If there were one aspect of the TOA site that has gotten me the most stoked over our long history it has got to be getting to share the stories of rad video-makers, skaters and skate scenes from around the world that don't get the attention they deserve. I especially get inspired by dudes making things happen in their scene despite the fact that they get so little attention from the mainstream skate media and who embrace the uniqueness of their local culture without trying to fake it or mimic the culture of other scenes or cities. Kevin Delgrosso is one of several videographers in the United States who stays unabashedly local, propping up the skaters in his area and giving a voice to his community and culture. Instead of taking countless filming trips to NYC to finish his Illinois video he instead skated and filmed in Illinois and made a rad video as a result.
We were stoked to find out that Kevin just released the second offering in his "Grains‚" video series so we talked to Kevin and coaxed him into hosting one of the parts on the TOA Youtube channel. We also caught up with him and Riley Vaughn, a skater with one of the stand out parts from the project, to ask them a few questions and tell us a little bit more about the story behind Grains and their motivations behind keeping it local and putting out awesome independent projects. So enjoy the short interviews below and then when you're ready check out Riley's part at the bottom of this post. Enjoy and thanks again to Riley and to Kevin for providing all of the photos and the awesome video part.
Riley Vaugn as seen in Grains2, photo by Kevin Delgrosso
For those out there who aren't familiar, what is "Grains" and how did it all start?
Grains is the name of a video I released in 2017. It was a 3 year long process with a total run time of 50 minutes. It focused on small town skating in Illinois and other parts of the Midwest with small segments relating the areas history to some of the skating footage. It somehow grew into a series,You know how that goes more then anyone..
What would you say is your 'mission statement' with the Grains project?
To show people that you can film and make videos without needing to live in a big city. To get people to drive through those small towns off the interstate and seek out new areas. To make due with spots you have instead of flying or moving to California or Arizona.
I know how it goes to finish a video and enjoy a few months of peace and contentment but then you start to see things you wanted to do differently and it starts to spark the fire again to do a new project. What did you want to do differently with Grains 2?
I really wanted to see what we could do in under a year. After finishing the first video a lot of the footage felt stale and didn't really fit in with some of the later years of filming. Putting something out quicker would feel more natural and the look and feel could be maintained throughout easier. Plus people aren't sitting through anything longer than 25 minutes it seems..
Photo by Chad Matthews
I think a lot of the skate world is metro-centric, meaning that the scenes that are celebrated are those in big cities like NYC, London, Paris, LA, etc. But people forget that the vast majority of skaters are in smaller cities and towns with their own unique culture and scenes. How is your scene different? And how important is it for you to get some recognition for the skaters in your crew?
I think one big difference with the cities is that there is constantly new skaters moving into them either for art school or wanting to get out of the suburbs or whatever. Out here it's just us. There isn't a influx of new people who are excited to film.
Its important that all our efforts be seen and hopefully other un-celebrated scenes can relate and know that there are people out there that are making videos in their small towns and getting some kind of exposure. The Threads and Cuntry guys in Tennessee and Bust Crew in Virginia have been super inspiring in that sense.
That's rad. I totally agree about all 3 of those scenes. I actually get more inspired by strong videos out of smaller scenes than I do from those out of the big cities. Well, where do you guys think you'll take the Grains project and series from here?
We've been filming this summer and saved a good chunk of footage from Grains 2 for at least one more project. So expect a Grains 3 at some point. As long as my friends want to film and make videos.
Photo by Kevin Delgrosso
I think that a lot of us in cities like NY and around the world don't understand what it's like being a skater in smaller towns and cites. What is life like where you guys live in Illinios?
I like it, it's cool cause we all know each other well, we all hang out outside of skating and after filming. The Chicago scene is pretty big but we mostly do our own thing out in the smaller towns. Winter is obviously tough but we have a few indoor parks to go to.
I grew up in a small rural area and used to get beer bottles thrown at me and taunted for just being a skater…have you had any experiences like that as a skater in your area?
No, I haven't. I think skating is just more accepted now. Plus we always have a bigger crew all out. We've definitely skated some crazier areas too but have been lucky for the most part. Rolling deep helps.
Wallride, photo by Kevin Delgrosso
What got you inspired to start skating?
My dad skated while I was growing up so just seeing him skating got me into it. I've been around it my whole life. Going to parks with him I was introduced to the older guys and just stuck with them.
Oh wow, that's crazy….are you proud of your skate scene and your city?
Yeah, it really just us out here. But we're close enough to Chicago to get a taste of a bigger scene. The Deep Dish guys in Chicago always kill it in their edits.
How important is it for you to have an outlet like the Grains videos for your skating?
It's cool to share our little un-seen area and film on spots that our all our own. Its fun to have people come to our spots after seeing videos we've made and sharing those with them.
What has been your favorite memory or favorite part of working on these videos with Kevin and the crew?
Exploring and finding out new places to skate and meeting new people because of it. Crews will want to come check out our area and we all end up becoming good friends. We've ended up skating with crews from Indianapolis, Minnesota and Kalamazoo because they've seen our videos. It seems like every state has a crew that wants to skate the more unseen rural spots.
Ollie up to frontside wallride, photo by Kevin Delgrosso
That's awesome….well, thanks for your time and for letting us share your part with our readers!
Thanks for the opportunity Josh! Let us know if you're ever near Chicago again and maybe we can meet for a session.
Now, check out Riley's part below and pick up a copy of Grains2 here to see the full project!