Interview by Jacob Sawyer / Portrait By Fanny Usher
Our ‘Isolation Station’ series, prompted by Covid-19 prevention measures, closed with John Cardiel’s recommendations a few weeks back. Encouraged by positive responses, the enjoyment of broadening our own horizons (and as the world slowly readjusts) we’re keeping the format rolling under a new moniker: ‘Offerings’. New sources of inspiration will continue to be passed on to keep the positivity flowing while also giving us a reason to check in with people we haven’t heard from for a while.
First up is Casper Brooker, one of Southbank’s favourite sons, keeping the The Undercoft’s folklore fresh, and whose recent clip there has been on loop in the hands of many. We checked in with Casper for a skate video, album, film and book recommendation however Casper shared a lot more than just that. As always, it was a pleasure catching up. His video recommendation and the time period he discussed brought back memories of his early trips to town, chomping sweets in Slam after a morning at Southbank and just before a day in the city. It’s amazing to see where he is at now, inspiring new generations who are doing the same thing. Enjoy some insights from Isle’s powerhouse.
Baker 3 – Baker Skateboards (2005)
What made you pick this video, is it an all time favourite?
Yeah Baker 3 is definitely a favourite. I used to watch it religiously when I first downloaded it. I’d get back from school when I was like 12, watch it three times on repeat and then go and skate outside or go and skate Skaterham. It was a pretty big influence when I was growing up.
During the whole of lockdown I’ve been watching a lot of skating because I can get Youtube on my TV so I could just let it go on a bit of a loop. I ended up watching Baker 3 the whole way through which I hadn’t done for a very long time and remembered how amazing it is. I guess Andrew Reynolds edited it right?
Yeah, he did.
I like how it’s not this pristine edit, it’s all pretty funny and everyone looks amazing in it. It’s just a really iconic skate video. The level [of skating] and the music is insane. It came out fifteen years ago and it’s still sick. There’s stuff in there that’s on par with skating today.
Reynolds said his editing style was heavily influenced by Welcome To Hell. He said he wanted to use Jamie Thomas techniques to make everyone look good, like superheroes basically.
I never knew that. Well he did that 100 percent, it’s so cool. I guess Baker at that time was quite rock star-esque and he definitely fulfilled that.
What was happening in your life when you started watching this? When did you get on Heroin?
I got on Heroin when I was like 14 and I was still heavily influenced by it. I was buying Emerica shoes and putting Emerica stickers on my board because of all the Baker guys. When I first got it I was wearing skin tight jeans, Reynolds shoes and cutting holes in my jeans so I looked like Ali Boulala or Spanky.
So it fully influenced your life?
Fully. I was writing ‘Baker’ on the back of my school bag and drawing the Piss Drunx logo even though I didn’t understand what it was, the Piss Drunx is still a password for a bunch of my shit.
Was there a part that you rinsed the most?
It would always switch up. At first it was Reynolds, then I got really into [Erik] Ellington – I think his part probably got session the most actually – then I really got into Spanky and Bryan Herman. It would chop and change. I can kind of pinpoint each stage of mine by which part I was watching.
I can kind of pinpoint each stage of mine by which part I was watching
I mean, I learnt kickflips, frontside flips and would skate gaps. That was all I did for years specifically because of that video and those skaters. Also – not so much now, because I try not to look like so much of a bellend as I did when I was a kid – but the fashion in it was so influential. I guess that carries on throughout your whole life, subtle things whether it’s spray painting shoes or colouring in the sole. It still crops up, there are a few things now I choose to wear something and I think, “Sick, I’m going to look like Andrew Reynolds in this video” or I’m going emulate something. It had a pretty drastic impact on my life.
Is it your favourite Reynolds part?
You know what I’m going to have to say it’s his Stay Gold part. Because even though you could say it’s cheesy, I like that you can see how much effort went into it and how much he poured his heart into that, it’s the dedication. The song [‘Om Nashi Me’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros] isn’t really my forte but I did watch that one a lot. Seeing the result of how much effort he put in was inspiring.
He has such a powerful formula which he has mastered. It’s crafted, like in Baker 3 where there are hammers and then the trippy footage sets up the part.
When he was filming that Baker 3 part he filmed one night clip and didn’t want just one clip on it’s own so he filmed that whole section of night footage which is in the middle so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It’s all really well thought out. It’s cool isn’t it, it’s neeky, I love that shit.
