Interview and Portrait by Chris Johnson
Photography by Sam Ashley and Chris Johnson
In around 1996, I’d heard about some young Worcestershire Wizard who was blowing minds and not long after we had a ramp down the Custard, got to witness the lads ‘potential’ and he blew minds with all manner of ramp magic.
I was due to shoot some shots with Wig and we headed to Detroitwich (the legendary Droitwich Spa transitioned brick banks) to shralp the banks, I believe it was Vaughan’s first proper link up with the ‘Skate Media’ and to be fair, I’m still to this day stoked to have been around on such a magical evening of discovery and skateboarding for both of us.
From that day forward, Vaughan’s been through the fickle upper echelons of ‘so hot right now/rollercoaster of yay & nay boarding’ and to be honest he’s come out the other side with his pride intact and true love on his side…Long may you shine VB!
So Vaughan, for all of those who are unaware, give us your vital statistics.
Right my name is Vaughan Baker, originally from Worcester and I’m 30 years old now!! Errm I’m currently skating for Emerica shoes, KR3W denim, Slam City Skates and I get flowed Girl boards from the kind guys at revival.
You’re living in London right now, how are you managing with the often-tricky juggling act of skating at a high level and working to pay the bills?
Shit, yeah times have been real hard of late, skating fell on its arse basically hey? I mean earlier this year, I guess I got messed and shifted around by various people and found myself with no money and then in finding a ‘real job’ which quickly ended being made redundant…I’ve had to hustle like fuck for the last few months, but I think personally juggling skating and work is great cause I ain’t got all my eggs in one basket anymore. I think the worst thing is that I don’t get to travel so much anymore which was always a perk!
Can you describe a typical day in the life of yourself? And how have your daily duties changed over that past few years?
They have changed so much and still do from day to day! Since I’ve not been working so much I’ve been trying to skate as much as possible, making the most of it before I start work again…..But money is definitely a worry for sure! A few years ago, I was living sweet earning enough to have an easy life. I mean the full time jobs I’ve been working pays a lot less than what I did skating and that’s really gnarly!
Below: Frontside Nollie Bigger Spin, Majorca: Photo Sam Ashley.
Do you still have the same work ethic and direction towards coverage and all the other responsibilities affiliated with someone in your shoes that you did in the early days of being pro? And are you more in control of your movements now that you are a free agent?
Well yeah I guess I do right now yeah! Skateboarding has been a major focal point on my whole life to date. I mean it’s easier right now cause I’ve had a lot of the pressures from companies lifted from my shoulders. I was having a tough time at one point with injuries and personal pressures and I couldn’t manage skating on top of that! I guess that didn’t sit well with the powers that be. When I began to feel ready to get more back on it again, things had changed and I found my place wasn’t there as much as before. But I’m feeling it more than ever right now, with personal goals and achievements to fulfill, I intend to get about as much as possible!
Going back to the early days of your sponsorship, you were fortunate to get hooked up by the legendary Pete Turvey with Duffs, then with Converse, and finally you have both found a solid home at SoleTech (Emerica for you). As your longest running TM, what sort of a working relationship do you guys have and has it altered over the years?
What can I say?! Pete has had my back since day one, he is one of the most solid people in the UK and European skate industry and has helped me out of a lot of sticky situations man! Its’ a shame there aren’t more like him like him out there. Cheers mate!
When you’re not jumping down stuff on a skateboard, what other activities do you feel your time with?
Errm, I’ve been up to so much random shit of late, working all sorts of jobs from set building to kitchen porter so on and so forth! But, I guess I just listen to Music, read and draw a lot. Aside from that, I just hang out with the pirates at my house getting faded and watching horror films ha ha!!
Hanging with your house mates? Word on the vine is that you have recently moved in with Birmingham’s very own 80’s Skateboard legend, Jagger. Are you constantly reminiscing and have you managed to re-kindle his Skate flame?
Jagger’s skate flame is always alive!!! His ankle is shot though, it sucks man. It’s weird cause we come from the same scene but from entirely different generations so we have our own memories of the same places.
