Daewon Song is not only one of the most influential skateboarders of his time, he’s also an entrepreneur with a growing skateboarding empire. As the co-founder of Almost Skateboards and Matix skatewear, Daewon, who has been a pro skater since age 16, proves that he has more tricks down his sleeve. We sat down with Daewon to talk about how he got his start, where his passion for skating comes from, and why skate videos are the key to success.
Tell us about your first board. What got you into skateboarding and why did you commit to the sport?
Mom bought me my first skateboard from Gemco when I was 13, and I got hooked on just pushing around on my knees; it slowly evolved into a passion.
Were your parents supportive? What do they think now?
My parents liked me skating for fun for about 6 months. I really started loving it but my mom was strict and wanted me to focus on school. I put skating aside here and there because of how crazy my mom could get!! As time went on and I progressed they still didn’t like me skating, especially my mom, but I got a sponsor at 14 and started doing contests. My mom would make me take a test in order to step foot outside or just to go anywhere, crazy but affective. I turned pro when I was 16, almost 17, and they still had no idea what I was doing. They wanted me to pursue my art. Both my parents are deceased now but they knew skateboarding was my passion and respected that. They saw I was making a living from it so they accepted it.
How long did you have to practice to get noticed and get sponsors? Did you have any role models who motivated you to go professional?
I grew up watching Hosoi, Steve Caballero, and Natas Kaupas!! So many that inspired me! Oh! And the Z-Boys. I skated as much as I possibly could and I turned pro just a little over 3 years of skating.
Aside from skateboarding, you also have a hand at creating Matix, an apparel brand, as well as co-owning Deca Skateboards and Almost Skateboards. What inspired you to take on these creative ventures? And why do you think the apparel industry plays a huge/profitable role in the boarding industry and culture?
Well, I started Deca Skateboards in 2000, but I no longer do, so Rodney Mullen and I started Almost Skateboards in 2004. Matix Clothing was started in 1998 by me, Tim Gavin and Podium Dist.
Apparel is key for comfort and lifestyle in the way you want to represent yourself as an individual, and with Matix we try and create all styles and comfort in a strong fashion-growing industry.
Your legendary part in Love Child from the 90s is definitely one to watch (those pants are a keeper, by the way). What’s the best trick you’ve seen or done?
Hahaha, the way we wore pants then was hilarious!!! I’ve seen so many tricks it’s hard to pin point one, but Danny Way has done some wild stuff and same with Rodney Mullen. As for me the hardest thing I’ve done is probably just filming 3 video parts in less than a year and a half …hahaha I love skateboarding.
Your new spot for Spitfire came out last month and it looks like you’ve only gotten better since your last video. What’s a shooting day like to make a skate montage?
It’s always different: you get kicked out of everywhere, you have to organize a film-er and be ready to try something for hours or land it in a couple of tries. In skateboarding you always have to be willing to try something you’ve never done in order to progress so you tend to get stuck trying something over and over which can go on to several days and even giving up! Video projects are key to your career and can make or break you for the fans.
How do you see skate videos shifting the dynamics of skateboarding? With everything online and videos coming out every minute it’s insane!!
We used to have a new video come out every year to see what was new. Now kids can see what’s hot every 10 minutes haha, but times change and you gotta evolve and keep pushing yourself.
What are some upcoming projects you’re working on?
The new Almost Skateboards video and my own secret project towards the end of the year.
Lastly, any words of wisdom for kids who want to go pro or get noticed—especially those in the Asian American community who look up to you as someone they can be?
When I started skateboarding it was for pure fun and I will always remember that. I soon loved it and it became my air and my life! We can all accomplish anything we want! We just gotta want it and stay positive and motivated regardless of what is expected of us because of race or gender!! Stay true to yourself.
[Photos: Daewon Song's Facebook page]