Chima Ferguson Interview
Where you at right now?
Just chilling at home in my attic. In Sydney, Australia, it’s officially the first day of Autumn.
Is it nice out there?
Yeah. It’s Autumn but it’s still warm as hell. It’ll be warm for another month then it’ll kick into that jacket weather.
That rules. Did you just get back from Melbourne? Were you skating?
Yeah, I went down for a 30-hour weekend to skate with Mapstone to wrap this video up.
Do you know the name of this project you guys are working on?
I don’t think we actually have one yet. We’re two weeks from it coming out, so if you have any ideas, throw them out there.
That rules. How are you feeling about it?
Really good. I think we’re all done now. We haven’t watched any of our footage yet, so I’ll be over your way in a week. Go to the office and see how we went with it.
Is that how you usually do it? You don’t check your footage until it’s all said and done?
I prefer doing that because if you’re halfway through filming and you watch it, for me personally it’s never the way I think it’s going to be. So I’d rather wait ’til it’s too late and I can’t film anything more. It is what it is. You just gotta put it out.
With the worst landing in North America, Chima powers through the crust for a smashing flash ‘n’ roll fly out Photo: Burnett
Who’s doing the project?
Ryan Lovell and Greg Hunt is the secondary filmer for this one.
Has it been different from filming the Propeller video?
Definitely. This one is only one year long. I basically did it in LA and Sydney, with a little bit of China. It’s basically going on trips more solo style than with a whole posse. It’s good in some ways, bad in others. You want to skate with everyone but it’s easier to do your own thing.
As far as filming a video part and things like pressure, how do you deal with things like that? This is a big deal, right? It’s for your second shoe, kind of another chapter so to speak.
I think it came more naturally when I was younger. Now you have a particular trick in mind with a spot, so you go there and do it. All the parts I did as a teenager were all just skating with my friends and getting stuff randomly. It wasn’t really planned out.
Are you more calculated as far as what you jump on now and choose to skate?
Definitely. I’m older and I don’t want to get hurt. Just go straight for what I was going for.
Do you think it plays a big factor as far as being in that mindset? Part of being pro is knowing what you’re up for in certain ways?
Yeah, definitely these days. Before you use to be managed by people but now it’s more up to you to do your own thing and keeping with it.
Over the thumb into the hill with a hearty 180 Photo: Robinson
As far as to compare your mindset when you were younger to now, do you feel like everything’s changed: the game, the nature of skateboarding? What’s your take on that?
Skateboarding has definitely changed in the past 13 years. Instagram and the Internet became a big part of it. Instead of getting everything from a magazine or going to the skate shop to watch and buy videos, you just go to a website or someone’s Instagram and keep up with them that way. As far as my mindset, you go to a spot, you think about what other people are doing on their skateboards and get on that level. It’s a bit more stressful in a way but I’m still having just as much fun as I ever did.
I noticed that you’re particularly healthy as far as eating well and working out your body. Is that safe to say? Can you mention a few of those things in terms of staying healthy and in the game?
I try to eat as good as I can every so often. Everyone does that, where you just eat some garbage for a week. For the most part I try to stay up with vegetables, don’t eat meat too often anymore, trying to keep drinking to a minimum. I smoke cigarettes but not as much as I used to. It’s just an all-around thing. You always hear a bunch about how drinking a bunch and smoking cigarettes are bad for you but I think it’s a good thing to keep balance in your life. The way you think about yourself in life is just as much as being healthy. If you’re mentally healthy and you feel good about yourself, I think you’re going to be fine. If you feel like shit or think you’re going to get sick, you’re going to get sick.
When do you think that changed for you, that you might have to do some upkeep to keep this machine oiled?
I’d say probably after the Vans video was done, there was a good amount of time where I’d walk or exercise and the next day I’d feel all rusty or old. I think if you keep your body moving, whether it be skating or riding your bike, doing something will keep you going. If you spend a day on the couch, that’s when you’ll start to feel old and pain in your joints.
Rolling hard in China Photo: Muller
Do you have hobbies outside of skating?
Yeah. Sounds pretty standard but I like walking. It’s a good way to get your mind right. Anytime it’s warm out, I like to go to the beach for a swim. It’s not really good for my body but I play Playstation a lot. If you can have a sweat a day, you’ll feel a lot better for it. Physically and mentally.
I noticed when I hang out with you, you carry yourself in a really humble and confident way. Is that something you learned from family? Was it something that was rooted in you?
