Interview by VHSMAG, Photo courtesy of Marcel Veldman, Special thanks: Element Japan
VHSMAG (V)： How did you get into skating in Massachusetts and what was the scene like back then?
Brandon Westgate (W)： Basically my friend had a board and then I was just using his board. For my birthday my parents got me a board and I just started skating there. I just lived in a small town so it was like … I don’t know … I guess when I started skating the scene was way bigger than it is now, everybody in school skated. We had a good crew and we had this little skate park and that kept everybody skating. That closed down and …
V： I thought the skate scene is getting bigger now.
W： Yeah, in Boston. I live outside the city, so where I live is smaller. But Boston definitely has a good scene for sure.
V： Who were your influences growing up?
W： I always skated with that guy Anthony Shetler a lot. He was a really big influence for me. Aaron Suski, Zered Bassett, Nick Dompierre. There’s a lot of the East Coast guys, you know?
V： And now you ride for Element.
W： Yeah it’s been almost two years, it would be two years in March.
V： How did you make that decision and what was the transition like?
W： Well I’ve known Donny Barley forever. And he was talking to me, and kind of hyping me up about the team and all of the trips that they go on. I just like everything that Element’s about, like camping, outdoors. They have Make It Count. They do a lot of things for skating and skateboarders. So it was super easy and they have a really good team, which made it, super sick. I was really, really hyped. I’ve been super stoked. Working on a video, so I think it’s going to be super good.
V： Anything change after you got on Element?
W： Not really. Mainly just started going on a lot more trips, so that was pretty sick. It got to a point where I wasn’t really traveling as much, so… I would say that would be the only thing really.
V： What were some of your memorable projects that you’ve done with Element do far?
W： We just went to Bilbao and Barcelona. The whole team was out there. People flew in and out, but out there for maybe a month and a half or so. And that was a sick trip just because it was all… we just street skated the whole time, so it was sick. And everybody was killing it. Super good spots. Really amazing trip. And they did the Make It Count and they flew out all the winners, and we got to skate with all those kids. They were killing it, super hyped. We just had a huge crew out there, it was sick.
V： That’s nice. We had a young skater from Japan too. Let’s talk about your signature collection with Element.
W： Yeah I just wanted to keep it good quality, kind of basic. I like basic clothes you know. The pants are .. the material is like a workwear, a little bit thicker. But it also has flex in there. And then the jacket is really nice. Overall I’m super hyped on it. Element in general makes really good clothes, so I was hyped on the whole project.
V： “No struggle, no progress.” What’s the story behind that? Did it have to do with your back injury as far as your struggles go?
W： I just like that quote in general, I just think it applies to a lot of things in life. But yeah, I guess it could apply to that but it wasn’t my initial thought. Just a solid saying, so I like to run with it, you know.
V： I want to ask you about your hometown, Carver. You never move to California. What keeps you there?
W： I would say the main thing is probably my family. I like being surrounded by my family. I’ve always just liked the east coast better than the west coast with the weather, I like the seasons. You go to California and it’s just over… There’s so many skaters there and stuff. I kind of just like to do my own thing. I like to be kind of out there. And I live outside the city; it’s woodsy, kind of quiet. I like to be in the quiet.
V： You said the skate scene over there is not as good as it used to be?
W： I would say, because I live in just a small town. So when I grew up in a small town there was… Everybody from school was skating and then now that’s not really the case. We have a real good scene in Boston. We actually just opened this good park underneath the bridge, huge concrete park. So it’s definitely adding to it.
V： So you drive to Boston when you go skate?
W： Yeah I just drive out to the city and then just skate, it’s 40 minutes or so.
V： You also work at your family’s cranberries family. From the promo video for your signature collection, one of your friends said you have two jobs, professional skateboarder and cranberry farmer. How do you balance those?
W： Well my farm is a smaller farm, in terms of the cranberry industry and whatnot. But my dad helps me a lot, so if I’m on a trip he will takeover. It’s just a hobby that I really enjoy doing, so I go home, handle some stuff. It’s not a big enough farm to really take over my life, so to speak. So it’s just trying to get to things when I get to them type shit. And then pretty much we just grow from end of March, April to middle of October. And then it’s wintertime so there’s not really much to do.
V： You’re actually working a project right now, which is the reason for coming to Japan. Can you talk about the project?
W： Yeah we’re just doing an Element / Fluff collaboration. So we’re just out here skating, shooting photos, super sick sweatshirt, jacket. Jacket’s got a couple of patches that you can mix up. Just out here with Phil Zwijsen and Nassim Guammaz, and skating some good spots. Phil’s filming and the edit should come out middle of February.