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Kevin White – Catching the Travelbug

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Kevin White, or maybe better known by his online persona Jumpman Blanco, is a man of the world. He’s worked hard for his career in skateboarding and took the advice given to him by the late P-Stone to keep it in motion and see what’s out there as soon as he could. As a frequent visitor to Europe and someone with a curious mind, it’s not surprising Kevin picked up a few things along the way and will order his celebratory gin and tonic after a productive day in the local language, wherever it may be. We had met Kevin on a mission to Gran Canaria to kick off the year in the sun and caught up after he returned back to the US from his following stay in Barcelona. Since he credits the initiators of “Copenhagen Open” as some of the people who helped him really break into the industry, it’s not much of a surprise he’s also got his basic Danish down! Kevin is as solid as they come.

Kevin White Blue

Staying fit, getting lit.

Hej Kevin!

Hej hej! Tak for sidst! [polite Danish phrase to remember the last time you met]

Tak for sidst, how are you doing?

Chilling! I’m in San Francisco, hanging out!

Sick! I just got back from Stuttgart, shooting with some of the crew we went to Gran Canaria with. Have you ever been filming in Stuttgart with Torsten [Frank]?

No, I was just texting with Torsten telling him I want to come to Stuttgart!

So many spots in that city! How was Barcelona?

It was semi-productive, it was really cold. Way colder than when we were on the Island, bro! I’d be outside all day, but the motivation to get going wasn’t there as much as I would have liked it to have been. Also because a lot of people weren’t out. My crew was limited and Ludi wasn’t there. It was ok though, I got some shit. Got a cool photo!

Do you shoot many photos back in the US?

Sometimes, I gotta get back on it a little bit more.

Have you ever shot anything with Atiba?

I’ve shot with Atiba before. I did a nollie crook on like a 10-stair rail once upon a time.

But now he’s too busy shooting Kendall Jenner.

Dude, I think people gotta remember that Atiba is a celebrity photographer also. He’ll be at the basketball games and shoots covers for Sports Illustrated and shit. But he’s still super core skating.

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Noseslide to Switch 5-0 to regular

Your primary type of skating is really tech and maybe doesn’t lend itself to photos as much.

That’s the other thing, I have to kinda channel when it’s photo time. Gotta use the call for the photographers to come out for when I want to do like a step more.

Are you busy filming?

I have like two minutes, but I just want to make it better. I’m trying to honestly have a better two minutes than four minutes, you know. Slowly but surely!

Anything you got in mind? What’s the approach to filming?

I think about tricks mostly because I watch skate videos, that’s honestly how I do it. If you’re thinking about the spot too much, you get disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way you want it to.

Now that you’re back home, what’s next on your list?

Got some more stuff in the works, think I’m going on another trip to Barcelona, but then hopefully I can leave early and go to Mexico. Other than that, probably just stay at home a little bit and just try to not be in L.A. as much as possible.

How come?

At least for me, it’s kinda hard to feel like I need to compete with everyone who wants to go to L.A. to make something. I’ve just been there, so I’m the one with no spots. Or it’s like this person did this, this person did that. My friends that I skate with that aren’t from L.A. don’t want to go skate spots that they think suck. Just gets kinda stale, I guess you could say. Even if I want to jump on stairs or skate a rail, it’s literally stale because L.A. is where everyone comes to do that. Really uninteresting.

L.A. crime seems to be out of control right now, is that also a reason you’re staying away?

Yes, that is a reason why I’m not trying to hang out. I’m trying to just keep living and there’s a lot of shit going on in L.A., a fuckton of random crime! Gang shit’s picking back up for sure. It’s getting the early 2000s, ‘90s vibes again.

After the super bowl the other day shit went down.

Yeah! Not really smart to loot after the super bowl. I don’t think it’s really smart to loot really ever. But sometimes it be more than others.

"I think the misconception is that a lot of these people are just insanely fucked up and will rob you or harm you or some shit just upon sight, but it’s not really like that always."

How did you manage to stay away from gang-related stuff growing up?

I just stayed wanting to skate. I didn’t desire to be a gang member or anything like that ever.

But you got friends who do.

Definitely. A lot of my friends who are involved in shit like that, they used to skate or I used to go to school with, but a lot of them wouldn’t pressure me to do anything crazy like that. I just had good friendships. I think the misconception is that a lot of these people are just insanely fucked up and will rob you or harm you or some shit just upon sight, but it’s not really like that always.

While we were in Gran Canaria, one of your friends passed due to gang-related stuff, what was going on there?

