@whistonphoto

Alice Smith is a skater living in Birmingham sponsored by Nike SB who runs Brum Girl Skate

She’s got a creative trick selection, stylish No Complys and does original tricks on ramp and street. Her skating is interesting to watch and so we wanted to find out how she got a board, developed her style, got sponsored and discover what she’s working on right now. 

Read her interview to find out how she started skating in Birmingham, building a bigger skate community at Bournbrook DIY, Nike SB, thoughts on creativity and skating,  Brum Girls Skate, street and transition, learning new tricks and filming clips, her inspirations and influences and favourite skaters, styles and spots,  videos, photos, artists and musicians of all-time and more.

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Alice by  @whistonphoto

What’s your full name?

Alice Elizabeth Smith

Where did you grow up ?

I grew up in Kidderminster, a town just on the outside of the Black Country.  Now, I live in Birmingham, and have done for just over three years.

So when did you first see skateboarding and think I want to do that?

Probably when I was about 12 or 13, I stumbled across ‘Quaked’, a skate video which was set in Christchurch, just after the earthquake. It featured the skaters making the most out of a natural disaster, using the destroyed environment to their advantage by gapping over huge cracks in the floor.

After that, I remember seeing a few skaters about in town, always in big groups and laughing.

I began to build up my own association with what skateboarding represented, characterised by big groups of friends and community.

Having struggled with my own family life, naturally, this was what the main appeal was, and was what initially spurred me to think “I want to do that”.

How did you get your first board?

I got my first skateboard when I was about 13, it was a Sports Direct Airwalk board, and for about a year I just messed about on it, sat down on it riding down hills, you know that kind of thing. My first ‘proper’ board was a Bandit, which I got from the old skate shop, Rednex, in Bewdley.

Quickly after that I started properly getting into skating, having access to a proper board really helped me progress outside of just riding down hills haha.

Where did you learn to skate and who was in your crew?

I think I properly started getting into skating when I was about 14, and my crew back then was other Kidderminster skateboarders  – shout out to Legs – Sam Morgan, for being one of the first skaters I met and teaching me a big chunk of what I know today.

We used to have a huge group, at summer we’d sit at Brintons parks around the bowl and chill there for easily the whole day, 10am until it got dark.

Which skaters influence you to skate the way you do?

During my first few years of skating, my style and approach to skating was quite conventional, I climbed up that basic ladder of tricks which people tend to follow: Ollie, Shuv, 180, Kickflip, tricks like that.

One of the first videos I watched that really influenced me wanted to go against the grain was the BATB2 game featuring Mike Vallely and Chris Cole.

It provided my younger self with two different elements of what skateboarding could be for a person, and although I can’t do all those mad tricks that Mike V does in the game, his approach represented for me a kind of rebellion against the normative way of riding a board.

‘Cheese and Crackers’ was also very influential ,although I only started skating transition more confidently recently, the quirky and creative yet still insanely gnarly nature of Chris Haslam and Daewon Song’s skating showed me how skating didn’t have to be about the most textbook tre down a twelve stair, and, as with BATB, represented a rebellion against the normative way of riding a board.

These videos spurred me to be more creative with tricks, and I came to learn that non-standard tricks provided me with much more enjoyment and incentive to persist than learning tres or three shuvs.

Again, big up Legs, as I’m pretty sure it was him who showed me those videos, introducing me to a whole world of skateboarding outside of Kidderminster’s Dunelm carpark.

Nowadays, I take a lot of influence from

Didrik Galasso

Maité Steenhoudt

Breana Geering

Oskar Rozenberg

Also pretty much everyone that skates at Bournbook DIY, and so many others.

Where are you skating in Birmingham the most right now?

I skate with loads of different people, most regularly at Bournbrook, which has really allowed the Birmingham scene to come together. Being on Supertoxic got me a lot closer with Jamie Hewitt, Marcus Palmer and Rob Whiston. Me and Jamie recently filmed a doubles video at the DIY which I had the best time doing.

I really enjoy skating with Euan and Ethan, they always bounce off each other and create a really enjoyable environment to be around.

Shaun Boyle, who started Bournbrook, is also someone I skate with often, and has got the sickest bag of tricks that he regularly executes in the gnarliest, most stylish way.

Everyone that skates at Bournbrook is sick and has something unique to offer, whether that be to skateboarding or to the community there itself. I also skate regularly with Matt and Ty, big up the both of them for always pushing me, and skating carparks with me in the winter when nobody else wants to haha.

