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Hiroki Muraoka - Interview

Hiroki Muraoka was part of our Japan issue because we not only wanted our view on Japan in there but also a Japanese view on Europe, and at that time, Hiroki had just traveled around there for a few weeks. This time, he went to New York to film a part for the new video of his board sponsor Traffic, and his quick feet spit out some of his special tricks on East Coast spots. NYC local Pat Stiener, who works at Traffic’s distribution Theories of Atlantis and is editing the video, is also a good friend of Hiroki, so it made total sense to let those two connect for an interview.

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Gonz Kickflip

Good evening, Hiroki.

And good morning to you.

Where you at right now?

At my house.

Did you have time to skate today?

Yeah, my work is a skate class, so I got to skate during class a bit.

How many students do you have?

Around 15 people.

Do you teach them to do your special tricks, like your special ollies?

No, I just skate with them. Sometimes they ask me how to do a specific trick, like kickflips or something else, and then I show them. Is the interview already going?

"I like Margaritas, but it’s too easy to get drunk on them too fast."

Maybe, let’s just keep talking.

Nice! Are you filming for the next Traffic video?

Yeah! We got a bunch of new stuff. We started editing it now, too. It has enough to be finished right now, but we might try to get some more. I gotta get some tricks of Ricky [Oyola]. You know how he is.

Yeah, but he’ll get it easily. He’s got great style and he’s a legend.

When did you start skating?

I started when I was eight or nine. I’m 32 now, so…

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And where’s your hometown?

In the Tottori Prefecture, it’s near to Hiroshima.

How often do you go back there?

Just once a year.

What videos were you watching back then?

When I was younger, my brother watched Girl’s Mouse a lot and I watched a lot of the 411 videos – also 7 Year Glitch by New Deal and I watched Static II a fucking lot. Probably the same videos you watched, too.

Yeah, I think we are influenced by the same people.

I watched your part many times, too!

Oh, the Static III part? That one’s ok.

[laughs] Probably!

How did you get on Traffic then?

I think Rich [Adler] recommended me to them. He was in Japan and invited me to Traffic. Before that, I skated for Enjoi.

When did you come to New York for the first time?

When I was around 18 or 19 years old. Masanori Uruma and Akira Ishizawa skated for 5Boro. Now, Uru is the owner of Kukunochi Distribution. Because they were skating for 5Boro at that time, they went to New York, and I always wanted to go, too, so I asked them if I could come with them. I was like, “I’m gonna pay my ticket and everything by myself, just please take me to New York!” They came to New York to film and I would just follow them around and meet a bunch of the 5Boro dudes.

Fast forward to Traffic, how did you meet Colin Read?

I went to the Tengu premiere in New York, but I never met him. I think Connor [Kammerer] introduced us when we finally met.

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Crooked Bonk

Did you know Connor because he was always coming to Japan?

Yeah, he comes to Japan often! So we’ve met in Japan and it’s really easy to communicate with him and to have a good relationship.

He can speak Japanese so well, it’s kinda crazy.

Yes, he does! A lot of foreigners can speak Japanese, but they are mostly from Asia and they speak weird, like my English. Connor has a perfect Japanese pronunciation and that is super hard for foreigners. I think he watches a lot of Japanese movies.

Yeah, he must have done some weird shit. So, through Connor, you started skating with Colin Read and then filming for Spirit Quest?

We were just skating and filming, and then Colin said, “I wanna make a new video,” and that he wanted to make a part with me. That’s where it started.

When did you come to New York the last time?

For the Spirit Quest premiere three years ago.

What was the difference between that trip and this trip?

I didn’t film the last time, I just met a bunch of people and hung out.

You partied, beer machine.

Yeah, beer machine time! I went there for the premiere, and this time, I was filming for Traffic and doing this interview thing. I stayed for one month, the whole August.

"Yeah, beer machine time!"

Where did you stay, except my place?

Luke’s, John’s and Connor’s place.

Whose house was the worst?

[laughs] I’d say every house was pretty good. In Japan, the houses are very small and you don’t have enough space, but in New York, America, every house is pretty big, right?

Yeah, kind of. In New York, the spaces are small, but still bigger than Tokyo. We drank a lot when you were here.

Yeah, yeah, yeah! [laughs] I think I hung out with you mostly.

Yeah, but we skated a lot, too, and definitely drank a lot. Was that your first White Claw in New York?

No, but I like beer better.

What about Margaritas?

I like Margaritas, but it’s too easy to get drunk on them too fast. Do you remember the quesadilla?

Calexico Quesadilla?

Yeah, that was my shit!

You ate two of them in one sitting and you wanted more.

We also went to the beach. That was beautiful! That’s my best memory of New York besides skating. We took the ferry there, I really loved it.

We also went to Philly and skated with Ricky. Do you have any Ricky stories?

No, we just hung out, nothing too crazy. I have a funny story with Rich though. When I stayed at his place, we drank tons of beer and smoked weed at his house. We were completely wasted. I was too wasted to even take a shower and passed out on the couch. Three minutes later, Rich was jumping on me, I guess he was drunk, too, and didn’t see me there.

He makes his own beer, right?

Yeah, that’s what we drank.

How was skating in Philly?

Philly was amazing, lots of skate spots! We went to so many spots, but it felt pretty ghetto there…

… it’s pretty hood, pretty sketchy.

Yeah, but it was fun, though!

You’re not coming back anytime soon, are you?

I want to come back, but flights are pretty expensive.

We’ll get you back for the video premiere in New York.

Pleaaase. [laughs]

You have to be there. It’s a party, beer machine has to be there!

Sounds fun! When is the video coming?

I have to start editing, but it’s set for November. There’s that one spot where you did the ollie up kickflip through the bar in McCarren Park. Me and my friends hang out there all the time, which means you had to hang out there all the time.

That’s my favorite place! I can skate there, drink beer, meet people on the couch. We can do everything there. Very chill!

There’s girls there, you can eat there, skate there, drink, and there’s a bathroom – and that’s a rare thing in New York. You shut that place down with your crazy trick.

It’s one of my favorite tricks, it’s just a weird one.

You should name it.

Name it? Mhh… Patrickflip?

[laughs] Good name!

I’ve always used your name in New York when I went to get bagels or coffee. “What’s your name?” “Uhm, Patrick.”

Easier than Hiroki for some. Anything else you think we should mention?

Luke was funny. [laughs]

I actually have some weird photos of when you were here because your phone was connected to my phone.

[laughs] True!