For our latest On Rotation interview, we catch up with one of Element Skateboards’ finest Dominick Walker. We dive into his recent music interests, new discoveries, and what it takes to find the right song for his next video project. Dominick also hand-selected fifteen tracks to get you hyped up to go skate or help with landing that new trick.
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to?
I’m open to all music. I’m more into hip-hop, rap, and I would say what would be like Witch? Indie rock? African rock?
I think they call that like stoner metal type music.
I back it. I never like calling it that [stoner metal] because it gives it a bad rep.
Yeah, I like calling it shoegaze because they’re always staring down at their shoes where the pedals are while playing guitar.
Damn, that’s sick! I back that name. That goes really hard. You just taught me something that’s sick.
So I recently have been taping more into African rock because I heard about Power and Witch, and like Fela Kuti, I’ve been listening to a bit of that. This guy named Black Coffee, he’s super sick. I don’t necessarily know if he’s like electronic music or drum and bass. I don’t know what his genre would be.
It looks like he’s categorized as a house DJ, and he’s from South Africa. What turned you onto an African-based music artist?
Pretty funny, being out with Nyjah [Huston] he’s into house music and Black Coffee came up, and I’m not always too familiar with that whole genre in general, so when I find an artist that I really like their music I to dive in and see what they’re all about. Between him and a couple of other people, Black Coffee has been on my mind. The reason he’s rad is that he literally DJ with one hand and no headphones. Unfortunately, he had a stroke, so like his left side of his body doesn’t necessarily work too well, but his right side does. He just knows his music and his on point. No headset and one-handed.
What are some of the hip-hop and rap artist you like playing?
I’m all over the board. Let see I’ve been on Jay Dilla, Dom Kennedy, Roddy Ricch… RIP to Pop Smoke, we were bumping some Pop Smoke, Vince Staples, Waka Flocka. That’s an all-time favorite of mine. He’s always been someone that I kind of like funnel back to for stoke. He’s always someone who hyped me up since I was a young kid. Chief Keef, c’mon dude, you can’t miss Chief Keef.
So Cheif Keef and Waka Flocka are your go-to for hype songs to go skate?
When I’m trying to get hyped to go skate, I’ll definitely go with Chief Keef. There’s no doubt about it. You put on any Chief Keef; I’ll know the song, and I’ll be able to sing it. Chief Keef, that’s my dawg.
Do you ever rock the headphones on the session?
If I’m really trying to get into it and like learn a trick or if I’m just going to focus on something then I’ll throw on the earphones, but I’m not opposed to taking them off and hanging with my friends. When I was younger, I always used to run the headphones, and now I enjoy interacting with everybody. But like for Dew Tour, I put my headphones in because I want to be able to focus and it’s fun being with everybody but I’ve done that for so many years where you show up and enjoy yourself versus really tap into the contest to see how good you can do. So headphones have been a way to focus straight on the contest.
So you do throw them on while at a contest.
Yeah, if I’m at a contest, I’ll throw on headphones to focus on myself. For instance, at Tampa this year, I had so many friends there, it was an amazing experience, but you don’t want to hear like, ‘oh you got it!’ or, ‘you got 30 seconds!’ You don’t want to hear anything. You just want to know the tricks you want to do and how you want to do them, and you want to have the song on repeat. That way it’s the same as the tricks because that contest weekend it’s all about that one run pretty much. So when you have that one song, it helps to tap in on a repetitive mindset.
Do you mostly listen to hip-hop songs while you’re competing?
I actually had an electronic song playing for Tampa, and it was just some song that I found on Spotify randomly on shuffle, and that song was going so hard that I refused to listen to any other song. Literally, put it on repeat and kept the same vibe the whole time. It was cool because it doesn’t have words, so you don’t get caught up in the message. You just get caught up in the vibes, and if your vibes are good at the contest, then everything seems to click. Even if things might not work out, you still have the determination to finish strong because the song is going so hard.
Do you remember the name of the song that you were playing at Tampa?
Its called Whereyougonnago? By Jitwam. It so random, but I thought it was cool.
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You mentioned you play your music on Spotify. How are you finding new music these days?
