Spencer Hamilton is known for the refined style and smooth skating. The Canadian styler talks about the importance of a brand becoming a true family.
──SPENCER HAMILTON (ENGLISH)
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
Photo courtesy of_Grand Collection
VHSMAG (V)： You're from Ottawa, Canada and you currently live in Vancouver. How did you get into skating?
Spencer Hamilton (S)： My older brother was into skating and some kids from the neighborhood that I grew up in were into skating.
V： How was the scene in Canada like back then?
S： When I was getting into skating, I couldn't really say it as far as all of Canada but Ottawa was booming. Growing up in Ottawa, Wade was there, there was Joe Buffalo, a bunch of legendary Canadian skaters. Galea Momaou lived there too.
V： Is Rick McCrank from Ottawa?
S： Rick McCrank is from Ottawa, but he wasn't living there when I was growing up. Same with Tony Ferguson but the Ottawa skate scene was really happening. It was a popular thing to do. Cool motherfuckers skating and really good skaters.
V： When was it that you started skating?
S： Mid '90. Like '95 I probably got a board from a garage sale and then my parents probably bought me a board year or two after that. That was from the skate shop Top of the World that me and Wade ended up riding for.
V： Wade and you go way back, right?
S： Yeah. The first time I probably seen him, I was probably seven or eight. When I started skating I was six and I got sponsored by Top when I was nine.
V： You guys are from the same town and on the same team. What's he like to you?
S： In Ottawa, the skate community was strong and everything but Wade was definitely... If there was golden child per se, he was it and he had legit sponsors and he ended up moving out to Vancouver and I ended up following him. He was certainly always an older mentor to me.
V： Who were your influences growing up skating in Ottawa?
S： Wade was huge for sure. Also Top of the World did the video Top Dollar. That was when I was young and I was skating a lot with all the Top dudes like Dave Nolan and Trent Matley. They're all older than me. I was the young kid so I looked up to all the older dudes, you know. But when I was young I wasn't really paying attention to the Canadian skate scene so much or even the greater skate scene. I didn't look at a lot of magazines but Chocolate Tour was one of my first videos that I owned and watched a lot Thrill of it All. Those two videos definitely influenced me a lot.
V： Do you remember getting your first photo in a skate magazine?
S： This guy Jay Bridges shot photos for Top of the World. Not just for the shop, but he shot photos in Ottawa and I think when I was 14 or something I got my first photo in a magazine. I think it was either Concrete Powder or SBC. There was a handful of magazines in Canada that were popular. Concrete Powder, SBC, there was Expose and Color Mag. I think once I got my first photo in a magazine, that kind of opened my eyes to getting photos and being published, as well as filming for video parts and stuff like that.
V： You got hooked up with Expedition. How did that work living in Canada?
S： Wade was on DGK and they saw Top Dollar so I guess they recognized me with some kind of potential. Wade maybe put in the good word, you know? I was definitely fortunate to have those links early on. A lot of people within Canada definitely just get stuff from the distribution...
V： Yeah, maybe there's a case where the brand does't even know who you are.
S： Totally. Yeah, I guess it's very similar to Japan.
V： What keeps you in Canada and not move to America?
S： A lot of things. I really like Vancouver. It's really the access to nature. It's a big enough city, but at the same time it's easy to get around. You don't necessarily need a car, public transit is good. You can bike, you can skate. You can be on your feet a lot, you know?
V： Have you ever considered moving to California?
S： That's the thing. So every time I'd ever go to California... I got my driver's license in the last three or four years. So when I would first go down to California, I didn't have my driver's license and I just... I fucking hated it to be honest. It's very car dependent and that was just not how I like to skate... I'd go down there and try to get what I could, but I always really looked forward to coming home.
V： Is it true that Canadian people are more subtle.
S： Well, Canada has its own fucking loud mouse too. You know what I mean? But I guess it's true. As a whole, you would kind of think Canada has a little more of a... Obviously we're known for being polite, you know? We'll hold the door open and we'll say sorry all the fucking time. So that's kind of the stereotype... I don't know.
V： I heard you have back pain. How is it now?
S： It's a work in progress. It's due to an autoimmune disorder. It's just my body creates a bunch of inflammation in my hips and my lower back. So through diet and medication I can kind of control it and other times it just hurts too much.
V： How did you get hooked up with Grand Collection?
