We caught up with Rianne Evans to see how the past year has been for her, and to hear the story behind the ride on 50-50 shot featured on the cover of Vague Skate Mag’s 20th Issue.
Let’s first get the introductions out of the way – you’ve been skating now for more than a decade now, where are you currently based, is there anything else you would want the readers to know?
I am 28 this year – so I will be a half lifer, having skated for 14 years. I have just moved to Bristol about 3 months ago, mainly for skating. I was living with my mum for a year but it was time for a change of scene. Now I’m enjoying living here, trying to make friends and learning to skate all the gnarly skateparks.
So, the last year and a bit has been pretty mad, how has it impacted you and your skating?
It feels like its kind of now getting back to normal, because it’s a big city (Bristol) so the police here don’t seem to bother us as much – in the sense like if you’re skating, that’s fine, but if you’re not then they ask you to leave. It’s been pretty sound. But when I was living in Bournemouth during the lockdown the past year – it has been pretty brutal. The police have been coming to the skateparks and kicking us all out, even if you go to the carpark – they kick you out of there.
I feel like I’ve skated quite a bit still but definitely less – seeing as I’ve been working throughout the whole lockdown, I haven’t really had that “break” like others have had haha – like oh lockdown! I have all this time doing art and writing poems – I want to write a poem.
What’s your thoughts on how the skateboarding scene is evolving and changing? Have you noticed any significant trends?
Well, the “female” trend has definitely changed over the last 10 years and even more so over the last 5 years. I feel like it has been doubling every year – that’s one of the things that’s been the biggest change. When I first started, the only girl would be in a Thrasher magazine and she would be sexualised on an advert or something – so it’s nice now that we can all open up a skate magazine and see a female skateboarding.
Other than that, I think skateboarding has changed quite a bit in the sense that its not so much about “go big or go home” anymore, it used to be big handrails, big stair sets – my housemate used to be sponsored by Vans and he was showing me footage of him at the age of 16 and it was just insane. He was just throwing himself down huge stuff – but nowadays it seems as if its more Instagram based, so people are more into the whole tech-ledge skaters, tech-flat land, things that seem quick and easier to film.
You ride for Polar Skate Co., Nike SB, Rollersnakes, Spitfire Wheels, Independent Trucks, Get Lesta – what’s the best thing about riding for some of the coolest and most well-established companies in skating?
Because these companies are well-established, I feel like those in the UK who work in distribution and the business side of skateboarding, they perhaps see me more as credible skateboarder because I have these bigger brands supporting me – which is always nice.
Congrats on the cover of Vague Skate mag issue 20! It was so sick, we were all stoked to see it. What’s the story behind the picture?
Thank you! Yeah, I had no idea it was happening so that was really nice of them.
So, I got a train to Worcester and I was picked up by Rob (@whinstonphoto) at about 5pm and we honestly went to 5 different cities in 5 hours and I didn’t get back to Worcester until about midnight. This is how mad the Midlands are to skate in – the fact that you can go to 5 different cities and skate 5 different spots all in 5 hours, it’s just mental.
The last spot we went to was that rail spot (the picture on the cover of Vague Mag) – which was in Wolverhampton. It was quite late – about 10 pm, the roads were empty and so it was a perfect time to do it. The first one I did, I went way too fast and slid back and I hit my back on the rail and I was so scared to do it again but (haha you can write this in) after that I rolled onto the rail and Rob held my hand to make sure I was alright for a few tries and I would jump off the end. Then eventually I felt like yeah actually I’ve got it – then I did it. But he definitely supported me while I took my babysteps!
That’s super refreshing to hear, because when looking at a photo or watching a skate part, the observers don’t realise what goes on behind the scenes
Yeah, it’s a bit embarrassing but I think it’s important for younger skaters to know that it’s ok to take whatever measures you need and it’s ok to rely on your mates for support.
What made you think to do this trick (the ride on 50-50 was so sick!!) – what was your thought process and how did it feel doing it? And if you’ll let us in on the secret, how many tries did it take?
I didn’t think of the spot – it was actually Cal (from Get Lesta) who had it in mind for a while and I’d actually driven past it a few times in the day time and I was like “Nah are you joking? I’m not going to do that, that’s nuts!” and then Rob was like “I’ve got this roll-on rail”. I thought it was a different one then we went there, it was the same one but because it was night time it was so much easier. But yeah, I didn’t choose the spot, usually Cal and Rob choose all the spots for me because I don’t know the area that well.
I gave it one go and ate shit then I had two or three go’s of him holding my hand and then I just went and did it. But after I did it once, I could do it every go and I think I did it about 30 times to get the nice photo.
To begin with, the mental process – there was a fat drop on the other side where I was pushing off, which was a bit scary. So, what I had to do was make sure my board was fully aligned up to the rail – that was the big thing in my head and I kept having to make sure it was all aligned and I would put my foot on the board and think “It’s good it’s good it’s good.” It would take me around 30 seconds to a minute each go to get mentally prepared to push.
You have been featured in other mags before, how does it feel being on the cover now?
