Harrison Woolgar Up interview10.07.2023
Where did you grow up?
I’m from Brighton, born and bred. I’ve lived in the same house since I was one year old. I live about a 30-second walk from the (Level) skatepark. That’s been pretty handy, but it’s a blessing and a curse.
Are you there much?
I try to not be there all the time, but like I said, it’s a blessing and a curse because it’s so easy to leave the house, go to the skatepark and just stay there for the day instead of going street. I’m probably there most days, if we’re not skating street that is.
How is the Brighton scene these days?
It’s good. There are a lot of skaters there, but – I don’t want to sound too harsh – they’re pretty lazy (laughs). They get stuck at the Level. There’s a lot of potential there, they’ve just got to put the nugs down and go street some more.
I feel like I’ve seen a lot of street footage coming out of Brighton in the last five years or so.
I guess we’ve pretty much got Al (Hodgson) to thank for that one. Me and Al are always up for going out on missions, trying to find new ways of skating old spots or whatever. We’ve definitely scoped out pretty much the whole of Brighton.
Who are some Brighton skaters from past generations that have inspired you?
The first that come to mind are James Kilpatrick, Louis Cooper and Amir (Williams) of course. I respect them all, but those guys were the first people I watched skate; they made me want to get into skating.
Who are some younger, up-and-coming skaters in Brighton people should look out for?
Right now, my homies Cal Dawson and Alfie Sexton. Alfie has been living in Brighton for a couple of years now. That guy is ridiculous. He can float in the air for ages. He’s got mad pop, mad steeze… Alfie and Cal, big up.
Do you have any favourite Brighton videos from back in the day?
The first Brighton video I ever had and still my favourite to this day is Cheese on Tape by James Cheetham, or ‘Slim’ as he was called – amazing soundtrack and great spots.
Al told me that you care a lot about how the scene there is presented and represented. Can you talk a little bit about this?
Yeah. I care about the history of the scene and the heritage and how it should be represented. Over the years it has maybe been given a bad rep by some people. People say Brighton is shit for skating, but it’s not. You can make stuff happen here. You don’t need to move to London, you’ve just got to put the effort in and get creative with the spots we have.
What are your hopes for the future of skateboarding in Brighton?
It would be cool if more people got into filming so some of the younger generations can get a chance to get involved in making videos. There are up-and-coming skaters that need to get the recognition they deserve, but it’s tricky. But hold tight for that one because I’m going make a video.
More on that later. Changing topic, you don’t have wifi at home, you don’t own a computer and you use an old Nokia burner…
That’s what we’re doing the interview on right now, baby.
(Laughs) Can you talk a little bit about this offline lifestyle?
My parents are very old school. No disrespect to them, but they don’t know much about the internet or iPhones. They don’t know how to use that stuff, so we’ve just never had any wifi. I’ve been brought up like that. It wasn’t something that just happened, it’s always been like that. The burner phone is just easy; it makes calls and sends texts. That’s pretty much all I need. I don’t have any wifi at the house, so I just listen to music or watch films.
You’ve got extensive collections of DVDs and records, right?
Yes. It’s a bit of a mess in my room. I’m a big music fan and a big film fan. I was brought up with music through my dad; he’s a big music fan too. I’ve been collecting records and films – DVDs and VHS – throughout my adult life. I love it. That’s like my hobby besides skating: going to a record shop, finding something that you’ve wanted for a while and being like: “Yes, I can’t wait to play this at home later.” Then you kick back and let it all sink in (laughs).
Do you have strong opinions about social media?
It’s a big part of people’s lives. When I go to some of my friends’ houses to hang out, they’re so glued to their phones, I’m like: “I came to hang out and see you, not watch you stare at your phone.” It can definitely stress me out. It’s annoying that you kind of need Instagram to blow up your skating in terms of how people get recognised now. It’s a shame that it is like that, but at the same time it’s handy that you can get recognised through the platform.
You use Instagram, right?
