Skateboarding has always been an artform as much as it is a sport, but it’s skateboarders like Jake Wooten who’s unique style and raw performance proves this statement true. While Jake might be fresh out the gate, he’s off to the races and melting faces in the process.
Well, first and foremost, I want to congratulate you for going pro for Santa Cruz. What goes through your head now that you have had some time to reflect on accomplishing this dream?
Man, I’ve had one video part come out before, but this one I had been working on for two, two and-a-half years. It’s just a surreal feeling. I’m just so blessed and thankful to every person; to anyone who held my hand dropping in, to anyone who gave me the time of day to give me help on a trick or even just talk to me at the skatepark. Just every little bit of it. It was always my dream to go pro but I never really thought it was going to happen. I just wanted to skate, skate as much as I could, and that was it. Skate all the time. Skate whenever I can. Skate with all the homies and travel and I got to do that… I’m stoked [laughs].
There was that moment in your video part where your friends, family and team riders surprised you hiding in your home with your board and you can literally see the surprise and smile on your face. Can you talk about that moment?
That was the greatest moment probably of my life–most accomplished feeling. I had my parents in town. It was my first time my parents were in town since I moved to California a year-and-a-half ago because of the pandemic. But they were in town and the Santa Cruz guys were in town–none of which was to my knowledge. Sure enough, they were all lurking in my apartment, the entire team. Everyone from [Eric] Dressen, to Salba, to E-Man [Emmanuel Guzman], Fabi [Fabiana Delfino], Maurio [McCoy], [Tom] Remillard. It was basically everyone on the team. Even on FaceTime we had Justin Summers and Blake Johnson when they turned me pro. I had my whole family there and the entire team, which is something I don’t think is too often, to have everybody there like that. It was crazy to have everybody in my tiny apartment. For them to come down from LA and do that for me. It was something I have been looking forward to since I was born.
Just to bring it full circle, it all started for you growing up in skating in Tennessee. What was it like growing up skating in Tennessee?
I lived with my biological parents until I was 8, then my uncle would always take me out on weekends to go skate and stuff, like, to get my energy out because I was such a hyperactive kid. But the skate scene growing up was cool. We had a bunch of really rad crews. We had the FU Crew with Dee Ostrander. When Dee went pro for Baker that was a huge deal in Tennessee. There was a lot of energy growing up there, but there weren't a lot of parks and there still [aren’t] but hopefully we can get that changed soon. The scene is just so much different, it’s not like California where everyone is ripping. Everyone is skating for different purposes out there and you can see it in their skating a lot of the time. There’s some people who go to the park and all they want to do is skate flatground. It’s because that’s just what skating is to them and it’s cool to see that. It’s less cliquey out there too, I mean there’s crews but everyone just kind of skates because there’s really not a big enough scene for there to be ten different crews if you know what I mean.
I feel like in Los Angeles people start to skate the same because all the new parks are built by the same people with the same obstacles.
Not in a rude way, but you’re right. People start to skate the same. Out in Tennessee, parks are literally built by whoever [laughs]. Some of them are nice, some of them are modular, some are built by inmates. You get that East Coast crust, so your style and how you skate develops differently.
Would you say that’s how your love for transition was born? I picture you skating in your barnyard miniramp and these crusty Tennessee parks…
The whole barn miniramp I definitely didn’t do too much. I skated it when I was really young and learned all my basic tricks—50-50 stalls, disasters—but I think it was more or less from when I traveled everywhere and I would go to contests and stuff. I’d go to a skatepark and they would have a vert ramp, and there’s no vert ramp in Tennessee. I was just blown away by how fun it was. It was so giant. I remember when I went to Woodward [skate camp] I couldn’t believe the mini-mega was a thing. I was so excited about it. I was like “Wow, we don’t have this in Gallatin [laughs].” It’s kinda what drove me head on. I would go to skate different places and I feel like the contests I went to the transition skaters would kinda be better. I mean there were a lot of great street skaters, too, but I don’t know why but it was just so much more fun for me to be on a miniramp. So much more natural for me and there were a lot of 5-7 ramps in Tennessee. That’s another thing: all the ramps in Tennessee are 5-foot to 8-foot. It was a lot of fun, but seeing that giant tranny got me fired up to keep skating smaller tranny and go film.
One thing I really noticed from your recent pro part was how you filmed all over the world. You went to Barcelona, Argentina, the Pacific Northwest and, of course, California. hat was it like traveling and filming for that video? Any trips or places that stick out in your mind?
I went to Australia. I had one of the most memorable trips of my life with Henry Gartland, Asta and all the boys. It was a demo tour, but we definitely filmed a lot on it. It was so much fun, but it was actually where I broke my wrist. Also, Argentina, was the “Meat Sweat Survivors” trip—dude we ate our weight in asada. So many cool spots in Argentina and we really got to delve into the culture there which is always, for me, something that I can't get enough of when I travel. Spots out there are unreal, there’s the Art Museum of Buenos Aires, I mean, all I did was ollie this flat gap and over the double rail. That was such a unique spot. If I didn’t get something there I would have been mad at myself because it looks so cool as if someone built it for skating.
What about you? Do you have a certain clip from your pro part that stands out?
