Jeff Dechesare Talks Fake Positivity Of The Skate Industry

As well as Gifted Hater and his inspirations
POSTEDBYLOUIS O'NEILL

Jeff Dechesare, also known as Jeffwonsong, is a 30-year-old skater from New Jersey, best known for his deep, technical bag of tricks. Triple flips, tre double flips, 360 hardflips and inward heels…That’s just a slice of what you can expect to see from Jeff in any given session down a stair set. 

I’ve followed Jeff’s progression in skateboarding for over a decade, and so I was stoked to speak with him about the skate industry, why he skates the way he does, and to discuss a surprising fan of his. 

So what's been happening, dude?

You know, not much, just trying to skate every day. Film clips. Whether it be for social media or a video part, I’m just trying to do something every day. My body is feeling good, I haven't had any injuries recently. So, I’ve been pretty productive with that.

How old are you?

I turned 30. About four months ago.

Do you find you have to approach skateboarding differently now? You know, because you jump off big stuff, that's part of what you do. Are you thinking like, ‘I've gotta change paths now’ as you get older?

It definitely crosses my mind for the future. Not right now, though. Right now, honestly, my body feels better than it ever has. I haven't always skated big stuff in my life, and when I first started doing it, my body would be sore all the time. But now it's like, my body's grown so accustomed to it that I can pretty much jump off anything and feel pretty good the next day.

I mean, I don't know, I'm feeling the best that I ever have been at this age. For right now, I'm all good doing that. But I know I can't do it forever. There's a point where I gotta, you know, take it down a notch. Skate lower impact stuff, which, you know, I'll be totally fine with because, as I said, I haven't always skated big stuff my entire life.

In fact, I grew up just skating a flat bar in my driveway, and that entertained me for years. So when the time comes, yeah, I'll probably just transfer back over to that type of stuff. Maybe just smaller stairs, you know, just avoid jumping off buildings once my body doesn't let me anymore.

Yeah, I think I remember. I saw you on YouTube, probably over 10 years ago, and it was the early days of your YouTube. The video quality was terrible, but I remember you doing boardslide varial heels out on your flatbar. And then you had a lot of loading dock stuff. You were doing the craziest tricks, basically the ones you do now except the video quality was so rough that I wasn’t sure if it was legit.  

Yeah, my parents still own that flatbar. They're crazy. Dude, I go back to it. I'm like, I can't believe how small it is. It’s almost harder to do tricks on that than a normal sized flatbar.

But yeah, that's how a lot of people know who I am, from those videos back then on YouTube. I got my first recognition in the skate world, I guess. Basically, YouTube was like an instinct, similar to what Instagram is for me now. I would just post a clip every day or something.

And I wasn't like trying to get noticed or anything like that. I was doing it for the exact reason you just said. I would tell my friends whatever trick I learned or did, and of course, you know, they want to see it. I'm not going to just like be like, “Hey, I learned how to do a switch bigspin hardflip and then not show them a clip of it, like, who's gonna believe that?

And then I guess people would search up crazy tricks, and mine would be one of the first to pop up.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's how I would have found you. Once I began getting into skating, I’d wonder, has anyone done a 360 hardflip? What about switch? And literally, when I’d search most of those tricks, it was usually just videos of you. I think off of the same loading dock each time.

Yeah, I mean, that wasn't my choice. I had no spots where I grew up like that, my only spots were like that loading dock and a five stair pretty much.

That kind of makes sense. If you can only really skate a loading dock, I think like the natural progression is sort of like, what's a harder trick I can do down it? Then you kind of go down that path. But it's also a double-edged sword where you gain recognition for these crazy tricks that you do, but there was a lot of hate that you would get for doing those tricks.

Dude, it's actually funny. Basically, until I moved to California and started getting recognition on some bigger YouTube pages, I really was oblivious to all that. I had no idea people hated my skating so much. And still in my head, there's no reason to hate on somebody that’s trying to progress.

It's so dumb dude. It’s just skateboarders hating on skateboarders. We’re all doing the same thing at the end of the day, just in a different form, or a different style, whatever you want to call it.

When I first moved to California, I started noticing a lot of hate. It got to me at first, I'm like, damn, this sucks. People are fuckin’ assholes. But I never once thought, “Oh, maybe if I switch up what I'm doing people will like me.”

I don't care about people's opinions enough to change who I am. It wouldn't be worth it. And what if I did? What if I switched up my skating and what I like to do and who I am, and people still didn’t like it? Then I don't like what I'm doing, and people still don't like what I'm doing. I might as well do what I like to do. So now I'm just happy with myself. Whatever people think, I don't really care.

I often think about Brian Anderson, who came out as gay in a documentary a few years ago. A lot of that documentary was highlighting how open and tolerant the skateboarding community is, and I'm just thinking like, have you been online? Skateboarders aren’t very accepting, quite frankly.
Yes, they may have been in this particular case, because BA is already a legend and a phenomenal skateboarder, but so often I see hordes of skaters online just tearing people to shreds over the smallest things.

Yeah, you’re preaching to the choir man. I always say that dude. Like, obviously someone’s sexuality is different. But in terms of actual skateboarding? Skateboarders are some of the most judgmental people ever. Like, do you know the Nine Club?

Yup.

The hosts always talk about how skateboarding is such a brotherhood, and we all get along, and everyone loves each other. And I'm just sitting there, thinking, this is so bullshit. Like, maybe to you guys, because you guys are well-known pro skateboarders. People are gonna suck up to you. They're kind of like the jocks of high school.