Yeah. I recently got an iPhone but I don’t have a sim card, so I can only use it when I have wifi.
What sort of practical difficulties, if any, do you run into living this lifestyle? I imagine travel could be tricky.
Travelling can sometimes be tricky, but if I’ve been somewhere before I’ve usually got a pretty good memory of where to go. If I’m lost I just ask our fellow man for directions (laughs).
What about boring stuff like booking tickets and boarding passes?
I usually get my friends to do it for me. They definitely get a bit frustrated sometimes. They’re like: “Sort yourself out, get with the times.”
Can we talk about outfits? Would it be fair to say you’re heavily into the late ’90s / early ’00s east coast look?
Absolutely. When I first started getting into skate videos I watched this style of skating. I had Flip Sorry and I watched a lot of Josh Kalis, Photosynthesis… They just had the baggiest clothes and the fattest shoes. It’s not always been my style. I think sometimes people think it’s a bit of a joke, but over the past four or five years baggy clothes and big shoes have definitely come back into fashion.
Definitely. John Shanahan, all those DC reissues and before that the Sabotage crew in Philadelphia skating vintage Alien Workshop boards… This may embarrass you, but Al mentioned that your style has been quite influential in Brighton.
(Laughs). There are a lot of steezy kids down the park now. Everyone’s repping DC and baggy clothes, but I’m not trying to say that I did that.
No of course not. Are there other parts of culture from that era that you’re interested in besides skateboarding? I’m guessing maybe music?
Yeah, I’m a massive music fan, all genres really. I’ve been trying to get into doing DJ sets recently. You know, play in a couple of pubs and get some good practice in then who knows, maybe I’ll play in a couple of clubs. When we’re hanging out at my friend’s house, they’ll ask me to play some music and they’ll be like: “You should definitely do a DJ thing.” I’ve actually got a set lined up soon in a pub that my friend Diggs (English)… It’s his dad’s pub. He’s invited me to go spin some tracks.
What do you play?
All sorts of stuff. I’ll play a lot of Zamrock, old rock, hip-hop, maybe some old reggae and stuff, a bit of soul, a bit of funk.
You recently started riding for two San Francisco-based brands, Snack Skateboards and Loophole Wheels. How did these opportunities arise?
That was through Al and Tom Mangham at Workshop Distribution. Al was trying to hook me up with boards. We were looking at some options, he showed me Snack, I really liked what they were doing and it actually came through. They are a friendly group of people. It was the same with Loophole: Al and Mangham hooked it up for me. I love those Loophole guys, the team, Zach Chamberlin…
Do you have any plans to visit San Francisco?
Possibly. I would like to go at some point this year, but I don’t know if I can. I get a bit shook with long flights, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from travelling the world and visiting all these beautiful places. I need to get over it one day. I need to get over there, man; it just looks like so much fun. That’s where I’d like to push my skating.
Al told me you’re quite invested in how your footage looks and how it’s filmed.
I’m really in love with the VX, how it looks and how the footage comes out. I feel like me and Al have a similar eye for how footage looks or should look. When we go to a spot, we’ve pictured the footage in our heads before we’ve even started trying something.
You bought a VX recently. What are you plans for that?
I’ve had it for a few months, but it’s just been sitting in my room because I’ve been focusing on my own projects. When I’m done with my part and my projects I want to make a video, a Brighton skate video.
Who do you want to be in your video?
Cal Dawson and Alfie Sexton for sure… and Dan Reynolds – he is the GOAT. There are a lot of heads I’d like to push and give the recognition they deserve.
What are your plans for the future?
Finish off this part I’ve been working on with Al for over a year, start making my own Brighton video with the homies, try to get out of Brighton a bit more, maybe visit London and go stay with Dougie (George), Dan (Fisher-Eustance) and Ellis (Gardiner) and possibly visit the Loophole and Snack guys in the States. Longer-term I’m definitely going to stay in Brighton. I’ve got no plans to move out.