Right: Frontside Flip, Majorca: Photo Sam Ashley.
While we’re on the subject of Birmingham and history, how did a young lad from the sleepy backwater of Worcester first get hooked up and who can be held accountable for helping this?
Well I started skating for Ideal Skateshop through Bob, Zip and Kris after a mini ramp jam in the Custard Factory in Birmingham and then I guess Wig (Photo Editor of Sidewalk Surfer at the time) caught wind and started heading up to shoot photos and stuff and it kinda followed from there really!!
It was so sick around those times man Brum was super good for street skating and we’d all do trips to Northampton with those guys and Benny, with Andy Evans filming and shit. Definitely helped me along man.
I can remember a few Worcester road trips down to Bristol to stay at your house there with Rushbrooke, Manzoori and the others in about 98. What are your stand out memories of the early Una-days?
That house was sick also it was the first time I’d lived away from home and with people who were really influential to me! Mike man!! That dude is so sick at Skateboarding and in my point of view way ahead of his time! But, Unabomber was I guess the main memory for me was just Frank’s fucking shitty mini that we used to go on missions in and it would always break down. I remember at the time he had no driving license so he used to wear a tie thinking that if he wore it the police would think him a better person and lessen his chances of being pulled over. We did get pulled over eventually ha ha ha, but I guess Frank, Mark’s and my sections in Unapromo came from those road trips, so dire but so awesome!
With injury being the main ruining side affect of skating and you with your fair share of what could have been skate-ending breaks etc, how have you overcome both the physical and more importantly the bottle destroying mental one?
If I’m honest, it’s taken a long while to get back to a standard that I’m comfortable with! It seems that I can skate how I used to again right now and having Stockwell down the road has been a blessing that place fuckin’ rules! I’m just older now so it hurts more ha ha ha!!!
You’re back on it? We’ve noticed!! On the subject of coming back and re-entering the consciousness of the public, you recently attended the UK Champs at Corby and reminded most people that you’re still out there. How did you find the event and how different do you find today’s’ events to those such as Northampton and St Albans?
Its so good to see a lot of these new guys growing into themselves, Ross and Kris, Grove and Man Head to name just a few, These guys right here are setting a new standard in this country and its amazing to be around them. It’s got me so stoked. Skateboarding now as opposed to the late 90’s is just different ennit! You can’t really compare the two and a lot of old faces aren’t around anymore!
Below: Fakie Flip, Birmingham: Photo Chris Johnson.
Secondary to that and equally as impressive, you managed to fight against the uneven cobblestones of the Alley and claim the title of Slam Game of Skate winner. In that sort of situation, is it more luck that judgment or is it a case of age and experience (a bag of tricks spanning a host of skate phases) prevailing?
Errm, I dunno mate. I play skate with these guys all the time so I just went in to have fun and I guess it was fluke!
If you were to pick up a copy of Sidewalk from the late 1990’s, there’s only a handful of its featured riders still skating, let alone still skating at sponsorship level. How do you feel about your journey through life over the last ten years and how different do you think it would have been without the opportunities that Skateboarding has presented you with?
Wow! I think I’ve been blessed to say the least. Ive ridden for two very influential British Board companies, traveled the world, met and skated with amazing people and come back from a fucked up string of hurdles and still be able to skate and have good friends holding my back!
Finally, what are your plans for the future? Can you always see yourself Skateboarding on some level and whom would you like to give the appropriate shouts to?
After a massive dark patch I feel like I want it again! I would like to thank first and foremost Mr. Peter Turvey for always looking out for me, always! Also, all the other guys at sole tech who have helped me, Henry Clay and all the other guys at Slam City Skates, Mathieu at revival for the skateboards and Ben Bodilly at KR3W. And I guess all my friends and family….Cheers!
See Vaughan smash the mini ramp to pieces this coming Saturday at the Crossfire Halloween Massacre. If you can’t wait for Vaughan’s highly anticipated part in the future Sidewalk Dvd release, then check out his most acclaimed section from First Broadcast a few years back.