Shaun Currie interview

26.01.2023 Exclusive, Interviews

Photography: Leung
Interview: Kingsford

Where did you grow up and how did you start skating?
I was born in Harrow in London but I grew up skating in Edgware. It’s really obvious shit how I got into skating. I think my next-door neighbour had an old board and gave it to me. I really wanted one.

Did you skate Harrow Skatepark?
Yeah. I started skating outside my house for a year or two before I actually went to Harrow skatepark, then I skated there every day for years.

That’s a tough park for a beginner.
Everything just looked like mountains. I didn’t really fuck with anything. My mission was just trying to ollie up on to the first of the two blocks. There is also a really mellow bank near the two blocks and I used to just skate that. Or I used to skate flat. Sometimes I’d roll around the snake path, but not all the way in. I didn’t really want to get stuck in there because I didn’t think I’d be able to get out.

How old were you when you started skating with the Concrete Poets crew and how did you meet them?
I had probably just turned 15. I met Henry (Edwards-Wood) through Jin (Shimizu). Me and Jin were really good friends, like best friends. We used to have sleepovers round his house. I think Jin met Henry in Barcelona and they kept in contact.

What do you remember about those early filming missions with those guys?
They were super exciting. I don’t think I’d ever skated central London before I met Henry. I guess Henry was like the dad or some shit, he’d show us around. I didn’t know where the fuck I was going. I was just following him. He had a lot of spot knowledge from skate videos. You could just tell he loved filming so much, the whole process. I was lucky. I think he was just into how I skated. I had ideas for tricks and most of the time he was into it.

Crook bonk, Leeds

You moved to Sheffield around the age of 16. What was the reason for the move?
Basically my mum and dad decided to move because it was too expensive in Edgware… or just in London in general. I remember my mum telling me we were moving to a place called Sheffield and I had no idea where it was. Being the age I was I just assumed it was either in London or next to London. I never really understood where I was going until I got in the car and we were driving away. After two hours in the car I remember being like “Why are we still driving? Where are we going?” It was pretty gutting.

Do you remember your first impressions of Sheffield?
Small. I feel like the earliest I can remember is when I went to college. I just hated being there. There were all these little words they’d say and I didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. That used to get me kind of annoyed. When I went to college for the first time I was a bit late and the teacher said: “Oreyt duck?” I just stared at her, gave her the dirtiest eyes and didn’t say anything back. I sat down and everyone in the room started laughing. I remember being well annoyed like: “What the fuck is everyone laughing at?” I was trying to act… well not trying to act, but being all London, being annoyed about everything and shit.

And she was being nice to you.
Yes, she was just saying hello. I guess everyone was laughing because she said hello and I just looked at her like shit and didn’t say anything back.

Did you find the skate scene welcoming?
I did. Everyone was really nice to me immediately. Everyone was really safe. I used to skate with people like Paul O’Hara, Timmy Garbett, ‘Dead’ Dave Adlington, Henry Stables, all those guys. I used to see Jerome Campbell a lot and thought he was sick.

I read in your No Comply Network interview that Jerome was a big influence on you.
Yeah, Jerome was a massive one. I loved how quick-footed he was. He was real cool. I didn’t exactly want to be him, but I kind of did at the same time…

Backside kickflip, Sheffield

Who else has influenced your skating?
Lucien Clarke was a big influence on me growing up. Danny Wainwright in Day in the City 02 was a huge one. The skating and music was perfect. Nick Jensen was a big influence on me – you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that. I loved his section in Lost & Found so much. I remember asking Henry: “What are those trousers he’s wearing? They’re so nice,” and he was like: “They’re cords.” I remember going to H&M to get brown cords all the time after that.  

How do London and Sheffield compare for street skating and filming?
Man, I never thought I’d say this, but I actually think Sheffield’s better for filming and for street skating, just because spots are really close to each other and I feel like more things just seem to happen, like you just spot stuff…

It’s more spontaneous?
Yes, it’s way more spontaneous and I like that. Obviously London’s got these sick spots, but it’s a bigger place and you have to plan. You can’t decide to skate south then suddenly decide: “I’m going to go skate north.” You’re going to waste most of your day doing that shit. In Sheffield you can hit a load of spots in the same area and even if you want to leave the city centre, it’s not really that far away. I like that convenience.

Do you feel like living in Sheffield has shaped your skating?
Definitely. I would say that, because how I skate Dev (Devonshire Green Skatepark) is kind of how I try to do things in the streets now. Dev has definitely shaped my skating. I like skating hips and I like skating bank-to-stalls and stuff like that… It’s obvious that I want to skate the same kind of obstacles that are at Dev.

For people who aren’t familiar, how would you describe Dev?
I’d say it’s old. They just don’t build skateparks like that any more. The banks are all big, the hips are kind of big, the bank-to-stall’s really long and all the edges are really rounded. That sub block that everyone sits on, it’s fucked to think that’s made to ride on. Who the fuck wants to skate that? (laughs). I feel like the park wouldn’t pass skatepark regulations now. I love it. It’s got loads of history and I like how it’s bumpy and there are cracks all over the place. You can pump round; you don’t actually have to ollie or anything… That’s one of the best ways to warm up.

