Tyshawn Jones Interview
The first time I met Tyshawn Jones, I was 18 years old and had just gotten my first apartment. I walked into Supreme LA and my friend Jeff introduced us. He said, “Hey, this is Tyshawn. He’ll be staying at your place for a few weeks.” I thought I was going to be babysitting a 13-year-old kid from the Bronx, but instead I experienced one of the most interesting summers of my life, filled with incredible skating and getting to know this child that was given to me. After a few days of being with him nonstop, I realized Tyshawn is one of the most interesting characters I’d ever met—he’s extremely energetic but very reserved at the same time. Although I will never fully understand what is going on in his head, I know he is someone I can rely on, as he makes sure everyone around him is taken care of. Time went on and he went from a being a little shrimp to becoming this grown-ass man, eight inches taller than me, with his own apartment and restaurant. Watching Tyshawn blossom into this jumbo shrimp has been an incredible journey and I’m excited to see what comes next. —Lui Elliott
Lui: You’re 19. You have all this crazy shit happening to you right now but it feels like you finally grew up.
William: You’re not the same little shrimp. Well, mentally you’re the same, but physically you’re way older. You’re hanging out with girls now. You can’t be the same rascal you were before.
That’s a fact.
L: Do you think you stopped doing all that hoodrat shit when you finally started hanging out with girls?
Nah, definitely not.
W: He’s definitely still got that shit built in. It’s like a superpower. If he needs to use that shit, he’ll do it. He’s got that wall that’ll hold him back if he needs to.
It’s just how I feel. If I’m feeling crazy, Ima do some crazy shit but half the time I’m not. I’m calmer now.
L: How do you have so much self-control?
I don’t know. I’m stern. I have rules. I just never did anything such as drugs or drinking. It was never my thing.
W: TJ will be at a party but he’s just kicking in the corner with some fruit punch. It’s not like he’s the center of attention. He’s more observant of everything.
L: Around a bunch of strangers, you seem more kept to yourself but you like to be at the center of attention when you’re with your boys. Why is that?
When I’m around people I don’t really know, I don’t talk like that. But I don’t not talk, I’m just not out there like that. I’m gonna be regular, just mellow. But I feel like it can get kind of weird when people meet me because they see me on the Internet, laughing, joking, just being crazy. When they meet me, I’m very calm so they think, What the fuck? Is he mean or something? It’s not that, I haven’t fully warmed up to you yet. I have a shell. I have to feel you out first. I guess I’m weird like that. I don’t fake conversation.
L: To someone who doesn’t know you, they might think that you’re very cocky but I think you’re just very confident. Where does all of your confidence come from?
I don’t know. I’ve always been very confident with everything I do. Nobody can tell me I can’t do something. I just tell them to watch. I feel like a lot of people don’t have the confidence to say or do shit like that. A lot of skateboarders are very shy. If you know me, I’m blunt but I joke around and talk shit with all of my friends. It’s not that I’m the shy type. If I don’t know you, I’m not going to be wild with you right away. They might think that I don’t like them or that I’m being too cool.
It’s not like that at all. I’m mellow at first but if I really like a person then I’ll get wild around them.
Fakie ollie with a frontside drift. Tyshawn is Blessed, not stressed Photo: Mehring
W: Next thing they know, they’ll be getting drenched by you later that night. Most of the time when anyone goes out skating, they’ll have their skate buddies out on the session with them. It’s mad funny when we go out with you. You have a herd of dudes that don’t even skate that show up to the spot. I think it’s interesting that they roll up just to kick it and hype you up. How do you feel about having a situation like that? I feel like it’s so New York.
It’s cool to me. I never really think about it like that. A lot of my friends don’t skate but they hit me up, asking me where I’m at. I’ll tell them that I’m out skating and they want to do some other shit, like jet-skiing or whatever. I’ll let ’em know that I have to try a trick real quick and to pull up. They’ll come to the spot and skate with me for a minute. They’ll get security out of the way or help me with whatever I need so I can land my trick. I’ll try it, whether I land it or not—we’ll hang out after. It’s funny as hell. They don’t skate at all. They don’t even have skateboards.
W: Everyone shows up and it’s almost like an event for them. They’re there every single time—6 am, be there. They don’t even skate and they’re down for the cause. You’re their boy.
My security team.
L: It’s a full-on security team. Like that day you landed the backside flip on the bump to bar in the Heights, they pulled up. How long were you trying that for?
Something like two years. I tried it probably 10-to-12 sessions in total.
L: It had to be more than that. I went there, like, a week straight with you.