It’s always everything in life. Coming across people that are arrogant or cocky in a way—there’s nothing wrong in having confidence in yourself but you definitely don’t want to make it arrogance. It’s good to take the best things from people and learn about the worst things and try to adopt that into your own personality in the best way. My mum always told me that regardless of what you do, how good you are at it, to always be humble and grounded.
I think that’s pretty special to learn. Realistically in your career, you’ve been amazingly successful. Is that safe to agree with that?
Definitely, everything that I have now is not what I expected to have. I’m super happy with that.
Does that ever trip you out? Does your younger side ever come out and say, “Holy shit, this is crazy”?
I take a step back. There’s kids with my board at the skatepark. The strangest thing to me, I was at the airport a couple months ago and two or three different people had my shoes on. Seeing people that don’t skate with your name on it—had no idea—that’s what trips me out the most. Like seeing old people with my shoe on is very strange. I feel a little spark inside.
Not just high but also really, really far, just like Chima likes it Photo: Robinson
That’s a dream come true. That’s what it’s all about. I mean, shoe number one did amazing and that was a blessing. Now you’re on to shoe number two. Did you switch it up a little bit? Any details you want to spread?
It’s way different. The first one was a simpler, lifestyle shoe. This one is a bit more skate-savy shoe. The insole is the best thing about it. I can’t really explain it, you just have to see them. There’s a hard-plastic piece underside it, which looks quite strange. But once you put it on, it’s really good for your sole. I’ve always liked a simple shoe. I used to skate the Authentic which is just rubber and the smallest little insole. Now that I’ve skated these, I’m a bit more into the tech side of shoes.
Is that something you have fun with? Meeting up with the design guys and brainstorming? You’re pretty fashionable. You’re interested in fashion and high-end clothes in a certain way. You have a clothing line out as well.
I just like simple. I always wear black jeans or blue jeans with a plain white shirt. The clothing line reflects that. Plain logo shirt or striped polos as well. Less is more.
Quality, not quantity. You’re staying in Sydney right now, correct?
You bought your house out there?
I did three years ago, almost to the day.
Are you living with your girlfriend?
Yup. Just my girl and two dogs.
Varial heel up, more secret spots Photo: Darwen
As far as comparisons with being in the thick of LA, skate-wise, what do you feel is the main differences between those places?
LA is the place where I feel the biggest number of skateboarders live in the world, at least for famous and sponsored skaters. In Sydney, it’s the same in skating as it is for life. Sydney is the biggest city in Australia, but Australia is a much smaller nation from the States. If you’re from the country in Australia and you come into the city, you might think it’s crazy. After living somewhere like LA, it’s like coming to a small town, basically. Sydney is the beach and the city or whatever. Just skating, I don’t really go more than three miles from my house. Everyone really just skates around the city; you don’t even take the car out that much. In LA, everything is so spread out. There’s different cliques in every little zone. You’re driving and there’s traffic and whatnot. In Sydney it’s downtown style, where you skate spot to spot.
People always assume it’s more productive to be in the mix in LA. I feel different ways about it. Anytime I’ve been to Australia, I feel like it’s one of the most productive places. What’s your take on that?
There’s definitely a lot of stuff in LA you can get caught up doing if you don’t want to go skate every day. For me I don’t think it’s the best city to be in if you want to take a day off. In Sydney, you can go to a park or the beach is down the road. Everything is quite close. In LA, everything is so close to partying. There’s not that much fun shit to do on a day off.
When I was younger, it was burned into my brain that you have to go to California to make it in skateboarding. Do you think it’s still the same, or are these scenes everywhere you can just do it? With social media, it seems that success can just come to you. Is that something you agree with?
I’d say definitely. There’s so many people that you see, at least once a week there’s some crazy clip that gets recycled around Instagram. No matter where you are, you upload it and it’s on Instagram within a minute. It goes to every corner of the world immediately. Back in the day, you film something, you have to wait for it to come out then it’ll have to get to the skate shop. You make a bootleg copy of it and it’d get around. There’s good and bad when it comes to that. It’s cool you can put stuff out so easily but at the same time, it loses its worth. That just went up but in two days something else happens and it goes down the feed or whatever. It’s here today, gone tomorrow. It doesn’t have as much worth as it used to.
The only trick more controversial than the varial flip… the switch varial flip! Sequence: Muller
How do you combat something like that? You can see an amazing clip on Instagram but how do you deal with something like that?
I’d say that it works in a way where some people put really crazy shit on their Instagram, so people become desensitized and jaded towards it so they expect more of it. But then to me, I’d put stuff from old videos or stuff from the skatepark. I think people appreciate it more if you keep the real shit to the real shit and everything else separate.