Yeah, it’s insane, right? Some shit happened and one of his friends died. He just went to retaliate later that day, took out a few people on his way out, and I guess he got hit driving off and passed away later in the hospital. Like Rambo or some shit.

You had some quite bad news during the week, but you managed to pick yourself back up rather quickly.

It’s weird, it’s definitely tough, there’s deep feelings when stuff like that happens just because you don’t get to see people anymore. Whatever memories you have and all of that starts coming in hot. However, I’m not there to be sad, I’m not there to have dark thoughts or be depressed as much as that kinda shit happening is sad and dark. It’s a part of life. Maybe it’s an unfair part of life, how it happens or when it happens, but I’m literally not on those trips to let stuff like that break my spirit.

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Nosegrind bs revert

You seem to not have problems jumping on any trips by yourself.

Yeah, wherever is possible, I’m pretty much down to just do it. Group missions are kinda harder, there’s always someone who is going to take longer than you, needs more than you, needs more than everyone. Group trips are like having more luggage. If I need to be alone or have a second for myself, it feels a little limited when you’re with seven people all the time. That one to the Canaries was dope though, everyone was super mellow. Wasn’t like an overwhelming situation at all. You’d be up in the morning and I’d be up in the morning, some people would stay up a little later. Paddy would just leave and go out for a little bit, same with Maité.

When did you start traveling the way you do today?

The first real mission kinda was me being in Copenhagen Pro 2017. I just went through a breakup and I was living with Kevin Bradley and he just kind of wouldn’t let me go home. I was all overwhelmed and needed to leave and he was just like, “No, there’s no reason for you to go home and argue, you’re already here. I literally will get you a ticket to Berlin and Paris if you just stay.” Before that, I was talking to P-Stone a little bit and he was telling me that I needed was to kinda stay with the boys and I was already there and that was the priority. Everything I was worried about would just be at home still. So he pretty much just asked me, what am I rushing home for and just to kinda like look around and take it all in. And it was really true, we went to a couple other cities, I listened to Preston’s advice and I listened to Kevin, and by the time we came back, P-Stone had died. That was like the last time I really just kinda sunk. He just kept telling me, “You gotta go see some shit, you gotta see it.” That’s what kind of sparked it.

So he gave you that legacy.

When I came back home, I moved out of the apartment I was in and I had nowhere to live for a while, so I just started going everywhere that I possibly could for as long as possible for a second. I would go up to SF for weeks at a time, go to Florida and skate a little bit, or I would stay in New York for like two months. When I was staying on the couches, it was all the same shit, didn’t really make a difference. It definitely fueled the travel bug. It doesn’t feel good to stay on someone’s couch for a whole month.

What did you do while traveling wasn’t really possible during the beginning of COVID-19?

I lived in the Valley at Mikey’s [Alfred] house for like a year. I’d skate still, got a part done during that time, almost two. We would skate, Jamie Foy, Zion, Christian Henry, and a bunch of the homies lived up the street from me.

Did you come out to SF for skating?

This time around, I came up for Valentine's Day mostly. Definitely not getting up and going skating every day. I focused my only board the one time I went skating, so I don’t really care that much.

How come you focused it?

I skated at one of these spots and I was trying a switch heel, took me way too long. One of the tries my board got all chipped up and fucked up. It ran into a car and the alarm went off and it made me feel super crazy and I just broke the shit.

You try a lot of stuff that must take a while, but I’ve never really seen you get too upset and throw a tantrum. You often land your trick and flick off the camera, that’s how you can tell it’s been a battle and you’ve been working for it.

It’s discouraging, so I try not to get super angry. I get kinda bummed out when I see other people doing that shit too. Try to hold off as long as possible.

"I listened to Preston’s advice and I listened to Kevin, and by the time we came back, P-Stone had died."

Back in the day, I thought it was pretty cool when people focused their boards in skate videos, but these days, when someone snaps a perfectly fine board, you’re just like, “Why don’t you give it to some kid or whatever?”

Literally!

Niels [Bennett] was going on a bit of a philosophical journey about what the job of a pro skater is these days since there aren’t too many big videos anymore. What do you think?

I think, honestly, the job is to be a role model, you want to inspire other people to have as much fun as you’re having. Influence other people to push to do what they want to. If it’s the same thing you want to do, you just want to trailblaze and pioneer if you can, especially if you are unique and just want to be yourself and show that you are yourself to inspire others to do it themselves also. It’s an internal job too, you want to make the little kid in you feel satisfied. Obviously to advertise what people who are paying you want you to advertise, but to do it in a unique way, you don’t want to be someone’s billboard. I don’t think it’s a part of the job to place in contests and stuff. If you do that, cool, but I think it’s more content based. When it comes down to it, you’re a professional street skater, so you should have video parts and photos and should be on the road with people, spreading that amongst others across the world.