The hardest trick for me by far was the front 360 blunt [at Burnside], without a doubt. I’ve been trying to land that trick for a couple years, on and off. In the past I’ve locked into a few 360 blunt stalls [at different spots] but I had never popped back in. I always knew I could find a spot where I could do it. I had never skated Burnside and when I finally got to skate it, it was an unreal crew of people there. Willis Kimbel, David Gravette, [Tom] Remiillard, Chris Russel, Tom Scharr, a bunch of older locals were there–it was a sick session. Everyone was clipping up and I was all fired up. I was like, “Damn, everyone is killing it, I got to do something.” I remember I saw the wall and started trying a few flip tricks but it wasn’t working. So I tried spinning it a few times and seeing if it works. Sure enough, three hours later, [laughs] dead exhausted I got one. I was hyped. Shoutout to Gregson and Braydon for filming the whole time and sticking it out with me.
What is Red Bull Terminal Takeover?
Skating all around the world, Burnside, Argentina, Barcelona, and being from Tennessee; now that you find yourself in California, was the move to SoCal something you always wanted to do or else how did it come about?
I could look back and show you my third grade folder right now, it says, “When I grow up I want to be a pro skateboarder and I want to live in San Diego, California. And I want to go skate with my friends every day.” So this is something I have been dreaming my whole life, literally just been dreaming of it. Now that it’s a reality, to be honest with you, I’m hungrier than ever.
Yeah man, I was gonna say, you had a part drop two days ago and I shoot you a text at 9am and you’re already out in the streets [since 5am]:
You got to be out [in the streets]. If you’re not out filming or you’re not out skating the parks, surfing or biking or doing something that’s healthy for your body or mind, you got to be doing something. Get active, stay busy.
Not sure if you know this, but your teammates have said your skateboarding is a representation of your personality. How would you describe your skating then in your own words?
Abstract [laughs]. It’s funny I’m looking at these crazy paintings right now and it reminds me of how I like to skate. I enjoy skateboarding so much. Some tricks feel so nice and are so satisfying. I just chase that feeling of trying to paint whatever I’m skateboarding.
That’s a beautiful way to put it: it’s like our skateboards are our brush and the concrete is our canvas.
Exactly and there’s so much canvas that has been left untouched.
Red Bull really has an amazing skate team: what does it mean to be a member of a team like this and what do you think they see in you?
Red Bull is elite. Their team is extremely elite, they have most of my favorite skaters in the world on their team. It’s crazy to think they think highly enough of me to include me with so many amazing skateboarders. It’s honestly mind-boggling for me to think about because I don’t see myself in that way yet but I’m honored and really thankful and I hope that I can prove to them that I am deserving of giving the hat to [laughs].
I can tell you have a lot of skating on your radar–
I’ll have another part dropping this year.
Oh, okay–on that SOTY run I see?
Dream. To get on the ballet. I would shit myself [laughs].
You were part of the Red Bull Terminal Takeover–can you tell us about your crew?
Those are my boys, the Nashville crew. Some of my best friend's and my idols looking up to growing up as a child that now I can kinda hang with. I’m not just a little puppy anymore, I can kick it with the big dogs [laughs].
Red Bull had different skate shops and crews right? All competing against each other?
Yeah, they have different skate shops/cities. They had Baton Rouge with Rukus, New Orleans was Humidity. Then they had National Sixth Avenue which was my crew and my homies because I skate for Sixth Avenue too. Then there was Faith skate shop from Birmingham [Alabama], and then there was a crew of girls who came out who did their thing. We all got to skate the park for a few days, and we all filmed edits. They’re going to have some insane edits coming out, but Nashville is going to win [laughs]. Sorry everybody else–Nashville homies are just too good [laughs]. Seriously, though, everyone was killing it, everyone was skating so well and we were all so hungry to skate the airport. Everyone was just so down for it.
I feel like every skater who’s traveled knows what it’s like to be in an airport with their board, on that perfectly buttery ground seeing these metal ledges and ramps everywhere...
Best floor! It’s the best, best, best floor in the world! You just have this desire to just haul down the airport. I seriously spent no less than six hours in three days pushing full speed from concourse A to D. Just because I could, like right pass the cops, through the library carpet, literally everything. It was so much fun!
Was there a part of the course that was your favorite or found yourself skating the most?
They absolutely killed it on the main course, which was the palabera build I believe. The park part they built in the front. I asked them to put plywood to build a ramp down the escalator and they did it, so I was fired up because you had so much speed to hit the quarter pipe to the other end. You barely have to roll in and you’re already gone 6-7ft over coping. It was just so much fun, that build was really so fun to skate. It was really built out well. Baggage claim was really unique, because they had built out these curved rails and they really applied everything to the natural structures of what was there. Angle iron on the baggage claim, curved rail at the end of the carousel, so it was really amazing. Even though I can’t skate ledges really, [laughs].
Woah, that sounds like a once in a lifetime experience.
It was Tony Hawk [Pro Skater] in real life, brotha! It was truly amazing–can’t wait for everyone to tune in and don’t forget to vote!
As we approach the end of the interview is there anything going on for the rest of the week?
I actually turn twenty-one in about 2 days [laughs]. I’m up here in LA for a little birthday trip.
That’s awesome, Jake. Happy early birthday!
Thank you man, it’s rad, I have this rooftop Airbnb in Echo Park. Parking is kinda a situation but it’s actually pretty nice. I have a rad view of Downtown LA and we’re filming here before I head up to Pismo for a few days. I have my own house AirBnb, which I’m super excited for because I’ve never had my own house[laughs]. Oh and if you have spots out there let me know.
Is there anything on the horizon you want to share?
We have a rad Santa Cruz trip coming up, a couple of trips coming up. We’re going to Woodward West in a few weeks. It will be a lot of fun going up there. We’re going to be filming for my Red Bull part all summer so I'm trying to stay busy even with my off time and just get these clips.
Jake Wooten Skates An Abandoned Airport