Jonny represents the new generation that is able to make a living off social media. He is also a professional skateboarder which makes it difficult for some to accept the two. However, there is more to the Swiss King of Tech who has his own pro-deck fingerboard and almost kicked out Paul Rodriguez at the Berrics Skate Battle a few years ago. Much more.
On social media you wear a shirt in your profile shot which says ‘I hate Jonny Giger’. Is this your response to the hate club about how you sell yourself on social media?
It was just a copy from a Sheckler commercial that I saw in a magazine. I always liked how everybody was talking like „he did that MTV show, he’s not a real skateboarder.“ In my opinion this statement is just a lack of empathy. Like go find a 13 year old skateboarder who is gonna turn down a deal like „yo we’re the most popular TV show, we gonna make you famous and we’ll give you more money that you could ever spend.“ I mean you can turn down something like as an adult. But as a kid? I used to argue on unpolite comments a few times but these days I just ignore the hate. I can’t work with that because it’s usually no constructive criticism.
You call yourself Jonny Chinaski Giger on Social Media. Where does Chinaski come from and how is it pronounced? The way I say it sounds like an alpine ski resort in Asia.
I read a lot of books. My favourite author was Charles Bukowski at the time Instagram was getting popular. He uses this pseudonym for himself „Henry Charles (hank) Chinaski. These days I don’t read as much Bukowski but I never changed the name.
What was your first trick besides ollie?
I learned strawberry milkshakes before I learned ollies. I actually thought I invented it since it was my brainchild and I hadn’t seen it before. But of course it was invented way earlier. My very first trick was a 50-50 on a round flatrail though. Now that’s a real surprise. Before I even knew what an ollie was I heard of this thing called „grind* it sounded so cool in English (I mean „schliiife“ in swiss german sounds kinda not so cool) but I didn’t know how to ollie. So I built a kicker and put the rail right in front of it. Problem solved as there was no need to ollie. After 1-2 hours of failed balancing acts I finally managed to roll away from one. I tried to elevate rail and the kicker which succeeded to a certain extent. But on this one day it was just the sketchiest construction ever. When I hit the rail the thing just „exploded“ and I dislocated my finger.
‘I learned strawberry milkshakes before I learned ollies.
I actually thought I invented it since it was my brainchild and I hadn’t seen it before.’
What is your signature trick?
I’m not sure if I do have something like that. I like Blackfoot varial heels and BS 180 late flips and they are two rare tricks that I got pretty consistent. My audience has been asking for a „Giger Flip“ which ended up being a SW FS shove late hardflip. I don’t take this trick name or signature thing too serious though.
What is your proudest moment in your current skateboarding career?
Hmm probably the infamous game of skate against Prod. I landed some good tricks and I think it was a good game. Looking back I’m also glad that I lost. I think it’s crucial for a healthy personality development to be good at loosing too. A big loss like that was hard to take at first but I learned so much from it.
How does skateboarding shape your life apart from providing food on the table?
Good Question. I learned many things from skateboarding, so many that I can’t count them but I’m very grateful that I learned to take care of my mind and body. I wasn’t a very disciplined person in my early 20ies but now I do a cold shower every morning, which is just as hard as it sounds. You never get used to it. I’m also a vegetarian and I do yoga and meditation every day for an hour in total. Great. Now I sound a bit of an esoteric. But there’s actually a lot of decent studies and scientific proof for the benefits of all these things.
‘Anyway what I’m trying to say is that if
you take skateboarding too serious it could be embarrassing.’
Is there anything you do not like about skateboarding?
Hmmm there are a few little things but the major issue these days is with young kids (almost babies) overcrowding skateparks. Which is more like an implicit aspect of skateboarding. At least the irony behind it is kinda funny. We hear „this is no playground“ a lot when we’re street skating and we react like „yo we’re not playing, we try to make something happen, art, or whatever“ and most of these people don’t understand that. On the contrary we’re at the park today and we’re like „yo! This IS NO PLAYGROUND“ because we don’t understand or better said we don’t want to understand it. Nonetheless this is a small consolation.
