The Full Kyle Hyams Interview, now with more zaniness and pizazz.
A person’s style in wakeskating is quite revealing. It not only proves to the viewer that individual’s view of what riding means to them, but it also is an uncanny reflection of a person’s inner character; something that is not revealed in too many other ways. Style is subconscious: it seeps out from an individual’s mind and manifests itself in the feet of wakeskaters across the globe, oftentimes without them even knowing. It’s not hard to recognize what Kyle Hyams is all about when watching him on the water. He cares more about the portrayal of his riding then almost anyone I’ve ever met, and will not be satisfied with something on the water unless it is exactly how he wants it to look. What’s amazing is he can actually make it happen. I could even recognize his style while answering these questions: precise, calculated, and to the point.
AW: Kyle, where did you grow up wakeskating at?
Fort Lauderdale. South Florida.
AW: Come clean now, were you a strapper first?
Yeah, I strapped for about three or four years, but it was never consistent because I never had a boat. There’s no lakes or anything that people down there live on, so you hit up canal ways, and the people that had the boats don’t go out much or they stopped riding so I couldn’t really strap on a regular basis.
AW: How old are you now?
Twenty-four. You didn’t check myspace?
AW: When did you end up moving to Orlando?
Summer of ’02, right after I graduated [high school].
AW: Just came for college pretty much, to wakeskate and stuff?
Yeah, ‘cause right that year I started wakeskating, really got into it. And moving to Orlando is just incentive to try to ride more.
AW: Alright here’s a good one. What’s most important to you: contests, magazines, videos parts, or street cred?
Damn that’s really hard. It’d be close between media and street cred. Because, I mean, having a good image is just as important as having a good video part or getting good shots or even doing well in contests. But I mean, I would have to say the media is probably the most important, because that’s an important issue. I mean there are riders that are really big contest riders, but in my eyes, the riders that I think are good, or do or should get more credit, are the guys that are killing it in the magazines and the videos. But I mean street credibility is just right up there as well, ‘cause I mean if the kids don’t like you then that’s that!
AW: Alright, alright. Favorite trip you’ve ever been on for wakeskating?
I’d probably have to say Brostock last year at Smith Mountain Lake. It was a fun time, and it was like the first LF trip I’ve been on, with everyone together. It was fun just relaxing and partying with everyone, when everyone was out of “serious mode.” Having all the big riders in one spot at the same time is usually just like for a contest, so it’s not the same. But, yeah, it was a real laid back atmosphere, just shooting a bunch of photos and videos with like Joey Meddock, and Keith Lant, he was out there. I think it kind of like pushed my relationship with Liquid Force a little bit, because after that I started getting a little more love from them.
AW: Well speaking of which, what’s it like being on a team with Liquid Force, I mean if you’re going to talk about top brands, they’re obviously up there…
Yeah, Liquid Force is definitely up there, and getting recognition and being with them is pretty rad. I mean, they’re all really cool people in the company. So I mean just having people like that is cool to work with, easy to talk to and all that.
AW: I mean you’re on the same team as Aaron Reed, Danny Hampson…
AW: You’re in good company.
Yeah, I guess it’s cool just in part being on a team with those guys, especially Aaron and Danny.
AW: What’s your favorite location you’ve ridden at?
Smith Mountain Lake is pretty awesome… that and Lake McClure in California, not too far from Lake Don Pedro, where Malibu does their boat shoots and all that. Wide open lake, calm water, just way different from any typical Florida brackish water.
AW: What was that for?
The Alliance Coming Up trip last year, we were on a houseboat, but it was on Lake McClure.
AW: Have you seen Homeless?
No, not yet.
AW: Darn, I was going to talk about that.
AW: It’s just really good.
You should have brought it over.
AW: I should have.
I’m horrible at videos. I mean, the most current video I’ve watched was Esoteric. That and Volume Issue 2, maybe… That’s pretty bad.
AW: Let’s talk a little bit about your riding. I notice that you lean more towards a stylish type of riding: your riding is really focused and precise on all the different aspects like pop and flow every time you do a trick, rather than going towards crazy technicality.