Ollie, Sheffield

How is the skate scene in Sheffield today?
I would say the scene’s thriving. There’s a younger generation that kept skating and they’re really good – they’re holding it down – and because of the university here, there are always amazing skaters passing through. I’ve met loads of sick skaters who came here for uni like Ben Broyd, (Mark) Pritchard, Tom O’Driscoll… So many good skaters have come and gone. Some stayed after university and held it down here for years. This French guy Alexis Jamet was here for a bit. He was so safe. Those people keep the scene alive… and the younger guys like Hasan Media and Ben Lilley. Then there are loads of people who have been here since the beginning – or since I’ve been here – people like Moggins, Timmy and Dave Adlington. They’re all still holding it down. There are people filming, like Henry Kav (Kavanagh) and Frank O’Donnell; he made that video People Move With Their Hands. Also John (Onyehara) and all the NSD (Never Stop Drinking) guys keep the scene alive by creating random DIY spots around Sheffield to keep things interesting.

Slugger seems to be doing well and The House Skatepark as well… It’s such a massive part of the Sheffield skate scene. I want to give Rob Bannister and everyone at The House a mention because they really do keep the scene alive. We have terrible winters and we need that indoor skatepark.

How did you start riding for Skateboard Cafe?
This guy called Mark Pritchard moved here from Bristol for university and we got along so well. We just clicked like crazy. He grew up skating with Rich Smith, who co-owns Skate Cafe. I first met Rich when he came to visit Mark in Sheffield. It was like it was meant to be; we all just got along so well. I’ll always remember we were stoned in this apartment and it was late as fuck, like 12.30am. We decided to go street skating and we got a dope clip off the bat. We filmed a line. Rich kept visiting and we’d always go filming. 

I get the impression that Cafe is a big part of your life.
It really is. It means a lot to me man, because I feel like I’ve watched it grow. It’s crazy how long I’ve been a part of it. All these people I’m repping this thing with, they’re all actually really good friends. I’ve known them for fucking ages. It means a lot because I love skateboarding so much.

Are you happy to talk about your epilepsy?
Yeah, sure.

When were you diagnosed?
I got diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 22. I didn’t tell anyone about my first fit. I remember I got in really late from smoking loads of weed at my friend’s house. I was living with my parents and they were asleep. I was starving and my mum had left dinner for me in the kitchen. I took my dinner to my room and… I just woke up on the floor and my dinner was all over the floor. I remember being like: “What the fuck?” I woke up to my mum knocking on my bedroom door like: “Shaun, you all right?” and I remember being like: “Yeah.” I just didn’t say anything.

Backside 50-50 (all the way), Sheffield

About a year later I had a seizure in my sleep. I was still living with my parents and my mum took me to hospital. I woke up in the hospital and I got told I was having seizures and stuff like that. They said I’d had a nocturnal seizure. At the beginning I was having them like crazy. It fully affected my skating. I didn’t come out for a long time because after you’ve had a seizure you’re totally out of it… You’re knackered. You just stay in bed. I don’t think it’s safe to even leave your bed because you could be walking and it’s like the room is moving… Your balance is off and you can fall over and hurt yourself. I went through a really long stage of trying to find medication that helped, but all these medications were basically just putting me to sleep. I was always sleeping. I wasn’t really about for a while. I was always tired and always having seizures.

It wasn’t as bad when I was living at my mum’s cause my mum and my dad were always there to make sure I was OK, but after a while my seizures weren’t as bad, so I moved out. But I started having them when I was all by myself and I was hurting myself. I was falling out of my bed and I’d get carpet burns from having seizures on my carpet. The most epic one was: I woke up with a banging headache and I walked into my bathroom, turned the light on, looked in the mirror and my fucking forehead was… half of my forehead was white because I’d burnt the skin off from having a seizure on my carpet. I was just like: “Oh my god!” My head was bleeding and shit. It was like something out of a horror film. I just started fucking stressing. I went to turn my TV on and there was a massive crack through the screen. I must have banged my body or my head into the TV, fell on to the floor, had a seizure, but then somehow I woke up back in my bed. I don’t remember any of it.

Oh man. So how did you get it under control?
I take medication but it definitely died down loads when I stopped smoking weed, which is weird because some people say smoking weed helps people with epilepsy. I guess that’s just not the case for me.

Interesting. So how long has it been since you stopped smoking weed?
I think it’s been two and a half years. I stopped smoking tobacco too. My epilepsy was chilling out before I stopped smoking weed – I was only having seizures now and then – but they nearly completely stopped after I stopped.

Based on your experience do you have any advice for anyone recently diagnosed with epilepsy?
I don’t know. It affects people in loads of different ways. Apparently I was getting it because of stress and low blood sugar. I was smoking weed and over thinking things, getting pissed  off… I was dwelling on things more because of smoking weed. Also I wasn’t eating properly. It was holding back my appetite. This is just me personally. I was still having seizures and I didn’t stop smoking weed because I just loved it so much, even though it was harming me. If you’re doing the exact same thing that I was and you’re having seizures, I would say: “Just fucking stop. Stop smoking bud.” In the long term it’s not even worth it, and you’ll save loads of money.

