Evoke: The Return of the Shop Video
Evoke: The Return of the Shop Video
By Cody Liska
There are four of us in my kitchen, Kris Marshall, Dakota McKenzie, Jakob Blees and myself. Jakob and Dakota both have parts in Evoke, the first true shop video to come out of Alaska since the Boarderline days. Kris is the filmer. And right now we’re doing an interview, or at least that’s what I thought we were doing, until I realize we’re not talking about skateboarding, snowboarding or the video, we’re trying to figure out if Jakob vapes.
“Wait, do you actually do vape tricks,” I ask Jakob.
“Okay, this has gone too far,” Jakob laughs, looking at me and then at Kris.
“Dude, you tornado it up,” Kris says.
Jakob: “I don’t do vape tricks.”
Kris again: “Yes you do.”
“You can vape in my house, dude, it’s cool,” I tell Jakob. That’s when Dakota started laughing, effectively turning himself into a target.
“You got a vape too,” Kris says to Dakota.
Dakota: “I do, but I’m not talking shit. And it’s not my vape.”
I’m familiar with these burn sessions. This is how I grew up, in a snow and skate shop with three brothers and a dad who acts like he’s perpetually 16-years-old. And they’re all shit talkers, but they always have my back. Same goes for these guys. One minute they’re giving each other shit, the next minute they’re hyping each other up. “Dude, Daniel Redmond’s the future,” Kris tells me. “Wait till you see his part. He hits me up every day to film, he’s one of those dudes.” Daniel’s not the only one they’re hyping up. Tim Blevans, Niko Santa Ana, Jason Mackey, Kodi Pfeiffer, Gary Galbreath, they’re hyping them too. “Gary is like the sickest skater in Alaska probably,” Kris tells me. “I went to Fairbanks and met him and that night I was like, ‘what’s up, you wanna film for this video?’ And he was like, ‘fuck yea.’ And we left Fairbanks and him and I pretty much lived in my car for two weeks and filmed every day.”
For over two hours, we all sat there talking about Evoke and everything that went into making it. Late night sessions, generators, winches, a skate trip to New York and a snowboard trip to Japan. Maybe it was unsaid, or maybe I just forgot who said it, but underneath all the dick and vape jokes, there was a real sense of camaraderie between these guys.
Where did the name Evoke come from?
Kris: It was a pretty loose idea in the beginning, about two years ago. We were like, “we’ll just get clips and smash it into a computer and a sick video is gonna come out. Then we went to dinner with Jason Borgstede, [owner of Blue & Gold Boardshop]—it was Dakota, Borgstede and I, and [Borg] was like, “I wouldn’t give you guys shit to make a video.” Which was what we needed to hear. He was like, “if you wanna make a video, you need to get serious. Somebody needs to sit down and grab the bull by the horns and make it happen.” And something hit me and I was like, “fuck yeah. We can do this. We can bring back those Boarderline days.” That’s how it started, and the very next day I flew to work [on the North Slope] and I sat down and I drafted up this whole pre-production and what I wanted the film to be, the vibe, the riders, the deadlines, and from there on it was like I saw the full picture. Being able to take an idea in your head, a film with all your friends, and a year and a half later being able to see it on a screen, something that you pictured 18 months ago, it’s sick dude. That’s what it’s all about.
Dakota: I was just tossing around a bunch of names and Evoke stuck because it sounds sick, but the meaning... it’s about provoking thought.
Coming from a time when shop videos drove the culture, I’m excited about Evoke because it’s the first true snow and skate shop video Alaska has seen in over a decade, since the old Boarderline videos. I think knowing that that was happening, that certain people were riding and filming for a common project, it motivated generations of skaters and snowboarders to want to be better. How important do you think shop videos are to a local scene?
Dakota: I came in after Boarderline, when it was [Brendan Hupp’s] Bear Cubs videos, and then it turned into Magic Hour Moves, and that’s what I would look forward to watching every year. It would get me so hyped. I think we hit spots that I found watching their videos. Local videos always drove me to want to do the same thing. If Evoke can inspire other people to do the same thing, that would be sick.
Kris: I definitely feel like if kids see that this is happening around them, then they’ll be hyped to do this instead of just hanging out in the [snowboard] park. They’ll actually try to go out and hit spots. If we can do this and get people fired up, then maybe somebody else will want to collaborate or make [their own] video. Like maybe I could go to Juneau and work with [snow and skate videographer] Sonny [Pittman] on something down there.
