A look inside “Bottleneck” with Nnamdi Ihekwoaba
For the latest expansion of the TOA Underground Network we sat down with video maker Nnamdi Ihekwoaba out of the Washington, DC area. We were stoked to be able to learn about his latest release "Bottleneck" and his drive for creating his own independent videos. A lot of hard work and creativity goes into these projects and we couldn't be happier about being able to bring some light to them. Nnamdi also gave us the honor of sharing Rashad Murray's full part from "Bottleneck" on the TOA YouTube channel (see below). So sit back, relax and enjoy this new TOA exclusive. Many thanks to Nnamdi and Rashad and congrats on the the new video release!
Bryce Church Tailslide with Nnamdi close behind / Photo: Toby Angel
Hey Nnamdi! So how does it feel to finally have “Bottleneck” finished?
It feels pretty surreal honestly, it always feels like such a rollercoaster ride working on projects so to be finished with something my friends and I worked hard for feels really amazing. I’m really thankful for the entire journey, each project always comes with something different to offer and to show. I’m excited to share it.
How was the premiere? The venue looked really cool.
We had an amazing night! Had a blast, it was so sick to have so much of my family and friends coming out to watch the video, couldn’t be more thankful for how it turned out. The venue was a production house of a brewery, so they had a bunch of huge machines and all sorts of stuff all around which was really cool
So, let’s go back a bit. What was it like growing up and skating in Nigeria?
So, I’ve actually moved back and forth a few times. I ended up finishing middle school and doing most of my high school in Nigeria and had just started skating in DC about a year or so before that. It was pretty tough making that transition with making new friends and being in a new environment again. Not being able to skate nearly as much as I did living back in the states was definitely a difficult part of the adjusting haha. Being somewhere new forced me to leave my comfort zone which I definitely think I needed at that time, I’m really grateful that I was able to truly be in touch with my roots. On the weekends I would skate as much as possible and was glad I lived in a neighborhood that made it possible to do that. Most of the time I spent skating throughout the years was alone which was definitely something new for me. During the last year I had a friend who lived down the street from me and I set up a half ass cruiser for him so we could skate together haha. I taught him how to skate and we would just hang out and ride around. That was really cool to be able to expose a close friend to something that I enjoyed myself. One thing that stood out in particular was how baffled some people were to see someone skating around the neighborhood. I used to skate this curb right by my house, and I would always catch the people who built houses staring at me, funny because I used to think all the staring was so rude, but I really cherish those little memories now. I’m happy that I was able to show other people something that is so special and out of the ordinary. It’s really incredible that there is a little skate scene emerging in Nigeria. There are some dudes running a little brand called Motherlan which seems super cool, just a bunch of homies doing their thing and having a good time. I’m thankful for all the amazing times I’ve had in Nigeria and cheers to many more! Shout out to Lagos, such an underrated city.
Nashua Rosales Kickflip between the planters / Photo: Toby Angel
When did you make the official move to Washington DC?
I made the move back to the states in 2013 and was actually born right outside of Washington DC, in Silver Spring Maryland. That’s pretty much where I grew up. My folks had worked in DC and most of my family on my mom’s side lived in DC also, so we always spent a lot of time there which was really cool to be in and around the city from a young age.
When and how did you first get into filming and editing?
My Mom has been a TV/ Radio producer pretty much my entire life so growing up I would go into work with her sometimes and that’s where I was exposed to a whole lot of that culture. I would just hang out in the studio and watch the sound engineers, editors and producers just do their thing and that always interested me. I started skating with two of my best friends who lived down the street from me, they were brothers and their mom had this little digital camera that we would mess around with. One day we decided to make a random video of us skating and that’s kind how some of the interest in filming skateboarding started. Down the line my mom actually ended up getting a video camera that I pretty much adopted from her haha. I would religiously use it to film my friends and me. For years I knew nothing about editing so I would just watch my friends who made little edits. I didn’t try to do it myself until my friend Arthur introduced me to some basic programs and taught me a lot about the foundation of some editing. I’m still learning more and more as I go. Shout out to the awesome friends that have helped me along the way.
Where did your moniker “Statue” come from?
It’s kinda silly actually haha. Some homies and I were skating around the city one evening and we were talking about how so much of the architecture in DC involves statues and monuments and how so many of the spots we are skating has some figure or representation of something. We just spent hours geeking over weird symbolisms that had crazy theories behind them.
Rashad Murray: Backside Tailslide / Photo: Owen Basher
I really enjoyed your last video “The Heritage”. How did the whole project come together? Was that your first video?
Growing up I actually put out a few videos. The heritage was one of the first videos that I filmed a while for. Things really changed while filming for that video because my friends and I started trying to travel more often and it definitely got all of us hyped to just experience new things. To shed light on DC and the general area around it is always something that got us hyped and to be able to share all of it with each other is so special.