I’d like to think you put out the carrots, let ’em dangle but you save the meal. It always counts. When you skate you’re super focused. You know what you want to do. It’s really amazing. As far as slams and mishaps, how do you keep the eye of the tiger?
There’s all different levels. When I first try something and get kind of close to it, I get stoked. It starts going away from me and I’m sure this has happened to you, but when you’re trying to do it, you go through different layers. You think you can do it and then you start to get over it. You’re jumping for no reason then you get close to one and you’re stoked again. I always think about the feeling of after you’ve done it and you got another trick under your belt. The feeling of that is what I’m going for. I want that reward. You try to stay as positive as you can and sometimes I reach that point where I don’t think I’m going to do it and then I do it somehow. Try to stay as positive as you can and the thing I think about is if I don’t make it, I’m going to go home and think about it all night. That’s what drives me crazy. I try to keep a clear mind.
The locals know. Switch back heel over the bar at Sydney’s Martin Place Photo: Robinson
There’s all sorts of ways to stay relevant in skateboarding right now. You hit King of the Road. How was that type of experience as opposed to just filming? Can you compare that to anything or is it just a freak show?
I’d say it’s a complete circus freak show. I’ve always watched it as a kid and I knew what I was getting myself into. Once it actually begun I was kind of surprised. I wouldn’t take it back but I don’t know if I would do it again. It’s harder, especially at my age, not having sleep or a routine really throws me off. It’s definitely a cool experience and I would’ve liked to do it at least once in my life but it’s going to be interest to watch it. I was so fried half the time I wasn’t even thinking of how I looked.
Did you have to cross the line at all or did you keep it pretty PG?
Nah, I knew Bianca and my mom were going to be watching it. I was the oldest person on the trip so I wasn’t doing anything that had to do with shit; I’m not pissing in my mouth. Someone else can take that shit. We all have lives that continue after that. I don’t want to be a person that people come up to randomly and tell me I shit in a shoe or something. I wanted to keep it a little more clean.
Do you think something like that benefits your career? That carries a lot of reach but what’s your take on that?
I think for someone like Lizard king, it could do quite well. He’s a bit of a personality. He’s got that thing going on. For someone like me, doing a video part definitely helps more.
Bad trends in skateboarding: do you think skateboarding is in a weird place or is it something you don’t even think about? Does it matter?
There’s obviously things that I do and don’t like but I don’t care. As long as people are enjoying themselves it’s fine by me. Every time you open up Instagram, there’s certain shit that you see that you don’t like. But to each their own.
Heelflip lip?! New shit, dog Photo: Chami
Do you worry about people’s opinions?
I think I used to, just being a kid and being stoked putting out a video part. As you get old, you realize you can’t please everyone. I’d read shit people would say about me on the Internet and people just do that. You can have a hidden identity. You can say whatever you want to say. It used to bum me out but you know what? Fuck it. Who gives a shit? It’s just some kid online. I do care about my friends’ opinions, though.
These superstars outside of skateboarding have so many followers you’ll actually see them commenting back to someone talking shit. I’m always stoked to see that. They took the time to write back, “Fuck you!”
It’s pretty funny if someone says something to you first on the Internet, but it’s always hard to win that argument. You look like a kook when you get really pissed off about something. People write fucked-up shit to me but I’ll like the comment. Kill ’em with kindness.
A Chima back three is a thing of beauty. Into the street Photo: Chami
Do you think there’s anything lacking in skating these days? Do you sense that there’s something lacking when you go to demos or traveling?
Depends on where you are. In the States, kids see professional skaters a bit more so they’re more jaded by it. It’s understandable. There’s certain kids that are, like, “My friends already did that,” or whatever. But I was in Asia recently, in Korea and Malaysia, the kids don’t see anyone out there. They were stoked on the fact that you’re there. I was there for a wear test for my shoe. I didn’t have to skate but I was, like, whatever, I’m there. The fact that you try to skate with them, they get stoked on that. Just to feel someone appreciate them going somewhere to do this for them is nice.
Do you remember being super young and seeing someone like that? I feel like that can carry forever.
It wasn’t even a demo. One time I was at this indoor skatepark in Sydney and Keenan Milton, Brandon Biebel and all these dudes turned up. It might’ve been the first time I’ve seen people from the States of that caliber. I remember running into the shop and being, like, “Keenan and all these guys are outside. They’re about to come in!” I was more stoked than I would’ve been for Christmas. It was something else.
What about now? What about modern inspirations? It can be inside or outside of skating.
