Jasper Pegg interview04.01.2024
Portrait & interview: Kingsford
Tell us a little about your home town, Sheringham.
It’s a small seaside town 29 miles north of Norwich. Strangely it has a bit of skate history. Nik Taylor is from there and people were always passing through town.
I worked with Nik at Slam (City Skates) back in the late-’90s.
When I started skating, I think he had finished art school in Norwich and was in the process of moving to London. He would come back to visit his family and friends. One time I remember Mark Channer was in town. I think Unapromo had just come out and we all rinsed that video, so everyone was just like: “What the fuck, Mark Channer’s here!” We had this little box my grandad built under a lean-to structure at a youth club, and he was kickflip backside lipping it. Everyone was like: “What the fuck!”
I remember some cool photos of people skating some ramps on the seafront there, I think in Sidewalk. Mark Channer comes to mind…
Yeah, I think he did a halfcab flip or maybe a halfcab heelflip, and then Chewy did…
Yeah. It was this weird transitioned bank, but it had coping; it was really hard to skate. Apparently Nik designed it on a beer mat in the pub while on a night out. I guess he did a quick drunken sketch and was kind of responsible for this really-hard-to-skate flatbank-cum-quarterpipe.
So Sheringham had a bit more skate coverage than similar towns at that time?
Yeah, I suppose it did. Sheringham also had a vert ramp, which was later cut down to about 5ft, with 7ft extensions. There was a local family called the Bells, who were surfers and who also skated. I think they were responsible for building the vert ramp and other obstacles, which created a strong skate scene in the early days.
How was it growing up in Sheringham?
It was nice and mellow. The summers were always fun as a kid. We had the beach and we skated all day, every day throughout the school holidays.
What got you interested in skateboarding?
My best friend’s older brother had just started skating. I can vividly remember being at the playground and he and his friends were skating a strip of concrete. There were these wooden bike racks, and they’d pulled one out of the ground. I remember watching them wiggling it free, pulling it out and boardsliding it. It’s a bit cliched, but I thought it looked so cool. One of my other friends, who was my age, and who had skated a bit in Nottingham before he moved to Sheringham, was like: “Fuck, my older brother’s got a board,” and he ran home and got it. From then on a lot of people at school got boards. In the first few years of secondary school, it felt like the majority of my school year skated.
That was unusual for that time. What year was this?
That would have been like ’98.
In my town there were maybe 10 people skating at that time.
It was weird because football kids didn’t really skate back then, but even the football kids got into it. It was pretty cool. But then a lot people went in different directions, as they got older and started going out.
Who were some local heroes back when you started skating?
So obviously Chewy (Cannon) is from Gorleston (also on the Norfolk coast)… I remember Hoax (skate shop) opening in Norwich and they put on Si Holbrook – who was living in Sheringham at the time, but had previously lived in the States – Greg King – who is from Great Yarmouth – and Chewy. Although Greg and Chewy weren’t technically local, they would often visit Si in Sheringham and skate the park. They quite quickly became the local sponsored heroes. James Fuller was also a big local hero. He used to blow people’s minds skating the ramp I mentioned previously.
Moving on a bit, what made you move to Norwich?
I moved to Norwich because it was a city with a bit more going on and obviously more of a skate scene. And a lot of my friends had moved there. It was just a natural transition. Before moving to Norwich, I spent some time travelling abroad. I did an around-the-world trip beginning in China, then Thailand, down the east coast of Australia, around New Zealand’s North and South Islands, to the west coast of the US, then a camping trip across Canada, before finishing on the east coast of the US.
Wow. When did you move to Norwich?
I think it was 2013.
How was the skate scene when you moved there and how has it changed in the decade since?
It was pretty strong and it’s pretty similar today, to be honest. I mean we’ve got our same crew of people we skate with… a few people have moved away, but there are always new people moving to Norwich for art school and university. There are a few different crews in the scene that make videos and stuff, but I don’t feel like it’s cliquey. Everyone gets on for the most part. Ever since I moved to Norwich, Danny (Jackson) and other filmers have constantly been working on video projects, which is massively important in keeping the scene alive. It’s a strong scene.
Tell us about Drug Store and its contribution to the skate scene in Norwich.
Drug Store is owned and run by Sam Avery. It’s been around for about 15 years or so, which is an amazing achievement in itself considering the difficulties of running a skater-owned shop these days. He used to have a shop in the city centre, but has now relocated to a medieval church. Sam and a few other people formed Community East and built a skatepark inside the church, which has been open for about a year. Community East is a social enterprise created to provide opportunities for people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and abilities to improve their physical and mental health through skateboarding. It offers skate lessons and public sessions. All of this amounts to a massive contribution to the scene.