Yeah, I was uh hah yeah, wordless. They told me they were only going to put it in the gallery section, so when Rob (the photographer) and I both found out, we were actually gobsmacked. The thing is, Vague told Rob when we were shooting the interview (for Vague previous issue) – if Rianne gets a gnarly enough trick, we will give her the cover. So, when I didn’t get the cover of the magazine I had the interview in, in my head I felt as if I didn’t do anything good enough and felt a bit disappointed in myself. Then when the next issue came out and I was on the cover, I was over the moon. I felt better because it removed the previously negative thoughts I’d had about myself, thinking I hadn’t worked hard enough, when in fact I did actually work quite hard.
Did you have any choice in the matter on the design or photo?
None whatsoever, Rob sent me 3 photos he liked which were all quite similar and Vague just chose one. There was one I kind of liked more because it had these funky lights where Rob had done something with the flash but someone else pointed out that my arm was in a bit of an odd position so that’s why they went for the other one.
I also didn’t have any say in the artwork, but I would like to mention that Chloé (@chloyeah_suzzies), who is another girl skater, did the artwork that is around the photo on the cover of the 20th Issue. It’s nice that they have used a female skateboarders artwork with a female skateboarder on the cover. It’s very much go girl!
It’s good that girls are being represented however it must be sometimes difficult with this label as “girl” skateboarder instead of just skateboarder.
Yeah, I have tried to refrain from that term (girl skateboarder) nowadays, but it’s still hard. I’ve never really minded about the “label” but that’s probably because I started skateboarding way before that conversation even started. There weren’t that many girl skateboarders when I started so it seemed quite a normal thing as a society to separate it and be like – “you’re a female skateboarder” because in most cases you would be the only one for miles, so it kinda just made sense at the time
You were one of the forerunners who paved a path for a lot of the currently younger generation of girls who have started skating and seeing people such as yourself, being represented by these big skate magazines and brands, makes it more relatable.
I think it also gives women more drive to learn and progress, because it shows that we can actually can get sponsored, we can make money through skateboarding, we can get hooked up (sponsorship) now. Whereas in the past, me, Danni, Helena Long and other girls skating at that time – we all started at similar times I guess – there wasn’t one single girl really in the scene who was properly sponsored or supported by any of the big brands or even opportunity to be. So, there wasn’t much drive in that sense (to get sponsored). I know skateboarding should be for fun, but you see it with the boys as well, if they feel like they’ve got some opportunities – they definitely buck up their game.
I’d like to mention how Danni Gallacher (founder of Girl Skate UK) – is the reason why the UK female skate scene has exploded like it has. If it wasn’t for her, if it wasn’t for Girl Skate UK putting on all these events etc, the girls’ community would not be what it is. She is an absolute legend. These sorts of platforms bring people together – you’ve invited me to Scotland to skate your mini ramp haha! It’s just stuff like that, you can visit around the country, stay with different people – get to see way more of the world through skateboarding.
Thank you, and I totally agree! Through these events and social media platforms people can connect with others who they may not usually meet! Going back to you and your skating, what would you say your favourite trick is?
That’s a hard one. My favourite trick has got to be a May Day (50 Grind fakie) really, doesn’t it, because it’s the trick I do all the time. I’m getting known for it now.
Would you say that you prefer transition to street?
Haha transition a hundred percent.
And do you have a favourite skate spot or skate park?
I’d say my favourite skate spot in Bristol would be Dean Lane and my favourite skate spot of all time is Spotter DIY in Barcelona.
Have you got any other tricks or spots in mind for future videos or photographs? What’s next?
I’m filming a part at the moment for Get Letsa – I’ve been filming that over last lockdown but it’s been pushed back because of all the lockdowns, it will hopefully be released either before Christmas or January. But I’ve basically been going around spots in the Midlands with Cal for that. To be honest, I have rinsed all the spots so much now that I think he has to put his head together for me to find some new ones.
There is one spot in London – a ride on 5050 – there’s like a 6ft drop at the end, but I really want to go and do that at some point. I’ve been speaking to Rob and Cal about filming or getting a photo there. It just depends on when we can find a dry weekend to go to London and also, I might get there and just look at it and cry so who knows.
Yeah, sometimes you need to be in the right mindset, you get to a spot and you’re not feeling it
For sure, I’m that person all over. Usually, the boys have to bully me into trying it in the first place.
Looking forward, with lockdown coming to an end (we hope!) are there any trips planned?
I haven’t got anything in the works at the moment because obviously its just a bit too dodgy to book, but I really want to get myself out to Madrid ASAP. I have a friend living out there that I’ve been friends with for about 10 years and haven’t seen him in ages. Also a few of my friends out there (some who skate and some who don’t) also know each other so it would be cool to get a big group together. If I did go over to Madrid, I’d also have to jump on over to Barcelona as well – so I guess it would be Spain really.
Before lockdown I did want to go to Vancouver, but that never happened. But it’s definitely in my head at some point, I’m not planning any travel at the moment
If there is one place you could go visit right now, where would it be and why?
