Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tom Kvilhaug Interview

“Tom is a man of lists, if he writes it down, it will get done.  One of the most accomplished and qualified dudes I've ever befriended.  Unalike anyone else within the confines of our community, Tom makes time for most everything.  Mr. Activity man Tom Kvilhaug, always scootin' to the next destination.”  -Issac Miller

Tom is one of the most notable contemporary riders, with an unquestionable amount of power and skill, his most recent part in Tilt 2 is one of the most face melting and talked about parts to date.  Tom is an extremely well rounded rider, as well as a well rounded human being.  His outlook and attitude are extremely unique, refreshing, and most of all, genuine.  There is nothing about this dude that I have found to be falsified, or worrisome of other people’s opinions.  His interest and knowledge in design also allows him to contribute to the brand he rides for in ways most riders cannot.  Tom has already contributed a vast amount to the scene before even finishing college, and has an extremely bright future ahead of him in scootering and whatever else he has his mind set to.  I’m very lucky to be in the position to interview Tom, and I think the community is fortunate to have him.
Tom, Jordan Jasa, and Josh Smukal chowing on some pizza in Detroit.

Parrish is in orange and Tom is in white 

So, what have you been up to since you finished filming your part for Tilt 2?  Do you find yourself in any different habits while you were working on that part compared to being done with it?
Just routine stuff really, I’m living out in Denver going to school for Industrial Design. I am in school a lot, I probably spend about 8-10 hours a day at school, lately it's been more like 14 because I’m finishing up some big semester projects.
Most the time I have outside of school I spend riding and filming with the CoCrew, I am not sure what any of us, besides Ian, are filming for at the moment, but you can never have enough footage. I also always have some side project going, right now its lamps. Filming now is definitely a bit more relaxed. I’m not stressing out about getting certain tricks or meeting any deadlines, probably just because I don't have a specific video I am filming for. That will probably change soon because we just got a new VX out in Colorado.

BS lipslide out in Dallas, TX from Tilt 2

What got you into Industrial Design?  Has anything you've been introduced to through your studies crossed paths with scootering?
Ever since I was a kid, I have always just built stuff, so that's what I wanted to do as an adult. Industrial design is a field where I can make things with my hands and create good products on a larger scale. I could talk about design for days; it was the obvious choice for me.
It absolutely crosses paths with scootering. Besides just doing work for Tilt and at home on parts, I am also just always looking at parts and critiquing their form, material, finish, etc. In a way though I think scootering is a bit boring as far as design goes, because of how standardized parts are, you can't freely create beautiful, innovative, and useful things when you have so many constraints to work around.
So in the same respect, where do you feel riding a scooter allows for expression, and where does it possibly encroach upon that?
I am always going to stand by my belief that scootering is some sort of sport or hobby, I do not consider it art, especially in the highly commercialized state it is currently in. But I do think every aspect of scootering is expressive, from the tricks you do, the locations you ride, how you choose to illustrate these things to the public, it's all a means of self expression. No one forces you to do anything, so whether you are just expressing that you think tailwhips are fun by doing 10 of them at a time, or trying to express something else by riding in a different way, you're expressing some sort of emotion.
We are all expressing our emotions {or maybe something else?} which are a product of our unique experiences as  humans.  Are there any unique inspirations you have in your riding, which had great influence on your style now?  Do you have any goal, possibly for others to feel a certain way about the end result, or is scootering more a zen thing about personal accomplishment for you?
Of course I am influenced and inspired by the guys I ride with on a daily basis, and everyone who is doing crazy tricks, but really I think there is just this sense of focus and solitude you get when riding that is really hard to describe. I love going out and pushing myself to learn new tricks and keep up with the sport as it progresses, but I think there is this point after you have ridden long enough where you really gain full control of your scooter; I am not sure when it is, no one gives you a plaque or medal, it's different for everybody. Once you get there, you can really control and manipulate your scooter, and the way you ride it, in extremely unique ways, and to me that's what its all about.  
I think that’s where style comes in, like where you can actively control all your mannerisms, but your style is that one way you ride where nothing you do can be wrong in a sense, ya' know?
Yes!  You know it when you see it, but it's hard to describe, it's really the appearance of total composure. The scooter becomes an extension of your body, the riding just flows out.
What situations do you feel are most conducive to you being able to produce the best clips, or be flowing in that way you just described? 
For some reason, I seem to always be able to get a lot of footage on trips. At least on Tilt trips, I feel like we do not really have any responsibilities other than riding, and I think that is really beneficial. I feel like there is a bit less pressure when you haven't seen a spot before, or called out a trick; so you don't just have to crank out a trick right away, you can kinda feel things out and really construct a clip that fits the spot. I think just showing up at a spot on trips, and not having to worry about driving, or even knowing where you are, that lets you really look at a spot and decide how to ride it how you want.