It must be nice to have another indoor option for the winter.
Yeah. We often go on Friday evenings. It’s usually quiet then, so we often have the place to ourselves. It’s a nice way to start the weekend.
I just visited for the first time and there is quite a unique atmosphere in there.
Yeah, definitely. I hope Sam and the others behind Community East realise that what they have made happen was no mean feat.
Name some favourite skaters who have contributed to Norwich’s skate history.
I think Tom Lock definitely put his mark on Norwich. Tom Crowe did some legendary tricks a long time ago that would still be amazing if they went down today. And then obviously Nik Taylor and Mat Fowler…
And Joe Habgood?
Yeah, I think he, Nik and Mat were at art school together. Matt and Joe were known for skating the Memorial Gardens, a spot in the centre of Norwich, opposite the City Hall. There is a Memorial Gardens montage in Danny’s new video (Oh!), which in my mind is kind of a nod to those guys.
Where there any specific photos or videos from Norwich that drew you to the city?
Not really, but I remember watching Greg King’s videos Reservoir Skates and Inbreed and being hyped to see Norwich footage. Have you seen Reservoir Skates?
I don’t think so.
I don’t think it’s online. If I remember correctly he filmed a Reservoir Dogs-style intro and skits for the video. I’d seen Welcome to Hell and Reservoir Skates around the same time, so I was like: “This is also legit.”
Who are your favourite skaters to watch in Norwich today?
All the guys who I skate with, really, like Tom O’Driscoll and Vlad (Kalynin) – they are amazing skaters. Josh Buck has filmed a lot of stuff for Danny’s new video. I saw some of it in person, but Danny has told me about a few things that I’m looking forward to seeing when the video is released.
Who are some younger, up-and-coming skaters in Norwich people should watch out for?
This kid, Theo (Grogan) keeps getting mentioned. A few of the younger guys Vlad skates with have mentioned him. Vlad’s got a VX video he made with the younger guys coming out soon. There’s a guy called Marlin Cooper who is really sick. It will be nice to see his footage.
You touched on this earlier, but can you talk a little about the importance of local filmmakers like Danny and Liam Painter to the scene?
Obviously they are massively important to the scene because they make people aware there’s actually stuff going on here. It’s all completely self-funded and self-motivated. Before Danny and Liam were making videos, Spex (Lewis Ross) also made a bunch of great videos. Get In has a really sick Tom Lock part; he skates to Pictures of You by The Cure. We are lucky to have so many creative and motivated people willing to make things happen. Without Liam, Spex and Danny, there wouldn’t really be much of a scene.
You have a part in Danny’s new video, Oh! Tell us about the project.
Danny’s been working on it for two years, which sounds like a long time, but I’ve really only been filming weekends. It’s been a fun project. Obviously there have been some battles, but that’s all part of it, isn’t it?
Of course. You’ve worked on a few projects with Danny…
So this will be Danny’s fifth video, and I’ve been involved with all of them. His first video – Fine – came out at the end of 2016. He’s made another four since then, while also working full time. We did a standalone part together before he made his first video. I don’t know if you’ve seen that one?
What was it called?
It was called Autumn 2014, for Milk Skateboards.
I don’t think I’ve seen that one. I’ll look it up.
For the first video, we filmed my part and Harley Miller’s part mainly in London and Paris, with a little bit of Norwich in the mix. But for the two most recent videos – Lavengro and Oh! – we focused mainly on Norwich.
How did you and Danny meet?
I met Danny through our mutual friend, Dean Khalil. Dean is from a village near Sheringham and we grew up skating together. He had moved to Norwich for art school and I think he met Danny at Eaton skate-park. He was like: “I’ve met this guy who films and does good maydays.”
Danny also shoots great photos and shot half of this interview. How does that work, practically? Which comes first, footage or photo?
We get the clip out of the way first.
How’s your working relationship?
I think we’ve got a really good working relationship. We’re close friends outside of skating, too. Sometimes things can get a bit strained between filmers and skaters, but he is really patient with me. Sometimes tricks take literally hours to film, but he’s willing to just sit there and gently encourage me. There’s no real pressure as such, but then when he wants me to get something, I can tell. And when he wants me to get something, that motivates me even more to get the clip.
What’s behind the shift away from travelling to make videos, in London and Paris, for example, to focusing on Norwich?