Vancouver would be the one, that’s probably because out of the places I want to travel – it’s the most expensive and furthest one to go to. It just looks insane – even to chill, they all go to lakes – it just looks so nice! There is nature and also a massive city, best of both worlds.
Yeah, Vancouver also has a sick skate scene. What inspires you most to skate?
I’ve gotta say it’s your homies – you see your mates getting a trick they’ve been trying for ages, or your mate just generally shredding and having a good day gets you hyped up and you’re like “I wanna skate too! I want to skate with you! I want to try that trick with you!” It’s definitely community that got me skating in the first place and has kept me skating for so long.
I agree, it seems to be the reason why most people skate. People don’t start skating to be sponsored, skateboarding starts from the ground up, it’s all about your skate fam.
Yeah, and I think what’s nice about the UK compared to the US is that we have less option of “making it”. We generally skate for fun a lot more and you can see the skateboarding here is way more creative and fun and having a laugh. Then you look at the States, there seems to be a lot of people that go to the skatepark to “train” and I’m so glad that the UK doesn’t have those sorts of vibes. No people really in the UK are like “I’m going t skate for my career and earn all my money in skateboarding” the option just aint there.
I think that’s why UK skateboarding is so interesting to watch, because people have had to be creative – because our weather and spots are not “made” for skateboarding. In California you have beautiful parks and glorious weather, whereas in the UK we have gnarly spots and we have to go out and get them when it’s not raining.
Even our streets – we can’t push down them or around so fast, with our rough ground. But yeah, people here seem to skate to have a good time, there isn’t ever a competition in the UK either. Like between skaters, it’s not competitive.
When you skate, do you ever get the fear and if so – do you have a process or method in battling it?
I definitely get the fear, for sure – one of my process would just be to have a beer (don’t know if we should be recommending that haha but it’s a great confidence booster at times!) To be honest though, if I am scared of something, I do what I did with Rob and that rail – it’s all baby steps for me. Either breaking the trick down into small sections or building up to it – like when I was learning to drop in for the first time, at my local skatepark there was a 4ft that ran into a 6ft with a bank in between. I would move my board slowly from the 4ft to the 6ft so I was dropping in slightly bigger each time and ever since I’ve started skating, I’ve called it “baby steps” because I’d break everything down into little steps to learn it. If that makes any sense at all.
It makes complete sense and a lot of skaters have probably also experienced something similar. It can be quite daunting when you first see the biggest obstacles and think how am I ever going to do that, and like you said – it’s important to take those steps to build up your ability and confidence.
I also think it’s important to mention that sometimes there isn’t the option for baby steps, sometimes it is just a “send it” trick, in which case – if I am too much in my own head, I don’t do it because I’ve skated for that amount of time and I know myself now – I know when I am not going to commit fully and I know when I am going to hurt myself. On days when I’m feeling like that, I won’t do it and then on other days – it’s just one of those things where you’ve got to send it. You know you’re going to bail once and it’s probably not going to be that bad and after that one bail, you will be alright. You’ve just got to get that one slam out of the way just so you know you took it and didn’t die. You’re just like “I’m alright, I’m still alive.”
Haha! I will knock on wood for us both. When you first started getting confident, did you ever think things like “I have to send it, I have to do it” then as you got more experienced you learn your own limits, and just think “nah, I’m going to walk away from this one today – I’ll come back but today is not the day”?
Yeah, yeah definitely because I’ve had a few times before where I’ve “sent it” and I have eaten a lot a lot of shit. In some instances, I would be out of skateboarding for a week or two afterwards and sometimes it’s not worth it. It’s better just to say no that day and be able to skate the next day.
I can totally relate; I feel like I am getting on in years too so I feel the need for self-preservation – do you have any ways that either keep yourself fit and healthy or help with injuries?
Not really, I need to start getting better at the injury healing processes. I really want to get resistance bands for my ankles. I’ve heard they are really good even if you’re not injured. They stretch out your ankles – especially if you’re a beginner, when you first start skating, your ankles aren’t used to those motions. And if you want to learn to switch flip, I’ve heard they are really good for that also, as it strengthens your switch ankle. So, I will probably get the resistance bands.
But in general, I try to eat healthy but that’s only because I drink so much beer (hahaha) so it’s like eat healthy so I don’t out on loads of weight from the amount of beer I drink.
Haha another thing I can relate to. But also, we are going outdoors and skating in the fresh air, so it must balance it out somewhat!
And finally, as a role model to a lot of young (and older) skaters, are there any last words of wisdom you would like to impart?
Oh, that’s a tough one, I don’t want to come across as cringey or anything but – skate for yourself, skate to have fun and try to make as many friends as you can through skateboarding. Talk to as many people you can at the skatepark because it’s the community that is the best thing about skateboarding and it’s the people there that will help you improve. And the last thing I would say is share your knowledge with the younger kids, once you’ve made your friends and have got comfortable on a skateboard – help those who are starting off, support the younger ones because just because now you can hold your own at the skatepark or on a skateboard, don’t forget that you were also a beginner. Go up to them and explain how the skatepark works, be welcoming and basically just be a decent (bloody) human being.