Interview: James Threlfall

  • James Threlfall Interview

    Hi James, can you give us your vital info?

    Hey! I'm James Threlfall, I'm 22 and from Bath, England. 

    Where do you usually skate?

    I try to get around as much as possible, but right now I've been hitting the new Bath park a lot. The bowl there's really solid and we've been finding new lines every session, so it's super fun right now. I spend a solid amount of time at the concrete park behind my house in Devizes too, whenever I fancy a quick session on something a little more mellow.

    You’re from Bath, how important was the Vert ramp at the park there for you growing up?

    The vert ramp was really where transition properly started for me, so I was definitely sad to see it go. When I started I'd been skating a lot of parks anyway but never really any quarters above 6 foot high. I'd eyed up vert and literally thought once I'd dropped in, that would be it - it would be over with and I'd just carry on skating the smaller stuff. But I guess vert felt fun so from there I started skating both. I didn't skate it anywhere near as regularly as I'd have liked to be fair, but I think vert's had a pretty big impact on the way I skate as I'll approach parks with a totally different mentality nowadays because of it. 

    Here James Frontside Airs at Midsomer Norton, by Ryan Goold


    The refurbished Victoria Skatepark opened recently and looks amazing, what are your thoughts on it?

    I'm loving it. The bowl's deep end is about 10 and a half foot, which feels amazing - still a challenge for lip tricks, but big enough to pull airs like you would on a vert ramp. The lines seem to work really well and there's some nice little hip elements too which work super good. I'm just enjoying having a deep bowl to skate on my doorstep - and the street elements are fun too. 

     Your sponsor situation seems fairly unique, in that you’re sponsored by Element, and in particular Animal. Both don’t seem to have much of a presence in the North, but I guess with the prominence of surfing in the South they have more of one? How did you end up getting sponsored by them?

    Both are brands I'm really into that are backing me really well - I'm super grateful to have the support that I do. Animal have been there for me since I was about 18. They wanted someone to join their team as the first ever skateboarder for the brand, and I wound up getting the phone call. It was really out of the blue, and that week I went down to their offices, met with them and signed a contract. Their vibe is just really good - there's so many people that work there that are super good at action sports, and they really seem to understand what I want to do. They offer me great support and there's tonnes of things that I wouldn't have been able to do in the past 4 years without their backing - I hope to represent them for as long as I can. 

    Element came this Summer, and I was really stoked on that. I've always been really into what they do as a brand and they have some of the best riders, both in Europe and around the rest of the world. Through working at TKC, the UK distributors of Element hardware, I ended up assisting with the organising and running of the 2015 Element Make it Count contest held at Projekts in Manchester. I was working directly with the guys from Element and just felt that their vibe was really good. Long story short, we got round to chatting about my skating and they asked me to shoot some raw footage for them. From there, I scored a flow deal and couldn't be more hyped. Alex, the European Element Team Manager is always down to give me a tonne of advice - whether it be with a trip I'm planning, footage that I'm filming, whatever - he's super supportive and I feel blessed to have those guys backing me. I also owe a lot to TKC on that one, so thanks to Ian for the help that he's given me with making it happen and the ever ongoing support. 

    Have you got to travel much through your sponsors?

    Yeah, I've been really lucky with that. Animal back me with a lot of my trips, and like I say, have made trips happen for me that I wouldn't have been able to go on otherwise. We hit Marrakech in Morocco for an Animal trip last year which was really trippy. It was super hard to skate out there because the spots are fairly few and far between, and at times it was pretty stressful trying to get footage - but it was actually really refreshing to go on a trip like that, where it wasn't all just handed to us on a plate. There were some sketchy moments on that trip, but looking back I'm so glad I went as there's some amazing stories. 

    I also headed to Estonia for Simple Session last year, and that was a really cool place. I'd never been to that part of the world and I'm definitely looking to go back in 2016. On top of that I've been lucky enough to go to places like Denmark, Sweden, Berlin and more - I've been really fortunate with the travels I've been on with my board and I'm hoping to add to that list next year. 