What tricks from Baker 3 stand out?
Erik Ellington’s classic big spin down Carlsbad.
“Gonna get fucked up tonight!”
I remember I couldn’t backside bigspin when I was watching those videos, I couldn’t do it, I could only do a shove-it and then revert and I remember being so blown away by that.
Rewatching it I had forgotten the good stuff Braydon Szafranski has in there
He has got good stuff. It’s a short part and he skates to a really niche Sabbath song as well, which I like. His shifty flips are so impressive.
Dustin Dollin’s part is amazing.
That’s another part I forgot to mention, that was really influential to me. Another one of my favourite parts and he skates to Children Of Bodom. He kickflip back noseslides to fakie this handrail in China wearing a spider t-shirt. I was blown away by that. I watched that part recently and that trick in itself is just unbelievable on this massive circular handrail. He was like a style icon to me too.
I also enjoyed watching Jim Greco’s part again.
You know at the end where he does the switch frontside flip down Wilshire at the end and he’s wearing Kr3W cords and a Kr3w T-Shirt? Apparently he got so bummed out that he was dressed super boring and that’s when he started dressing like a pirate afterwards.
he got so bummed out that he was dressed super boring and that’s when he started dressing like a pirate afterwards
The Aftermath – Dystopia (1999)
Tell us about this album choice?
Sam Hughes put me onto this band about 3 years ago. They’re an old Oakland sludge/crust punk/doom metal mixture of a bunch of stuff. It’s pretty heavy, pretty hateful. I was listening to it a lot during lockdown. I can’t really explain why but you get a bit of an adrenaline kick after listening to the whole album. You’re all hyped up to go for a bike ride or something.
Does it fit in amongst what you would normally listen to?
Yeah I would say Dystopia are my favourite band. I listened to all their stuff, I made a playlist on Spotify and I would go onto Youtube and watch their old live shows and stuff. But particularly during lockdown I was sessioning this one particular album. It’s their second album and it’s definitely my favourite one. I had it on repeat, I’ve actually had to have a little break from it now after seasoning it too hard.
during lockdown I was sessioning this one particular album. It’s their second album and it’s definitely my favourite one
Is it one that gets you amped to skate?
Definitely. One of the rare times that I have headphones in while skating. It’s not very good but when it’s super busy at Southbank I am quite guilty of putting two headphones in and blocking out the busy-ness. Most of the time I will play Dystopia or similar music, it’s what gets me hyped, it works for me.
When you play something you’ve listened to a lot and know so well it can be kind of like a meditation aid.
Yeah it’s different for each person, but I like listening to really heavy stuff which can do a lot but I kind of zone out, like you said like meditation. It’s more of a feeling than taking in the lyrics. You’re going along with it and you could be really pissed off or really excited, it brings out a lot of emotions which I like.
Elements of revisiting a skate video which is embedded in your head is a similar feeling too.
One of the songs from this album was in the Lotties Skateshop Must be Stopped video right?
Yeah and one of the logos Mike Gigliotti uses for the shop is a reworking of Dystopia’s logo.
Another track is on Cash Money Vagrant.
Yeah would be. It’s kind of funny because they’re an old band that haven’t been together for a really long time who have had a bit of a resurgence. I wouldn’t say it’s niche now but I think people get a bit touchy about people using it in skate videos which I don’t really agree with. I understand why but also at the same time, it’s music and everyone is open to it.
Out of interest what is your favourite track usage in a skate video?
Probably Heath Kirchart’s Mind Field part where he skates to Speedway. It’s almost like that song was made for that part and how Greg Hunt made that work. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before or since. Maybe it’s just personal preference but I watched that part so much and I really like that song. But the chainsaw kicking in at the beginning and the sparks flying off when his name comes up, just holy shit, it’s next level. It’s almost like he already had the trick selection for each part of the song, perfect, it’s pretty amazing.
Do you have any music in the recesses of your brain you want to put something to?
You know what I don’t. I guess I’m quite spoiled in that Jake [Harris] is so good at editing to a song selection that it never really crosses my mind now. I trust him so much and his judgement that I can be brain dead and not really think about it. I’ve been slowing music down on YouTube recently and like the idea of that at the moment.
Dystopia next time round?
I would like that but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Mandy – (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
How would you describe this, as a horror film?
