Skate music is one helluva drug – and it stays in your system forever. Ask skateboarders about their favorite part in a skate video, and they will not only faithfully recount the featured pro skateboarder but also specifically point out the soundtrack.
That’s because there’s something magic about the combination of music and high-octane skateboarding footage. Something larger than the sum of all parts. Something that, if played right, creates classic moments forever burned into skateboarding’s collective unconscious.
Skateboard history is full of video parts that changed musical tastes for entire generations, adding certain bands and artists to the ‘skate rock’ canon in the process. Iconic song choices include Mc Rad’s song “Weakness” in the Rubber Boys segment of Powell Peralta’s “Public Domain” video in 1988. And if you really want to see 1980s skateboarders all up in their feelings, play the opening bars of “What’s So Strange About Me?”, written and performed by pro skater Claus Grabke with his band Eight Dayz for the Santa Cruz “Wheels of Fire” video.
Mark Gonzales took skateboard audiences down a road less traveled with John Coltrane’s “Traneing In” noodling in the background of his seminal 1991 video part in Blind’s “Video Days”. Skateboarding’s agent provocateur Jason Dill made a Radiohead B-side his own firebrand when he skated to “Polyethylene” in the Alien Workshop’s “Photosynthesis” video. Matt Hensley elevated Nor-Cal punk band Operation Ivy into a global phenomenon with his part in 1990’s “This Is Not the New H-Street Video”. And the list goes on…
More recently, one of the most stylish skateboarders of all time, Dylan Rieder (RIP), manifested a highly polished aesthetic – blending super model looks with super human snaps – skating to “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS in his award-winning part in Supreme’s “Cherry” video. Plus, let’s not forget that skaters started rolling up one pant leg and bumping Wu-Tang Clan as early as 1993 when Gino Iannucci brandished his tech skills to the Clan’s “M-E-T-H-O-D Man” single in the 101 Skateboards “Snuff” video.
LISTEN TO SKATE MUZIK
Pretty much every skate video uses music (aside from rare exceptions like Tim Dowling’s excellent “Listen” video). But skateboard audiences hardly ever learn about the bigger picture; the reasons a song ended up in a video part or why a company cultivated a certain vibe with their soundtracks.
That’s exactly why over in Europe, skateboarder and radio producer Gianluca Quagliano from Italy created the SKATE MUZIK show. What started as a DIY project on Mixcloud with some episodes airing on Fritto FM and Know Wave has now found a permanent home on NTS Radio. Available for free worldwide on the NTS App, the show explores the intersection of music and skateboarding in regular installments, each following a different theme. (You can still stream classic episodes like Jeff Pang or SUPREME’s former creative director Brendon Babenzien on the SKATE MUZIK website.)
The host, Gianluca, is a 1990s skateboarder who hails from one of Europe’s street skateboarding hotbeds, Milan in Northern Italy. He goes by the name “G” on the show and curates a mix of tunes from classic skate flicks, supplemented by anecdotes and original commentary from iconic pro skaters.
So far, standout episodes have included a highly recommendable Wu-Tang Clan special, featuring an interview with pro skater Gino Iannucci on his motivation to become the world’s first skater to use Wu-Tang in a video part (listen to the full-length interview here). Further milestones include a musical retrospective of Mark Gonzales’ video parts, SKATE MUZIK specials on Fugazi and the Beastie Boys, plus an exploration of Jazz in skate videos.
Each segment is about one hour long and accompanied by a meticulous track list detailing all featured songs. Gianluca sprinkles in tons of insights and skate trivia, while episodes such as the ones with New York-based videographer RB Umali or Skateboardmuseum’s Jurgen Blumlein feature interview commentary that takes the show into podcast territory with previously unpublished details from skate history.
But make no mistake – SKATE MUZIK is not a 1990s throwback project or forum for “skate dads” to wax nostalgically. “I’m not doing this based on nostalgia or something. I do this for the present and the future ’cause I think it’s important to spread some core skate culture,” says Gianluca, adding: “Skate Muzik is for the youth!”
I’m not doing this based on nostalgia or something. I do this for the present and the future ’cause I think it’s important to spread some core skate culture. Skate Muzik is for the youth!
In search of the full story behind SKATE MUZIK, we decided to flip the script and get the host talking about his motivations for a change. ILLUMINATED PAPER speaks to Gianluca Quagliano about the soundtrack of his youth and exploring new musical universes through the medium of skate videos.
Hello Gianluca, when did you start SKATE MUZIK and what was it like at first?
I had the idea like, forever, but it happened in late 2015 with a small pilot episode based on the Blind “Video Days” video. With no guests, just me putting together all the songs from the soundtrack. It was aired on Fritto FM, a very small web radio from Milan that my friend Andrea and his group of friends were doing at the time. Along with the first episode of the show I made some hand-numbered Skate Muzik tees for my friends.
And what was your motivation for putting in all this work editing and producing the show?
We’re lucky to have skateboarding in our life and Skate Muzik is my way to say “thank you skateboarding” and pay homage to the culture.