Nah, it was just over the span of two years. At first, I would try it once every three months. We always planned to go to it and would go up to the Heights but never make it to the spot. I went back for the first time after about a year and stuck it that day. I could not roll away, though, until about eight trips after.
W: Dude, it was me and Jared Sherbert, renting cars to go up there, five or six days in a row. We wanted you to get it so bad. Funny enough, the one you landed wasn’t even with me and Sherbert. The only time we didn’t go, it was Johnny and Atiba.
Yeah, you couldn’t make it and Sherbert was on a trip.
With his security team back in New York, TJ fakie hardflips Pier 7 for the tourists Sequence: Zaslavsky
L: The day you landed, though, it was a battle and a half. What happened while you were trying it?
I was skating the spot, getting really close—I might’ve even stuck it and some big-ass 18-wheeler truck pulls up next to us. Out of nowhere, the door at the top of the bump to bar just swings open. I’ve never even seen that thing open before. The superintendent pops out and puts a brick in it to prop the door open. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on and tell him we’re just trying to skate this thing and get out of there. He tells us that they hired a trash company and had to take all of the trash out of the building. We look inside and there was something like 100 cases of empty bottles, cans and 200 trash bags. The trash company had two guys and they told us it was going to take about two or three hours for them to finish it. We were, like, ten deep so we were, like, Fuck it, we all gonna pitch in. Everyone took off they shirt and got busy. The company didn’t even do shit and we ended up doing the job in less than 30 minutes. They loaded the truck up and thanked us. We told them that we were going to have to bill them later for the extra hands. Anyway, they left and I had to warm up again, then started to get in the groove again. Out of nowhere I just did it. That was the hardest trick I’ve ever tried and we had to put in work just to make it skateable that day. It was the happiest day of my life.
L: How many outfits did you go through?
Something like eight pairs of jeans, ten hoodies, two bubble coats and my ass cheeks. The spot is so rough and grimy, it murdered me. There was a crack in the landing before, too. I didn’t want to Bondo it. I wanted to go through it but I just kept sticking it and landing in the crack. The time I finally Bondo’d it, I landed it.
New line at an old spot—Tyshawn takes out the trash at the New York County Supreme Courthouse. Coincidence? Ollie Photo: Mehring
W: I wanted to Bondo the thing before but you told me, “Nah, nah, I’m good.” It’s one of those things: it happens when you did the one thing you thought you didn’t need to.
L: My favorite part about that spot is that it’s basically the only one in New York. That hill is kind of fucked.
That street is always popping off, too. People walking up and down, throwing cookouts and shit.
W: The guys at the cookout noticed that he needed water and walked down the double set to deliver him some water, too.
They invited me to the cookout after. They told me if I wanted to get some food, they would feed me.
W: You haven’t seen anything besides your tricks or others that you’ve been on the session for. But you haven’t even seen your whole part put together. How do you feel it’s going to turn out?
I’m nervous as fuck. People heard that I got this or that. I know I got shit that I like but I hope that my part is good. I don’t want people to tell me they thought my shit was gonna be beast but it ends up being trash. I’m excited to see it, though.
Going up! Skywards nollie back heel. We got a feeling the part is gonna be good, TJ Sequence: Pires
L: Hey, Bill, why are you so gnarly about no one seeing any footage or how the final video turned out before the premiere?
W: Because I want it to be fresh. When it’s new and you don’t know anything, you’re going to get the most joy out of it. You’ll almost have the same feeling as some kid in Louisiana that has never hung out or been to any of the spots. They’re going to see it for the first time and the whole thing is going to be new to them. That’s the feeling I want to show. We’ve been on trips, seen what other people have gotten but Tyshawn doesn’t really know what Aidan has. It’s shit like that.
L: It seems like the guys don’t even see their own part put together until the premiere.
W: They don’t. They just have to trust me. It’s just the way it goes.
So if my part sucks, I’m blaming Bill Strobeck. Let that be known. Nah, I’m just playing.
L: TJ, what are the main differences between filming for this video as opposed to Cherry?
When I was filming for Cherry, I feel like I didn’t take it as serious. It wasn’t every day I was thinking about getting clips for this video. We were just skating. I was 13 at the time; I was just filming. I didn’t think it was serious until the end. They told us there was a deadline so I really started to film hard for it.
W: You were definitely about it, though. You hit me up every day asking me where I was at. I went out with you more than anyone else for that video. You didn’t feel like you had to take it seriously but there was a piece of you that wanted to show your best stuff.
I was just doing my thing. This one was more serious because it was one-on-one. Cherry was big groups of people, big pros. I was flow at the time so I knew I was going to be in it but I thought the stars were going to be Koston or Dylan. I thought I was just going to have a small section in it. I was on these sessions with 20 to 30 people at a time.
