is loading

Bill Strobeck about Supreme

With his movie Kids Larry Clark indeed created the most authentic and unprettified portrait of 90s youth culture and incidentally also distributed the image of a new founded label from New York to the world, cause most of the amateur actors hung out at the Supreme shop at Lafayette Street on a daily basis and perfectly embodied this radical coolness that appealed to the masses. More than 20 years later Supreme’s attraction is unabated – only the setting has changed. The kids of today seem to be a bit more focused and less self-destructive and the storyteller now is Bill Strobeck, who already filmed Cherry, one of the most exciting skate videos in the last few years. Due to the Paris Supreme store opening he just recently released another instant classic called Pussy Gangster. Instead of Washington Square Park the scenery these days is Place de la République, which added a whole new crew to the game: the Bloby’s. This is how it looks, when two of the most innovative crews of today join forces.

Bill Strobeck

You’re back in NYC now. How long did you stay in Paris?

I was there for a month and 8 days on the first trip. Then we flew back for two weeks, I went back for a week to edit it and flew back for the premiere. I could only edit it here in my space. It was a bit hard to mix these two trips, but then one night one thing clicked. That’s always the sickest feeling. I finished it, was happy, and got it approved by the boss and then I got a trick eight hours before I had to go on the plane and it took me three hours to put it in. But Kevin Rodrigues got that fakie wallride. He took the train back from the spot and sent it to me. I’m super psyched on it.

"It’s more than just skate skills. That is what Supreme is, that is what I am, and that is what we wanna portray"

I showed Pussy Gangster to my girlfriend, who has nothing to do with skateboarding, and then showed her another clip with just bangers and asked her, which one she liked more and she liked yours a lot more. Why do you think that even without skateboarding background you get this reaction?

First of all, this is how I wanna portray skateboarding. The kids I work with understand this now and they are a group of friends. They’re actually really cool kids, that was the most special thing when I first met them. That is equally important than being good at skating. You can hang out with them. If some other guy would film those kids in the same way, it wouldn’t be similar. You’ll see in the adidas video Tyshawn’s (Jones) part will be really good, but I don’t know if the dudes that filmed can connect with Tyshawn like I can, cause he knows me really well. He and his friends come over to my house and can be themselves. They know I’m not judging them. It’s almost like a big brother thing, they don’t look at me like an adult advisor. I’m on their side, but there are times when I tell them that they have to give a little bit in order to get to the next step. They’re not just skate kids, they’re good personalities in their own element and they’re a really fucking cool group. I’m lucky that I’m able to document them.

Na kel – Fall

Who got them on Supreme?

I filmed Tyshawn and (Jason) Dill for a commercial after my Transworld part and that was kinda the start. That was my first time with Tyshawn and he was really little, but he nollie flipped into the courthouse, and he did it pretty quick. And I was like: “Man, this kid’s pretty talented!” And then Dill in L.A. lives a block from the shop and those kids were always there in the back hanging. Aidan Mackey, Sage Elsesser, Nakel (Smith) – and then Tino Razo was like: “Let’s put a team together. Even it’s not a team, let’s give those kids things, they are super cool.” I lived with Dill for two months during Cherry and the kids sat in the backroom, talked shit, punched each other – they’re kids. I asked them to come with us skate at a schoolyard and then they skated and I was like: “Dude, they’re actually good!” From there on they were always on the session. They were really motivated, but they didn’t know how to film for a video. If these kids were in the video, I wanted them to not just goof around. Everything I put out, I’m not gonna put out till it’s done. After Cherry also a lot of non-skateboarders came up to me and said: “I don’t even like skateboarding, but I liked the video and the personality stuff.” All the personality stuff is a trick, you know what I mean? It gets everyone, not just skateboarders. It’s like watching a movie with a little skating in it, that’s the way I want it. This time I was there when the guy pulled out a knife. None of this is set up. Maybe I’m just the type of person who runs into these things real quick.