One of the comments on that video that really stuck with me was that it gave off some Dan Wolfe vibes. Particularly, the way it was parts filmed at spots in iconic skate cities. Was there any Dan Wolfe influence on the editing structure of the video?
Funny because I actually knew little to nothing about Dan Wolfe while I was making that video. I’m definitely a fan of him now haha. Its sick that someone said that, Eastern Exposure is amazing.
Where are some of your favorite places to film at? Do you tend to prefer a Freedom Plaza session or going on a Bryce Church crust mission?
Hahaha oh man, I think a crust mission for sure. He’s the king of those. Pulaski will always be amazing but there are a so many spots in the city in general and always more to be found for sure. We try to skate everything to be honest but anything unusual is definitely interesting and places like Baltimore, Richmond or cities in Upstate New York always look insane because of the architecture and the structure of their environment. DC has so much crust low-key and it’s so much more fun to skate something that gets you out of the box in a city of perfect marble ledges haha.
Tom Alexander: Ollie in / Photo: Owen Basher
It looks like you guys wrapped up “Bottleneck” in just about a year and a half. Where all did you guys end up traveling for the video?
We had taken a few trips to San Francisco and made some really good homies, so we went a few times. Throughout the year we made a few small trips to New York City. Bryce is from Syracuse so we went up there for a few days to skate some really cool spots, on the way there we stopped in Albany which was awesome. I had never been to upstate NY before so it was sick to be in a new city, the nature there is surreal for sure.
I hear you guys often have some sketchy travel accommodations. Where was the most interesting place you ended up staying?
Hahaha no doubt we’ve definitely had some interesting experiences, especially in New York and SF. The last Airbnb we had in NYC had plywood walls in this shared home so we could hear every word the person in the next room was saying hahaha it was nuts. Earlier in the year when we went to SF we didn’t have housing for the first night we were there so a friend of mine offered to host us for the night. He had just moved there like a month prior and was living in one of those warehouse spots that was apparently the old Thrasher warehouse. It had been turned into a living space and was just absolutely insane on the inside. There was a huge stage in the living room area where his roommate would just casually DJ throughout the day hahaha. It was honestly really sick. Aside from the cool living room area there were also some super cutty rooms in that warehouse that had been lived in prior that had crazy writing on the walls, rotting milk cartons and sketchy stains in some places hahaha. In the moment it was all so crazy but I’m so happy I got to stay there and experience that because I’m not sure that’ll happen again ever. Shortly after, the city of SF evicted everyone on that block from those warehouses.
Who all has parts in it the new video? Is there a particular part that you are most stoked on how it came together?
Rashad Murray, Tom Alexander, Mason Padilla, Bryce Church, Dylan Hatfield and Will Keysar all have parts in the video, along with some amazing friends. Honestly, I’m really hyped on everyone’s part. I feel like I really got to portray how I see them skate through my eyes and that got me so stoked.
Rashad Murray, Bryce Church, Nnamdi Ihekwoaba and Tom alexander / Photo: Elijah Gordon
I see that you’ve been filming with George Hanuschack a bit and that you even filmed a few clips for his “Welfare Compilation” for Traffic Skateboards. How did you end up linking up with George?
I had always seen George around in the city since I was a lot younger. We never skated or anything, but he was always super cool to my friends and I. He was actually in one of the first videos I ever owned. I bought it the day before moving to Nigeria haha. We started skating a little bit more down the line and then recently he bought a place in the same neighborhood that I live in so we’ve been kicking it and skating a lot more often so that’s’ been really awesome, George is the man! I’ve learned a lot from him so I’m super thankful.
How important has it been having a shop like Bureau holding it down for DC? Seems like they are always doing rad stuff for the DC skate scene and even had a hand sponsoring this new video.
Absolutely important! I think any city that has people actively skating in it deserve to have a skateshop that cares. I’m super thankful for Bureau. They’ve supported me far beyond what I would’ve expected and it truly means a whole lot. For how young the business is they’ve been doing so much. Brian Aguilar is the real motivation and it shows no doubt! Shout out to them over at Bureau and for more years to come.
What’s next for Statue?
Haha I think this is just the beginning! I feel like after a video there’s a fresh perspective and a new wave of motivation to do something different. So I’m excited to keep doing what my friends and I have always been doing, just being ourselves and loving life, skating as much as we can and making the best out of it.
Thanks, Nnamdi! Anything else you’d like to add?
Shout out to all of the homies that made this possible! I could’ve never done it alone, shout out to Bureau skateshop, black filmers, and black skateboarders. Thank you Jovi and the homies at Theories! I’m so grateful for this. Peace and Love to the world.
Now, please enjoy Rashad Murray's full part exclusively on the TOA Youtube channel and snag a copy of the full video here before they're gone!