    Backside Air at Bath's amazing looking new park, by Mark Mapstone


    According to your website, you’re a presenter & skateboarder, what does the presenter side of this entail and how did you get involved with that?

    Presenting has always been something that's really interested me. I've hosted events since the age of 15 with a contest series I started with the Council in Wiltshire which still runs today, so I've always been pretty confident with it. From there, I guess there were just occasions when people like Animal would be filming at an event and want someone to do a piece to camera, so I'd always step up to it.

     I started trying to do more with it and worked on some adverts with Sky and Coca Cola, and then built up a showreel to try and get more work. I've started on a web series with Animal that I'm hosting called Landscapes, for which the concept is literally just travelling around with friends, skating all the different spots on the way and capturing the raw essence of what skating is about - with a tonne of pranks and stuff in there too hopefully. We shot a pilot early this year, and from that we're now going to hit the ground running with a series of short episodes. 

     I'm also chatting to some bigger TV channels about working with them too so I'm really hoping that comes off. The dream really is to be able to skate and present full time. 

    You've got a new part for Animal coming out soon, can you tell us a bit about it? Where have you got to filming for it?

    Yeah, I won't lie, it's been pretty hard work! I've worked on a few videos before, but really they've just been shot in a small number of sessions and that's been it. Being from a part of the world where there's a load of countryside, the group of people I skate with most days is pretty small and we don't really have a dedicated filmer, so I've had to reach out of the immediate area to work with some people I haven't worked with before.

    Animal were pretty up for me working on this video, and then I got on Element and they were super keen for me to bring something out, so I was like "right I'm going to devote a solid amount of time to this video, we're not going to release until we're ready, and it's probably going to hurt a fair bit in the process." I thought we'd finished last time me and Pete had a really solid filming session, but I know I want more... So I'm going to have a final push for a few more clips. I'd like to try to see it done by the new year, but I guess that's weather and time dependent not just for me, but for everyone else involved too. 

    I've been filming a solid amount with Ed Russell and Pete Pickford, and I'm sat on some stuff that I'm pretty happy with. I guess I just want to create something that's varied and shows almost every style of skating - bowl, park, street etc. I've also just tried to ignore any skate trends and go with the tricks I want to shoot - so you can fully expect a willy grind or two down a rail, which Pete hates! Haha. I'm really grateful for the guys filming getting so into it though - they could easily have been like "nah, I don't fancy it - sorry mate!" Haha. 


     How did you go about filming the part? Do you have any particular method for trying stuff for it? Trick lists etc.

    Haha, well Pete found it hilarious but I did rock up to a weekend of filming with a trick list. Don't get me wrong, I like to be spontaneous and just try stuff that feels right, but whenever I'm going to film somewhere I like to look at it first and get my head around what's possible and what I can bring to it. When I get a trick in my head that I want to try, I just write it down so that I can at least look at it or try it, and even if it doesn't work/happen, I can leave the session without feeling like I forgot anything I wanted to have a go at.

    But I do love how it goes totally the other way sometimes. I mean we rocked up at the Campus Pool in Bristol as they let us in super early to film in an empty park one weekend (thanks so much to the guys for that, massively appreciated), and Tom Mangham was doing some work there at the time and just shouted some tricks at me to try that we ended up getting. Those are pretty funny times because you end up filming stuff that people think fit your skating that you haven't necessarily thought of, so I'm always real keen for suggestions.

     How difficult are you finding trying to finish it during the Autumn/Winter? Filming indoors or going to greater lengths?

    Yeah, that side of things sucks huh. To be honest, if it was just cold I could manage - I mean, I hate skating when it's super cold, but at least you can get it done. It's more the fact that it's just been so solidly wet lately. Like there's been a good few sessions now that we've just had to call off before we even set off in the morning because it wasn't going to work. Slamming on concrete in the cold sucks way more too, so I'm having the time of my life right now! Haha. We're just trying to battle with the weather and get it done! 

    That sounds like a losing battle to be honest... Cheers, James looking forward to the new part!