Alex Olson – Kickflip

Alex Olson – Kickflip

I saw on your instagram that this guy congratulated you on your birthday afterwards.

It was the night before my birthday and I was out with a bunch of people. When I skated back to the hotel, this guy, who normally stayed at a bench on the plaza, stayed on the sidewalk in front of my hotel that night. He was laying there, had glasses on, and was reading a book at three o’clock in the morning. I said: “I know you!“, and asked if I could have a photo with him, but right when I tried to take the photo, my phone died. So I went to my hotel room, charged it, grabbed some candy for him, and went back. I told him that it’s my birthday and then he sang “Happy Birthday”. It was the complete opposite of what went on at the plaza and it made me feel, you can’t fucking just judge someone. It wasn’t even about the skateboarders, he was mad about two other people acting crazy. So I kneeled down and took a photo with him. He was genuinely nice. How would you think he’d be a psychopath?

Other interesting protagonists in Pussy Gangster are the little kids.

Those kids are the next generation that will be involved with everything we do. And even if not, they’re cool kids. For me they’re as important as someone like Tyshawn. They got something about them and I recognize it when I see someone. They’re cool enough to hang out with us. I felt like that 360 flip Evan did on the stairs was amazing. I love that. I would prefer that over a fucking backlip down a 15 stair rail. He landed it sketchy, but I’d prefer that over landing it better. Now is the time for that. Not everyone should do that, but I’m glad we’re doing that. That is skateboarding.

"Everyone is doing his part to keep the matter as dope as it is"

Is it because of that that people are so hyped about the Supreme kids?

It’s more than just skate skills. That is what Supreme is, that is what I am, and that is what we wanna portray. It’s a lifestyle, with some kids are good, some are super good, and some are still learning, but they still can go skate with us and we don’t feel weird about it. Someone like this little kid Leo, who came up with the name, can come skate with us and guys like Tyshawn are psyched to see him skate.

Little Leo came up with the name Pussy Gangster?

This kid always hit me up with PMs on instagram, and one day he sent me a photo of him with sunglasses on, leaning in front of a white wall, saying something like: “I’m the pussy gangster!” And I was like: “Oh my god!” I told Dill about calling the video Pussy Gangster and he thought that would be sick. I was gonna name it Pearl after the first trip, but with all the new footage it didn’t make sense. It’s hard to come up with a name and then I had the footage with Dill at the end with the mask on and I thought it would be pretty sick when it said Pussy Gangster over his face. I did it, sent it in, and they loved it. I dated this girl and she came over and was the first one to watch it and I wondered if she’s gonna get weirded out because it says Pussy Gangster, but right when it popped up she said: “Dude, it’s so good!” So Leo came up with the name and he’s a little shit, but he’s awesome and a real good kid.

Jason Dill – Frontside Flip

Jason Dill – Shifty Ollie

Could you characterize all of the Supreme kids?