There’s no right or wrong way on your flow or your style. It’s just like an extension of your personality, sort of… I mean, having technical tricks is awesome and everything but you know like… (long pause). I don’t know I’ve always just liked having more of just a solid flow.
AW: Yeah, it just feels good.
Rather than just like having crazy hammers that might not work as good, you know? (pause) Did I really answer that?
AW: I don’t know, it’s all your opinion. I think you answered it.
Well…I don’t know let me think about it real quick … it’s partly of just how I ride. But I’m real self conscious about my riding, and sometimes if I’m not really feeling a trick or like when I’m watching footage, if I don’t do it right, or how I envision it to be right, it’s hard me to watch it. So that’s why I kind of try to make every trick look good and solid. Not half-ass, basically.
What in your opinion is the greatest/most progressive invention in wakeskating so far?
Is that pee on the floor? (cleans up his dog’s pee)
So you thought about it a little bit and…
Let’s come back to that, that’s a pretty deep question.
AW: What are you different inspirations and motivations, and different things that get you stoked to go ride?
Riding with other people is big. I’m fortunate enough to be friends with a fair amount of guys who are killing it in the sport, if not now then very soon only because of the fact that they’re not getting coverage. Guys like that really pump me up to do tricks. Even just sitting there and envisioning a trick gets me motivated to go out there and do it, or try to do it how I portray it.
AW: Oh absolutely.
A good video part, that’ll definitely do it. Even going back and watching skateboarding videos, that really does it for me. Not just any skateboard videos, either, like certain ones. Skate More was a good one. I just saw Fully Flared and that was crazy.
Yeah! I had that written down I was gonna ask you…
Yeah, and Stereo’s Way Out East. I think like those guys on Stereo ride, how they portray skateboarding, I think that’s kind of how I kind of portray my riding. Not like the craziest, most technical tricks, but ya know, they can hit the hammers. And they make it look good and flow.
AW: Back to this: Most progressive invention ever in wakeskating.
The most progressive invention ever in my eyes is the winch, for sure. ‘Cause that just opened up a whole ‘nother door or three of ways to wakeskate and make it more like skateboarding, because now you can hit ledges, you can hit gaps, you can hit drops. I mean, more skate simulation, you could say.
AW: Have you ever slid a cement ledge?
AW: Darn, me neither. I want to so bad. What do you like to do to get better at wakeskating, what do you do to make that happen. What do you attribute your progression to?
Riding. First and foremost, riding. Riding, and making yourself try the trick … a lot. If there’s a rider or there’s a trick like how I would want to do the trick, or if someone does a trick that inspires me to want to do it that way, then I look at how they do it, and like analyze it. Even just going back to watching it in my mind and envisioning it…that’s another way too, ‘cause that makes me think about the steps involved in that trick.
AW: What is one of your favorite things about wakeskating? Ya know…it can be anything.
It can be anything?
AW: Just what makes you happy when you wakeskate?
(pause)… Landing tricks. Landing tricks feels good. As of recently, landsliding, that’s been pretty fun, just getting whipped into a patch of grass and just goin’ for it.
AW: What’s your favorite trick to do.
Bigspins. Frontside and backside… I think we should go back a bit about that last question…
AW: Favorite thing about wakeskating?
Yeah… favorite thing about wakeskating. Hell, just ollieing. Everything about it really: being on top of the water, popping over rollers, carving… I don’t know. Yeah. I mean you take some funny falls. The falls can be fun too. So I don’t know, I don’t think there is one aspect I don’t like about wakeskating.
AW: Well that answers my next question: I was going to ask if you have any annoyances in wakeskating? I guess it doesn’t have to be negative…
Yeah, I got a couple annoyances… Falling backwards is never a fun one. Especially like if you’re not wearing a good vest, like when the foam inside the thing is not properly set. If it’s not stitched and it gets all bunched up, I hate that. You go all hunchback… Also, if you’re wearing a top or a wetsuit, and the impact of the fall is hard enough to where you shoot water into your wetsuit, or like your top will flip backwards… so like when you get up you look like you have fat arms, ya know, like jiggling arms? Um… winter water. Cold, cold water. And it’s always colder in Clermont.
AW: Yes, it is, that is true. That is a downfall.
I believe that.