How important are filmers to everything that goes into making a video?
Dakota: They’re the most important piece. Without Kris, it would have been me, Caleb and Jakob running a camera. Caleb’s pretty good at filming, but I’m pretty shitty at filming. Kris took it head-on and, above all, is the one hyping everyone up a lot of the time. He’s the guy pushing the positive vibes and making you wanna get your trick when you’re pissed off because you headbutted the ground or something. He’s the guy making you want to get the trick even more. Without Kris, shit wouldn’t have happened.
Kris texted me earlier and said that next year’s video is so much better, to me that just means you’ve spent so much time watching and re-watching what’s already been done and you know that everyone is a better rider now than they were last year. But I think that’s just life in general, you always wanna be better than you were yesterday.
Dakota: Defintiely. Like this year, I’m not gonna go out and try to do the same trick I did on a spot last year. It’s about how good you can do it until you can’t do it anymore. Regardless of what I’m doing, I just wanna snowboard and see how much shit I can do. And being able to put it into a movie and having that connection with people watching it, I think that’s gonna be really cool because I’ve never really had that. Having your own little blip in this movie and seeing all the people at the premiere is going to be cool. And as far as us all being friends and doing what we want to do, I think this video is just a really good expression of what we’re doing and where we’re at right now. That’s why I’m most hyped on it.
Jakob: Like, how could you go out, film and get shit done without people who are your friends?
Kris: Especially snowboarding, it’s so much fucking work. Generator, winch, shovels… You need like a moving van to film in the streets.
Building out and hitting a street spot definitely nurtures camaraderie. It’s almost like a team building exercise. And I think that kind of local camaraderie can only exist under a locally owned business or shop. I mean, when you look at a national chain like Zumiez and how it affects the scene here, it’s a parasite feeding off the infrastructure that local shops like Boarderline and Blue & Gold built. And I think that’s something this generation is getting wise to, that it actually matters where you spend your money.
Kris: Exactly, your dollar goes further than just across that counter [at Blue & Gold]. Nobody opens up a local snowboard and skate shop to get rich, but you can make the scene rich. You know what I mean? And that’s what [Blue & Gold] cares about. I think that gets misunderstood for some people in the scene, as being kooky or some shit. But that whole shop does a lot for the scene. What the fuck would we have if that shop wasn’t open?
Dakota: This video wouldn’t be here.
Kris: We’d have Zumiez, that’s it, and who the fuck wants a Zumiez?
Dakota: Nobody. Fuck Zumiez.
Jakob: It’s worse than Hot Topic.
Kris: If you had to work at Zumiez, Hot Topic, Pac Sun, or what’s that hat store? Hatland?
Jakob: Hot Topic all day (laughs).
Kris: But what if you had to wear the kit? Like a fishnet shirt, a choker, make-up and those pants with all the hooks on them? (laughs.)
Jakob: All leather too…
(Laughs). Before I really started writing, I was making snowboard edits. Now, whenever I hear a song, I always think of it in terms of a video part. When you hear a song, do you start editing a video part in your head to it?
Jakob: Yea, we’ll just sit there and think of songs…
Kris: …and if the song is sick, then, for sure, I’ll be like, “what’s the intro? Is the intro gonna fit it? Is the ending good? Can you chop a part to it?” Because a lot of times a song is too long, or too short.
And some songs are just too sick. Some songs are just too good for some parts.
Kris: Yea, there are rules, dude. You can’t put a dope song in a mediocre part.
Dakota: You don’t want to waste a sick song on a decent part. You want your riding to live up to the hype of the song.
Kris: That’s why I stopped using songs on Instagram [edits], because I got tired of wasting songs. And I think it’s sick without any music.
Dakota: I definitely like that too. Through the five to ten second clip, or whatever it is, you kind of get a sense of the vibe of the session. I even like the way the skateboard sounds sometimes...
Kris: …you’re spiritual as fuck (laughs).
Dakota: But seriously, if you listen to like a Dylan [Rieder] clip, for instance, it just sounds right. Maybe that’s just me, but I’ll listen to something without music and be like, “that was sick.” But then you put like INXS over it and it’s the sickest thing ever.
Do you think that you could listen to just the audio of someone’s part and know who it is?
Kris: Like an audiobook?
Dakota: If I’m just driving in my truck, listening to skateboarding, it would be the sickest thing ever (laughs).
Kris: He could like call the tricks and shit. “Crook… no, no, switch crook!” (laughs.)