Tyshawn Jones Interview

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Portrait by Alex Pires

The meteoric rise of Tyshawn Jones has been meticulously documented in a world where every single moment is now captured and shared to a potentially infinite audience.
Fitting really, given the fact that he was first discovered via an iPhone clip of him tre flipping a set of stairs in his native New York, an occurrence that led to him getting hooked up by Supreme at the tender age of 13 and set him off on the path that has taken him to where he is today.

Aside from his avowed disinterest in drinking, smoking or drugs, his much talked about work ethic and his diversification into business ownership at such a young age: there are many things that make this Bronx native unique. As far as his skateboarding goes, this uniqueness can be encapsulated with one simple word – ‘power’.

Can you think of any other current pro who can blow up the Internet simply by posting footage skating a trashcan off the flat? Nope? Pure explosive technique and pop still counts for a lot, even in this day and age of skate footage oversaturation and TJ can make the whole world pay attention just by flexing this next level power.

We caught up with the man himself for a brief chat about trashcans, opening restaurants and designing skate shoes with Scott Johnston to coincide with the release of his first signature shoe. Enjoy…

First off, congratulations on the shoe – even at your stage of the game it must be a trip to have an adidas shoe with your name on it…

Yes, it definitely feels surreal at times.

So Paul Shier tells me that you’ve been really involved with the design of your new shoe – did you come to the table with a pre-formed idea of what you wanted?

Yes I was very involved and I always knew what I wanted to do if I was presented with the opportunity to create my own pro shoe. There’s a lot of basketball inspiration in the design and I took some inspiration from the adidas ‘Top Ten’ shoe too. I always loved the look of that one.

You worked closely with Scott Johnston on the design – how did that process work?

It was fun. Scott’s a great dude and was pretty easy to work with.
Him being a legend within skateboarding just made it even better; like the icing on the cake.

Were you working on a bunch of samples first and trying them out? Or were you able to communicate exactly what you wanted well enough that he could draw it as you saw it in your head?

We only made two samples I believe, which is pretty unusual. The first sample was way off what I’d imagined so we had to start again, but the second one was pretty much what I wanted, it just needed one thing switching around. Like I said, working with Scott made it easy: I just told him what I wanted and he drew a bunch of ideas up until it looked right.

It must be sick to have the main designer that you’re working with be so deep into skating…

Absolutely, it makes it way better because he gets it and gets what I like and why I like it and knows my style and how I skate.

Working with Scott made it easy: I just told him what I wanted and he drew a bunch of ideas up until it looked right.

Previous to this one coming out, which have been your preferred adidas shoes to skate in and why?

I would skate Sambas a lot. I think they performed the best out of all the other shoes on the line up for me.

Have you been working on this since getting back from the Miami SOTY trip?

No, I started this shoe way before I even got SOTY or Blessed came out – the process began in like early 2018.

Have you been away on many filming trips since the SOTY one?

Nope not one…

You’re still based in New York right? Are you still in The Bronx, or did you move?

Yes I live in NYC in an undisclosed location these days, (laughing).

Your restaurant ‘Tastes so Good’ has been open for about a year now – how are things going with it? Are you in there often yourself?

Yes almost a year now, we are one month away from the first anniversary. I pop in and out when I can but I’m busy doing other shit a lot of the time.

You said in previous interviews that before you opened it the only other food places in that area were crappy fast food joints and that you wanted to bring some fresh healthy food options to the area – how has it gone down with the locals?

They are hyped for sure, yeah. People come in all the time and thank us and say that the neighborhood really needed it. It’s definitely a trip to think about it in that way – like it having positive consequences for the people in the area, you know?

Is it really true that the sign writing company managed to spell ‘restaurant’ incorrectly twice when it first opened up?

Yes, (laughs) twice! Honest truth. I couldn’t believe it, how is that your profession and you can’t spell the word ‘restaurant’? That’s like me not being able to spell ‘skateboard’.

You must’ve got mad discount on the price after them fucking up like that.

No I didn’t actually. They just came and fixed it (twice) for free because they’d already been paid by that point. I’m pretty sure I’ll pick a different company next time though.

What’s the most popular thing on the menu in there right now and which dishes are your favourites?

People like oxtails, jerk chicken and Rasta pasta a lot. Those are some of the most requested dishes. I like everything on the menu to be honest so I cant really pick a favourite. Everything’s good in there.

Does your ‘security team’ eat in there too? Are you giving out homie discounts or are customers just customers when it’s business?

Yes they do eat in there often but ain’t no discounts. If you’re my homie then you should know it wasn’t cheap to start and should wanna support and want the business to grow not expect free stuff because we’re cool.

