Kyron Davis has a small sad face tattooed on his belly (and no, there’s no connection to Polar whatsoever). A buddy just went at it and that’s what he got out of it. “We just planned to doodle on my body. There’s lots of people that I let doodle all over me,” Ky explains as if it would be the most natural thing in the world. This exemplifies the way he approaches life in general: he takes it easy and doesn’t need to know from the beginning of the day what will happen in the evening. It’s not like he’s walking around aimlessly, but he leaves enough space for the things to develop on their own till everything seems to come together naturally – in which way whatsoever. Just as it happened during our first day of our trip to London when a buddy wrote ISIS (besides other stuff like a heartagram) on Kyron’s board with a permanent Sharpie. Not funny to him at all. Understandable, especially when you know that his crew stumbled across Ignacio Echeverría a couple of hours before the terrorist attacks – where the Spaniard lost his life. So they turned it into “My life is in CrISIS”. To be honest, that is actually a total misrepresentation of the present life the 22-year-old is leading, which just hit its peak since he recently got on Numbers. However, it sadly proved to be somewhat prophetic for the upcoming days in which – despite the good times we were having – reality always caught up to us with a bang.
But let’s start all over again. It began with the best summer weather (nobody in London is really ever getting used to that), which made everyone go crazy with excitement, even though that didn’t fully make up for the past weeks (Brexit, governmental crisis, terror attacks) – but almost. We are sitting at Daily Goods, a café which is run by friends of Kyron. It’s close to his place in the district of Camberwell. A pleasantly unagitated area, mainly populated by an ethnically diverse community, students and young professionals. Kyron is a couple of minutes late. Not impolitely late though. It’s more, like, loosening late. Being extremely on time has something demanding to it, doesn’t it?
Despite carrying a huge package, he’s moving across the room with ease. Short chat with the waitress Melissa. She hasn’t seen him in a while, he was on the move a lot. When he finally sits down at the table, he still seems in motion. The positive energy emanating from him is not ceasing. A couple of annoying things got in his way and need to be settled, he says. He would have to bring the package to the post office and leave early today because he has to reproduce a set of keys he lost, which belong to his girlfriend’s roommate. And, actually, he still hasn’t fully recovered. He couldn’t really skate lately, because he messed himself up on a hill bomb in Los Angeles. His ankle is still hurting – something he won’t think about later on. Regardless, he had a great weekend. His friend Arthur Derrien, who is a fellow editor over at Free magazine and apparently saved the life of Kyron’s penis (but you have to read up on that in a different interview), celebrated his birthday – with a DIY slippery slide at some park. The whole crew gathered. And the crew, which will become apparent during the next couple of days, is a vital part of Kyron’s life.
Generally, you could say that it is social contact which makes him flourish. Even the brief encounters he makes on the streets, for example, a girl who films him for her Insta channel, the guy who talks about his son being a professional cyclist, the pensioned police officer who walks his dog and shows his bruised ass that he got from falling off a ladder while Kyron is trying to grind a rail, or the dude who almost got run over by someone, who was talking on the phone while driving, and hung out with us to come down, smoke a joint, and forgot his weed – all of these show how straightforward and with how much pleasure and ease he interacts with his environment. But in the end, the only opinion that he values is the one of his friends and family even though he doesn’t get to see the latter as often as he’d like to.
Family is basically the reason he started skating. His father is a skater himself or, more precisely, he used to be. “I got him a new setup and then I lost my setup, so I had to steal it from him again because I was going on a trip. That happened a couple times,” he reveals explaining why his dad is left without a board now. However, he his sure that he will get him back on track soon. When he was younger, his dad worked at the BAYSIXTY6 Skate Park, now he’s a plumber. After he left school at the age of 16, Ky gave this profession a chance as well, but he soon realized that this was not what he wanted to do. Lucky enough, everything took a different route when he got a deal with Nike. But at that moment in time, he didn’t really know how to appreciate all this. “For years, I kinda fucked it up a little bit. I had this imagination that skateboarding wasn’t meant to be so serious. When you watched the Baker videos, there were no rules, everybody was just having fun. I didn’t realize that you have to take it a bit more seriously. That there’s a lot of people relying on me. You need to be a bit more on point to help you out and the people that back you. For a couple years, I took that a little bit for granted,” he confesses but adds, “But when I realized, I realized.”
