Everybody knows a guy that could fit in the category of « Alien ». These people are always admired but often misunderstood. These guys will do some of the most astonishing, thought to be impossible type tricks, and you can`t possibly understand their process. Most of the time it’s them that will write history, because their stories are always shared and remembered. Chris St-Cyr is definitely that Alien from the Montreal skate scene. When he shows up, you always know that something is gonna happen, and make that day memorable. And just wait `til you meet Mason Cluett!
Mason, Gap to crooked, Montreal
Chris, how old are you, and where do you live?
Chris– I live in Montreal and I’m 28 years old, been skating for 21 years. But I did not really skate stuff the first 4 years, I broke all my bycicles in the pit next to my house. At one point my father did’t want to buy me more bikes. So my cousin gave me a skateboard, and I went to school skateboarding.
Did you always live in Montreal?
Chris– No, I come from Repentigny.
How was the skate scene in Repentigny?
Chris– There was fuck all man! Well, there were older guys, but from my age there was nobody who skated. It was really until my 10/11 years, they opened a skatepark right next to us, indoor. It made a boom in the area, and everyone started to skate. Even all the older guys started to skate again. That’s when I realized you could do stuff, otherwise for me it was just the Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson.
How did skateboarding come into the picture for you, out of the Ninja Turtles?
Chris– Seeing some older high school guys, they did some tre-flips, « Oh! This guy is a magician! », I found it magical, there’s something Shaman inside, it’s magic with skateboarding.
Chris, Switch crooked, Quebec
How old are you, and where are you living Mason?
Mason– I’m 22 and I’m from the south-shore. I’m living in Delson.
Oh, you are neighbour of Phil Dulude?
Have you started to skate with him?
Mason– No, I had other friends from the local skatepark. I’ve never skated with him. I would see him sometimes.
Oh you’ve never had a sesh together?
Mason– No, we live right beside each other.
Have you been to his house?
Mason– I’ve been inside once, but mostly skated the ramp that his dad built. It`s amazing, they have ramps everywhere! Rails and half pipes in their court.
Mason, Kickflip noseslide, Montreal
How did you start skateboarding?
Mason– I don`t even know, I think I hit my head too many times ahaha. All I remember is having a board, not getting one. I remember I saw it on TV or something, and I was like « I wanna do that! », you know?
When did you start?
Mason– I started when I was 6 or 7, just like cruising around and then started to get into it more, popping tricks and stuff. But I never had the right board, my first board was some flat « Yu-Gi-Oh », from Canadian Tire. But I would see the other kids and older guys riding real boards with the tail and everything, and I was like « fuck, I want that ». So I broke my board on purpose, and I told my dad it snapped and that I needed a new one. So he got a new one, and when he actually saw that this is what I wanted to do, he started to put more money into it.
“a security guard chasing him for a
first-try line. He shut down the demo, in front of Jamie Thomas and everyone else.”
What was your first real board?
Mason– It was an Eric Koston Girl board, my dad bought me the full set up, like Royal Trucks, I forget the wheels and the bearings, must have been some Bones Bearings.
And you Chris?
Chris– The one my cousin gave me, it was an old oldschool board shaped like a boat, like a Powell-Peralta something like that. But my real first skate, was a Bones Brigade.
Chris, coming from left bank, Ollie over the poles to the right bank, Montreal
Who were the first local-hero skaters you’ve seen?
Chris– I never really look up to the world that are in the videos, it’s mostly locals, like among others Merlin. When I was kid, at the skatepark next to my house, Merlin came from his squat once in a while, and it was like everyone stopped skating! You were just watching him, the guy was doing Kickflip Backside Melon 7 feet higher than the coping. When I was a kid, I wanted to skate like him. He was better than any pro.
Do you have a story about Merlin?
Chris– I was too young to understand that he was on the drink, but you saw him, he was loose, he arrived in the park and it was all first try! He left for 5mins, he was probably drinking a beer or something, and then he came back, landed trick after trick.
At a Circa demo, back in the days at Hochelaga, they had done one in a parking lot, with a set up KC project. Merlin was in the audience with everyone, and it was like Jamie Thomas and these guys kept doing the same thing. At one point, he was just sick of seeing only smith grinds and lipslides, so he stole a board from someone, jumped over the fence, and had a security guard chasing him for a first-try line. He shut down the demo, in front of Jamie Thomas and everyone else.
Mason– Oh fuck, Malade!
“When I saw the Baker video, I was sold! Ahaha, I was like « Fuck yeah, party! »”
Mason, Tre-flip to fakie, Quebec
Who was your local-hero, Mason?
Mason– When I was kid, I didn’t follow all that stuff. I was skating cause I wanted to skate. I didn’t have magazines or watch videos. It was more by myself, doing my own thing. But the first video I saw was probably the Rodney Mullen VS Daewon Song and a 411VM video. I guess I saw Ryan Sheckler when he was young and going big, jumping down big stuff. I wanted to do that, but I didn’t have any influences, I didn`t even have friends to skate with. My dad brought me to the skatepark and I would skateboard by myself.