Somehow I managed to not see Mid90s or North Hollywood yet, but you were in both of those, right?

I had small roles in both movies.

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Hardflip Revert

Are you interested in doing more acting?

I’m definitely into it. I’m with a modeling and acting agency, they pitch a bunch of stuff. Just from being in motion so much, I don’t tap in and do the stuff with agencies as much as I should. Kind of why I want to stay home a little bit, so I can fulfill some of the work opportunities that they are sending me. I don’t mind acting at all, being a part of Illegal Civ and all that has definitely made it super easy to be in front of cameras and stuff like that. I wouldn’t mind moving forward with that, but I want to skate for as long as possible.

Did they ask you to be in Skate 4?

Nah, they didn’t ask me to be in Skate 4. That would be a big move if they did. It was cool they were pretty much able to put my board into Skater XL through modification, so I could use all the gear and pretty much make my character in that, that was cool!

Almost the same! You posted something by a skate affirmations page earlier, are you into all the memes and stuff?

I just saw the skateaffirmations page yesterday and I thought it was really funny!

"For someone to have an Instagram account shitting on skaters except Ali Boulala is kind of out of this world."

Do you follow any other skatememe accounts?

No, but I go look at them sometimes. I don’t approve of the laterl0ser chick’s account. She posts some really dark and disturbing shit, and she’s obsessed with Ali Boulala. For what? Have you seen him in person before? I got love and respect for him, but he’s not anything special to trip out over. For someone to have an Instagram account shitting on skaters except Ali Boulala is kind of out of this world.

Where did you grow up actually, where are you from?

I was born in Inglewood, but I lived in South Central most of my life. For a little bit, I lived in Louisiana in Baton Rouge, but I moved back and then lived all over L.A. I lived at this crazy homeless shelter when I first came back from Louisiana.

By yourself?

No, I was really little, I lived with my mum for most of my life. Me and her lived in this weird shelter place first, then moved to Santa Monica with this other assisted living project, and then ended up moving back into a house in South Central for another eleven years. Stuff got kinda sticky for a second.

South Central is not a good spot then?

It is what it is, everywhere has its kind of fucked up-zones. South Central is what Ice Cube and shit would be rapping about.

Who are people that have been helping you out most in your career so far?

Dude, a ton of people! Definitely my friend Richard [Massie] helped out a lot, kinda directing me in the right way. Helped me learn a lot of tricks and be able to do it in a way where you’re just not worried about others. Paul Shier looked out a lot, I appreciate Shier and Jascha [Muller] and everyone at Adidas. Mikey definitely looked out a lot and put me in a cool position to show myself what I’m able to do. Everyone at Crap Eyewear helped out a lot, everyone at the brand. They’re super small, but they always find some type of avenue to help me with. Jim [Thiebaud] and everyone at Deluxe. Keith Hufnagel held it down a lot! I’d even say William and the whole Copenhagen squad over the last few years have definitely put me in a position to do better and get to the next level. Trying to think, there is a fuckton of people.

Karl Watson! I’ve known him since I was a little kid actually because he was a part of something called the “hood games.” It was an organization and they would look out for young kids from the hood, make events, and bring out local pros. Karl would come out and be with us for that kind of stuff. Same with Shier. I didn’t just meet him when I started skating for Adidas, I met him when he worked for DVS. I didn’t wear DVS, I used to get HUFs before, but he always was super chill with me and hooked up a few of my friends and always was mad nice. I feel like he was always hyped to have me on the sessions and when the Adidas thing came around, he was super happy to have me around for that too. He gave me a chance.

Ever think of starting your own brand? You’re the type of person who almost is his own brand anyway.

Yeah, I have, but I don’t want it to be centered around skating. Me traveling and all the friendships I have aren’t with just skaters. So I’d want to do something for everyone and I wouldn’t want it to just be T-shirts. I’d want to do something kind of cool, very small drops of very cool stuff. More of a collectible.

Did you have any regular jobs before skating?

Yeah, I used to work at Starbucks, American Apparel, and this clothing store called Sur, a streetwear brand near the Fairfax area in West Hollywood. I went to a high school where they prep you for college and they put me on a work study program. So I had a job in high school, too. I worked at a real estate broker as the mail boy and sorting files and shit. And then I worked at the California African American Museum too until I graduated.

Being a pro skater sounds way cooler.

Literally, way better.

Last question, are you coming out for Copenhagen Open again this year?

Absolutely!

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