WRITTEN BY STUART GOMEZ
Emerica’s MADE series kicked off three years ago with an initial concept modeled after Blind’s Tim & Henry’s Pack Of Lies to capitalize on the overwhelming amount of footage that Brandon Westgate and Collin Provost had amassed. The idea grew into a bona fide full length that included Leo Romero and the surprise introduction of Jeremy Leabres. Chapter One’s hush-hush inclusion of Leabres was a gut punch: the well-kept secret took you by surprise and didn’t let you catch your breath. MADE: Chapter Two’s official lineup of Justin Figueroa, Bryan Herman, Jerry Hsu, Kevin Long, and Andrew Reynolds, screams classic must-see Emerica. If Chapter One started out with a punch to the gut, then Chapter Two, with its overwhelming list of heavy hitters, deals the haymaker.
After a handful of era-defining full lengths, Emerica has become known for setting a high standard in editing and art direction. Atmospheric in an exacting and wholly natural way, each video is scored with precision regardless of musical genre. It’s obvious that a great deal of care is put into each choice in the editing process to achieve a rhythm that is essentially perfect. Everything, right down to the ubiquitous green tint, just works.
This attention to detail is an Emerica tradition. Past DVD releases have been heavy with easter eggs; you could lose all track of time clicking around the menu in search of every last hidden bit of stoke, and, in the case of Kids In Emerica, just let the menu loop play and be rewarded for your patience. The Emerica mystique is one that rewards the curious, loaded with layer upon layer of secrets. And when they run out of room, there are always the B-sides. The question now is: What surprises does Emerica have in store this time around?
The creative minds behind the post-This Is Skateboarding (2003) generation of Emerica videos (including director Jon Miner and former art director Yogi Proctor) have pulled off a minor miracle by successfully translating the vibe of one of skateboarding’s most individualistic teams. Approaching the riders about filming for Chapter Two, Miner says, “I looked at it like, ‘This is a hard act to follow.’ Those guys killed it pretty hard!” But over time it became clear that Chapter Two’s riders aren’t comparing their output to the previous video at all; each rider was holding himself up to his own personal gold standard.
Jerry Hsu, Andrew Reynolds, and Kevin 'Spanky' Long for MADE: Chapter Two c.2016 | PHOTO: ATIBA
For Jerry Hsu, he sees his Chapter Two part as a way to further evolve his skating. “The biggest challenge is dealing with a shittier body,” Hsu says. In an example of silver lining wisdom, he finds the bright side: “But at the same time that is a good thing. That means I can evolve as a skater, adapt, and think of new things to do.” The realities of getting older and enduring injuries affected Hsu’s MADE cohorts as well, and they all had varying insights about working on this video at this stage in their careers. Working on MADE: Chapter Two is an opportunity for personal growth in many ways.
Quizzing each rider about the meaning behind the name MADE is equally revealing: no two answers were alike. The latest chapter in the Emerica story, like previous videos, may have a defined look and feel, but it is as idiosyncratic as its team and is still refreshingly open for interpretation. MADE means something different to each of the riders and that may be the essence of MADE—the team’s unique points of view just can’t be manufactured.
Nollie 180 then switch 360 flip. Los Angeles, CA | PHOTOS: ATIBA
INTERVIEW BY: ATIBA
Andrew, what’s up?
You know that thing that Herm did the nollie inward heel over at 3rd and Army?
I just got the half Cab late shuv over it!
Ohhh, interesting place to do it!
Yeah, I thought that was a good spot for it.
‘Cause it’s actually kinda high! A table is obviously “better” but I think that’s as high as a table, really. Are you ready for this interview? Are you focused?
I’m driving and Herman’s sitting right here. Is it personal?
No, it’s not personal. Wait—you’re driving the Baker van?
No, I’m driving my car. Let’s do it!
Okay, how did you get on Emerica?
Well, I don’t know exactly but I know that the quality of the Airwalk [Andrew’s previous shoe sponsor] was kinda going down and I tried a pair of etnies, I think, and they were really thick and good quality shoes. They were some hi-tops, gray with white soles. I don’t remember the exact name of the model but I just knew that, “Whoa! These things are really good for skating!” And then there was a guy named Steve Black, I believe, that used to hook people up.
Yeah, that was Steve Black. Totally.
Sole Tech was really small, and the people I knew who were involved were like: Muska, Don Brown, Steve Black, and Jamie Thomas might have been on Emerica at the time. So, just through those people, kinda. I don’t even think Justin Regan was even there at that point.
Yeah, it was Steve Black at that point. Did you send a sponsor-me tape or were they just flowing you shoes?
Yeah, they were just flowing me shoes. I think that at the time, they were just flowing everybody shoes. Like, I wasn’t paid or anything. I just really wanted to wear ‘em because they were awesome!
Didn’t you ride for etnies first?
I was hooked up by Don Brown for a long time with etnies back in the Birdhouse days. I used to wear the black etnies, they were the ‘Rap’ model that I used to rock with Jim [Greco] back in the day.
What is your favorite Emerica shoe?
My favorite Emerica shoe is The Reynolds 2!
Why is that?
Well, I did some of the best skating in that shoe. The Reynolds 2 design, which kinda also ended up being the AR Slim—which was not “slim” at all—and then it also ended up being a vulcanized shoe. But they all had the same look. They all had the same design. I like a toe piece, you know? I like to look down and see a toe piece.
Fakie varial heelflip. Los Angeles, CA | PHOTO: ATIBA
Since MADE is so music-focused, did you get to pick your own song?
I picked my own song.
What was it about the song that made you want to pick it?
That it was short and it made you feel something.
Was it a song that you’d always listen to?
When was the first time you heard it? Did you know that you wanted to skate to it eventually?
No, I didn’t really think of it as an option to skate to when I first heard it. I just always thought that it was a nice-sounding song. It kinda goes together.
How long did it take for you to film your part?
I don’t even know how long we’ve been filming. I’ve just been kinda trying to film every now and then. I haven’t been trying very hard at all.
And why would you say that?
I’ve filmed probably, I don’t even know, maybe ten or fifteen parts in my life. I’m not… I just want to skate and if I get something, I get it. And if I don’t, I don’t really care that much. I just skate and whatever I get I guess that’s what I get.
What would you say was your biggest battle for a trick?
Shoot, I don’t even know. I did some lines down these two eights in a row, and I spent maybe four hours just trying a line.
Did you go back and forth?
No, it was just one day putting in hours and hours of jumping down stairs.
What is it about the Emerica team that’s special? It seems like everyone is very close.
I know this is the same thing that everybody’s going to say, but everybody on the team likes to be around each other and likes to skate. We like to skate together. It’s not like a formulated “boy band,” it’s a real team. We hang out, we get along, we like the way each other skates. We’re like a real team, a team that can hang out and go on tour together. Not like, “Oh, that’s the best guy. We better get him.” You know?
"Made 2 Roll": 36 full-bleed pages of Reynolds and the rest of the stars of Emerica's MADE: Chapter Two, in The Skateboard Mag 152.