Honestly I don’t really skate many other places in Birmingham, sometimes we go skate street, but whenever I go anywhere else, I always just end up comparing it to Bournbrook and ending up back there anyway.

What’s your favourite No Comply variation and why?

I think No Comply Bigspins have been my most consistent favourite, especially over hips.

I love the way the front of the board dips so easily when they pop over hips, such a satisfying trick to roll away from. I also love No Comply Impossibles, although I’ve recently realised I’m terrible at them on flat, I can never get that tuck properly.

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No Comply Shuvit:  @whistonphoto

Who does your favourite No Comply?

Mark Gonzales has the sickest No Complys. I think his might have been one of the first and most memorable examples of them.

Alex Ramsell also does the best executed No Comply Back 3s, and his Front Smith No Complys are nuts.

You’ve got a load of sick flatground tricks dialled. What’s your favourite thing about skating flat?

Honestly, not much anymore, haha. I think I’ve kinda grown out of skating flat, it’s all I really skated growing up because I didn’t have much access to skate anything else.

I learnt so many flat tricks in the space of a few years, and sometimes feel as though I haven’t learnt a huge number of flat tricks since, just learnt to apply them better, I guess. Saying that, I’ll probably start to enjoy it again in the winter, when all Birmingham skateboarding really has to offer in the wet is carparks.

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Frontside Feeble: @whistonphoto

Do you prefer skating street or transition?

I feel like the answer to this question changes every few months. I’ve been getting into transition more and more over the course of the past year.

Before Lockdown, I was terrible at it and really had no confidence when it came to transition skating.

When we went into Lockdown last year, I started going to Kings Norton for a couple of hours in the evening after work when it would be absolutely dead and basically forced myself to learn transition. I thought to myself, “if there’s ever an opportunity to learn, it’s now”. I think Legs also played a huge part in this.

He lived with me during Lockdown, and so we would go to Kings Norton together and, when I was younger, I always watched him skate Brintons bowl and thought “I wish I could do that”. He helped me learn a lot of tricks that I was previously too scared to do.

After a few weeks, something just clicked, and I suddenly understood why people enjoyed transition. Yet, street skating also has a specific appeal to it. Skating things which aren’t necessarily built to be skated has more of an air of fun and rebellion surrounding it, and definitely represents what skateboarding is all about. I’m in two minds about which I prefer.

I honestly think it depends on the location. If it was a competition between Fastlands or transition at Bournbrook, I’d choose Bournbrook. But if it was between Fastlands or transition at Lightwoods, I’d choose Fastlands.

What was the last new trick you learned?

Ollie Body Varials. I’ve wanted these for so long, and finally worked out how to get my body to 180 without letting the board do a shuv.

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Shuvit Flip:  @whistonphoto

What new tricks are you working on right now?

Just more transition I guess, grinds especially.

I want to be able to consistently crrrrr on coping, so I can finally live out my Anti-Hero inspired dreaming of skating bowls.

What do you think makes skateboarding creative?

I suppose just the rebellious nature of it, skateboarding is, at its core, about going against the grain, breaking the norm, that kinda thing, making it creative. I hear people gatekeep so much against creativity in skateboarding.

For example, I recently saw a video of some kid being like “maturing is realising that taking your foot off the board isn’t a real trick”, like you’re literally flipping a piece of wood around and you want to talk about “real” and “maturity”? It’s all just fun at the end of the day, and creativity and exploration with tricks is what constitutes this.

What was the last skate video that stoked you out?

Uma Landsleds “Punch a Hole in the Sky” is probably the most recent video that I watched and I really enjoyed, each individual part got me gassed and each individual skater had a completely unique approach to what ever it was they were skating.

Milton Martinez’s “¡DEMOLICIÓN!” and Anti Hero’s “Destination Unknown” are two other skate videos that I consistently watch ,probably once a week, that get me gassed. They both feature gnarly skaters with the most insane board control and the ability to roll away from tricks that they shouldn’t roll away from.

What’s your favourite thing about skating Bournbrook?

The community for sure. At Bournbrook, the people there are constantly contributing to creating the best and most comfortable environment that I’ve ever experienced at a skatepark.

I know my skating wouldn’t be where it is today without that place, so big up Bernie, Shaun, Dill, Hem, Sam, Simon, and everyone else that has contributed to one of the best spots.

Favourite trick you’ve seen go down at Bournbrook and why?

I can’t actually pinpoint my favourite trick that I’ve seen. However, what sticks with me probably the most is the amount of people that dropped in for the first time at Bournbrook, or done their first Rock Fakies, especially the amount of girls that I’ve seen find their feet on their boards more as a result of Bournbrook.