Better late than never I’d say. Your Street Part 2021 is pretty sick. Reminded me when I first saw H Street’s Hokus Pokus.
Thanks for the kind words. It’s definitely not a conventional skatepart that you’d expect from a „Pro street part” these days. The skating reminds a lot of Mullen. Here we go again haha. Some people think I wanna be like him or better than him, but I honestly just like his tricks. It’s also a question of the spot choice, I usually don’t travel far for spots so I try to skate everything i find in the area. My friends don’t dig the spots that i love (primopads, flat banks, hippy jumps) thus I sometimes go there by myself and set the camera up on a tripod. We also don’t have a single metal coping ledge in miles. I’m almost finished with another part which I’m gonna name „flat banks, no handrails”.
‘But still we (revive) do get a lot of hate for not being true skaters.
I mean who’s taking the right to define that anyway?’
I came across some nasty comments in the slapmagazine forum about you and how you use social media as a skateboarder. Does it get to you at all and what is your response to them?
I don’t respond to them at all. If somebody blindly hates you it makes no sense to argue, it’s like trying to convince a flat earther that the earth is round. He won’t change his mind no matter how much scientific evidence you drop.
You can’t make it right for everyone and that’s fine. Only a narcissist would think that the whole world has to like him. Even Gandhi was hated. I’m just out there doing my job, getting a lot of people into skating and that makes me happy. I’m an adult and I don’t find any satisfaction writing nasty comments or having arguments on the internet.
One funny thing I’d like to mention here is that you also hear a lot „skateboarding is all about having fun“, now we from revive aren’t the best skaters but in fact we do have a lot of fun. We don’t have any pressure to film video parts beside like a 2-3 year deadline and it’s all pretty mellow. But still we do get a lot of hate for not being true skaters.
I mean who’s taking the right to define that anyway? There’s a paradox somewhere. I think if you really wanna get good at something you have to go through some physical or mental battles hence it’s not always fun, but whatever. It’s just a thought of me.
You also hear that it is a virtue of skateboarding to welcome everyone no matter what skin color or social status.
This might be, which is good but I once saw this kid on instagram doing super tech flatground tricks and he got so
much hate because he rode a longboard and not a regular skateboard. Just doing a hardflip on that thing is a risky thing but there we’re a lot of nasty comments on that post and our so called „open minded culture of skateboarding“ was acting in a different kind of fascist way you could say. I just wanted to mention this for whatever reason.
The Nine Club was more in favor of your work during an episode in 2019. They all supported your riding skills but also how you share your experience on social media. The traditional way is to be part of a brand which puts you in printed/digital ads, puts a video together with all team riders and represent the company during contests. They say your non-traditional way of doing all this yourself is now becoming the new norm. Your board sponsor does not even have a Youtube page. What is your view on this?
I’ve been watching a lot of Nine Club episodes and it was an honor to be mentioned in there. It also came as a huge surprise cause the major „core Skate media“ tries to stay away from the topic youtube skater. I think the Nine club has a secular and balanced view of skateboarding. It was a big surprise for me to be in there. And yes more and more pros start to have a YouTube channel. It’s funny to see like Jaws or Aurelien do have one. But I don’t think it’s gonna be entirely the new norm, it’s definitely shifting to say like maybe 50% percent traditional, 50% Youtube. Both sides have their pros and cons.
In an interview with vice.com you mentioned that your community reacts sensibly when you are not posting for a few days. Sounds stressful to continuously come up with interesting material, produce it, put it online and await the community’s reaction. Never thought of quitting?
Yep it’s definitely a lot of work to put up that one-man show. I usually work 6-10 hours every day of the week. Editing is the least fun part of it. My friends sometimes joke that I’ve been having vacation for the past four years, but it’s not like that. I’m sometimes just drowning in editing, getting better at English and of course film proper content. On top of that I invest a lot of time in maintaining my body and working on my mental health. I won’t quit as long as pays the bills. One day I might go back to school and study something like history or work a regular 9-5 job. Who knows? Life gives you a lot of opportunities if you’re willing to put in the work.
