Jonathan Nuss: How to be a Skate Invader
Jonathan Nuss is an icon of the Toronto skate scene, leader of the Skate Invaders and massive stoke spreader. Check out what he has to say about the 2015 Toronto Board Meeting, a new logo, and an impromptu history lesson on the scene he calls home. Nuss is always more than you bargained for and I always want more!
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What’s good Nuss? We got the chance to hang out in Vancouver recently, is it nice to be back in your own bed in Toronto?
It’s always good to be back in your own bed even though I did enjoy the comforts of your floor. Not often does someone get to bunk with Jon Huey for a week. We found ourselves in daily deep conversations or fart jokes. You need to keep a healthy balance of both.
Farts are for sure healthy – and everybody poops – Was this your first time in Vancouver? What’s different between the Vancouver and Toronto scenes as you experienced it?
It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been in Vancouver and the city has changed dramatically. I was really outside the scene back then, so I only known the scene through friends stories and experiences. If the flight wasn’t so expensive I would have been there sooner!
and now that you got to live it?
A lot of people from Ontario live in Vancouver now. So I felt welcome with open arms!! It felt a lot like home but more. You had more runs, more kids, more lady shredders, more garages and more all round skaters. It’s like the dream I had back home was really alive here in Vancouver.
so it’s safe to say, Vancouver Skates and Invades?
Yeah, all kinds of things! Counter culture is really alive here in Vancouver and especially at Flatspot longboards. As soon as I got there found myself in group of 40 skaters. Invading every parking garage we could find. If people asked us to leave, we would smile and wave go on our way. It was like a warm skate hug with old and new friends.
The Highway Jam was off the hook and it was rad seeing all these kids fired up on skating. I feel like the average kid is a lot more skilled there because there are more things to skate. I even saw 5 kids wearing our shirts. I didn’t think someone from across the country would even matter in BC. I was stoked that people dug our chill vibes. The hill at the jam wasn’t more gnar then back home they just went on for a lot longer and had amazing mountain views.
When we were done shredding garages and hairpins. Everyone was shredding bowl! All my friend from comet have moved out here aka Eric Jensen, Mc Lovin and Chantel hill. They always get all fired up when I pull my camera out. We use spend a lot of time skating together so I hyped to see my friends. It was amazing seeing everyone shred everything here.
Vancouver skates and invades most definitely.
So what is the Skate Invaders, or what do you want it to be?
The skate invaders started as collective of individuals that skated garages together. We had a lot the same philosophies about skating, music and art. Growing up in the 80’s I loved all kinds of skating and maybe wasn’t the best athlete. I knew that shouldn’t stop me from skating. I wanted that Lance Mountain effect, you might not be the best technically but we can be characters everyone loves. It’s really easy to be obsessed with technique but I feel it should be like being in punk band. It might be couple easy cords but your style and your story will be the best part. We adopted one simple slogan. We are all skate invaders. If you skate with us, your skate invader too. I’m not anti progression. I just think there are all kinds of challenges that one can celebrated. A kick flip over a 20 set can have the same feeling as dropping in for your first time. Skating down the sidewalk can be the same feeling as bombing down that gnarly hill. Progression happens at different speeds for all of us. If you keep yourself open to it, you’ll skate forever. Skateboarding has made me a more confident. I was crazy shy and outsider most of my life. I want others to have this confidence too. This whole “Skate Invader” thing is really loose and changes all the time. I try to keep it fun as possible.
Might be the most inspiring thing I’ve heard this year so far. I’ve heard of Ben Jordan a bunch over the years, how is he connected here and how do the Invaders and you and Ben come together to create the Toronto Board Meeting?
I’ve known Ben Jordan since grade 7 but he was always a year older than me so we never hung out much. Ben is a real original out spoken character. He’d get in fights with teachers all the time or you’d see him skating down the street with his dog on his head. After high school high school my best friend told me Ben needed a photography assistant. So we became friends photographing Toronto rappers and bikini models for beer.com. He got me pushing around a longboard with him because we spend so much time together. Breaking into abandoned factories and running away from parkdale crackheads during photo shoots. One day Ben had a dream of businessmen pushing work wearing white dress shirt and ties. He was starting a class at the time that involved him starting a community. He put the two together and decided to start the Toronto Board Meeting. He knew a couple of 15 year old kids who called themselves chicken and joker. They brought everyone they knew and we stopped everyone we’d see on the streets with a longboard and put posters by every hill. We wanted this happen so bad!! 40 people showed up and we thought it was the greatest thing since bacon wrapped mars bars.
Every year board meeting was growing. The kids grew up and started Ontario Longboard Forum. That really exploded the community! Ben wanted to continue the board meeting vibe all year long so Ben and our friend Janelle Leclair had an idea to have a weekly skate called old school night shred. Anyone and everyone was welcome and we’d get together skate garages every Wednesday. I was the shy and quiet dude through the whole thing. It was easier for me to be a fly on the wall take photographs. In 2007 Ben decided that he wanted to pursue other passions and moved away from Toronto. The scene was booming and was running itself anyways. The kids started skate gang called The Escarpment Surfers and Ontario Longboarding was everything. At this point Ben wanted me to take the lead but I was scared shitless to even talk to anyone.
I was spending a lot of time in music studios and wasn’t skating much. Didn’t stop Ben from sending me emails. “Jon you need to start making videos.”, “Jon you need to keep the vibe alive and take photos!!” I finally gave into Ben’s emails and tried to start my own thing. I didn’t want to step on anyone toes so I started weekly push with a local skate shop. This is where I met all my newer friends and many artist. It was crazy time were all these hungry people found each other.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see eye to eye with one of the store owner who was helping with the weekly push. So I started a skate group to reclaim ownership over all my hard work that was being disrespected. I went back original Board Meeting vibe and started group of positive and creative skaters, we later become the Skate Invaders! We were a bunch of friends who invaded dirty parking garages, played music together, printed t-shirts and skated for fun. People got older and more and more people moved away. Now I find myself were I am today. Leading the Toronto Board Meeting with my friend Chicken [Mike McGown] and the leader an abstract skate brand the Skate Invaders.
That’s 13 years of Toronto skate history in a nutshell. I hope to inspire someone to take the lead one day too.
And this year Board Meeting has a new logo!? When will it take place and where is the best place to find info?
My fiance and I decided to rebrand and make a logo this year for board meeting. It’s grown and changed so much over the years I wanted to create something that was board neutral, gender neutral and represented community. This whole thing is about community and friends. It’s amazing what we can all do together.
The Toronto Board Meeting is still a whole weekend of events including Slide fu, OSNS garage skating, city pushing and I hope to have a skate park event this year too. Everyone invited and I can’t wait to see everyone there.
Are there any other key Skate Invader events in T.O. we should pay attention to?
The 8th Annual Swap Meet JUST happened. We hosted the slide jam and I was djing the after party as The Eternal Feedback at skate loft which was a blast. We’ll also be helping with the Ithaca Slide Jam May 9th 2015, Jane Path race, Slide School, Bickford park race and every Wednesday is Old School Night Shred aka OSNS. You never know what crazy wacky ideas we might come up with. You can follow us on facebook, instagram, twitter and check in at skateinvaders.com.
What more is there to say! Damn. Thanks Nuss!