I remember when Shay learnt Rock n’ Rolls last summer and the whole part was screaming when she landed her first one, the atmosphere was amazing. Bournbrook shows us how progression isn’t about how big, or high, or fast you can go. It is completely relative and someone dropping in for the first time can be just as gnarly as someone flipping a ten stair.

How did you get sponsored by Artemis skate co?

I think Gabby got in contact with me around the winter of 2019 asking if I wanted to be a a part of Artemis. At this point I wasn’t supported by any brands or anything, so I was gassed to be given this opportunity.

Artemis, a ‘UK-based and UK-made womxn’s skateboarding brand, providing purpose-built, hardwearing and technical apparel with female skaters at the forefront’, was and still continues to be one of the sickest brands to ride for. With a powerful message at its core, it’s really rewarding riding for them.

Gab has provided me with so many opportunities through Artemis and helped me connect with so many other girl skaters, and for that I’ll always be grateful. Big love Gabby!!!! Xxx

You also get shoes from Nike SB. How did that start?

Vaughan got in contact with me earlier this year regarding Nike SB, sent me some shoes, and it went from there I guess!

Who are all of your current sponsors?

I currently ride for Artemis Skate Co., Gvnmnt Clothing Co., Nike SB, Lovenskate, Rollersnakes, and Supertoxic Urethane.

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 @whistonphoto

Are you working on a video part or filming a lot right now?

I’ve been filming some stuff with Callun, but other than that there’s nothing really in the works right now.

Why did you decided to start Brum Girl Skate?

I started Brum Girl Skate in August last year. I couldn’t really put a number on how many members are in the group, it’s more of a collective with no binary of “you’re a part of this or you’re not”. People show up to our events and we feature them in the edits, I guess is the way it goes.

What’s the idea of the platform?

“The celebration and empowerment of all wheels, abilities and marginalised genders around the Birmingham area” is the ethos of Brum Girl Skate.

Where the Brum scene was, previously, more dominated by men, my aim is to encourage women and non-gender conforming people to play a more active role in skateboarding.

I have spoken to so many girls that say they go to skate parks at certain times to avoid business and to feel more comfortable, that they get scared that people are judging them for having a skateboard, that they feel they have something to prove.

Brum Girl Skate is about creating a safer and more comfortable environment for people that may be nervous in the context of their gender and skateboarding.

Favourite moment from Brum Girl Skate’s Bournbrook jam?

Probably when me and Ty stood on the ramp and threw all the product to a huge group of people. A really nice end to the best day, thanks Lovenskate and Ideal for providing the product for that day! It went a long way.

Also, whilst we’re on the topic of the jam, I wanted to say a HUGE thanks to Bernie for her involvement. It would’ve have happened half as well if it wasn’t for Bernie, thank you for being constantly amazing.

Any upcoming plans with Brum Girl Skate?

Not really, we still have our fortnightly events at Creation and monthly events at Just Ramps, and I’m hoping attendance will start to pick up again now the weather is getting worse, as they did start to quieten down over summer.

I suppose the next thing we want to do is arrange a trip to Brighton, as on our trip last month we had planned to go but unfortunately were unable to.

Where’s your favourite place to skate in the UK and why?

Probably Bournbrook, but I feel inclined to talk about somewhere else haha. I also really enjoy skating M32 in Bristol, it has a sick group of skaters that consistently kill it and I really like the jankiness of the park.

I’ve been there on a fair few different occasions with different skaters and always have a fun time. I spent eight hours there the other week and didn’t get bored, in fact, I left thinking of more I could’ve done.

Where’s your favourite skate spot in the world?

Szaber Bowl in Warsaw, hands down.

I couldn’t actually skate it very well at all, but it’s so so gnarly, has a cool history behind it, and just blew my mind. I’ve never skated anything like it.

Any shout outs?

Huge shoutout to everyone at Bournbrook ,especially Bernie, and all my sponsors for constantly being the best people.

My housemates and friendship group, who I’ve got so much love for. Legs, for putting up with my friendship for eight years of his life.

Ty, for constantly supporting and pushing me in everything that I do. Matt, for being the all around best person.

Everyone who supports me with Brum Girl Skate. Jamie, Rob, Marcus, Jess, and all the Supertoxic and Karma lot.

Shout out to pretty much everyone that I surround myself with, you’ve made a hard 12 months a little more bearable and I will always be grateful.