Tristan Richards!!!!! Righteous

The first time I saw Tristan Richards he was 15 years old, skating in his first ever competition and trying a double backflip on the halfpipe. The funny thing is that he could barely air above the coping. He was hucking himself like a maniac over and over again, almost scraping his head on the second rotation, using his size 12 USD Thrones (3 sizes to big for him) like a weight to slingshot the rotation. People were shaking their heads in disbelief. Kids were losing their little minds. All the attention was on the crazy kid with no fear.

Meanwhile, I was pissed. I had skated vert almost every day for the last year and had a couple decent tricks under my belt, and here was this kid I’d never seen before trying some madness that I’d never even seen a pro skater land. It wasn’t until years later that we started skating in the same circles and years after that till we became good friends.

Ten years later and there is no denying the raw talent that Tristan exhibits on his skates. He has the balance of a yogi and an innate ability to land on his feet no matter what situation he gets himself into. He is also the funnest guy to skate with – always down to skate and always bringing humour.

Q: You are one of the most passionate people I know when it comes to skating. You seem to have this almost existential relationship with skating. Where does that love for the sport come from?

A: Simple. Rolling saved my life. It gave me more than something to strive toward, it has given my life purpose. It has given me the opportunity to meet the gnarliest people on the planet, and a perspective from which few get to view the world. It has done so much for me, I now feel that I owe rollerblading my life and as such I dedicate my life to it.

Q: You seem to have an unquenchable thirst for new spots, new tricks, new challenges. What drives you to go out and skate each day? Is it that search for one perfect moment?

A: The fastest way to evolve both mentally and physically is to be forever taking one more stride out of your comfort zone. Only when you push yourself beyond what you know can you grow. To roll like this, free of both fear and desire, committed entirely to the moment of what you are doing, regardless of consequence, good or bad… is absolute freedom. Free of the shackles of body and mind.. it’s something ethereal.

Q: I find it intriguing that despite (or maybe because of?) your love for skating, you don’t have any interest in anything that is not directly related to your skating – for instance you haven’t bought a skate DVD since VG22, you don’t watch any edits online and you don’t keep up to date with anything going on in the industry – in fact you hadn’t heard of be-mag prior to this interview. Why does that aspect of skating not appeal to you?

A: Hahaha, yeah I’m a little out of the loop. Is VG23 out yet? I guess iId just rather be out there doing it myself and watching my mates progress instead of someone I’ve never met, you know? I cried when watching Words for the first time, but nothing has moved me like that since. Mayhaps that be a factor in remaining disconnected from rollers not in my immediate environment. But I’m a bit of neo-luddite too, so facespace and the interweb aren’t really my thing.

Q: When you skate a really long balance rail it seems like you go into an almost zen-like state.  I’m pretty sure that given an infinitely long rail and enough speed you would never fall. What is going through your mind once you’ve locked into that groove?

A: It’s funny that you say a zen state, because I have a tendency to hold my breath while performing any manoeuvres, so I have to focus a lot on my breathing like in zen meditation, especially to stop myself blacking out on a long balance rail, haha! Sometimes it’s very much a zen state where nothing is going on up there. Other times I’m thinking of the most random things… like, ”did I leave the toaster on?” or ”Zeno’s paradox dictates that I shall never reach the end of this rail”.

Q: On the weekends when you are not skating, you tend to be out in the wilderness, teaching yourself survival skills Bear Grylls-style. Is this your way of escaping the capitalist consumer society that you despise? Or just preparation for the inevitable apocalypse?

A: Bit o’ both.. I like to get out of the city and away from the concerns of mundane life. Nature is the real world and where better to ground oneself than against the bare earth itself. I don’t want to get all preachy, but yeah, I fear the eventual collapse of a consumer driven society due to deepening divisions in an almost pre-destined hierarchy of socio-economic caste. But during the week when I cant escape the daily grind, the only escape is to grind daily. Ooo yeaa!

Q: Your other main interest outside of skating is music. How would you describe the kind of music that you make? What are your influences? Do you think your music is effected by your skating, or vice versa?

A: A massive influence in both my music and life is Boards of Canada. The most heavenly rhythms of righteousness my ears have ever smelled. Rolling does indeed influence my music. As I make a track I imagine skating to it. I even made a track entirely out of VG22 samples and two aussie hip-hop songs about rolling; ‘Polyurethane Rapist’ and ‘The Canthem’ featuring Mattrix a fellow child of the blade. It’s stupid really, but it’s all in good fun.

Q: Any live performances planned in the future? Can we expect to see you music available for download any time soon?

A: Well I make all my tunes on Fruity Loops Studio so all I could do to play live is walk out on stage with a laptop, plug it in and press play. All my good songs are indeed available to download on soundcloud.com under the artist names ‘Edifice Architect’ and ‘Euphonex’.They’re free to download, because if I was to whinge about capitalist consumerism bringing down society and then charge people to hear my music and opinions, I’d be nothing but a big fat hypocrite, haha.

Q: One last question: what’s the deal with wearing a feather in your Xsjados? I heard you believe it gives you some kind of super power.

A: Ah yes, the Feather of Testicular Fortitude. I won it in a game of power-chess against Balthor, emperor of the owls, who won it himself when he bested Chuck Norris in a rap battle. “This feather…” he said in a stern tone of unwavering sincerity, “…will bestow unto thee the very powers through which the universe was formed. With it, you could be King of the World, or its redeemer…”. I said cheers, then stuck it in my skate and have been squandering its mystical powers for myself ever since. True story.

Q: Umm… ok, cool. I think that about wraps it up. Any shout-outs?

A: To my mama, my girlie Hayley, and all my mates who have all been there for me, thank you. Oh, and Boards of Canada for writing the soundtrack to my life. Shine on you crazy diamonds!

Sincerely Tristan Richards
Dictated but not read

Interview, text and edit by Jordan Collins 

Pics By Rhys Bell

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