THE MUSKA KEEPS BOUNCING
Chad Muska brings the hype, his boombox, charged skate buddies and gets the party jumping. There is so much contagious passion, fun, love and energy in his life to inspire generations to come. Due to some serious back problems, he had to slow down a bit, but channels his creativity with a multidisciplinary vision.
How do you get the crowd hyped at demos?
Every crowd and setting is different, but I heard Mike V had a whole demo choreography going, with different stages, like “getting it going”, “the build up”, “get really crazy & intense” and “whine down”. I always thought, that’s a great idea, but I never had the chance to do the ultimate demo mixtape!
What were the first art pieces or moments in your childhood that inspired you?
I’ve had such a crazy life, that I barely remember my childhood. But I just had a flashback to living in Philadelphia in the eighties. I remember seeing graffiti on the freeway from the school bus and I was just staring at these vivid colors and patterns. As a teen I got heavily involved with graffiti through skateboarding, but never thought about it as art. Because there was art in museums, which I was always scared to go in. I wasn’t growing up and experiencing these galleries or museums. They were very formal to me and I felt intimidated by these establishments. I wasn’t exposed to much art, but I was tripping out on the paintings from Salvador Dali. He was cool and seemed to be on acid or something.
Skateboarding took the front row in my life and pushed my expression in graffiti to the side, but with the opportunities to design t-shirt and skateboard graphics my graffiti influences came full circle. I studied art as I became more interested but I didn’t have a degree in art or any academic subject for that matter. (laughs) So I started to watch and learn. I’ve always been interested in the process and consuming myself with ideas 100%. With my earlier art I got really interested in Warhol and questioning what art was. Questioning authority was always something I was interested in through hip-hop & punk rock movements. I liked the idea of artistic expression and questioning authority. The installation work of Anselm Kiefer I find really inspiring and can recommend the documentary about him, “Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow”.
You lived with Ed Templeton when you started to ride for Toy Machine… what was his influence on you?
Ed was a huge influence on multiple levels, but at that time I was so interested in skateboarding I didn’t understand it. He looked at the world in a different way and was weird in a good way. On tour everybody was like: “Oh, look at those stairs, look at the handrail!”, but he was analyzing how we looked at the world and was interested in our reactions. It was so rad to see him taking his paintings and applying them to a company. He created all this art and made a company out of it. It’s so inspirational to see, that his company is still relevant to this day and connects with the youth. Ed was a famous pro skater, long before I was known. It’s so amazing, that his own personal expression can span decades. He came through with us, ripped in skateboarding, created all the cool things and evolved. Spending time with Ed and crossing paths with Thomas Campbell, Tobin Yelland or Mark Gonzales was very influential. It showed me, that skateboarding is one part, and personal expression is another equal part of this culture. Nowadays the industry focuses too much on abilities, like how many times you can flip your board or consistently be the best skateboarder. I didn’t play football or join a sports team, because none of those variables existed and it didn’t matter. It was just you versus your skateboard and everybody had their own special tricks and styles. However skateboarding is evolving or changing it will always be this pure form of personal expression to me. Skateboarding in general is a complete form of performance art.
After Toy Machine, it seemed like you lived a couple lives during the whole Shorty era.
Yeah, there were many lives and some of them the public hasn’t even seen…
What are your favorite materials to work with?
It’s a progression which started out as an extension of graphic design, which I applied to canvas in a pop art vibe. The repetition and destruction of images lead to a texture base work. I was starting with shredding paper and applying it to canvases, and somehow putting cement on a wood panel. Originally I used it to mimic the wall for the artwork to be placed on, but I saw the beauty in the texture and deterioration of walls. Trying to replicate these structures lead to cement as a media, which is really fascinating as a skateboarder, graffiti writer, and artist. In our society cement is such a significant tool for our advancement and to create these cities, in which we all congregate together and exist. Cement has these unique properties, when you can’t really control it. The difference in the water mix, temperature, and humidity affect the way that it dries and the patterns that naturally occur within this medium. I’ve been heavily experimenting with cement and wood for framing, sometimes polyurethane resin and occasionally embedded steel. All these elements tie back to skateboarding in sort of an unintentional way which relates uniquely to me. Cement is by far my favorite medium as it has a life in all these different physical states and how you can work with it in these stages. Once it’s going, you have to meet the timelines to achieve your vision. I love the minimalism of cement and it represents a synthetic landscape to me. I enjoy creating these objects, because I feel that they retain energy, if I connect them in the right way it brings a good feeling to me.
This Lodown issue (DROPOUT) explores topics like urban nomadism and modern hermitage.
Funny, that you mention it, that is a topic I’m very interested in right now. I’m actually looking into buying land at Joshua Tree outside of LA and I’m fascinated with these dome-shaped earth homes, which are naturally cooling or heating themselves. They basically stay at a solid temperature all year round.
I saw that Muska Beatz got back into producing music..
I haven’t explored producing music in over ten years. While creating these visual assets, I thought why not create the sound myself as well and eliminate the music clearance. That sparked it up and I could easily get into producing music for one week straight, but I have to balance my work and need focus to make it great. For me all the creative disciplines are very similar and connected. It’s about getting these pieces and aligning them in a certain way to create a finalized vision. And they all inspire each other in very different ways, like when you make a dope song and this footage would go great with it or you wanna skate hearing that song or just wanna make the party jump.
Exploring creativity as humans is the most important thing we can do. Create & Love, that’s what the world is lacking right now. We put so much emphasis on judgement of creativity, but our sole purpose is to express in anything. With social media it became such a judgmental society and it’s not encouraging. People are scared to express themselves or scared of failing, although failing is a very important process and step to achieve success. You can channel your focus and energy in many different ways and have fun. I don’t let anybody slow me down; I just follow my heart. Art is such a loose term, but it might be the purest form of self expression.
How involved are you with Supra these days?
I spent a lot of time working with Supra, creating these assets and bouncing off my own creativity. I help to influence and give guidance, but my main focus are the Skytop products. I’m very hands-on with the creations: From designing colors and material stories to creating all the assets and the marketing behind them. I built the Factory 13 space for Supra as a pop-up shop. We were doing some of the creative assets out of there and doing my art at same spot as well. It was cool for a while, but I realized quickly, that I don’t want my business to affect my creativity. Art is my only escape with no reasoning behind it, nobody to report to or to explain your actions and expressions.
Read more about his latest joint the Skytop V right here.
Milestones in Skateboarding:
This was Muska in his prime. Ty Evans and Chad worked so easily together. "The Day" in Arizona was simply epic—some of the most exciting skating to witness firsthand.
Muska had some ads and interviews, but it was only after this 1998 Shorty's part that a star was born and a legend was made. Peabody introduces a true classic.