That’s why #nolongerawasteman is the title of a part that he released about a year ago for Cliché. The company that supported him since day one and that he never imagined to ever go down. “I was on a trip in Texas when Cliché went under. Al Boglio called me up saying, ‘Yo, Cliché’s done,’ and I thought he’s fucking with me. It was such a bummer cause they supported me since I was 16.” It felt like getting divorced, he says, but then a man contacted him that he had only known from videos his dad used to show him. “A few weeks later, I got a text that said ‘Frost’ and I thought, ‘Who’s that?’ Then I checked the photo and saw that it’s Koston and thought, ‘Better call him back.’ We had a chat on the phone and he asked me, ‘What are you thinking?’ and I was, like, ‘Ah, I don’t know. Can I let you know in a few weeks to think about it?’” It took him a while till he said yes because it felt strange to go somewhere else right after Cliché. He asked a couple of friends for advice and thought about riding for a smaller UK company. But “a month later I hit up my new boy Frosty. Frostman.” The former hero from the videos turned into a homie by now even though Ky can only guess why he got him on Numbers. “I think he was just feeling the vibe,” he says and laughs. Very likely he’s right.
Enough of that. We leave the café and move through the streets of London, in which you can find a bunch of things. Toilet seats, for example. Cupcake mugs, mattresses, Russian packs of cigarettes, broken buggies, splinters of my iPhone screen, and much more. One thing is difficult to find though: skate spots. The ground in London is pretty messed up to be honest. Weather-beaten asphalt run down by double-decker busses, sidewalks with cracks like mountain ranges, and worn-out cobblestone are the reality. Whoever craves for perfect ground and perfectly waxed marble ledges should quickly change their mindset. “I try to skate everything because you got way more variety and you end up having way more fun. Imagine not skating the whole day till you skate the one spot that is only good for you. That’s a little bit boring,” Ky expresses the thing that you should internalize in order to skate in London – and he really skated everything he came across during the couple of days we were on the streets with him. “How could you possible see a spot in this thing?” I ask myself, tagging along while he chucks himself against a tree off a manhole cover that we turned into a ramp (after putting on big wheels just for this spot). “No, he wouldn’t…” I thought when he jumped upon a wall and got ready to drop in the steepest transition. “You want to try it with this run-up?” I ask him a couple of streets further ahead and only realize how much shittier the landing is after looking at it one more time.
No ground too messed up, no run-up too short, no spot too unspectacular – Geezers need excitement… Although, he never leaves the house with the intention of finding new spots. It just happens on the run. Actually, he just loves perfect banks. He’d love to be called the “bank manager”, but that’s a nickname Chris Jones already earned, and there are barely any perfect banks in South London anyway, the area which Ky and his crew are calling their home. Many London crews tend to stay in their hoods. The city is big and despite the good public transport, it can take quite a while to get to further away spots. Also it’s pretty expensive. 10 Pounds from your Oyster card disappear in a second and not all guys have the cash to afford that on a daily basis. After all, skating in his territory is way more fun anyways and ever since he went to California and saw how even the most perfect spots got fixed with Bondo, he has been infected by passion. In the future, he wants to fix the local spots with Bondo too. Soon all the cracks in London will be things of the past. Up till then, he takes them as he finds them. Because of this mentality, we score a bunch of photos on the first day despite the adversities he mentioned in the morning and close it off with a chill session at the park – cracking open a cold one with the boys – where we witness a lunatic wrestle with himself kind of like drunken ‘shadow boxing’ but he loses.
The second day starts off with promising sunshine as well, but right when we want to get going, Kyron gets a call from his girlfriend. She discovered a huge, palm-sized spot on her thigh and assumes that it’s a blood clot. So he goes to her place and takes her to the hospital. A couple of hours later, they find out that luckily it was only an insect bite, she gets some antibiotics and Ky gets back to the rest of the crew and wraps up a heelflip. In moments like this, his incredible talent becomes obvious. There are people who can just go for it. Not that he doesn’t need to put effort into it, but as soon as the focus is there, everything goes down relatively easy. It might sound weird, but he smokes cigarettes very much like he approaches skating sometimes. It can happen that he holds them in his hand till you, as a viewer, almost think that he had forgotten them long ago. But he spins them around, plays with them like he’s warming up his fingers. Then he bums a fire off someone just to flame the tip of his cig for a while. All during talking, watching, walking around. It doesn’t look like the ritual of a true nicotine junkie, it rather looks like the ceremony of a gourmet. He’s more preparing than planning. He paves the way without exactly following it. He builds up a vibe instead of taking it step by step. Waits till the time is up, the moment right – then he takes action.
