December 10th // Interviewer: Shane Allen // Skate
f you don't know him by The Muska, Chad is one of the most widely celebrated skateboarders of all time, a real enigma.
Known not only for going bigger than most on a skateboard, but making a bigger impact on popular culture as well. Maska started Shorty's skateboards, Jay-Z has worn Muska's Skytop shoes, he's spent plenty of time partying in Hollywood with Paris Hilton and he was probably the most popular character in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.
From his skating, style, designing, music, art, there's not much the Muska cant do. He exceeds at anything he does and he's not afraid to do it. There's no limits that you can put on a creative mind. In this interview we see what Muska's been up to during quarantine, re-started up Shorty's and getting inducted into the Skateboard Hall of Fame.
Muska, what up man.
So how has this year been for you?
This year has been a pretty interesting little ride. Much like the rest of the world, in their own way in some shape or form I’ve been going through I guess what everybody else is going through with the world and kind of figuring out what the heck is going on.
Three months ago, I started doing some home renovation stuff. I started building this concrete retaining wall at my house. As everybody was kind of focused on all this chaos and everything was happening around the world, I felt that I just honed in and started building this wall that I wanted to build. It's kind of connected to my artwork, concrete and different things, It just became this project that I just super focused in on and throughout the building process of it,
I was kind of thinking of a bigger picture of what am I going to do right now, so I started setting up a home studio, more of a home office set up within my house. And that led to me building my own direct to consumer platform, reconnecting with the brand Shorty’s that I helped launch in the 90's. It led to this whole explosion of business focus in a weird way.
The boards you just re-released got a lot of love for sure. People were genuinely stoked.
Yeah, that was crazy, it's still kind of an ongoing thing because we're not able to keep up with the demands right now. And in general there's a shortage in production for many things in the world right now. Everybody's having trouble keeping up with the global demand as the popularity of skateboarding has grown. There were some effects on the manufacturing plants, themselves, the COVID restrictions and having to re-design and configure the factories. It was funny that like, people are almost upset now we were trying to do something good,
We didn't want it to become like that, you know, but it's so cool to see that something the company did coming back, All the team riders, everybody that was a part of Shorty’s that made it what it was, It's cool to see that it meant so much to so many people around the world. To still feel that love to this day, I feel like I'm just getting a pro model for the first time. I'm so grateful.
So goin back in time, how’d you get into skating and graffiti?
It's so weird when you become old and something's been in your life for so long. It's almost hard to remember how you became what you are. But I just remember my earliest memories of graffiti. I lived on the east coast and I remember riding the school bus on the freeways and seeing graffiti off the freeway, just staring at it and say, “Whoa” All the colors and the characters just really interested me. Skateboarding was introduced to me at a similar time where my dad had sent me a skateboard, it was just like a generic one, and that was my first interaction with it.
What about it was so compelling?
"Skateboarding offered a challenge to me in my life, both mental and physical. Things were rough in my life at that time, things weren't always perfect in my home. It was an escape, a challenge that I could tune in and feel good about something that I did. It wasn't dependent upon anybody else."
Also the culture of skateboarding and the people, seeing skate jams with all this music, the way that skaters dressed, seeing punk rock bands perform, or hip hop DJs and graffiti. All these things that were involved with skateboarding and the culture surrounding it, It was the coolest thing in the world to me, I'd never seen anything else like it.
Given that your life wasn't the most comfortable, things were constantly changing in your life. Did you look to skating as a form of stability?
I think my skateboard is the one thing that never left me, the thing that I always had there. So it was definitely a source of stability. But I think more than anything it was a way to escape. Just to have something that gives you freedom. That moment once you're on that skateboard and you're rolling down the street, or you're focusing on a trick, everything else stops there, the rest of the world ceases to exist when you're in that zone of skateboarding.
That was always something that was really special to me about it. I like to envision things, imagine and dream up different ideas and skateboarding was one of those things where I felt like I was dreaming and imagining something, but it was actually happening in physical reality landing and learning these tricks, bending gravity kind of.
I think you can experience that feeling with anything but I found that unique experience through skateboarding. It’s like a form of martial arts or dance or expression, all those things in one.
I kind of look at skateboarding the same way. like a form of dance or a performance, It's how you move and use your body to make something look beautiful.
It sort of is performance art when you; look at it. Someone can do a kickflip and you don’t pay it any mind because you’ve seen it before. But every once in a while, one person will do a kickflip. And you go, “Oh my gosh, look at that, it's a work of art”
The same thing with dancing, a person can dance in a particular way and it looks cool. And then you see somebody else do it and it moves you, In that sense, it has to be, Certain art moves people in different ways, that's what skateboarding does too.
I like that idea that skating was an outlet to be able to make your imagination come to life. Sort of like what Marc Johnson said in Modus Operandi, something along the lines of “I know If I can think of it, and put enough time and energy into, I can make it happen”