We sat down with pro skater James Threfall to talk sneaking into the NASS Vert comp, mental health and his MBE!
How did you celebrate the first time you got paid from your skateboarding?
The first time I started getting paid by a brand just to skate was when I was 18. It wasn't a huge amount of money, but it was still pretty nice! I think I celebrated by paying off my car insurance or something like that haha.
You’re a fella with his fingers in a lot of pies - alongside being a pro skateboarder, TV and radio presenter AND your work with the Wiltshire Skate Series, you’ve also directed music videos and you’re an MC at skate events! Dare we ask what an ‘average’ day looks like for you?
My days are super varied, nowadays I'm doing more with the BBC which is really fun, but I'd say there is no average day. One day I'll be piecing together a radio show, the next we might be working on a film shoot, then another day I might be diving into London for meetings – or spinning all those plates at the same time. It can be stressful, but I enjoy it for sure! I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.
You’re an ambassador for the mental health charity CALM, do you think there are clear mental health benefits to skateboarding?
Definitely, skateboarding has the best communities without a doubt. Everyone's so supportive and it's so accessible at any time that you might just need to forget about things and go for a skate. When I'm stressed with work stuff, I end up itching to go and skate just to get some relief from it all. However, it also has a slight negative I think in that although you end up being part of an amazing community, you have to be able to take slams to do it – so usually skateboarders are pretty tough people. I think that can make the idea of showing weakness or talking about feelings a little harder, even though every skater I know would want to be there for their mates... so we did a film with BBC Three a while ago talking about that and encouraging people to talk about issues with others.
Tweakin’ one out at @nassfestival this Summer. Had fun sessioning this transfer with @kechaud. @harvey_mills on the snap! . . . #skate #skateboard #skating #skating #video #videooftheday #tv #television #photography #dslr #canon #nikon #photooftheday #picoftheday #instadaily #life #instagram #travel #travelling #summer #festival #contest #nass
We couldn’t do an interview without mentioning the MBE for your services to young people! Congrats from NASS HQ – how does it feel?
Haha thanks, super surreal – I'm smashing these questions out before we head to the station to cruise over to Windsor actually. I'm not sure it's hit yet, probably because I've had such a clear vision of where I'm trying to get to and what I want to achieve, but getting an MBE is totally not something I've ever considered. I'm buzzing of course and, as I've said many times now, I hope that it can be a bit of a win for the UK skate scene as a whole to get the recognition, but I don't feel like it's going to hit until I'm actually in there receiving it.
What’s your favourite thing about NASS Festival?
For me there's a massive element of nostalgia because I've been coming to NASS since I was about 13. I was a punter for two years, and then got my first athlete pass when I was 15. When I was 14, I managed to sneak my way onto the vert ramp and met Jim Langran, who basically told me to start coming to vert contests before security kicked me off. So, I basically just showed up at Boardmasters a month later and skated the contest, which he found hilarious because I think he thought he'd never see me again. Jim actually then ended up living with my girlfriend at uni in Nottingham years later - it's pretty funny to think that it all happened following a chance encounter blagging my way onto the vert at NASS. I skated all of the vert contests for a few years, but park is more my bag. I like mixing it up on smaller transition and rails too, so I try to skate park in a slightly more “vert” way. I'm essentially on an impossible quest to skate like Curren Caples, and I'm never going to get there hahaha. But to drill down my favourite thing, I just love getting to catch up with everyone from skating in one place and getting to skate a new park every year. The athlete bar also gets pretty loose, so there's always good stories from there.
Who’s on your riding playlist from this year’s NASS line up?
I'm pretty into electronic music so Matrix & Futurebound, Hannah Wants etc. I'm also stoked to see Degs on the line up – we produced his 'Poveglia' music video for Hospital Records last year and he's the nicest dude ever, so I'm really keen to catch his set.
Your top 3…
Skate spots in UK
- My home park in Melksham
- The old Bath vert ramp (RIP)
- Milton Keynes handrails are fun
Skate shops in the UK
I can't single three shops out because all shops that are serving their local scenes and getting people skating get a big salute from me. I've repped Skate Warehouse since the age of 15 though, so big shout out to the guys there for the love.
- The trusty frontside air
- K grind
All-time favourite Skaters
- Curren Caples
- Raven Tershy
- Cory Juneau
Favourite things about NASS
- Catching up with the brus
- The pro park
- Numerous beverages
Reasons to get out of bed in the morning
- Shia LaBeouf's motivational speeches