Initially, it was because of Covid. We started working on Lavengro pre-Covid. We had filmed a few bits in Norwich already, then Covid happened and I think Danny was like: “Right, I’m just going to do this one all-Norwich.” At the time, that felt like a bit of a challenge. We’d already filmed quite a lot here, and although there are lots of spots, I kind of felt like: “I don’t really know if I’ve got anything else to film here. I feel like I’ve done most of the stuff that I’m able to do.” Then I guess I just got a new lease of life for skating Norwich spots.
It feels like people are excited to see footage from Norwich, and I think there’s something nice about revisiting local spots you’re associated with – like The Law Courts, for example – and trying to come up with something new.
Yeah, definitely. I guess for people watching a video, it’s easier to give a trick value if it’s performed at a well-known spot. Do you know what I mean?
Yes, I think so.
Whereas, if you’re skating spots people don’t really know, I guess subconsciously I thought: “Would people really care?” But it seems like they do, which is nice.
The Serious Adult crew is really into what you guys are doing. Dan Magee is a fan… I think people are excited to see full-length videos from outside the… not the main cities, but the cities you usually see.
I’m stoked the Serious Adult guys are into what we are doing and I’m hyped that Dan Magee likes the videos, because his videos were a big deal to me growing up, especially Lost and Found. I think Nick (Sharratt) from Palomino has been interested for a while, too. Matt Broadley sent Danny a link to an annual rundown of videos Nick did, and he mentioned Autumn 2014, the standalone part we talked about earlier.
Name some skaters who have influenced your skating over the years.
So as a kid, I guess it was Andrew Reynolds, although my skating’s nothing like his. It was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater era, so it was Reynolds, (Geoff) Rowley, Jamie Thomas… That’s quite a shit answer, isn’t it?
Just before Static II came out, I thought skating had gone a bit boring and stagnant, perhaps with a few exceptions. I remember being obsessed with Bobby Puleo and (Paul) Shier’s parts in Static II. I was also really into Olly Todd’s part in Static III. Static aside, to name a few influences, I’d say: (Jason) Dill, AVE (Anthony Van Engelen), Anthony Pappalardo, Jake Johnson, K-Rod (Kevin Rodrigues) and Pontus Alv. With newer skaters, it’s more like the crews. I really enjoy Limosine videos and Johnny Wilson’s videos and all those guys. I always like Andrew Allen footage and new Spanky (Kevin Long) footage – he’s still progressing; he’s not slowing down any time soon. I also really enjoyed Akwasí Owusu’s recent Sci-Fi fantasy part.
You recently became a father to Digory – congratulations! I guess that has been a factor in you travelling less and focusing on Norwich for projects.
I suppose so, although Polly – my fiance – is completely supportive of my skating. Danny and the guys did do a trip to Paris last year, and she was like: “Go, it’s fine,” but my son Digory was only six months old at the time, and I was just like: “I’d rather not go.” I’d hate to go on a trip to Paris, get there and be like: “I feel shit for not being home with him and leaving Polly to do everything on her own.” Travelling to different countries to skate has always been a big motivation, but Danny deciding to focus more on filming in Norwich happened at a convenient time for me. There is some Ipswich and Peterborough footage in the new video, but that’s not exactly travelling (laughs).
How are you finding balancing parenting and a full-time job with skating?
Yeah, fine. It’s good. I work Monday to Friday, so in the evenings I can help Polly with Digory. As I said, she’s super supportive and flexible about when I can skate. I guess you have to find a balance, but it doesn’t feel difficult, as long as we plan what we’re doing. I’ll say to her midweek: “I think we’re going to skate Saturday or Sunday, or both days,” and she’ll say: “Yeah, that’s fine, as long as we can maybe do something in the morning, or perhaps we can do something in the evening.”
What do you do for a living?
I’m a site foreman for a building company that specialises in restoration work, although they also do new-build stuff, too. The majority of the projects are on the north Norfolk coast. We mainly work with handmade red brick and flint buildings, which are typical of the area.
How long have you been doing that?
I’ve been working in that particular role for 10 years or so. I still do physical work, too. It’s a nice balance of working manually, helping to run large, interesting projects and also having input with some design details. It can be challenging, but it’s enjoyable.
Was skating professionally ever a goal of yours?
To be honest, no. It’s not something I thought I had the ability to achieve, and I really like where I’m at in my life now. I’m getting flowed product, me and my partner have a house, we’ve got a kid…
You’ve got projects to work on for creative fulfilment…
Yeah. I wouldn’t really want to change anything, because it would alter where I am right now, and I’m really happy.
What are your longer-term plans? Do you see yourself staying in Norwich?
I think so, yeah. Me and Polly are currently in the process of buying a new house. It’s Polly’s dream home, so yeah, I think we’ll be here for a while, definitely until Digory has finished school.