Do you have plans on opening up any other food joints going forwards seeing as how this one seems to be a success?

Yes I would love to expand. It’s something we have discussed a lot.

Did much change for you after winning SOTY this year?

Nothing’s changed in my eyes really: just more people watching but that’s a good thing. It’s fine though; I’m chill with people coming up to me and all that – it’s no pressure or anything. It’s all love.

Nothing’s changed in my eyes really: just more people watching but that’s a good thing. It’s fine though; I’m chill with people coming up to me and all that – it’s no pressure or anything. It’s all love.

Also – you’ll be forever the last guy to be given SOTY by Jake I guess – that’s pretty heavy history-wise, right?

I think so: a lot of people tell me that but it’s kinda one of those things you don’t really think about. But then when you hear other people say it like that, it’s like ‘damn’ and the significance of it hits you.

You had a really productive couple of years with video parts – what are you working on at the moment?

I haven’t been working on any skate videos lately, I’ve just been trying to learn new tricks and progress.

What about Supreme-wise? Has Bill started on a new project yet?

He’s been going to SF a lot so I think he has something coming out there.

You said once before that you don’t like going to Tompkins because ‘it’s just flat’ but then recently you’ve been putting out a lot of trash can footage – what makes that kind of skating exciting and interesting to you?

It really just depends on the day, on how I’m feeling and what I feel like skating: sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s boring. There’s been no plan or anything, I’ve just been at that spot a lot trying to progress and there are cans there so it happens.

Do you have your own cans at that spot now, or are you just grabbing random ones? I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody stole the one you nollie flipped over and put it on eBay or something…

(Laughing), nah, they are just there so people can throw their trash away. That would be funny though, but how would they know it was the right trashcan?

I guess living in NYC and dealing with all the security and the hassle of the city always being so busy, it must be relaxing to just hit up a courtyard and skate over cans at times…

Yeah, it’s fun kinda – just a chill place. We kick it at and sometimes shit just ends up happening, you know?

What’s the best trick you’ve ever seen somebody do over a trashcan?

I don’t know – maybe a front 3. That’s a hard one to do over them.

No one’s tre flipping a can off the flat in the world – believe me.

Are NYC cans bigger than LA picnic tables?

100%. No one’s tre flipping a can off the flat in the world – believe me.

What’s the craziest situation you’ve been in with skating in New York where you’ve had to deal with massive crowds watching or tweakers getting in the way?

Probably in Long Island at some spot with Bill. Mad cops came and we had to run. I drove off and Bill had to hide in the woods. He was calling me shook but I was already on the highway, (laughing). I’m definitely faster than he is.


Photo by Alex Pires

What’s up with Hardies at the moment? You and Claydee are still doing the brand, right?

Yes we are still working hard trying to do more drops more often.

I only ask because I just went on the site and everything is sold out – although I guess that’s a good sign…

I think so too, (laughing)…

Do you have plans to expand what you do with Hardies?

It would be cool but that’s not the main focus right now, it’s just to put out dope shit along the lines of what we already do.

I watched that Hardies x adidas video again recently and realised that you skitched behind an airplane on that – was that sketchy? You must be one of the only people in the world to have done that…

Yup I skitched it switch too because that’s the way the camera was pointed but shit, I don’t know about being the only person to have done it. I don’t wanna claim anything but I’ve never seen it personally so maybe I am.

What about sky diving – how was it?

One word ‘fucked’. Shit was crazy the first time, I went back and did it again though.

Shier tells me that you’ve been doing some modelling work recently – what’s the story behind that if you don’t mind me asking?

You’ve got to just wait and see 😉

Do you enjoy it?

It’s cool; I’ve been doing shoots for a while though so it’s normal now.

Are you still breeding bulldogs?

I never bred dogs, I just let my kids have kids once.

How many do you have and where did the pups go?

I have two of my own and the pups went to people I know, I know where all my pups are.

How much do they go for?

It depends on the dog; it can go for thousands but I never looked at it like a business thing. I only wanted to experience it once. I just love dogs and thought it would be cool to see my kids have their own kids.

Who looks after all of that when you’re away filming?

My mom or Who Kid.

You’ve always said that you’re ‘not a follower’, that you make your own decisions based on what you think is the right thing to do. If you’re not a follower then I guess you’re a leader – what advice do you have for any kids reading this who might want to follow a similar path to yours?

You can get inspiration from my journey but I’d say to do your own thing and what works for you and what you genuinely love. The way I went worked for me but a different path may work for you, so just stay true to what you believe, work hard and don’t let anyone discourage you. Peace!

Will you be coming to London soon?

Interview by Ben Powell

See Tyshawn’s new shoe and other arrivals from adidas and stay tuned for coming announcements.