Portrait by Rob Whiston.
Interview by Robert Delaney
Yes Isaac! Could you just introduce yourself quickly? All of the basics please…
Yes mate! I’m Isaac Gale, I’m 20 years old, and I’m from Leigh-on-Sea, near Southend in Essex. I’m now living in Deptford.
Growing up in Essex is quite different to London; I’ve heard that from a few people. From your experiences, what is so different about the scene out there compared to London?
Essex is really tightknit; that’s different to London. When I was living in Essex, I felt quite disconnected from any real sense of a big skate scene, but we did have a local sense of community. It’s very different in London, where there are so many people; you’re branching out to guys who were your idols growing up, seeing them skating in the city, putting down tricks on iconic spots. Moving here made me realise that there is a bigger community in London, and it is one that has a wider context.
It is vital for individuals to put a stamp on what they do.
Kai (Etheridge) told me earlier that you used to breakdance when you were younger. Did that have any impact on your skating, in terms of comfort on the board, or your style?
(Laughing) No way you mentioned that, that’s crazy! I don’t know if it impacted my skateboarding. I’d say the vibes from breakdancing could be applied to skateboarding, the pure hip-hop vibes and that kind of thing. Also, the culture that came with breakdancing seemed really cool to me at the time. I was always into that sort of stuff when I was younger, like rap music, and a more relaxed approach to things…a real approach to things. But yeah, I used to do breakdancing with a couple of the homies I still skate with to this day, but I won’t mention their names; I’ll hide the evidence for their sakes (laughs)!
Moving over to more recent events, you started getting boards from The National Skateboard Co in the last year or so; could you tell us a little about how that came about?
Yeah, I was really stoked on that one; it was crazy. I got the chance to speak to you for an online interview for The Skateboarder’s Companion, about the local scene in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea. I guess Rye was really impressed with seeing our little underground scene and wanted to support it in any way he could, so he decided to start supporting me with National boards, and since then every day has been a blessing, really. I’m over the moon and I really want to share that with my Essex mandem, to keep spreading the exposure and the love.
Isaac brightens up a St Paul's evening with a pavement clearing 360 flip. Photo: Whiston.
Do you ever feel the pressure to skate to a certain level in different environments, with you starting to represent companies?
In a sense, I quite like to be pushed by a little bit of pressure. I do go quite hard on myself sometimes, and I know what I am capable of, so I want to push myself. Having people behind you, supporting you to skate better does help. I don’t think it’s a negative pressure, I’d say it’s more a positive reinforcement for me to keep doing what I like doing.
You’ve been filming a lot with George Hardiman; his recent video Number One Headband was great. Have you always been out filming with your mates around London or Essex, and making videos?
I used to film local videos with my mates growing up; I really enjoyed doing that. I loved the process of it being a random day, everyone’s just chilling, then all of a sudden everyone starts sending it. When I first met George, it was never about getting clips all the time, it was always about hanging out and creating a vibe where you could grow and have fun skating, but we always had fun as friends first. With that sort of dynamic come good clips, because it’s a low pressure environment. We always had the time to go off, skate skateparks, then go skate street when we wanted to.
June Store is the skate shop in Leigh, where you’re from. Did you find that your local skate shop helped foster local projects when you were growing up?
Yeah man, for sure. June put so much time and effort into getting the extension on our local skatepark built, and they have always been inspiring the next generation. Even before the skatepark at Leigh was built, they used to have a little warehouse where they did a DIY job, so we had a safe place to skate in the winter. They also put money towards local projects, like Delside. June’s always been there as a solid staple in the community, supporting young skaters since it was established, and it continues to do so nowadays.
A return visit to Aldgate sees Isaac leaping his way over some previously well guarded steel. Photo: Rob Galpin.
A lot of new brands have been popping up all over the place lately, especially here in London, with companies like Roxo. Do you think that the new brands help to make the skate scene more diverse, giving a voice to creative young people who might not have a medium to express themselves otherwise?
Definitely! It is vital for individuals to put a stamp on what they do. With myself, I like to put a stamp on the way I skate for example, and the way I like to dress; I think these new small brands tie into that sentiment. Personally, I’ve always had an eye for detail, so I love to see how personalised and unique these brands are. I feel more ‘homie-fied’, more connected with them, as opposed to some corporate crap. It feels more rewarding to represent smaller brands and include them in my life. It’s also rewarding to work towards videos with smaller companies like the Motherlan boys. The Roxo boys have been killing it, my homies running Gump are killing it too. It’s great to see everyone doing their own thing; it gives that edge of personality that more corporate videos and clothing don’t have.
June’s always been there as a solid staple in the community, supporting young skaters since it was established, and it continues to do so nowadays.
Just to finish up, you’ve got a hell of a future ahead of you, what’s the future looking like for you? What’s next for Isaac Gale?
I guess I’ll just be focusing on myself, trying to become a well-rounded individual. I like to do bits of everything; skating is going well for me now so I’m trying to put the work in there. I enjoy going out with my mates so I’ll be doing a bit of that, I’ve always had a passion for music so I’m going to try and do a bit more of that, too. I’ve also got to hustle at university. I do osteopathy; it’s like spine manipulation and movement therapy. It makes sense for skating (laughs).
Oh, that’s sick! There’s been a lot of stuff put out there recently about keeping your body healthy in skateboarding; do you think that’s something you’d like to get involved with?
Yeah man, like Ben Rowles, his section in the mag is awesome. I’ve seen injuries and those sorts of issues affect so many people around me, and it definitely puts your mental health at an all-time low when you can’t do what you love. I’m in this for the long-term I guess, so I want to keep doing the things I like to the best of my abilities for as long as possible, so if the tips and tricks I learn at university can help me, then I’ll definitely take that on board and spread the message!
Follow Isaac - @ille.g.a.l.e