AW: Toe Jam. Your thoughts.
Hmmm… I don’t know. Cutthroat. That’s my thought. Cutthroat.
AW: (Laughs) What’s that mean?
Because, it’s like… I don’t know…
Yeah, it literally is brutal because … not like physically. But I mean, if you don’t make it out of your qualifying heat… and most cases now like each heat is pretty stacked. I mean at least the heats I’m in ‘cause I usually pull the crap cards.
AW: Get lucky?
No, that is the complete opposite of lucky, really. But, I mean, it’s good for the sport. Ya know, the whole tour thing. But yeah, the competition, at the heats I’ve been in this year…
AW: Who’s always been one of your favorite riders to watch, and who inspires you in wakeskating?
AW: Aaron Reed in both of them?
Yeah. I mean, seriously he does. Andrew [Pastura], he’s been killing it. Even just watching video footage of him…it’s pretty wild.
AW: What are some up and comers you know about, who’s coming up?
Andy P. I don’t know, I mean the kid…you know you live with him. He literally lives and breathes wakeskating, and that’s it. Yeah…wild. So, he’s gonna dominate everyone.
AW: (Laughs) What advice do you have for kids getting started into wakeskating, and also kids that want to make a name for themselves?
Well, shit, first and foremost, have fun with it. If you’re not having fun with it you might as well not do it. I would say know the roots, for sure. Especially when it comes to learning tricks. Get the basics, kids that learn flip tricks first and can’t even backside 180 or three shove or big spin, not saying that those tricks should come first, but it’s good to have a good repertoire under your belt. I think attitude, really. ‘Cause you can come up there and claim tricks and make yourself look like you’re the shit but people aren’t really going to be into you or really want to talk to you.
AW: What’s it going to take for wakeskating to be more of a “profession” so there can be professional wakeskaters that don’t have to work a job? It seems like every other boardsport has money.
Well, that’s the thing, the money. But it depends on where the money is coming from. I mean sports like skating, surfing, snowboarding, they all have large, large companies that really back the riders. Ya know, like the big guns, basically. And what big guns do we have in wakeskating? DVS, they were more one of the big companies in there. DVS is an awesome company and it’s awesome what they’ve done to support wakeskating. There are a lot of companies that surface, but then they just come and go. But really it’s just having those companies be into wakeskating and want to support it, and want to even make a budget for it. I mean Nike’s doing it. And that’s not just for wakeskating, that’s for wakeboarding, too. It also legitimizes wakeskating in itself, when a company would go so far as to draw itself into our industry.
AW: What are your thoughts on Orlando?
I mean, it is what it is, really, ya know. Anybody who’s anybody in the sport is gonna be here eventually.
AW: Think so? I don’t think that’s healthy though.
Well, maybe not actually residing here, but spending time here. There are guys that travel here for a certain amount of time then go home. Guys that spend summers here then go home once the summers up. You don’t have to come to Orlando, but I don’t know, it just so happens that a lot of shit happens here.
AW: Name a trick that you can’t do and one that you refuse to do.
The trick that I want to do still is a freakin’ flip trick. I’m still trying them, but just haven’t come up with it yet. And the trick that I refuse to do…any sort of shove-it while on a rail or down a rail. Like in the middle of a rail? That’s just absurd.
AW: Absolutely. What do you see in your near future, what do you hope to be happening five years from now, what do you want to be doing?
Well, first of all, still riding for sure. Maybe doing a little better in the contests. Contests are still pretty important, that’s one thing I want to do. Just, ya know, making a good name for myself…
AW: Street cred…
Street cred, for sure… Also want to get new tricks, too. Pretty much a positive outlook on it all.
AW: What would you say is your greatest personal accomplishment in wakeskating so far?
Greatest accomplishment would have to be my cover for Alliance. First of all, I didn’t even know I was getting it. Getting a cover is crazy, ya know, ‘cause there are so many other good riders out there and a lot of them might not even get a cover. So I mean, I consider myself pretty lucky for that. Thankful for sure.
AW: How do you want to be remembered in wakeskating?
I want to be known as a stylish rider with good flowing tricks. Good style of course. I want to be a good ambassador of the sport.