Silas Baxter-Neal talks Real Street
In the six years that X Games has been hosting the Real Street skate contest, no one has ever won twice. But that could change this year. Silas Baxter-Neal, a 10-year Habitat Skateboards pro, won the second Real Street in 2011, and some might say that his 2015 Real Street part is even better than his former gold-winning edit. We caught up with the former champ to discuss his decade anniversary, parenting, the Internet and all things Real Street.
XGames.com: What are your thoughts with regard to contests? What made you want to be involved in Real Street?
Baxter-Neal: I have never really been very good at the traditional spectator contest, I do enjoy going to them to catch up with friends and see everybody ripping. When it's my turn to skate, I usually get nervous and that just leads me to not wanting to try anything.
I think that Street League and that level of contests have increased the level of skateboarding incredibly. How consistent the leaguers have become on such a gnarly level blows me away. But I really like the Real Street contest because I really enjoy filming parts. Traveling to new spots and trying to figure out the right trick for that spot, battling tricks, being out and about with your friends and just forming a well-rounded piece that you are stoked on -- all that is more comfortable and enjoyable to me than being in an arena trying to land my go-to tricks while surrounded by people.
What was your approach to filming this Real Street part and how has your approach to filming changed over the years?
Since I travel a lot and the majority of the stuff I film is on the road, I just try to skate as much as is put in front of me. I try and skate most spots I go to and when I see a new spot, I usually have an idea of what I will try within the first few minutes of skating it. I have preferences about the obstacles I like to skate and I have tricks that I want to do, but I try to just go with what's in front of me. Usually about halfway through the allotted amount of time to film, I will look at what I have and see where there are gaps or holes and try to focus on those parts. But I never really try to put too much pressure on specific tricks because I feel like I might miss out on other tricks by doing so.
What trick took you the longest?
The hardest trick in this part for me to film was either the kinker 50-50 or the blunt gap out. The kinker rail is in a park and it looked perfect before trying to skate it, but after the first few tries, it was obvious the angles were all off. It took probably an hour just to get my confidence up to try it. The bluntslide was more about just trying to get the right speed to clear the gap. I hung up a lot and ate it getting in a few times. I had to go a bit faster than what I was comfortable with but I was stoked when it all worked out.
Last year Habitat switched to Tum Yeto Distribution. How has that been going?
The last few years at Habitat have been pretty rocky, but luckily we have found a home at Tum Yeto. So far, things have been great. Tum Yeto has been around for so long that they are stable in what they do and it feels very similar to what DNA [Distribution] used to be like.
Have you watched the other Real Street parts? Who were your favorites?
I watched all the parts and I think Marius Syvanen's part is the best. He has such a unique way of skating, an original style and the eye of a Viking. I really like Brad Cromer's part, too. He had such precise skills and a very nonchalant style -- he always makes skating look so good.
Who do you think is going to win Real Street this year?
It's so hard to tell with this contest because there is so much to a video part. It's not only about the best tricks -- it's more about the feel you get from the whole thing together. That feel can be such a personal thing that you never know how the judges are going to vote.
If you could see a new minute-long part from anyone past/present/future, who would it be?
Danny Renaud would be cool to see in this contest because he is off most people's radars and he knows how to put together an epic video part.
A lot of people are loving your part and think you're going to win. How does that make you feel and what would you do with the money?
I am so stoked if people get hyped on what I do. So much of skating is just accomplishing those personal goals of landing this trick or skating this spot. Most of it you do for yourself, but it always feels good when your peers appreciate the skating, too.
If I were to win this thing I would probably put it toward an education fund for my daughter. I was fortunate enough to win Real Street before and I put it toward my son's education. Now I have a daughter, too, so if I get lucky again, I'll try and keep things fair for them.
Father's Day just passed. How did you spend it? I just recently did a piece on parenting advice from skaters. Got any pointers/tips or suggestions?
I spent Father's Day in London and on an airplane getting home. My piece of parenting advice is this: The baby you once had will be an adult, an actual human, and it's up to you to make sure they are better than you at everything. Don't get used to anything because children always change. Give up on your own life -- you had this human, so dedicate yourself to them. But the most important advice is to remember that Mom is 90 percent right, and the 10 percent time she is wrong is because she wants you to feel good about yourself.
Habitat is doing a Northwest trip to celebrate 10 years of you being pro. How have you and skateboarding changed in those 10 years? And where do you see you/it in another 10 years?
When I first got involved with Habitat, I was 21 and still figuring out how the world functioned. I was also figuring out how pro skateboarding worked. Since then, so much has changed -- I went from running in the streets day and night surviving off one burrito a day to traveling the world, having a family and living a pretty domestic life these days.
There's one word to describe the change that I've seen in skateboarding: Internet. The value of videos has dropped so much and the attention span of all of skateboarding has diminished. That may sound negative but the positive side of that is the level of progression over the last decade is unbelievable and that came from the Internet, with kids seeing the capability of pros and treating that as a beginning point, as opposed to seeing it as the best that can be done.
But honestly, as much as things have changed, the act of skateboarding is still essentially the same for me. It's still my way of expressing myself, it's still my key to freedom, it still is my obsession and my passion and I still feel like a teenager when I am out with my friends pushing around. In 10 years, I will be 41 and hopefully still living by my dreams.
What's coming up next for you, Silas?
Adidas is releasing a full-length video in spring of 2016, so it's crunch time. We are going on trips every month, flinging my carcass through the winter. I am super-psyched on this video -- we have such a rad team with so much variety. Juice Design has been overseeing the whole project and they truly make awesome stuff. They are responsible for almost all the content Adidas has put out in the past and they have such a clean and consistent feel to everything they do.
To vote for Silas Baxter-Neal's Real Street video part, check out the X Games Real Street voting bracket.