Steph Morgan has been getting recognised for his skateboarding skills in London for a while now. His skills have led him to be on the CIDE skate shop team and he is also one of Blueprint Skateboards flow riders.Ralph Lloyd Davis caught up with him on the phone and this is what went down…
Ok Steph. This is your 15 minutes of fame so let the people know.
But first, how old are you? Where are you from? How long have you been skating?…
Uh.(Hesitates) 18. I’ve been skating for about 5 years and I’m from South Africa, man! The ghetto!
The ghetto? Whereabouts?
Johannesburg, then I moved to Durban where it’s a bit more chilled out. Just machetes, no guns! (Laughter)
So, how long have you been living in England for?
I lived in Bromley for the first 2 years, but now I live in Longfields. I’ve been here for about a year.
Why did you move over from South Africa?
It was because of a job opportunity for my dad and he figured it would be better than staying back in SA.
Right. Let’s try and get back to some skate questions. Tell me about how you discovered skating.
Well, it’s mainly because of my brother, Gavin. He was already skating, in fact he still is, and he told me that I should try it out, so I was like, ‘Why not? I’ll give it a go.’ My first board was one of those crappy supermarket budget boards but I was super stoked and got right into it and loved it from then on!
Gavin had been skating for a while already, right?
Yeah, he was already skating. I think he’s been skating for about 10 years now.
Not many people know this, but you and your two older brothers, Gavin and Andy, are both skaters, and it’s not like any of you suck either. Is it in the genes? Was your dad pro and never told you about it?
(Laughter) He probably was, eh! (Laughter)
Apart from skating, were you ever into anything else as a kid?
Yeah, I used to mess around with body boards and stuff, but I’ve never been into something as much as I have with skating.
What was it like growing up and skating in SA?
It wasn’t difficult but you need a car because public transport isn’t all that good. Plus, when you drive you can go and find loads more spots and stuff. It’s pretty chilled to skate in SA like people wise they’re pretty mellow. No hassle, it’s completely different. No rude boys! (Laughter)
You really hate those guys don’t you?
Ah! If I could, I’d nuke every one of them!
Come on, it’s not their fault. Anyway, what’s a typical day like for you?
Get up. In Kent! Get my mom to hook me up with some good sandwiches, hop on the train and meet up with Lucien (Clarke) and Rich (Hardy). But, Rich is in a bit of a drinking mode at the moment so. (Laughter) Then we got hit uploads of spots and at night I go chill with my girlfriend.
Oh? Is she done with your skating?
Yeah, she loves it, eh! She just lets me go skate whenever I want to as well!
Damn! When I was your age, girls wouldn’t give skaters a second glance. We were the scum of the Earth. So, when you go skate, what kind of spots do you hit up? Do you skate everything?
Yeah! Well, I try and skate everything anyway. Like, I don’t skate parks that much because I mostly just skate street, but I have been to this one park in Rochester that is pretty good. I prefer to skate street though, and I know it sounds gay but you get a real sense of freedom! (Laughter) You’re not just confined to one area with a bunch of people you don’t want to be with, like rollerbladers. You know you get those cock rollerbladers at skateparks?
Yeah, I know what you mean. But, do you have any transition skills or are you just hitting up the banks and ledges?
Oh, I skate mini ramps. I’m not amazing but I can flow by doing all the basic tricks and stuff. If you drop me in a harsh skatepark, I won’t sink I don’t think.
Has your skating taken you to foreign lands yet, or are you still waiting for the call?
Well I came to London! But, that was just because of my parents I guess.
Then, I went to Barcelona.
What did you think of Barcelona? Did it live up to your expectations?
Yeah definitely man! There were more spots than I actually thought, eh! You just get off at any metro stop and there are just spots everywhere. You’d think the architects were skaters. Like, you know that one spot Fondo?
The one with the pyramid hips, ledges, banks and fountain.
Yeah. It’s so stupid, man! It’s just like a playground for skaters. It’s so good!
How about London? Do you the spots as hard to skate as they are reputed to be?
There are new spots popping up everyday now, but some of the older spots, like the Barbican for instance, are becoming real bad busts now, like the worst in the City! You run into a lot of cops in the City, but there are so many other spots to skate outside of the City, and the new ones popping up, that’s it isn’t too difficult. When I was on the train to college once I spotted this red handrail. Seeing as I was on the train, I had to figure out the whole route of how to get to it. With Andy in the car, we eventually found it in some industrial estate. It wasn’t easy to find, but in the end it’s this perfect rail that’s nice and low, a bit steep but it is a good rail.
Do people skate that new spot in B******** at all?
Uh. Not really because all the residents have moved in now. Like that one time we went, we sessioned it for 2 hours without any hassle, but then we went back another day and got kicked out by security in under 10 minutes! It’s a good spot though, eh?