Your boss Andy Schrock started his career also on Youtube and due to his success on social media started the board company Revive (Revenge initially). People call it the web-born skate brand. How did you guys meet?
We met at the courthouse in LA. 2014. I was playing a game of skate with Yoshi Tannenbaum but I was already riding for one of his brands. It happened on total coincidence. He was like „yoo I’m Andy. Am I interrupting something?“ Hahaha I finished the game (I think Yoshi won) and had some random conversation with him. He’s one of the nicest persons I ever met. Super humble. Kind. A lot of energy and the way his synapses are wired makes him one of the funniest persons ever. I really dig his humour and way of thinking.
Skaterboardershq ranked you 5th place for the ‘21 Best YouTube Skateboarding channels you don’t want to skip’. I do not know the legitimacy of the website but it sounds very flattering. You are only one place behind The Berrics but 6 places up from your board sponsor founder Andrew Schrock. What do you think makes up your success?
I’ve been focusing the content on my channel to be about skateboarding. Andy uploads a lot of lifestyle related content too. It’s just crazy to be ranked this high because The Berrics is like an enterprise with filmers, editors, marketing managers etc. They also have all the pros and a lot of interesting people in LA. Meanwhile I’m just a small skater from the countryside that likes doing tech tricks. They maybe see something in me that see in themselves. And for me it doesn’t matter if you have a battle to learn Tre flip late shove or a kickflip on flat. We’re fighting to get that trick. This battle we have in common and some of them probably like to see what’s possible to make out of that kickflip if you stick with it long enough and stay persistent.
“Meanwhile I’m just a small skater from the countryside that likes doing tech tricks.
They maybe see something in me that see in themselves.”
What is your most watched/liked episode so far?
Hmm I think it’s the Tre flip darkslide (1.8M views). I filmed that one in the UK. Just went for it three hours straight and it somehow just worked out. It’s not always given that difficult tricks do well on YouTube. I went 3 days in a row for sw casperslide which was an enorm effort but the view count is under average I guess. But it is what it is I just keep going. Cause there are still so many tricks I wanna land.
If you have to choose between one social media platform, which will it be? Instagram or Youtube?
Youtube for many reasons. In these modern times the world is just moving too fast and instagram accelerates even more. It happens a lot that tricks don’t get the recognition they deserve, on instagram they just vanish after a day or two and it’s hard to find them. On youtube you have a search engine at least, which allows you to go back. Btw remember the name of the person who sw bs flipped wallenberg?(it’s dj gaudin) I mean it’s a sw bs flip wallenberg, every street skater should probably have a poster of dj in his room for that but there’s so many skaters out there killing it on a daily and time just moves a little too fast, we forget things.
To be honest I am not a big fan of the Revive graphics but your ‘Jonny Giger The Swiss’ board nails it for me. How much input do you have in graphics and board shape?
Revive always has some kind of theme, so they just ask like: „yo jonny what’s your favourite video game or animal?“. Couple weeks later I receive the graphic and they always ask if I’m ok with it. Thanks for the kind words on the Swiss and yes I know not everybody digs the graphics but I love them. We never talked about the shape because I honestly don’t have any suggestions to improve. For me Revive has the perfect shapes.
From what I learned during my research is hat Revive manufactures their boards in the US by Pen’s Wood in Pennsylvania. Not many board companies do this as the major ones go to China or Mexico. So it is more surprising how cheap the boards are going for ($40-50). Under ridingboards.com they say Revive can offer boards so cheaply as they design their own products, run their own marketing on Youtube, sell online to customers directly and have no pro riders. The last point does not make sense. You guys are a pro rider. Right?
Hahaha shots fired. Yes we actually get a very fair share of the board sells. I’ve heard of some very decent pros that don’t get anything at all.