I don’t know what I would describe it as. The shock value is pretty priceless. I went over to my friend Big Man’s house once in the middle of winter. Me and a few others went over there for some dinner and he suggested we watch this film, Mandy. After the first ten minutes I was like “Turn this shit off”. But he said to give it a bit more time. The girl in it looks exactly like Hetty [Douglas] as well so I thought that was quite funny.
Obviously about half an hour in it starts kicking off and Nicholas Cage is running around screaming like he always is. It tweaked me out but I also found it funny and really interesting. The visuals in it are overwhelming. It’s hard to articulate why I like it so much. I watched it during lockdown and it tweaked me out a bit. My brother has been in Purley for the whole of lockdown so I was at home on my own. Trying to shut my door and getting a bit shook of those acid gimps coming to get me.
Obviously about half an hour in it starts kicking off and Nicholas Cage is running around screaming like he always is
Yeah those guys are gnarly. I can’t liken it to anything I’ve ever seen before, elements of it, obviously, but it’s unique. It’s like a fantasy novel horror meets Stranger Things on acid crossed with a metal album cover.
Yeah I couldn’t tell you another film that’s like that, so many different things and different influences merged into one isn’t it?
Nicholas cage smashes it, are you a fan anyway?
I’ve never been against him but Mandy made me a massive fan. What’s the film… Wild at Heart? I love that film. I’m down for Nicholas Cage.
The Black Skulls in Mandy and the Children of the New Dawn are terrifying. Cheers for that, couldn’t sleep for a couple of nights.
Yeah sorry man, I should have given you a bit more warning…
Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell (1933)
Why did this book make an impact on you?
I can openly say that at the beginning of lockdown I had a bit of a breakdown where I was super depressed and losing my mind a bit, after a year of up and downs being on my own really intensified a lot of feelings. I knew I needed to start reading and figure out things to help me get out of the slump and to try and distract myself a bit. I remember really enjoying Down and Out so much when I was younger that it seemed a good one to read and I’m so glad I did because it gave me a bit of perspective.
It’s an autobiographical book about when George Orwell was grafting in a kitchen in Paris. Working crazy hours, sleeping in the kitchen then later going to London and seeking places to sleep or “tramping” as the book refers to it. It gave me a kick up the arse and made me realise I’m very fortunate. I live in a flat in London, I’m healthy, I’ve got family. It put things into perspective for me. I’m glad I chose to re-read it during lockdown basically. It gave me a kickstart to try and switch my approach up.
Did you get a feel for how London was back then in the 20s?
Yeah, he’s a great writer so everything comes across and you can really visualise it from the perspective of how he was living. It’s pretty insane, you can picture it all. In the first half, where he’s in Paris, it’s a guy working in a kitchen but it’s so gripping and interesting. I just like that book. I don’t think it’s as celebrated as 1984 or Animal Farm but I think it should be.
he’s a great writer so everything comes across and you can really visualise it from the perspective of how he was living. It’s pretty insane, you can picture it all
It’s cool that Darius [Trabalza] chose 1984 in his Isolation Station and now you’re choosing this
Yeah I read his one. I don’t really like 1984 that much, I liked the first half of it then the rest of it isn’t for me. Whether it’s too intellectual for me I don’t know. It stoked me out that Darius chose that though, I was quite surprised because he said he doesn’t really read that much fiction.
Working and loitering around Covent Garden as we both have done and with St Mungo’s around the corner we got to know and hear stories from quite a cross section of homeless people. I guess Orwell was trying to shine a light on this problem to the more privileged who would have read it. It’s a societal problem which exists in much the same way is it did nearly 100 years ago.
It’s like it’s worse now. You would think after 100 years society would have evolved a bit but it hasn’t. It’s interesting that the reason he wrote it was to make middle class people realise what was happening and it had such an effect on me when I re-read it.
Why would you recommend people read this?
I think [the book] is a bit of a reality check. It’s an easy one to read and it’s not very daunting. I’m not very good at articulating why I like stuff especially when it comes to literature, but I just think it’s a great book to read for everyone from all walks of life.
Thanks for sharing these with us. How has the pandemic affected you and what’s been going on these past few months?
I’ve been lucky enough that no close friends or family members have been affected health-wise. As I said earlier, when lockdown was all quite strict my brother went away and I was in the flat on my own. Like I touched on earlier, I had not been having a fantastic time even before lockdown but going into isolation solo definitely intensified things a lot.
