parts.
Itʼs easier said than done, but if I get one or two new ones then Iʼm psyched. I suck at learning new tricks.
Half Cab crooks between a rail and a hard place. Nobody said being pro was gonna be easy!
Seems like you were on the road quite a bit for this video part. What was your favorite place to skate while filming for this part?
I really enjoyed being in Europe. I know thatʼs a broad area, but skating outside of the United States introduced me to different forms of architecture that are amazing for skateboarding—Barcelona, especially. Iʼve skated a lot of spots in that city that seemed too perfect to not be built with skateboarding in mind. I really enjoyed Lyon, France as well. We were only there for a few days but it was a truly beautiful place.
I was more of a Dijon fan myself—mustard as far as the eye can see. On the travel topic, where was the worst place we stayed and where was the best?
Most of our AirBNBs have been dope. We definitely had a hectic situation going in New Orleans—classic situation of showing up with a pretty big crew and there was definitely not enough space for us all to sleep. But we somehow made it work. Lot of homies slept on the floor, but thatʼs a small price to pay for being in that city. I love New Orleans. I think the coolest spot we have stayed at would be in Barcelona, though. We had a really cool space, in a good area, with some ill balconies to hang out on.
I notice you do a lot of tricks twice or sometimes more than that, like that switch flip manny switch flip at three up three down. Whats your reasoning for that?
I just want the clip to look good in my own eyes. If I know I can make it look better and itʼs not a super scary spot to skate, then I will most likely try it again. I donʼt want to look like a robot in the footage, but I also donʼt want to look sloppy. I just want to be genuinely proud of each clip.
Don’t walk, fly! Switch frontside flip over a street stretch
If you could travel anywhere to skate, where would you go?
Pretty much anywhere I havenʼt been before—Portugal, Australia and Montreal to name a few.
Am I coming?
Sick. How is it different filming in SF versus anywhere else?
I like filming in SF a lot. I think the spots here are more visually appealing than spots in other cities in California that I have been to. The spots arenʼt easy to skate, though; theyʼre more intimidating and rough. SF has also seen a lot of heavy skating over the years so itʼs hard to keep up and produce footage that will stand the test of time. All of this makes it even more rewarding when you film a trick out here.
Was it hard to adapt from flat-ass Chicago to the double-black-diamond hills of SF?
For sure. Iʼm not gonna act like Iʼm a gnarly hill bomber, though, ‘cause Iʼm not. Iʼm still learning the ways of the hills. I go bombing around with friends pretty often, though, and Iʼm slowly getting more comfortable with it. Itʼs a whole new side of skating that I didnʼt experience until I came out here for the first time and I think itʼs really fun.
Settin’ sail on a back tail, Braun goes the distance
Whoʼs doing it for you in SF these days, skater-wise?
My friends get me psyched. Jereme Knibbs rips. Iʼve been skating with Jack Curtin pretty often. His switch skating is so impressive. Chico gets me hyped. Heʼs still out skating almost every day. I think it goes without saying that the GX dudes have been on a tear out here. Eddie Cernicky and Matt Finley are incredible. Chris Athans has an amazing part in that new Deep Fried video. That manual wallride was so damn cool. Dela has always been one of my favorites. And Drake Johnson, Adam Taylor, Cody Lucas, Charles Lamb, Roger Krebs and Alex Conn to name a few more.
Who inspires you today to hit the streets and get these tricks?
My homies that I skate with who are super motivated: Jack Curtin, Frankie Spears, Brendan Bill, Knibbs, Santa Cruz homies too—Henry Gartland, Winkowski, Fabiana Delfino, Dressen, Asta, and Dylan Williams. Also people Iʼve never met but who I love watching footage of—Gilbert Crockett, Nick Boserio, Wes Kremer and Bobby de Keyzer. The list is practically endless but those are some dudes that Iʼve been psyched on lately.
Lui said it best in your Heads interview—are you still on some “skate forever kind of shit”?
Trying. Ha! I started doing yoga pretty often and joined a gym. Iʼve been swimming and using the sauna.
What is your routine now?
I recently got a percussion massager, like a Theragun. I use that before and after I skate so I donʼt get super sore. I do yoga once or twice a week, stretching at home. I also recently started doing some at-home exercises for my core.
Does it really help or is it a placebo?
It all helps.
Kevin’s My War! feeble from the Nov. issue of the mag—victory in Barcy!
When’s the next Pyramid Country video? Those dudes always make some trippy shit!
Iʼm not sure. I think Jackson is working on another full-length video. Theyʼre also doing a trip to Florida in November. Thatʼs going to be a trip edit. They stay on it.
I feel like if you ride for them you gotta smoke weed and eat mushrooms. True or false?
False, I do neither. But Iʼm one of few.
Have you ever eaten mushrooms?
Nope, maybe one day.
Whats next for Kevin Braun?
Iʼm currently in physical therapy because I have patellar tendinitis. Iʼve been focusing on healing that and taking a small break from skating in the meantime. When Iʼm back to skating itʼs gonna be more trips and filming for whatever video project is next. Probably a Thrasher part?
Bodacious boardslide by brother Braun. Heal up and keep the footy flowin’! Photo: Zaslavsky
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