S： So the founder Ben lived in Vancouver when I first moved out there. He's been an older brother to me since I moved out West, he's always... Ben is the most standup guy you'll ever meet and he'll do anything for you. So when he started mentioning that he wanted to start a brand, I was all in.
V： Wade and Buggy said the same thing. When they start talking about Ben, there's this big smile. You got mad respect for him, right?
S： Yeah. He's something special. He's a hardworking dude who absolutely loves skateboarding, he's a complete skate nerd and I got nothing but the best things to say about him.
V： So you're pretty much involved with the the brand from the day one.
S： Yep. Ben's a creative guy. He also knows a lot about brands and branding and he's worked for companies forever. So he wanted to have a little side project that he can devote his own creativity to and he's into fashion and skating and you see it reflects in all the stuff that he does. He makes really dope shit.
V： What's the best thing about Grand?
S： I guess the combination of his brilliance as well as having my own kind of input. It's cool to be involved with the brand where you can say, "Oh, can we try this? Can you change that?" while also seeing what he comes and brings to the table. Every drop I'm like, "Damn, this shit looks fucking amazing." And he cares about the quality of stuff... So it's cool to have both, right? It's not just like, "Oh, this is what it is. Here you go," and you get to be excited about it. Everybody over time develops their own little preferences when it comes to the details of whether it's pants or hats or jackets or T-shirts or whatever it is.
V： What was one of the most memorable project with Grand?
S： Probably the first time we went to Barcelona. I mean we grew up skating in Vancouver. So to be out in Barcelona with a really fun group of guys for Ben's brand is just like a... It's a dream, you know? So that was like for sure the highlight of thus far and now we're in Tokyo doing the same thing. It's pretty cool.
V： I can see the team is super tight.
S： Totally. We're all tight knit and I mean that's... We all get to go to New York, which is where the brand is kind of based at. So Ben picked his own squad of guys from around there, which now over time you get to know them and it's like you build all these new relationships with people that he was always hanging with and whatnot. So it grows into a nice little family. That it's just true. It's cool to have. Grand is definitely one of those ones that I'm excited to be a part of still and will always be.
V： You had nice clips in Tonal. How long did you film for?
S： I'm not sure with the other guys but for me it was basically two trips. 10 days to Barcelona and 10 days or eight days or something in Australia. So yeah. My stuff is basically a little over two weeks worth of footage.
V： Frontside flip was dope. The one you broke your board.
S： Yeah, Australia. But I don't know. It's tough because it's... For me again it's two trips. There's a clip from Paris, there's a clip from Vancouver. So it's a little bit fragmented. It's not exactly a part that I had in mind and I was figuring out exactly what I wanted and filling in gaps and had a vision for but it came together and is what it is. I'm stoked how it came out and having JP edit it. It's nice having a back and forth where you can again not only with clothes but when the videos are being edited you get a lot of input on. So everybody's happy at the end of the day.
V： Yeah, it's a group effort. What makes Grand different from every other brand?
S： I think vision. Ben's a unique person who has a unique vision and he stays true to that while also allowing a little bit of influence of course from us. He's the master mind behind it all but any good thing having input from another, from the rest of us obviously adds something special to it. So whether it's the clothes, the videos, it's all kind of a group effort with him overseeing everything. And again, it's a really close connection. I think that's kind of unique. A lot of brands, it's kind of like a pyramid. Someone at the top is making decisions and people at the bottom are kind of just doing the leg work or whatever it is, right? But it's cool to be a part of something that's a little more inclusive and also having the confidence in the concepts that he comes up with. He really does put a lot of effort into quality control and making sure stuff is as good as it can be. And it's just getting started. So the lines are very thought out and he does everything with color schemes in mind and I think as it grows, it'll just get better and better.
V： Where do you want to see this brand go in the future?
S： I think as far as selling, sky's the limit, right? We're trying to build it up into something monumental but I think the structure of the brand and how decisions are made and concepts are created, I think it'll continue to be kind of the same which again is kind of why it's special. And it's been growing steadily and carefully for the last three or four years. Not trying to go straight to the biggest stores, we want to build this shit into something monumental.
V： What's next for you?
S： I'll be putting out a VX part that I've been working on for Grand probably soon. I've been working on that for the last year, kind of in between so I'm excited about that.
Born and raised in Ottawa, resides in Vancouver, Canada. One of the smoothest skaters representing Canada. He's currently working on a VX part, which is soon to be released from Grand Collection.