Swiss Army Man: Micky Papa Interview

We catch up with a man of many interests and talents.

Micky Papa is always multitasking. It’s hardly surprising, though, when you consider where he comes from. With parents who switch careers like other people switch shoes, Papa’s story begins to make sense. Whether it’s launching a brand, doing an interview while ordering at a restaurant, or throwing nollie flips into rail tricks, he’s always searching for something more to do. In the wake of Blind’s team victory at Dew Tour Long Beach, he’s already been to the other side of the world and back. Catch him if you can—here’s Micky Papa.

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Nollie heelflip frontside boardslide. Photo: Durso (click to enlarge)

Did you recently move to LA? From the looks of the footage in your Red Dragons part, you live somewhere on Wilshire in between J Kwon and the courthouse.
I’ve been traveling non-stop, but I do have a place in LA now, which is great.

You’re originally from Vancouver, right?
Yeah—Coquitlam, to be exact.

What do your parents do?
My parents? That’s actually an interesting question. My mom actually just switched up her career and now works for WestJet.  She’s done a lot of different things though, including being a travel agent for a number of years, and working for BC public transit. As for my dad, it’s hard to put a finger on it—literally anything and everything you can think of. He was a mechanic for 30 years. Currently he runs/owns a tailor shop on Commercial Drive in East Van, as well as any and every trade that can be done in and around residential and commercial property. Everything from electric, to drywall, to plumbing, to property management, to accounting to investments—he’s also a private investigator on the side. He is Master Miyagi Papa.

(switch front 270 frontside boardslide. View more the Best of Rails: Dew Tour Team Challenge Long Beach 2016.)

How did you go about getting sponsored? It seems like you were on the path to getting on a few teams before it worked out with Blind, officially.
I never actually “tried” to get sponsored per se. I just was passionate about skating, and people liked that so they wanted to fuel my potential. As for getting on teams in the past—it’s one thing to be told something, and it’s another for someone to actually pull the trigger. So much so that when Bill Weiss called to ask me to ride for Blind I had to call him back the next day, to make sure he said he wanted me on the team. I convinced myself I had made it up, or misinterpreted what was actually said. Probably from being misled in the past so much, I couldn’t fathom that Bill had a plan for me. That it was something real, tangible and actually going to happen.

That’s really rare. Most sponsorship stories these days—especially ones from outside California—involve sending the token footy tape, and grinding it out like that.
I was really fortunate to get some free gear from sponsors right away, when I just started skating. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the good people at Centre Distribution that recognized my potential at a young age, I don’t know if I’d still be skating. My single mom trying to keep a roof over my brothers’ and my heads was enough to limit every single cent spent. We couldn’t afford food or heat a lot of the time, but she did the absolute best she could with what she had. That being said, I gotta thank everyone that helped me along the way, with every and anything they threw my way. It’s been a series of happy accidents, dedication, perseverance and a lot of hard work that led me to where I am now. I feel really fortunate to have gotten my spot in an industry with such an oversaturated talent pool, and not a lot of free budget. It feels great to be here, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

You’re in Japan right now. What are you doing there?
Japan is unreal. The cultural differences are astounding, and it was surreal to stand at the famous Shibuya crossing with hundreds of people in the middle of the street. One thing I can say for sure is that the future of Japan’s skateboarding lies secure with the new generation.  The 2020 Olympics better watch out, ’cause there are some seriously talented kids on the come-up over there.  Japan is about to make its mark on skating in the very near future.

“SWITCHMADE IS MY CREW, MY BRAND, MY HOMEYS, AND A LIFESTYLE ALL AT ONCE. IT’S SOMETHING I RECOGNIZE IN CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, AN ASPIRATION TO DO BETTER.”

I asked Cody . What do you think he said about you?
You want me to put myself in Cody’s brain? Wouldn’t that kind of be like mind fucking him?  I don’t do that to my homeys. Just kidding, not a clue. He’s the man, that’s all I know.

Nah, he just said that on trips you guys would talk a lot about nutrition, and staying healthy. So, do you have a sticker-placement routine for repping all your sponsors?
Mountain Dew sticker on the nose, the rest depends on the graphic. Whatever I feel looks organic or natural on the board.

 

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Mickey Papa took home first place in the Rail section for Blind in the Dew Tour Team Challenge. Photo: Chami (Click to enlarge)

What do you do, hobby-wise, when you’re not skating?
I wish I still had time for hobbies—usually I don’t even get time to practice for contests. With so many tasks I take on I should probably prioritize setting boundaries as a hobby! However, I do love to learn about nutrition and wellness, alongside playing guitar, shooting pool, editing videos, playing with Photoshop or reading about business strategies. I guess you could say my hobby is “self improvement.”

Speaking of, what is Switchmade? I’ve heard that it’s your own brand.
Switchmade is my crew, my brand, my homeys, and a lifestyle all at once. It’s something I recognize in certain individuals, an aspiration to do better. Something like the Japanese philosophy of kaizen—never stagnant, always moving forward. Making progress or making switches that positively affect your circumstances. If you’re not satisfied with where you’re at today, what can you do now to be in a place that does satisfy you tomorrow? Switchmade is obviously a play on words, with skating switch, but also making a switch if it benefits your development in whatever it is you’re working on. Currently we have one collab shoelace belt with Lacorda threads available, and a few other products that we’re working on. The full-scale launch is coming soon—so be on the lookout!

Other related articles from Blind:
A Local in A Forign Land, TJ Rogers Has Become A True Traveling Man

The Next Major Threat on the Competition Scene: Trey Wood Interview

Cody McEntire on How Skateboarding Can Really Mess With Your Brain Chemestry, And Other Topics

Best of Blind: Dew Tour Team Challenge Long Beach 2016