Tom throwing a fingerwhip in
Cleveland, while the team chills
 in the background and Smukal's
camera lurks overhead.              
I'd definitely say similar situations help me as well.  You've probably been on a few of those tilt trips by now, with filming two full lengths; what was most memorable about working on those videos?
A lot of classic trip stories, too many to share, but what it comes down to is that it doesn't get much better than cruising from spot to spot in a 15 passenger van with some good homies, and the only thing you have to do when you get done is go drink a couple beers.
Yeah and like you said earlier, I think that environment, and the lack of stress from outside sources, can help your riding a lot.  What about filming with a team?  Do you think there are certain aspects of working on a team project for a company that uniquely can benefit those involved? 
I think working on company videos allows for a sense of importance and focus on production value that is almost unattainable when you are out just filming with the crew. Filming with the team allows for a really focused effort and getting clips and creating high quality footage and content, and I think that benefits everyone involved. I also think it can lead to video parts that do not uniquely fit riders. I think some of the greatest skateboarding and scootering videos of all time were the ones that focused on a single person. It really allows the part to be tailored to the rider specifically, something that isn't as possible in a full length, when the video needs to have an overall sense of unity.

   Going the distance on this double rail hop.
San Diego

Riding is definitely always going to be different on every team, especially when a company's bottom line is reliant on the content the riders are releasing.  Do you have any opinions on the way business and money are handled in scootering?  How do you feel about your riding being a part of something like Tilt, As well as having your own signature part?
I do not feel that Tilt influences my riding in any way, everyone on the team is there because of how they ride naturally, that's the beauty of being sponsored by a company that appreciates good riding.  I really have no knowledge of how mass marketed scooter companies compensate riders, and while I am sure they under-appreciate the effort their riders put in, the riders aren't forced to ride for anyone, they are accepting the compensation they get. The fork was cool because I designed it on my own, but again, it was never really a fully creative experience, I just had to work around the dimensions.
To be honest, the past few things you've written reflect pretty highly of Tilt, and of how positive you are as a team rider.  But anyways, you've lived a few places in the past few years, right?  I remember first knowing you were in North Carolina, where have you been from then 'til now?
Yeah I have lived all over the place. I was born in Minnesota, moved to North Carolina, then Washington. I met Tyler Bradley when I lived in out near Seattle, and we rode together at least like 5 days a week, just going to park or out of solo missions. To this day one of my best friends and someone I will always enjoy riding and filming with. After that I moved out to Chicago for about 2 years to ride and go to school a few hours south. Met Jona Humbel while working at Tilt, again one of my best friends, but the weather got the best of both of us eventually, so I went down to Florida for a few months. It was definitely fun, but I knew as soon as I got there that I had to get out. Most people don't realize it because they just go to Disney World, but Florida is this crazy, trashy, incredibly weird state, and I wasn't into it. Colorado is a place I visited probably 100 times as a kid, I love it out here, there is an amazing connection you have to nature just by being in a place so beautiful and geographically diverse. It also has a school with an awesome design program and facilities so that was another motivating factor. The CoCrew dudes are some of the best dudes, we are always doing some fun shit out here, so I am hoping to stick around for at least a few more years, I am a bit of a wanderer though, I am not sure if I will really ever settle down in one place for very long.
So then at what point did you begin your relationship with Tilt?  How did that all come about?  I remember that you were one of the earlier riders on the team I honestly think I just started talking to Collin on SR and Facebook because I thought he was making some cool stuff back when it was just him in Grand Rapids. I don't even remember when exactly I got on Tilt, but it was probably just because I bugged Collin all the time.
So you've been riding for tilt for quite a few years now, regularly putting a shit load of work into your riding, and you obviously have plenty of other stuff going on in your life.  How do you feel about balancing riding and other parts of your life like your design career?
It actually works out good because I like to stay busy. It can get a bit hectic at times, but I don't really like sitting around without stuff to do, so it's not too bad.
And what advice/encouragement/words would you have for people who have trouble with the concept of continuing to ride as other things move into their life? I don't really have any advice. The people who are actually dedicated are going to keep riding, the people who aren't will quit, I don't really have any words that can change that. To the people who are trying to ride as hard as they can and move into their life, you're going to be busy, so just get prepared.

Front board whip to fakie in Detroit from Rusted Never Busted
And then whats the future? For you, tilt, your design career? Who knows? I'm not really one for long term planning, or staying in the same place for too long. I'd love to go do some graduate work in Europe after I graduate, but I'm not sure if that's in my budget. A job would be cool too, but I also have always kinda planned on taking a year or two off after I graduate to really focus on scootering. Honestly, I have no clue, I'll just wait and see how it plays out.
Its been rad asking you some questions man, thanks so much!  Do you have any closing remarks for our interview? Thanks to everyone who deserves to be thanked.
Tom rides for Tilt and Satori.
Tilt 2 (We can't embed videos from Vimeo, sorry)
Thanks to Chris Martin at Tilt for taking and allowing us to use these pictures.  

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