L: Do you prefer to skate on those big sessions or just solo missions with you and your buddies?
It depends who’s there and the day. Sometimes I just want to be alone and have Whokid or somebody come but other times I want to be 50 deep. It’s lit. We’re pushing through the streets just being wild. It really just depends.
You gotta clear the ledge before you take the plunge. Mr. Jones switch flips into the Washington Square Park fountain for a sea of onlookers Photo: Sherbert
W: What’s the deal with skating contests? You gonna try to get back in the groove of that?
I’m in the streets. I’m not much of a contest skater. The people there are too good. They can nollieflip back noseblunt first try. Everything else they can do is just every try. I’m bailing and looking dumb out there. Fuck that. I’d rather just skate the streets.
L: Do you think having hobbies and things to do outside of skating really brings more to the table for you? Does it translate back on the skateboard?
I think me doing all these other things outside of skating makes me like skating more. I feel like if I was just only skating every day, I would get bored of it. I wouldn’t want to do it anymore. Say I’m about to have all these puppies or open this restaurant and can’t skate for a couple of days, it makes me really appreciate skating way more. I don’t like being too skatey. No offense to these people, but I look at a lot of pages and it’s only about skateboarding. Damn, do you have fun doing anything else? It’s just clip, clip, clip. I’m just, like, What else do you do?
L: You do one thing that isn’t skating and someone says some wild out-of-pocket shit. What do you think about things like that?
Suck a dick.
W: Well, all of Instagram is like that.
If you do one thing differently, people love to have some shit to say. They find anything negative to say. When I posted my first photo of my restaurant, the sign company spelled restaurant wrong and every single comment is that it’s spelled wrong. Oh well, I’m gonna get it fixed, but they like to point out some negative shit.
L: Speaking of that, the company that did your sign spelled the same word wrong twice. They fixed it but somehow misspelled it again.
I didn’t even notice the first time that it was spelled wrong. I just had the photo sent to me and posted it immediately to hype it up. My phone had died for a while and when I finally charged it, I looked and everyone was commenting “restaurant*.” I’m really looking at the photo, trying to understand what they are talking about and I seen that it was spelled wrong. I call my mother and ask her what the fuck is going on. She told me that she knew and not to respond to it but I had to address it. They come back in a week or two later and they spelled it wrong again. They spelled it restautant or some crazy shit. My mom sent me the photo when they fixed it and I’m immediately, like, “Hell no.” I asked her to tell them to turn around and fix it again. They did and finally got it right. Niggas is crazy. How do you spell a sign wrong that many times but you’re supposed to be a professional restaurant sign-making company? What the hell? That’s supposed to be nothing to y’all.
Despite this spot being tall as hell with a Rustoleum run-up, Tyshawn’s nosegrind was nuthin’ but net Photo: Sherbert
L: You’re not even 21 and you’ve opened up a restaurant. How do you feel?
A lot of things don’t really hit me like that. It opened up and I just thought, Tight and kept it moving. That’s with everything. Even when I get a new shoe or anything. I’m grateful, I enjoy it to myself and I’ll post about it but I don’t dwell on it. I did that. What can I do next? I’m not gonna sit here and continue to hype myself up on something I already did. I already did it! I’m trying to accomplish something else.
W: Well, most people would. If I opened a restaurant, I’m going to talk about it for months.
My brain is already thinking about what I’m gonna do next.
L: Has there ever been a time where it has happened and you did dwell on something for a while?
Well, I think with everything, it doesn’t really hit me ’til later. I got on adidas and a year in I realized that I was on adidas. That’s a big company. Everything moves so fast that I don’t think about it until later on when I’m on the highway, in traffic and deep thought.
L: It kind of sounds like that you don’t stop and smell the flowers enough.
Yeah, in New York it’s fast-paced. If I lived in LA maybe I would be that type of person.
W: It keeps you on your feet here. Any trips that you went on for this video stick out to you?
Yeah, Berlin when I flew off that fucking bike.
Back lip? Nah, Cab back lip. Tyshawn’s taking this video project seriously Photo: Sherbert
L: You know what’s crazy about that clip? It went so viral that all of the motorcycle Instagram pages were posting it. It was even on the front page of Snapchat news.
People still tag or DM me about it. They want to buy it off of me. I’m trying to hit the Lotto off that shit. I was wheelie-ing that whole trip.
W: Fact: the first wheelie you did, you got pulled over by the cops.
