Tyler Surrey Interview

Surrey Intro 750pxPhoto: Darwen

Tons of skaters from the US flock to Barcelona every year to pillage its plentiful spots, hit the beach, explore the culinary landscape and party their buns off. However, most go back home at some point. Tyler Surrey decided not to leave. The made man from San Diego researched travel visas and found a way to stay in Spain—indefinitely. We caught up with him when he was back in SD to get the scoop on skate hostels, his sour situation, focusing teammates boards and why you’re not gonna catch him at MACBA. Hey, Spain, sorry we sent part of our Mafia out there, but it looks like it’s gonna work out just fine.

Where did it all begin? Where did you start out your life?
I shouldn’t do this but I was born in LA. I moved to San Diego before I was one. That part of my life has been blacked out. I was blacked out.

Surrey 1 750pxMACBA’s nice, but Surrey keeps it in the Barcy cuts. Kickflip shifty, heavy texture     Photo: Riera

That’s alright. I wasn’t born in Day-go either. I just showed up when I was one. So you moved to San Diego. Good times?
Good times. Grew up in San Diego, for sure. Classic middle-class-suburban-neighborhood childhood.

Where are you living now?
Been in Barcelona for almost three years now. Time is definitely going by fast out there.

Surrey PQ 1 750px
Time gone.
Yeah, time goes. I thought it was the weed and the hash but I stopped smoking and it still goes by just as fast. Each day goes faster. It’s crazy.

How was your first apartment in Barcelona, the first official one?
When I moved out there with Sk8Mafia and JSLV—love you guys, Preebz and Dan—they told me they would help me out with the rent to have extra space when the team dudes would come to town. On paper it sounded like a great idea. So I got a three-bedroom spot, in charge of it and stuff. Next thing you know it turned into an international skate hostel with hella different groups of people coming in. Maybe a couple of days to a week in between two-to-six people coming in for about a year-and-a-half straight.

Who were some notable guests?
The first crew that came through when I first moved into this house, before I had beds for anyone, was the Habitat crew—Marius, Brennan, Silas and a few other guys.

Surrey 1.5 750pxGetting brave in the land of the free, front crooks pop over back home     Photo: Darwen

That was the first couple weeks at the spot?
That was two weeks after I moved in. They came to town and were, like, “Okay, cool. Show us around. You’re our tour guide.” I was, like, “I’m still on a trip, too. I just moved here. I don’t know where to go.” So I was on the trip with them. That was the cool thing—everyone came to town with a clean-trip mentality. It put me in the same mindset. I just kept reliving the trip even though I was the one staying there. Next thing you know I’m still living here and a couple years have passed.

What was the process of moving out to Spain? You got a visa?
Yeah, I was set on going out there, 100-percent set on doing it. I was going to try and fake a work visa through HLC, the distribution out in Spain for Sk8Mafia. They were going to fake hire me. I started looking into the process and the work visa is six-to-eight months for the whole process to go through. I started researching different types of visas and I came across a visa that was called a non-lucrative residence visa. Pretty much entails that if you make enough money, regardless of where you live and you can prove it on paper, you can apply for this type of visa in Spain. You’re not allowed to work there but you show them you can live there without local employment. I applied for that; I researched it all myself; I didn’t get a lawyer or anything. It took about two months to get all of the paperwork ready and I made an appointment at the embassy, turned it all in. They approved me first try. I ended up buying a one-way ticket out there.

Surrey 2 750pxWallride nollie to mute? Raunchy!     Photo: Riera

So if you’re thinking about living abroad, anything is possible!
For sure. Do the research. It’s funny because it coincided with Trump getting elected and getting my one-way ticket out of here. I was like, Get me out of here before this whole shit storm goes up in flames.

So you came back. You came back to Day-go. What brings you back?
This time I came back to do some filming with the New Balance guys, with Russell Houghten aka Raunchy.