More like you guys, just going on Vans and Real trips. There’s the younger guys, you’ve come up at the same time I have, the older guys. Going on a trip with Rowley or AVE or something, I wouldn’t say I’m on their level but I’m on the same team as them. You’ve done something right and it always trips me out. Going to China with Geoff last year, we’re stoked on him and he’s stoked on us. It’s a really bizarre thing when you’ve grown up looking up to someone like that, then you’re on a trip with them, skating and all that shit. It’s a bit of a trip.
What’s Geoff like in the van? Got any stories?
He’s cool. He’s such a different person. He’s so unique. We got drunk in China on his birthday. We all had those hover boards, whipping around the hotel on those things. I tried to teach him how to ride it but I felt bad because he kind of did it wrong, ran into a wall and broke his toenail. It wasn’t anything serious but it was funny.
Good ol’ SSBSTS bigspin. Damn, Chima! Sequence: Acosta
If you weren’t a pro skater right now, what do you think you would be up to?
I don’t even know. Skating just kind of slowly happened for me. When I was in school, all I wanted to do was to skate all of the time. I never thought of it at the time. My teachers would tell me I couldn’t skate and to do better in schoolwork. I never thought about it twice. I finished up at school and started going to the States. It just kept happening from there. All these years later I’m here now. It happened naturally. I never thought about where I was going; I just ended up there perfectly.
My dad said something cool that he saw in a movie: “You never know where the tide is going to bring in, so always leave your magnet open.”
Do you have friends that you kick it with outside of skateboarding?
For sure, there’s a bunch around Sydney. With skaters, they’re kind of an open bunch and everyone is pretty down to get along with one another.
Do you feel like you relate to skaters or your normal friends more?
It’s a bit of both. It’s very different. I kick it with my friends at home. Not to say I’m a different person, but when I go on trips I have a different way of living. It’s like having two completely different groups of friends. I’m sure you go on trips and you’ve got all your old friends from Albuquerque, different sense of humor and you know each other in a different way than you know everyone else.
I like it a lot because it’s a non-industry feeling as well. You feel like you can just be yourself in a different way.
That’s one thing about LA, you’re very surrounded by industry stuff. Sometimes it gets a bit draining. You hear so much stuff going on or who did what. When I’m in Sydney, none of that. It takes three months for a Thrasher mag to get here. It is what it is.
Do you ever trip out on the industry stuff? I would assume it’s more serious than the kid at the skatepark trying to learn varial heels.
There’s good and bad things about it. As I got older, I found that video premieres are so overwhelming. There’s so many people that you know. It is what it is but I find it to be a bit draining with so much industry talk. When I get back to Sydney, none of that is going on. I get up, go to the beach or walk my dog and completely do my own thing.
From his switch back tail Clipper cover in 2010, to 2015’s Propeller, to jumping massive spiked fences all the way to the road today, Mr. Ferguson has kept it progressive, dangerous, smooth and always classy. Here’s to many more, Chima Photo: Chami
Would you ever move back here?
Anytime I’m back in the States, it’s always for a short amount of time which is better for me. Living there, you can kind of get lazy. If I’m there for a month, I have a plan set out to do this, this and this. When I go home and relax for a minute, I feel like I’ve actually done my job. The worst feeling is when I’m back in Australia and I feel like I’m not pulling my weight. I gotta go back and step my shit up. Lately it’s been good, though. Keeping up with a level that other people and yourself are happy with are the main things to me. I want to constantly put shit out.
You’ve had quite a few video parts. Do you see each of them as a chapter in what you’re doing? Would you like to comment on them at all?
All the video parts I’ve done are tricks here and there. Propeller was a project where I wanted a back three or front board for my part. All the other ones would come together but that was the first one I had done that I was trying to get tricks in particular. It was more of a thought process going into that. I had the song in mind a year before that. When you’re filming you think where in the part that trick may fit into.
When you finish one of these projects, do you take a step back and let it all sink in or is it on to the next thing?
I might just stay busy because when after the Vans video, there was this weird time where everyone was just like, “Oh.” I was so stoked to finish it, to take some time off. As a skater, you already have so much time on your hands. This one is coming to an end but I’ll put a bit more time in Sydney and have a video part of street skating in Sydney. It can be easier to film because it’s my direction and I don’t have to worry about the level of some of the tricks. It’ll be a random video part for myself, doing it exactly the way I want to do it.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have for your younger self starting out?
Save a little bit more money; eat more fish oil; stretch a lot more. There’s definitely ways I could’ve done stuff better but I don’t have any regrets that I look back on. So far it’s been a good and lucky ride.
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