Crook fakie, Sheffield

How did you find giving up?
It was pretty stressful. I was a pretty angry guy when I was giving up weed. Maybe not angry, but super negative. People would tell me: “It’ll be all right,” and I’d be like: “Why is it going to be all right? How do you know?” I’d say that even though people were being nice to me. Yeah man, going into the whole… When I was smoking loads of weed, a lot of the stress was… I felt like I had to come out. When I was smoking weed I thought there was something wrong with me, like: “Why am I having these thoughts about men? I’m obviously smoking too much weed.” I felt I had to stop to see what my thoughts were like when I wasn’t smoking anything, so I knew my thoughts weren’t influenced by this substance. Time went by and I realised I was feeling the exact same way. I was just like: “I’m still really into men.” I came out as bisexual but it’s a weird one… There are so many labels. It drives me a bit nuts. I definitely like penis, I can’t help it (laughs), but I’m also really attracted to transgender women and men too. So if there are any singles out there, hit me up! (laughs).

So I stopped smoking weed because of epilepsy and I was having seizures because I was overthinking how to come out… I stopped altogether because of those two things: epilepsy and trying to get my thoughts straightened out about my sexuality. A year or so went by and I was having the same thoughts about my sexuality and my seizures weren’t as bad. I was like: “I might as well just not smoke. I might as well just hold this down and just not do it.” I was in debt from smoking weed as well. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. Don’t get me wrong I still like when someone passes me buds. I love the smell of weed before you actually put it in a spliff and burn it, but when you smoke it, it just smells dangerous. I don’t want to smoke it. I never thought I’d be able to say that.

That’s great. I remember you came out as bisexual on Instagram, I think in 2020. Were you inspired by anyone else in the skate community to do that?
I guess I was inspired by looking at people around me and on the internet and seeing how liberated they were feeling by just coming out and saying it. I don’t care any more because everyone knows it. I’ve got nothing to hide. I felt like I was hiding something. It just made me feel really uncomfortable and once I just said it… I thought it was easy to say it on Instagram because then everyone can fucking see it. Also, Dom Henry definitely helped me feel a bit more like… when Dom Henry came out, I was like: “Yeah, you know what? I kind of feel the same. I think I’m into guys as well.” There’s someone else actually as well: Will Sheerin. I didn’t know him, but he was only in Leeds, so I felt like he was close. Just knowing these sick street skaters had come out and… they’re just the same person.

How was your news received in the skate community?
I can’t remember the comments on that post to be honest, but I don’t remember anything negative. I guess people were pretty supportive. They were just like: “Yeah, cool.” Before that I think I had just told a couple of people in Sheff. I was like: “Keep it to yourself though,” and it’s so funny because people in the skate scene can’t help but talk. You tell one person and they’ve gone and told everyone. That made it easier for me in some ways because I didn’t have to go round telling everyone.  Thanks for talking about that.It’s all good man, because I don’t actually really care that much. If anyone hates it’s just like: “Bro there’s something wrong with you, not me.”

Korahn (Gayle) told me you had a great voice and wondered if you’d ever thought about writing a tune or spitting some bars?
(Laughs) Real talk, I’ve actually always wanted to do something with music but I’m just so lazy, I’ve never actually done anything. I don’t know man, I’d love to give it a go, but I don’t know what the fuck I’d talk about, fucking breakfast or some shit? I probably wouldn’t want to spit any bars, I’d probably want to sing something or make some beats. But I wouldn’t be able to take myself seriously. I’d just laugh at myself as soon as I tried. Maybe some comedy shit. Like some… I want to say like Jack Black but he’s actually really talented. Him and his mate Kyle Gass from Tenacious D, they’re pretty funny. Maybe I could do some shit like that.

Noseslide pop out, Leeds

I can see that. Rich told me to ask you about your Radox package.
That’s fucking funny man because I just went to the shop and literally got some Radox. I got the Muscle Therapy, bro.

I love that one.
I’m reading it now: “Blended with minerals, black pepper scent and ginseng.” Fucking hell, it’s like they’re seasoning me up to cook me or some shit. I used to film myself saying random shit when I was smoking weed at my house and send it to my friends. I did a skit about Radox and put it on Instagram. I put on a little persona – I think it was a rude boy, or maybe it was the American guy – and I was just chatting about Radox and people found it funny. Someone – I think it might have been Harry (Ogilvie) – tagged Radox UK and I got a message from them saying: “That was really funny. Do you want to give us your address?” I did, but I was high as fuck. I forgot I even did it. Then I got a knock at the door and I thought it was something from Vans. I looked inside and I think I got four Bath Soaks and three Shower Gels (laughs). It was so fucking random.

Do you have any longer-term plans for the future? Do you see yourself staying in Sheffield?
My long-term plan in the future is to not be on universal credit any longer. I can see myself in Sheffield a bit longer but I would like to move away. I love everyone here, I like the idea of being the one guy on Skate Cafe who’s up north in Sheffield, but it’d be nice to move away. I would like to move to Bristol at some point but right now I’m pretty comfortable to be honest.