How’s it having Raunchy on New Balance trips?
It’s amazing. It’s crazy because it’s come full circle. We grew up skating with him in San Diego. That was the natural posse. It’s funny, when I first got on New Balance I was talking to Sebastian Palmer and he was telling me all of the potential people that were going to be a part of the program and he says, “We got this filmer Russell Houghten.” I was like, “Raunchy?!” I was so stoked after not seeing him for eight years and now going on trips together.

When are you going back to Barcy?
This is a short trip. I’m only here for 11 days, then going back home. Go back to my new home.

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Straight back to MACBA?
Definitely not. I respect the environment there and what people do, but it just doesn’t fit me. There’s too much in Barcelona to explore, skate, enjoy and film. Why get stuck at the vortex MACBA?

You ever got jacked at MACBA? I’ve gotten jacked there.
Really?

Yeah, for sure! I just left my ciggys, tree and my disposal camera. They just swooped the ciggys and tree. Disposey chillin’. That was a blessing. What about you?
That’s definitely a bummer. But in comparison to me, small potatoes, my friend. I had a new iPhone and my wallet stolen. It was the only few things they took from my backpack. We were on the backside of MACBA aka BACBA. There were probably 15 homies sitting on the ground. My backpack was probably two feet from them and I was about 15 feet away skating flat. It was with all the Sour dudes from Sweden. This dude was yelling from the other side because he saw the dude stealing stuff. No one really paid attention to him. The Swedish kind of keep to themselves so they didn’t pay any attention to this guy. He’s trying to warn them that the guy was stealing my shit, but by the time I caught onto it and two minutes had passed he was out of there. New iPhone and wallet gone. I tried to find him but I couldn’t. That’s another thing that sucks about MACBA—you have to keep your shit on you. You can’t even keep it next to you.

Surrey 3 750pxAs lonely as a Swede, long backside NBS     Photo: Riera

Who have you been skating with out there?
Pretty much skating with the Sour dudes every day. We meet up at the Sour office because it has a central location next to all of our houses. It’s pretty much the clubhouse.

When are you getting on Sour?
I’ve already been on, like, five times and off the next morning.

Damn, when’s the pro model coming out?
There’s been some talk but it’s definitely just talk.

So I heard you just found a new apartment.
Yeah, it’s kind of a gnarly process to find a place. If you don’t live there you have to deal with agencies. You can’t really deal straight through the owners. Me and Gustav Tønnesen were looking for a spot because he had to leave his house and my old studio got infested with cockroaches to the point where I could not put up with it anymore. It was fucking gnarly. I decided to join forces with him and find a place. We seriously looked every day for a month and we finally found a spot. It finally worked out.

Livin’ with the Goose.
Yeah, I met him in Norway about ten-or-11 years ago on a Vox trip. He was skating for Vox Norway so he came and met up with us, blowing everyone’s minds even back then. The first session he came with us he kickflipped front feebled an eight-stair rail when no one was doing anything like that back then, at least nothing I’d seen. He definitely made an impression.

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So why did you break his board?
I was inebriated but I probably wouldn’t have broken it if I knew it was his board. I’ll set the scene: we were at the bar—drinks are very expensive but that didn’t stop us. Me and Gravette were going pretty heavy. We were pretty young still, naive, taking beers down one after another. We got to the point where inhibitions were low and teen testosterone was running high. Gravette had the brilliant idea of, Let’s grab some boards and focus them. So he grabbed a random board, snapped that shit. I grabbed the closest board to me and just snapped that shit. Next thing you know, I’ve focused Goose’s board. I felt so bad the next day when I realized it was his board. It took me about six years to apologize when we ran into each other when Sweet came to San Diego for a trip. We met up and I tried to give him a peace offering, a Sk8Mafia deck. “I feel bad I broke your board a long time ago.” I told him. He said, “You don’t remember? You let me break your board that night.” I guess we were even the whole time and I didn’t even remember!

He’s not sour about it.
He’s on Sour but he’s not sour.