“When do you wanna meet?” I write in our WhatsApp group the next morning and receive an answer by the photographer Reece Leung, saying that Kyron might have heard about some bad news regarding his family, apparently his Unlce may have been involved with the burning skyscraper. Burning skyscraper? The internet tells me that in West London a tower block caught fire and burned down last night. The title of a local newspaper says: “Hell on Earth”. London just suffered another deep hit and Kyron a very personal one. Before he moved to the south of London at the age of 18, where many of his friends live, he grew up in the west, where his family is still located. He went over there to see if everyone is doing alright. Unfortunately, there is no sign of his uncle who lived in the Grenfell Tower. I met up with the rest of the crew. They say that the front of the tower, which used to be home for around 600 mostly lower-income residents, was supposedly refurbished for 8.6 million Pounds, but the lousy 300,000 Pounds for fire sprinklers weren’t spent. The material used for the outside redevelopment was, additionally, easy flammable and the fire alarm didn’t work. A mother reportedly threw her baby out of a window on the ninth floor and into the arms of a man before dying in the flames. It was one big catastrophe. When Kyron meets us later, he still is thinking positive and sure that his uncle will be fine. Whether it’s deep confidence in the good run of events or calculated optimism is hard to say. Yet, after we got busted at the first spot, energy is low. It’s too hot and he has to charge his batteries. So we go to the “Basin”, a dock-like branch of the Thames, usually the place where canoe clubs practice, which serves as a perfect swimming pool. Kyron doesn’t really think twice and is one of the first who rushes to jump in. But bad luck – which seems to be on Ky’s heels for the past days – strikes again, although this time literally since he steps on a broken piece of glass. But Band-Aid on and forgotten.
We roll on through the day and to Parlour Skateshop. The sun is still shining, there’s beer, and life could be beautiful, but it just constantly shows its dark sides. We meet a single mother of six children (five sons, one daughter). The whole family skates. The mother is at the shop with four of her boys to pick up a Ben Raemers board. It’s a gift. Ben signed it for her. She’s thrilled and is talking joyfully about her children, how she encourages her daughter to get back up after slamming while the kids fool around on a motorcycle of one of the skaters in front of the shop. Kyron talks to her. He met her before and knows that she has been diagnosed with cancer half a year ago and is undergoing chemotherapy at the moment. The next reality check. She’s a friend of Ky’s mother. They met at the skatepark since one of her sons skates with the youngest of his two brothers (who’s middle name is Lakai, by the way, because Ky was sponsored by Lakai in his youth and his Mother liked the name). Ky’s mother is still at the burned down building, wants to collect clothing for the now home- and propertyless people. Kyron will join her the next day. He is planning to be more actively engaged anyway. “My life right now is pretty much 24/7 skateboarding, however, I really don’t want it to be. I want to get into doing something else because I have some free time. It would be cool to do something for the community, some charity work for instance. My mum and dad always ask me, ‚Ky, what else are you gonna do? You’re a young man, you got so much energy. You got to put it into something else as well. Don’t just sit on one thing and enjoy the ride. You’re not gonna be in this situation forever‘”, he says.
By now, it’s almost seven p.m., the whole day didn’t unfold as assumed, and I’m thinking that Kyron is done skating for the day, but then he suddenly wants to get going. Only a stone’s throw from here, there’s a spot and on the way there, we stumble across a wallride spot including a mean deathbox. He’s undeterred by that. The dancing, the preparing is starting again. At first, it looks like a gentle test and then he shifts into second gear. Thinking about his uncle seems to give him extra power. “This one is for the people in the tower,” he says and lands the wallride while you don’t really know what’s more gross: run-up, wall, or landing. The spirit is back and we move on to the originally planned bank spot, where he picks up another photo of a trick, before Reece is called by Kyron’s girlfriend. She wanted to get ahold of Ky, but a stranger picked up. He left his phone at the wallride spot! But, luckily, two girls found it and returned it to him. Definitely karma points till infinity for these two! After that, we call it a day and finish it off by grabbing food at a Vietnamese restaurant. I ask if our days together could be seen as a good representation of his life and he says that I got a pretty accurate picture of his everyday life. Only that we didn’t go to any pubs.
Even on the last night, we don’t make it there. It wouldn’t be right to celebrate even though Kyron is still sure that his uncle will re-emerge safely. But as I write these lines, a couple of days have passed and there’s still no sign of life from him. The sad truth becomes more likely. London is going through difficult times lately and, unfortunately, Kyron was directly affected by it. It may sound tragic, but those days frequently made it clear that there are always big and small obstacles in your way and you can’t really do anything about them. The tragedies just happen. Sadly, you can’t ignore them, you can only try to master them as best as possible. Skateboarding is of a minor matter in those times. But in the way Kyron handles his London spots, he seems to manage all the challenges he faces in life. You’re a legend, Ky. Our thoughts are with you and your family and we hope that the sun will return to London soon.