I almost got arrested for wheelie-ing. I was getting better and better but that bike was weird. We were coming back from a spot, I had my headphones in; I was so hyped. I kept doing wheelies and Johnny kept filming them. The clips before that, I was doing them for mad long. If you watch the video, the reason I fell is because I started to wiggle the handlebars, just playing with it in the air. When I put it back down the bars weren’t straight so it just stopped and I flipped over the whole shit. Scratched my chest. I still got the scar.
L: The worst part about that whole thing, is that when you went down you weren’t even wearing a shirt.
I said I ate that in the video.
L: You did not eat that.
The bike was broke, for one. The wheel was bent. Everything was fucked up. The bike was completely done. Everybody left me and only Todd Jordan stayed behind. He knew that I didn’t know where I was going. I had to bike mad slow with him. My hip was on fire. I could not ride fast at all. He’s up the block but he’s going slow enough that I can still see him. Everything was hurting. I finally got back to the hotel and didn’t skate for a day or two after ’cause of that. It was honestly just my hip. I had a knot. I couldn’t really bend down. I was walking around fine, though. I still ate that but I ain’t finish the plate.
L: Back to the filming of this video, how did you deal with all of the pressure? Would you say it’s not something that really bothers you?
I maybe felt a little pressure at the end, but through the first year and a half I was just skating and lollygagging—doing other shit. I’m just doing my thing. I’m not about to stress. If it works, it works. Everything that happens is meant to be.
Let’s see you trolls try to find something negative to say about this switch back heel. We’re waiting… Photo: Atiba
W: What was up with getting up at five or six in the morning? You were dragging me out of bed every morning for a month and a half straight.
Shit, we were just trying to skate spots early. No one would be out yet. We would be leaving when the whole city was sleep. No one was outside except crackheads and bums. People were thinking that we were getting mad clips but we were still getting kicked out. We would get to the spot, not a single person would be there and five minutes in, a security guard would just come out of nowhere. One time the spot was broken, another had construction, another time there was nobody at the spot but a cop just so happened to be driving by, pulled over and stopped just to kick us out.
W: I was getting hit up, people telling me that they were hyped we were out in the early morning getting clips but I had to write back to a few people to tell them that we were trying to skate stuff we can’t skate ever but still getting kicked out. I think only a couple of times we got something out of the 25 times we went out that early.
To me, I felt all fucked up, getting up that early.
W: Because you had to get up so early just to skate?
L: No! He would be up until 3 am playing fucking video games, even though he had to get up to skate at 5.
Yeah, I wouldn’t even go home at that point. I was going to my friend Troy’s house. He lived in the city and I didn’t want to have to drive from the Bronx. Go to his house, play video games, watch Power or something. We was staying up till three in the morning, have to get up at 5:30. It was two hours of sleep. Right up, trying to wake up your body, it would take a minute.
L: There was even that one time when Bill was walking out of his house and ran into some of our homies just getting back from partying.
W: I was walking out of the house and there were people getting ready to go to bed from partying that last night. Some of them ended up just coming with us to the spot to watch TJ try a trick—like Brengar and Dom. What are you excited to see from this video?
I want to see all the music used for the video, what everyone else got and go on this premiere tour.
W: Our attitude towards filming for this video went from Yeah, whatever, to full-on setting fire to puddles at spots. We tried to pull a Ty Evans.
L: Where do you think I got that idea from? You want to tell the story, TJ?
Nah, I wanna hear what your side of the story sounds like.
Two years later, Tyshawn rolls away from the hardest backside flip of his life—no shame in the Bondo game. Tyshawn’s takeover starts now Photo: Atiba
L: We got to that green rail that Dylan switched flipped over and you wanted to try to back tail it. You extended your trip by a day so you could get the trick but it ended up raining that day. It stopped in the morning but the ground was still wet when we got there. You told me that you really wanted to do the trick so I wanted to make it happen. We all walked over to the gas station, bought a gallon of water, emptied it and filled it up with gasoline. We walked back over and there was just puddles and shit everywhere. We brushed it out a little bit and I poured gasoline everywhere then lit it on fire.
W: It shot up over my head!
It burned your eyelashes off.
W: On Beverly and Vermont.
An ambulance pulled up, looked around and saw no one there. They were confused then just left. Then a cop and firetruck pull up. You left the gas right next to the spot, picked it up, walked off with it then threw it away. We didn’t even get to try it that day. You made the spot too hot.
L: What’s next for Tyshawn Jones?
Another part. I’m going on vacation but I want to film another part. I’m gonna be ahead of the game this time.
W: Any last words?
Blessed is on the way. It’s time for the takeover.
While the homie Fat Eric blocks the tunnel, Tyshawn Jones dodges taxis, spikes and paparazzi to blast this unheard-of ollie in Midtown Manhattan. Blessed, be! Photo: Sherbert
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