The goal is to find a song you enjoy, hit shuffle, and find more songs you enjoy. It’s like the black hole of music. You basically go so far in that like you don’t even know where you’re at, and it’s funny because my Liked playlist reflects that. You’ll see it will be like a bunch of jam rock and then it’ll be Reggie music and a bunch of hip-hop, and a bunch of new guys, and oldies. There are eras, and that’s when I try to chop that down into playlists. That way, I can get just my oldies or just my 90s jams or just the new stuff like Lil Uzi. I’m all over the place, but I try to shuffle it around to get the best of all the world.
Did any skate videos open you up to new music?
Every skate video did. I use to watch Almost Round 3 a lot and TransWorld Skateboarding’s Subtitles. So like those songs are different like Stefan’s [Janoski]. I took a liking to those songs just for the feelings they gave me. It makes me happy seeing one of my favorite skaters skate to a really good song.
How about on tour in the van?
That’s how I learned about Power with some Element guys like Cole Matthews playing those songs in the van. It’s different when you listen to them in person versus watch them in a video part because you get to tap into the artist and where that song comes from. So skate videos opened me up to looking deeper into artist just like within a skateboarder. It’s not always about the skating it’s about the other rad stuff that they do.
What do you look for in a song to use in a video part?
I’m working on a video part, and for me right now, the most crucial part is the music. With everything being so rights-oriented, it’s been difficult to try and lock in a song that you can also get a response from the company, and that’s just been an ongoing battle.
It’s cool to be able to dive in and learn about these artists because, just like with life or skateboarding, you might meet your favorite artist and have an opportunity to reach out to them and make a relationship with the people you thought were just your favorite band. Next thing you know, you’re hanging out with them. I’ve seen that with like Stefan, he did that with The Violent Femmes, and it just started with him being stoked on the band. Next thing you know, Nike made that dream come true, and that’s something that I plan on doing. Hopefully not only reaching out to these artists but possibly creating a relationship behind it.
For right now, I can tell you I’m looking for an energetic song, possibly like rap or hip-hop. I’ve skated to Ray Barbee’s music in the Element video [Peace], which was courtesy of Jon Miner. I thought it was really cool that Miner put me on to Ray Barbee’s song. I just want my part to look great and to have a great song that people will love to watch over and over. Looking for a timeless song, whether it be hip-hop, rock, anything.
How much influence have you had on selecting a song in previous parts?
Not so much in the Element Peace part. Miner did us a solid and decided to put our stuff to what he thought would be rad. [Editor’s note: Dominick shared a part with Nyjah Huston.] I wasn’t opposed to that. This part, I’m excited to be a little more hands-on and pick the artist that I like and hopefully be able to reach out to them and personally ask them for that song.
You mentioned experiencing the difficulties that come with trying to license a song. If you could choose any song, all rights free, what would be your dream song?
A dream song would probably be a Chief Keef, or Kendrick Lamar would be insane. A Jay Z song would be out of control. If I had to sum it down to one artist, I would honestly say an old Lil Wayne song like a real dope one that we all know and love. I would love to be able to skate to a Lil Wayne song. It’s in between Chief Keef or Lil Wayne. I would love to use one of their most premier songs.
Let’s switch gears a bit. Growing up, what was being played around you?
I grew up around my grandmother and a lot of older people. I have a lot of siblings, and they were always listening to Nas, The Fugees, and Biggie, but my grandma was playing oldies like The Temptations, The Five Heartbeats, Al Green, and things like that. So it was a lot of oldies and 90s rap. I didn’t know about any rock songs until I dove into skating and watching videos. For me, it was skate videos and Tony Hawk’s video game that introduced me to hearing other music that was on repeat.
Are you a fan of concerts?
Oh yeah, I can’t remember the last concert I went to because it feels so long ago. I use to have a homegirl who worked at the Observatory in Santa Ana and I use to get into a lot of concerts for free. I’ve been to a lot of festivals. I saw Cam’ron at the Diamond store.
What was the last big festival you went to?
The last big festival was during New Year’s it was me, Nyjah and all the boys and we went to this thing called Decadence in Arizona. That was like an electronic music festival. It was just a good time with the boys.
Do you ever jump on the karaoke MIC?
Yeah, for sure, I don’t have a go-to song, but if I had one, it would be the song that goes ‘I can’t go for that, no, no can do’ [I can’t Go For That by Daryl Hall & John Oates ]. Theotis [Beasley] skated to that song. That song is just funny to sing or Akon’s Lonely. ‘I’m so looooonley.’ (laughs).