Of course, the jocks are gonna think that life is great, because everyone wants to be friends with the jocks. For some reason, they're the popular people, they're the cool people. But then, to continue the high school analogy, I'd be like a nerd, where not everyone wants to be friends with me. I'm not Mr. Popular. And if you ask a nerd if people are nice in high school, they aren’t going to have the same answer as a jock’s going to have. So it makes me angry. Not only on that show, but I always hear people talk about how skating is some copacetic cool brotherhood. No, it's not. We all hate on each other.

Yeah. I think you put it very well. I remember hearing Tony Hawk talking about it. And when he began skateboarding, people hated on him for skating. And then when skating became cool, he was hated within skateboarding for doing crazy tricks. Speaking of haters, let’s talk about Gifted Hater. He’s been a defender of yours.

Editors note: Read our Gifted Hater interview here.

I love that guy. I liked him before I knew he liked me. I like his videos a lot, and he’s super funny too. His videos always make me laugh. Yeah, he does hate on things. But he’s very thought out, it’s not just like, “Oh, I don't like it because other people don't like it.”

You would think he'd fucking hate me, but I think he's similar to me. My type of skating might not be his cup of tea, but he can respect what I'm doing. He sees that I'm a real skateboarder and I'm putting in the work. I guess that he respects that or whatever.

He just calls out all the bullshit that's going on in skateboarding that no one really talks about. So many people will hate on stupid things in skateboarding, but things that actually matter and deserve to be talked about just slide because people are scared to get canceled. It might be something that a big popular pro skater did, and people will say “Oh, well, that's so and so. It's cool.”

Yeah, he’s one of the only YouTube channels I watch anymore. Let’s talk about your skating. Is there anything you're working on at the moment? You just dropped that Upstream part, which was gnarly. How long did that take you?

Yeah, thanks, man. Um, it's hard to say. I mean, if you want to be technically speaking. I started working on that about four years before it came out. But a lot of the filmers I was working with were…let's just say unprofessional. I also got hurt during that part and couldn’t skate for a while.
But if you take that away, if I never got injured and if I had a filmer with me all the time, it probably took around two solid years, I'd say.

And as far as working on other things, right now, I have another part done. It's been done for like over a year. It’s filmed in New Jersey, where I'm from. My friend who's making it is a perfectionist and really OCD, so he just wants to make it perfect before he puts it out. I've been on his ass about dropping that.

Do you think that this part that's coming out will be gnarlier than the upstream part? Or will this be more mellow?

The thing with this one is that it's filmed in New Jersey and New York. For the most part, it's stuff that I grew up skating. I definitely worked hard for the tricks too, so I think it's on the same level of gnarliness as the last part. And my friend who filmed and is editing it is amazing. He edited my Upstream part and I think he did an amazing job.

You mentioned not having a reliable filmer, and that’s something I’ve often thought about when it comes to skateboarding professionally. If you aren’t a professional that gets paid to skateboard full-time and has access to great filmers 24/7, things are much more difficult. If you have to balance working a full-time job, and finding a filmer who probably also works full-time, it’s gonna be tough to stack clips.

Yeah. When you have a solid filmer that gets you and works well with you, you have more motivation to do the trick. Like with this part that I filmed back in Jersey, for example. I've been friends with the filmer since I was 15. We have a super good connection, he’s always down to go to any spot, and he always films each clip super good with a creative angle.

Okay now I want to talk about a clip you recently uploaded to Instagram. You skated the 15, is it? In Arizona that Jaws heelflipped and Josh Hawkins tre flipped. Dude, why upload that to the gram? If I saw you land that in a video part my mind would’ve been blown.

Man, that trick has a long story. I was trying to get that trick for the Upstream part. Last year, I tried to get it, and that was going to be my ender. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't get it. But I don't live in Arizona. I'm not trying to keep driving here, and risk getting a ticket and having to go to court, so I just have something to do in LA. That’s when I got the kickflip off that really tall, roof thing, which was my ender in the part. I think people didn't really expect my last trick to just be one single kickflip.

Right, and who are your inspirations in skating? You have such a unique bag of tricks, where did that come from?

Well, one of my inspirations has always been Bryan Herman. My trick selection is kind of based off his, he does a lot of hardflips, tre flips and nollie inward heels. I do 360 hardflips, tre double flips, and nollie 360 inward heels.

But, specifically, at Camp Woodward one summer, they held a best trick contest on a five block. There was this one guy, I wish I knew his name, but he was super good. In this contest I thought he was trying to double flip this five block, but he ended up triple flipping it. This was 2008 or something. Everyone went nuts when he landed it, and someone shouted out “that was a triple!”

That blew my mind when I saw that. I thought, wait what? You can triple flip things? It actually changed my life, though I know that sounds dramatic. I’d never seen anybody triple flip a stairset, and I realized that there’s way more to skateboarding than what everyone else does. 

That’s when I decided to myself ‘I want to do that myself now.’

Nice, dude. And do you have any sponsors you want to shout out?

Yeah, Etnies footwear, FKD bearings, Brostyle grip tape, Autobahn wheels, IDS skate shop, Silver trucks, Vow skateboards and Jarritos.

Jarritos, the Mexican drink?

Yeah, it’s like a Mexican soda.

Damn that’s sick. Well Jeff, that wraps things up, thank you for your time.

You too man this was fun.

 

Speed on over to the DOSE store to get your hands on some shirts and hoodies.

 

interviewGifted HaterSkate IndustryJeff Dechesare
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