I was super isolated. I was doing therapy which was helping but I would find myself indulging in those feelings and also wanting not even open up to a therapist…which wasn’t a good way of looking at it. Then I was going out skating really early every day and going on 20-40 mile bike rides in the evenings. Just to get myself going. I was trying to feel better physically to hopefully feel better mentally.
Throughout being on my own and reflecting on stuff which young brains sort of neglect it ended up being really beneficial for me personally. I managed to get myself out of a sort of year long, quite intense depression which I hadn’t really openly spoken about. Coming out the other side of it I had a different outlook on stuff and towards rationalising things through being able to reflect without other distractions. Like, not going to the pub to mask it; actually feeling the feelings and processing what’s going on in my brain to make me feel like that. It was good and now I feel really great, a lot better.
It gave you space to do that which you wouldn’t have had.
Yeah exactly, that’s the silver lining. It sounds quite selfish but I really benefitted from that time although not everyone has been fortunate enough to have it. I don’t want to do a sing song about it but I have managed to feel a lot better as a person.
The Southbank clip Thrasher posted shows you are back out skating on the regular.
I skated the whole of lockdown, a little block in Peckham and at the Queens Road kerbs. I would push the hour exercise limit a bit but I was on my own. I’d get there at 8:30 or 9 every morning and skate for an hour and a half so I skated the most I had in a while through lockdown. Every single day I’d skate flat, skate a ledge and I learned loads of new tricks. I was feeling healthy because I wasn’t drinking. I was eating good and cooking really healthy food, cycling a bunch. I was skating loads and I’m glad I did because I know a few people who have been finding it hard to get back into skating.
Was the Thrasher clip the result of you chomping at the bit to get back there and putting that project in place to make yourself get stuck in?
We’d usually do Atlantic Drift trips so while travel was off the menu Thrasher suggested us putting some Instagram clips together. I wanted to do it at Southbank and I don’t think Jake was that keen on it but I was super excited and skating there every day once it reopened. I was feeling really good there so we went for two or three days over the space of a week. I’m stoked we did it because I got to skate there.
Was the nollie flip manual inspired by Mat Fowler?
I don’t know where I’d seen it before but I’m definitely not original enough to think of something like that. Maybe I had seen him skate the stairs like that and took inspiration from it subconsciously.
What plans do you have on the horizon whether Isle or Nike related?
At the moment there’s not really much going on because trips were stopped because of lockdown and people are wary of going on any now because of quarantining on your return and the possibility of a second wave. So that is all on hold. I think I’m going to just start filming with Jake in London and aim to put together something. Just try and do stuff and hopefully something will come from it. I’m just really enjoying skating right now, it’s the most I’ve ever enjoyed it. I’m living off wanting to skate every single day. Even if I’m a bit sore, if you’re going to Southbank for half an hour then you’re still skating every day.
I’m just really enjoying skating right now, it’s the most I’ve ever enjoyed it. I’m living off wanting to skate every single day
We’ve also been using this space to talk about more serious issues and you skated to the Black Lives Matter march where everyone met at Southbank. Have the last few months been eye-opening for you in regards to systemic racism?
I mean I really fucking hope it can be dismantled and I can’t believe it’s still going on. It’s been problematic for so many years and it’s still shocking.
I’ve been educating myself because of the movement.I’m a posh white kid from Purley so I’m never going to fully understand the severity of it on a personal level so I’ve been educating myself and going to marches.
The Southbank one was organised by Arthur [Derrien] and that lot and everyone skating together to go to that felt like quite a powerful thing. It was a rare occasion. It felt like the skate community is proud of being skaters and showing up as one in support.
You also posted a picture of Darius with some heart felt words.
It’s Daz, he’s my best mate. When he put up the photo I re-posted, I remember reading his post and being really sad and realised I’d not ever really thought about how it was for him. Posting a picture of your mate isn’t exactly helping a movement but I just wanted to say something.
Any words of advice to anyone out there reading this?
Take advantage of education and have fun, don’t go to the pub too much. Make sure you check yourself, sometimes you need to do it.
Thanks to Casper for his time sharing this with us and keep an eye out for future ‘Offerings’ in the coming weeks.
If you haven’t visited any of our ‘Isolation Station‘ posts which were the forerunner to this feature then be sure to click through for more life enhancing recommendations.