Slight Inclination - Conor Charleson Interview

Dan Bunn

Join us for a chat with one of Cardiff's finest exports and street-vert enthusiast, Conor Charleson, as we ask him all about his bangin' new 'Slight Inclination' part filmed by Dan Magee.

First off: big fan of the title, who came up with it?

Magee brought me round to show me a very early draft of the video. Just the music laid over some clips, but he had a temporary title in place already. He’d gone for a loose pun, based on the spots, but I didn’t think it hit right. So we kind of swapped a few bits back and forth and then, honestly, I forgot about it, and didn’t find out what the title was until I got sent the flyers to post and stuff. He’d stuck with a pun, but I definitely think it works better than his earlier ideas. 

So how did this part come about? Did you set out to make a solo part or did it come together more naturally?

I remember a little while after 'Cover Version' I was nausing Dan up to get out and film. I think initially he was filming a bunch of people, whoever was out, and he was going to make a montage... then it became a montage and I’d get a part, but then his time became super limited, his workload skyrocketed, so he only wanted to meet me to film, and I’d usually have to have a claim and a backup to get him out. He’s still sitting on a few minutes of unseen footage of a bunch of other heads that he should definitely knock together and put out.

We noticed footage of photos that came out a pretty long time ago, how long have you been filming for the video?

Covid lockdowns and the beginning of the project definitely overlapped. Like all my memories of that time, everything is a bit of a blur. There were some huge gaps between the earlier clips, due to lockdowns and Magee being twice as cautious as the government guidelines at the time. Which was understandable considering he had regular contact with vulnerable people. A little while after that he came out a bunch. And then his work kicked in and he got real busy, so I had to rely more on other people contributing, which is why it took so long in the end.

Conor Charleson Backside Wallride, photo by James Griffiths - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store
Backside wallride, shot by James Griffiths.

You had a lot of footage from abroad in the video, given your reputation for going through serious battles to get clips do you ever have to change your approach on trips?

I feel like there’s some battles that seem to go on forever, but it’s not every time. Usually I can tell in about ten minutes if something is going to be a definite 'My War', so on trips I’ll tend to avoid anything that feels like it’s going to take a big chunk out of the day. A lot of the clips abroad are on bank-to-wall spots with relatively kind dimensions, so I will usually try to be smart and choose what I know will definitely work.

You and Magee seem to have a bit of a bromance going on - he talked pretty highly of you in his Meet at Benjy’s interview - what’s it like filming with him? It must feel like a bit of a privilege having such a respected filmer devote time to a solo project with you.

He did? I’m not sure I’ve seen that interview.

It’s definitely still a bit of a trip to film with him and have him put so much time into a project, considering I would regularly go round my mate’s house early before skating to watch 'MFWTCB' ['Make Friends With The Colour Blue'], and constantly ask to borrow it before getting my own copy. I love that video and I can see that he tried to put some of its essence into the part. I guess we have been filming together for quite a few years now, since my early 20s anyway. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well and he’s a mate. He drove me pretty mad during this project and he pushes things a bit too far sometimes, but I know he’s trying to help in his own weird way. My tormentor.

Considering you have a pretty unique style of skating, do you ever struggle to find inspiration? Is there anyone in particular you look to?

In terms of spots yeah. I’m finding London increasingly difficult to come up with ideas for what I can do. It’s why I try to get away as much as possible. In terms of other skaters I have a few favourites I like to go back to like AVE and Spanky. Pretty obvious I guess. Eddie Cernicky always has good ideas. Jasper Clough’s graft is pretty inspiring. Constantly finding new spots and approaches in the relatively tough-to-skate Bangor. I feel like Europe is constantly churning out genius skateboarders. Pretty much all the scene videos that come out on Free, Grey, Solo etc. are inspiring in some way or another.

Conor Charleson thread-the-needle tree wallie, photo by Alex Papke - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Store
Threading the needle, shot by Alex Papke.

You mentioned in your Grey interview that you think curation and having your own opinion is important in skating, given how much skating’s changed in the last few years have your thoughts on this changed?

I think skating was pretty similar then to how it is now and I stand by the general idea that if everything is good in skateboarding then it’s boring. Criticism keeps it interesting and helps skateboarding evolve. I haven’t met a single well regarded skateboarder that doesn’t chat shit to some extent and I think it’s fine to do so.

Seeing as you also work on skate camps, do you try to pass any of this on to the next generation?

That it’s important to have opinions? Sure, kind of. I think discussing with the younger generation what they think is and isn’t cool is important. Not trying to get them to be hyper critical, as I think theres a certain purity that comes with being blind to skateboard media and trends early on. Kids’ opinions are often pretty interesting. Sometime you get a kid that just wants to launch as far and fast as they can from kicker to kicker all day and make the gap more and more lethal or chuck a boneless off the biggest drop they can find. And it’s simply because they think everything else is boring, and essentially kickflips are for nerds. I think that’s kind of a sick perspective in its own right. It’s interesting to hear which skaters some of the kids who have been skating a bit longer are into. Generally it’s a huge range between YouTubers and older heads.

What’s next for you?

I’m in Malaysia right now [Editor's note: he's now actually in Vietnam]. So I’ll probably get Nasi Lemak for breakfast and then try to film a trick before my body loses all of its fluids in the heat.

Very jealous of that. Safe Conor!

That's enough chit-chat though. Head to the shop to buy the latest clothing and skateboard decks from CSC. Or, check out more skate interviews on the CSC Blog. Safe.

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