So is your new spot going to turn into another hostel?
No, this time we’re keeping it a little more low pro. Nobody reading this is going to find out where we live.

Surrey 4 750pxNollie flip front board. Sorry, Goose     Photo: Rhino

Can I crash?
Yeah, you can crash. It’s going to be mellow but people are for sure welcome.

Respect.
Respectful people are welcome.

What’s up with the Melodica?
That thing’s been collecting dust.

Dustington.
That thing’s just been sitting on the shelf. I was super stoked when I got it because I was learning piano and the Melodica is the more practical way to take a piano around.

What else have you been playing?
Me and Nisse Ingemarsson started a band recently. You can only skate so much each day. It’s good to balance it out with other activities. We would always just have some beers and it would lead to band talk. It was his birthday and I told him I used to play the drums and that I knew he killed the guitar. I got kinda drunk and I gave him a handshake and fully promised him I’d buy a drum set and that we’re doing this. Next day I realized what I did. I’m a man of my word so I really tried to get a drum set. Having a drum set in Barcelona is not the best idea because all of the houses are so close together. You’re definitely going to get kicked out of the city, or at least get a ticket or two. We found a compromise—a music studio. We rent it hourly and we jam there. He has a bunch of music ideas and he structures it. I just figure out a background beat to go with it. We kind of made a band.

No way! You have a band?
Me and Nisse, yeah.

You have a name for your band?
Our band name is Skurki and the Leather Jackets. That’s the best name we have right now.

Surrey PQ 4 750px
You must know Skurki! Who’s Skurki?
Skurki is the mystical Finnish manly creature that wears a leather jacket, smokes beers and drinks cigarettes. Everyone knows him but no one’s ever seen him. That’s Skurki in a nutshell.

Surrey 5Making waves at Besós with a rowdy switch bigflip. Besós means “kiss” but maybe not in Barcelona     Sequence: Riera

I know Skurki. So yeah, what’s cracking with the future? Any plans?
No plans on the horizon right now. Clean slate. Just been trying to shoot photos for this Thrasher thing. Filming the VX part to go along with it. Been filming that with Gustav and Simon Isaksson aka the Loop Man. Simon was staying at the first apartment/hostel for a little while.

How was that?
It was sick. He’s brilliant. The most out-of-the-box thinker I’ve ever met.

Surrey PQ 5 750px
Were you there for the loop?
I was there for the loop. He tried it five-or-six times the first time. I was looking out for cops the first time. The second time we were hanging out and getting food at the bar right next to it. He tried it all day that time. Out of nowhere he just got it. This is how cool Spain is—even the bartender was coming out and watching as much as he could in between serving people. He was really stoked; he was so into it. He saw the determination in Simon’s gestures and eyes. He was so stoked for him after he pulled it that he gave him a free gin and tonic right there. Simon came over to the patio after pullin’ it and he just served him a drink.

What a goddamn legend. So he witnessed the loop, too?
He missed the make but we watched all the tries. He was so pissed that he missed it. But we showed him the footy.

Surrey 6 750pxSkurki unleashed with a windowsill Smith. Smoke more beer!     Photo: Riera

I would have loved to witness that.
That was crazy, for sure. Pretty weird you find a spot like that at a plaza. Only in Barcelona, right?

That reminds me of a mini-golf loop.
Exactly. He just turned himself into a golf ball.

Sounds about right. Any last shout outs, you goddamn legend?
Fuck, dude. Shout out to you for being my good mate for over half of my life. You and the Govs. Let’s keep it going forever. Shout out to Sebastian for helping me out at New Balance Numeric. Definitely givin’ this old man a second chance and hyping the future. Sk8Mafia for always being there and unifying skateboarding, worldwide. Anyone that’s down for skating, you’re definitely spreading positive energy, keeping up the hype and everything going in the right direction.

Unification of skateboarders through skateboarding.
That’s it.

Surrey 7 750pxSwitch kickflip, super smooth from SD to BCN. Sk8mafia hand sign here      Photo: Riera
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