Definitely, I found it! As a young amateur today, do you find it hard trying to make a name for yourself when the level among your peers is so high? Is it quite competitive in the amateur ranks nowadays?
It’s weird. I kinda just try and skate and do as best as I can do, you know? I mean, there are like so many good guys out there that for some of them, I don’t even understand how they get that good? (Laughter)I just skate and try what I can, pushing myself.
Does having brothers that skate help?
Yeah! Having Andy there with his camera helps a lot because we can work off one another to get things done.
Would ever consider an image change if your sponsors were all Hip-Hopped out or rocking to the punk scene?
(Laughter) Oh, I seriously wouldn’t give a damn about stuff like that! It’s just stupid, I reckon, changing your whole image and stuff. That’s got nothing to do with skating, it’s just proper selling out, eh? It’s dumb.
So, how would you define a professional?
I’d say obviously it has to be someone that’s really good at skating, with their board like skill wise, but also they have to be a rad person that’s friendly. You need to be able to go up to them and talk to them without worrying. You know how some pros can be all patronizing and full of attitude, like they look down on you? A real pro is someone who’s really mellow and out to have fun.
Who do you look up to?
Pro wise, I’d say Mark Appleyard, Lucas Puig because when I saw him skate Southbank, he was so good! There are so many. Danny Renaud! I like all those Habitat guys with the East Coast skating thing, hitting up loads of different spots.
Tell me about your sponsors.
Well, I just got on flow with Blueprint because I filmed some stuff with Ian Passmore, Ches and Dan McGee liked the stuff so they started sending me some boards. I’m trying to film some more stuff for them and then they might stick it in the video!
What was going on before Blueprint? How did you get boards then?
At first, I got some decks from Vehicle, and then this guy, Bowman, who works with the Spanish company Jart skateboards started flowing me that. But, at that moment the Blueprint thing happened, so I had to kind of weigh out my options. I’d didn’t want to piss anyone off because they’re being rad giving me stuff, but I had to choose Blueprint because it’s a great opportunity. I couldn’t really believe it at first. It’s kind of like a dream. (Laughter)
And how about Cide skateshop?
Greg Finch is a buddy from SA, and he sorts me out with shoes when I need them and anything else I might need, so that’s rad. I had skated with Greg once or twice already in SA, but he was a good friend of Gavin’s so we knew one another like that.
Sticking with the Sponsor topic, how do you feel about competitions? Do you like them or avoid them?
I used to skate comps a lot in SA because I was a real local at this one skatepark. I don’t mind them but I do get mad nervous beforehand because they call your name out and your just standing there with everyone’s eyes on you. But, then you land a good trick and start to feel better and relax a little.
According to my sources, you’re a bit of a healthy living dude. Why?
(Laughter) I don’t know! I seriously don’t see it as ‘Healthy living’, I mean when I came to England it just seemed like people don’t eat as well here as they do back in SA. Look at Lucien (Clark). He won’t even eat a salad, or vegetables! Eating vegetables to me is like a normal part of your meal, it’s weird.
Then, what do you suggest? What can we find on your menu?
Well, my mom cooks really good pasta dishes like macaroni cheese but with tuna! Then, a really good feta cheese salad. Yeah! That’s a good meal. (Laughter)
Seeing as you’ve only been skating for 5 years, this might be difficault to answer, but if you could travel back to a specific period in skate history, when would it be and why?
Uh. Shit.(Hesitates) You know like back in the day when Girl’s ‘Mouse'(1995) came out? When they’re skating the school yards and Keenan Milton switch flips that picnic table, it seems like they were just skating and enjoying themselves. Nowadays there are always cameras involved and everybody has to perform. It seems like everything is already planned, but when Keenan did his switch flip, it seemed like he was just skating regardless. It just seems a lot more original and rad.
Talking about how seriously people seem to take skating today, do you think of riding your board as a career?
I wouldn’t look at it as something to make a living out of, but if you are then you’re damn lucky because you’re doing something that you love! It’s hardly like an office job. If you’re making it skating than you’re lucky. I’d love to just get up everyday and just skate?
Seeing as you’ve started at college, what career would you like to pursue?
Probably something to do with art because I’m studying graphic design at the moment. I dig art, so something to do with that I’d say.
Alright Steph, what are your plans for the future?
Skate and die! (Laughter) Yeah that’s all. Oh, and travel a lot. I want to visit Prague and Paris and anywhere that’s good for skating. I think I might head back to SA for a little bit in the future to visit all my old homies.
Steph would like to thank his parents, Andy, Gavin, Greg, Badger and Alan at CIDE, Blueprint skateboards, Ian Passmore, JP, Rich and Lucien, and his girlfriend.