On that note, what is your personal background in skateboarding?
I started skating in the late 1990s and grew up in a little town in the north of Italy called Tortona, before moving to Milan. We were misfits at the time. Skateboarding wasn’t considered cool, girls wouldn’t date me and other dudes at school would make fun of me ‘cause I was wearing baggy pants and fucked-up shoes. I loved it! (laughs)
That sounds familiar. I’m a skater from the 1980s and skate videos have opened up new worlds in music and art. What were some videos that broadened your horizons, Gianluca
Man there’s so many! Me and my friends used to watch skate videos constantly, sometimes it was the same video over and over. We knew every little detail, every trick, spot, every outfit they were wearing, every song, also their facial expressions, everything, literally.
You know living in Italy, it wasn’t easy at all to find skate videos, so if someone got something, he shared, same thing happened with magazines. We watched them all together, get super hyped to go skate, it was like our fuel. Highlights include “Trilogy”, “Zoo York Mixtape”, “20 Shot Sequence”, a lot of 411s, “Tim & Henry’s”, all the Girl and Chocolate videos, “Eastern Exposure”, Plan B’s “Questionable”…
That 1990s street tech and East Coast flavor, right?
I was a huge fan of the NYC skate scene and the World Industries stuff… but also earlier stuff like all the H-Street videos, “Ban This”, “Streets on Fire”, “Public Domain”, Blind “Video Days”. I know there’s a LOT of stuff that I’m leaving out but I think you got the idea. We didn’t get everything though, because as I said it was so hard to find skate videos in this country and most of the time we would get videos even years after they first came out.
Music-wise I discovered everything through skate videos ‘cause at 13, I didn’t really have a musical taste already.
Can you name some bands that you discovered through the medium of skate videos?
Music-wise I discovered everything through skate videos ‘cause at 13, I didn’t really have a musical taste already. So all I listened to were skate video soundtracks. I discovered Wu-Tang because of Gino and Coltrane because of the Gonz, but also Fugazi via an Ed Templeton video and so on.
I wrote a letter to Ian MacKaye when I was circa 14 years old, shipped it via Air Mail and a few months later got his reply. It was one of the best days of my childhood… That’s how much I was into both skateboarding and music after a few years.
Do you keep up with new releases and what are your favorites?
To this day I still watch skate videos every day. I love all the FA/Hockey stuff, Bill Strobeck’s work and a bunch more, like all the Quartersnacks edits, I loved the Call Me 917 video from last year, the Lotties video edits. There’s a lot of great stuff around. I don’t like the super hi-tech vibes though. I prefer the rough stuff, street skating over parks, style over mega tricks. Style is everything.
In the bigger picture, what is special about the combination of skate videos and music?
I don’t know man. It’s like, some great videos don’t even have music… But still, skateboarding is a lifestyle, not a sport. And if you’re into this lifestyle no matter if you’re 15 or 50, you’re listening to music. It’s part of our culture. At worst, a skateboarder will have better music tastes than 80 percent of the general population… At worst!
Yes, we are lucky to be brainwashed by skate videos. Let’s get to your show. What were some of the coolest insights from guests on SKATE MUZIK?
That’s a hard one cause I truly consider everything a highlight. This thing that I do puts me in touch with so much people all over the world. Every episode that I do gives me the same feeling of landing a new favorite trick for the first time. I’m very thankful to everyone who’s been on the show, ‘cause I choose my guests really carefully.
In how far?
I would never ask a guest to be on the show just ‘cause I need to fill some space or create some hype. I’m also very thankful to NTS Radio for letting me do my thing on their platform. I was a fan of NTS before going on air there and I still am. I feel lucky to be part of the fam.
At worst, a skateboarder will have better music tastes than 80 percent of the general population… At worst!
How can listeners across the world and in the U.S. tune in to SKATE MUZIK?
That’s an easy one: follow me on Instagram @gianlucaquagliano. I don’t have a Skate Muzik official profile cause I don’t need to separate that from myself and everything I post on my profile is Skate Muzik-related. Like the new episodes, the new tees and related stuff.
Also, all the episodes of the show that I did so far, including the pre-NTS ones, are on skatemuzikmilano.it and all the NTS Radio ones are on NTS Live. And if you’re in the USA, you can get some Skate Muzik tees at Supreme in Brooklyn. It’s a good way to support me cause I’m not trying to make a brand or something, but I love this T-shirt thing.
If you’re a skateboarder you know well how much this is part of the culture too… You co-wrote Skateboarding is Not a Fashion, so I’m totally sure you know what I’m talking about my friend.
Thanks Gianluca, I really like what you did with the LISTEN TO SKATE MUZIK tee. So for our last question, what’s next for SKATE MUZIK?
I don’t really know what’s next, really. I just want to keep having fun with it, keep making new friends and do a nice radio show. For sure I want to learn how to use some audio editing software and some photo editing stuff. But I’d rather go out and try to re-learn switch tre flips.
Good luck with all that and thanks for the interview, Gianluca.