Tyshawn is real confident and a skate rat. He doesn’t do any drugs or anything. His addiction is trying to make a lot of money, which he’s doing a pretty good job of. Kevin Bradley is extra skilled at skateboarding. That backtail in Oakland didn’t take him that long. It’s so crazy to hear about three other pros that tried it and fucking got broke and he did it quick. He does everything he does quick. He’s skilled like Tom Penny, he smokes tons of weed and is forever high. He’s got the fucking funniest laugh, he’s a goofball and a fucking tough kid. Nakel is a deep thinker. I kinda feel like he’s the leader. He’s the oldest and got good values. He’s really upfront. The way he rolls out of slams (not the one in the video) is amazing. Like a black ninja. Sean (Pablo) is fucking gorgeous. Girls fall head over heels for him. He’s really young, he’s got a girlfriend. He’s like a swan, as his nickname is. He’s got a good style and he’s a super sweet kid. He’s not introverted, but he thinks before he has to say something. During that time a girl would think: “This kid‘s cute!” He’s kind of a ladies dude. It seems like everyone likes him. Sage got old timey manners. He’s very much like his grandfather was to him. Like, don’t wear your hat at the table. And the dude is an athlete. He can jump so high. If he’d put down his board, he could probably do any other sport. When he skates, he looks like someone from the nineties. His style is fucking great. He’s also a deep thinker. Aidan is one of the fucking coolest people you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t give a shit, he likes to do it his way. If someone is telling him to jump down somewhere, he’s like: “Nah, I never really liked that spot.” He’s on his own path. He doesn’t care what any of the other kids think. He was kinda the sketchy one at first. He would be the dude that goes in the store and steals something and they’d be like: “Aidan’s crazy.” He’s fucking cool and kinda the leader too. I think they look up to him cause he’s kinda the bad kid. But he’s really nice too. He’s the red devil. He’s just crazy looking and got this look in his eye that you never know what could happen with him. He reminds me of dudes on Deluxe in the nineties. He’s a Anti Hero baby. He looked up to that stuff when he was younger. Ben (Kadow) is funny, he’s a cook and was working as a chef before we pulled him into this. He’s really independent and he is on his own ship. He likes to go filming by himself a lot of the time. He got such a sparky, weird, interesting personality. He’s into fucking good music for a kid of his age. He’s into going to restaurants. He looked up all the restaurants he wanted to go to in Paris. He’s his own entity.

"Nowadays it’s hard for people to be dicks, it’s almost weird if you’re a dick now, because it’s such a different world."

How did they get along with the Bloby’s and what do you think about them and their skating?

They’re sick! Out there it’s just a different vibe compared to L.A. I watched a couple of their videos recently and I was blown away. Their instagram compilation videos are fucking amazing. It’s just them goofing around and being skaters. And when they need to film a video, it shows their skill. But even if they’re just goofing around the stuff that they’re doing is still so hard. I felt first that they didn’t really understand what was going on. Kevin asked me: “Is this a sponsor me thing?“ I told him: “No, we want you on. This is your thing. When the store opens and you need a board, go grab it. You could do whatever you want. Any clothes, go take it. Give a board to your friends if they break it, it’s your shop. Go hang out there, smoke weed there, do what you want.” At the first trip we weren’t really hanging out with them that much, but on the second trip it connected and you see it in the video. Nakel and Vincent hugging before a trick and stuff like that. Dill went on a photoshoot with those kids between the first and the second trip and he was like: “Those kids are sick as fuck! I like those kids a lot.”

What is Dill’s role at Supreme? Creative director, team manager, brand ambassador?

There are dudes that mock up the clothes on the computer, which Dill isn’t doing, but he will hit them up and say: “I can’t stop wearing those pants for a year. Maybe you guys should copy them.” Or he sends a shirt in that he thinks is cool. Everyone contributes to keep this thing as dope as it is. Dill first of all found the kids, second of all he did all the lookbooks for a while. He just has a contributing role in whatever it is. He’ll be on a photoshoot and be like: “You should maybe do it this way.” He’s in a way a creative director without having that title.

Kevin Bradley

Last question: What makes Supreme so cool?

The image of how it started was first of all the reason why it was cool. There were a lot of kids that skated for them, they were hard ass dudes. They hung out at the shop at Lafayette street every day and night, went in and did drugs, brought chicks in there and hung out. The atmosphere of that made it cool. If you didn’t feel you were involved with that, you wanted to get involved. And if you tried to get involved, a lot of those people were like: “Get the fuck outta here!” 90s New York dudes were dicks. Nowadays it’s hard for people to be dicks, it’s almost weird if you’re a dick now, because it’s such a different world. But back then it was the cool thing. “No, you can’t buy this shit.” But yeah, they’ve just done it good for a long time. I just think it really is a cool brand. It’s a lifestyle. There’s kids that don’t live that lifestyle, but they wanna think that they do and they’ll buy the stuff. I don’t know, in school that might be a cool thing to have Supreme stuff. They got the Supreme sickness. [laughs] There are different reasons why it’s cool and my reason is, because they nailed it so many different times in a row.