A Conversation with Benny Fairfax
With a full-length Palace video in the works, the constant flow of Adidas trips, not to mention managing responsibilities at Wayward wheels, we wouldn’t have begrudged Benny declining our interview. Fortunately we caught Benny killing time before a flight in which he seemed more than happy to chat away.
Hey Benny, how’s things? What have you been up to in recent months?
Just been in London really, all winter, which hasn’t been that fun. But yeah, just filming out there for the new Palace video.
How’s it coming along?
It’s going pretty good, we’re coming to the deadline now so it won’t be long.
It feels like that deadline keeps getting pushed back?
Yeah true, they’re busy with a bunch of other stuff too I guess, opening new shops and all sorts.
Who’s part are you most looking forward to?
I think everyone’s part is gonna be really good but….Lucien’s got loads of footage. Brady’s got loads of really good stuff, Chewy, Rory, Blondey….yeah everyone really.
Which skater are you most psyched on right now?
Good question. I’ll have to think about it, I don’t really know.
Or even a recent video part that you’re stoked on?
Hmm what have I been watching? Ah! I really like Zered Bassett’s new footage. He had a documentary about all his old footage too. He was always one of my favourites, Vicious Cycle, remember that? Loved that video!
What’s your greatest fear?
I dunno….hmm…what am I most scared of? Drowning maybe? Plane crash (laughs). Injuries are pretty scary, don’t like those.
Talking of injuries, did that Stereo injury back in the day fuck you up mentally?
Oh when I hurt my ankle pretty bad? Yeah that was not fun. It took me two years to even do a 360 flip. It was just a long time out and took ages to get it strong again but….shit happens.
Was there a point when you thought ‘is that it for me and skateboarding’?
At one point definitely, I was like “I wonder if I’m gonna be able to skate again”. But it’s all good now.
Despite the London vibe you’re from the Caribbean originally right?
Oh yeah, my Mum’s side of the family are from this little island called Anguilla, it’s like the British West Indies. It’s kinda just on the Caribbean curve near Puerto Rico and it’s right next to this island St Martin. I lived over there for like four years or so between the ages of 8-12. It was fun man, we’d just go snorkelling and spear fishing everyday. Bodyboarding and shit.
Were you skateboarding back then?
No I think I started once I came back to England. Or maybe I had a board before I moved over there. Yeah I think I had a board when I was 6 or 7 and then when I came back, friends I’d grown up with before started getting into it and that’s when I fully got a board. I was still sitting on boards going down hills on my arse for a while but then we started standing up and trying to ollie up curbs and shit.
What albums are you listening to right now?
I like Giggs new album. Can’t remember what it’s called but I got that going on the old Spotify these days. I’ve been listening to loads of Theo Parrish, not really any new stuff though, just his old stuff.
Any movies you’re recently hyped on?
I’m kind of a sci-fi man. Arrival was pretty good. I really liked Interstellar too, it made me think a lot. I’m really looking forward to Blade Runner this year. Ridley producing, Harrison’s still in there, it’s gonna be epic.
So is Harrison’s character a replicant because he’s obviously aged and replicants don’t age so he must be human right?
Oh yeah right, right, right! There it is exactly. See I didn’t clock that.
What would you be doing if you weren’t skating?
Shit man good question..…
Because you studied filmmaking right?
Yeah I did actually. I mean I always played loads of football when I was little too and I’ve always loved surfing as well. I’d like to think I’d be doing one of those maybe. I guess you never know.
I had no idea you were so into surfing?
Yeah well my mate in Australia is Julian Wilson’s filmer. Jimmy Lees. He’s a really good mate of mine.
No way! Who’s your favourite surfer then?
I dunno, I mean I like Dane Reynolds and Craig Anderson a lot but then there’s some big wave dudes too. Oh yeah Mason Ho! Mason Ho’s gotta be my favourite actually., He’s got good steez. He looks like he’s having fun out there.
Ever been on a surf trip?
Na not really, I surfed quite a bit in Australia and I went to Sri Lanka a couple of years ago, surfed quite a bit out there, that was fun but yeah I’d love to go to Bali one day or something. But I don’t think I’m ready man, I think I’d just get taken out on the reef and probably drown or something. What’s that spot? Padang is it? That looks fucking gnarly!
In terms of filming with both Adidas & Palace, they’re both very different in terms of visual aesthetics. So whilst Torsten’s work has that really sick high-end HD feel, Lev’s VHS footage is has that super raw quality. Is there one you prefer personally?
Erm…..I dunno…I kinda like both. I mean I really like how VHS looks and stuff but then the HD side is really fun as well. I guess it’s kinda nice, some people will just work with one camera and one format most of the time so it makes it a bit more exciting to mix it up. Getting one end of the spectrum which is like high-end HD, 4K shit and then we’ve got the VHS with the fish eye taped on there. The only way we can watch the footage is with an iPhone held against the viewfinder, recording it and then you get to watch back the trick you just landed. It’s all fun. When we used to film for the Stereo tour videos it was all Super 8mm and Super 16mm so that was completely different as well. You never got to watch the trick back after you landed it. You just hope you got it, you wait a couple of months after it’s come back from film processing or whatever, it’s kinda like a surprise.
How were the Stereo days?
Really fun man, amazing yeah. We went on so many fun trips and those guys are amazing to hang out with. Good days.
I guess it’s quite different to Palace?
Yeah well Palace is different because we’ve all grown up together, it’s just like hanging out with your mates.
What’s your favourite place to go skate?
I think Spain. Spain in general is great for skating. So many spots and the architecture there is amazing. China’s really good too! China’s more smooth marble vibe but maybe it’s not as nice looking aesthetically I suppose, compared to New York or London where your photos come out really good. It’s more exciting to look at but harder to skate.
How’s dealing with security and law enforcement over in China?
Well I mean….last time I went there it felt like people hadn’t really seen skateboarding that much, so they didn’t really see it as a nuisance yet. They’re still like, “That’s crazy! What are those guys doing?”. As opposed to “Oh that’s noisy, you’re messing up our ledges, you’re gonna crash into someone”. I guess we haven’t pissed them off enough yet but it’ll probably happen eventually.
What’s on the horizon for you this year then?
Obviously get this Palace video out and then we’ve got a bunch of Adidas edits coming out. I think they’re picking a bunch of cities and gonna do some trips and edits. I dunno if you guys saw that Broadway Bullet in New York but we’re gonna do a London one and then we’re going to LA to do one over there so yeah, should be fun.