What was your first spot or skatepark?
Mason– For sure South-Park on Tachereau, the indoor park! My dad would sit and watch me skate. Be by myself, little kid, no friends, no nothing.
And then when I started to get older and talk more, I finally found some friends that I would skate with, that was cool. But being an English kid, everybody around was French and I didn’t really speak it. Once I got friends and stuff it was sick, because skating alone is hard.
Chris– The skatepark next to me, but it was $10, I went once in a while. Otherwise next to me, there was the city hall, it’s a big spot where the little scene from my hood was going. It’s like a plaza with lots of manny pad and curbs.
Who were the guys from your hood?
Chris– Jason McDonald, he skated on Temple for a while. LP Brunelle, he came from Riviere-Des-Prairies, it’s not close but he came to skate often, when we saw him we were like: “oh shit!”.
When did you come to Montreal?
Chris– At about 12 years old, the summer before high school I secretly caught the bus.
It was the beginning of the 2000s, they had just made the square Berri. There were spots in marble, full of spots everywhere. I was surprised, I saw the whole city like a skatepark. Big difference when you come from a small village where there is nothing to skate.
Mason– 4 years ago I started coming maybe. When I turned 18, I was like, « Alright, I`m gonna go drink and stuff ». It was insane, too much stuff everywhere, but don’t know where to go either, that’s the thing. It`s only like the last 2 years that I started to film and actually find spots. But when I first came and skated here, I was like « holy fuck, everything is different » and more rough, you know? More rugged and stuff.
“You have to accept the pain”
Who is the best in Canada for you?
Mason– Chris! Ahaha he killin` it!
Chris– In Montreal, at this moment I would say the 2 Ians! Ian Clelland and Ian Tremblay! The last 2 years they’ve killed it the most.
Clelland, it’s been a while that he`s killing it. People just discovered him recently, I`ve known him a long time, like when he was still living in Ontario. He he was skating with the boys from Axis, he was still a kid. I’ve always known him really well, we met at least 7 years ago.
Chris– Stephane Lalonde too, guys like Carl Labelle. There were a lot of people like that who stopped who were close to being pro.
Any skate videos you’ve been glued too?
Chris– Menikmati, the part with Penny! I watched it 1001 times on VHS when I was kid. Otherwise I’d say Flip – Sorry, this is the first time I saw a film at a “premiere” in front of Peace Park. In addition, film had fucked up, there were problems with the premiere. I would say that movies back in the days were more prominent too. The companies were waiting 4/5 years to release their films. You did not have a video every 2 weeks that came out. And the films of Eric Lebeau were great, I always found these remarkable, his manner of editing the stuff.
Lebeau is super creative, you always remember his videos!
Mason– Yeah, I’ve been on trips with that dude! He sees everything differently. Just to see him filming in a different direction,like « What is he doing? » ahaha.
He’s got a good vision!
Chris– Bootleg too, I found it more sick than Baker, it’s a company that doesn’t exist anymore. With Ryan Nix, he was fucking good!
Mason– When I saw the Baker video, I was sold! Ahaha, I was like « Fuck yeah, party! »
Chris– All the other videos when I was kid, like 411 or whatever, it was like “athletes”. It was one of the things that turned me off of it, I didn`t check the videos so much, I found that was wack a bit. In my time, it was the X-games that you saw on RDS, and I did not find that nice with their helmets and their pads. When an older dude showed me the Baker 2G at the skateshop, I was like «hoooooo! ok that’s it!!» That’s the other side of skateboarding! ULC also in time, their old movies were also cool.
Chris, Coming from right bank, Hurricane transfer to left bank, Montreal
Chris, you’re not the kind to warm up before skate a spot, you just go for it. What is your secret?
Chris– At some point, you understand that you could never do your thing as beautiful, as naturally, as when you do it first try. Even if the land isn`t first try, you must first-try it. And go naturally without thinking.
If you see something in your head, and it’s real, if you believe it for real, go for it. When you see the people on the rails that hesitate, it’s almost sure that they will hurt themselves. But if he thought “oh! I can do it”, he may not have it, but it will not hurt. I try to think less about it. That’s it, when I think about it, I hurt myself. I am someone who analyzes a lot, I will analyze all the negatives factors and that’s when I’m going to hurt myself.
But, how did you have that vision of skateboarding, did it came to you naturally? Or you learned it from someone else?
Chris– Before I was not like that, I thought too much. I just found my solution to make it as painless as possible!
Mason– If you feel it, you will do it, if not then save it for later.
Chris– That’s it, I can do it, but do I feel it today? Is it the right day? It’s all about timing. Skateboarding is Shaman, man. You have to try to control, but at the same time things are not controllable. You will try to be able to control what you can control.
Mason– You have to accept the pain, haha!
Its like a mental barrier, you have to get over it.
Chris– That’s why I do not like it to shoot so much. Because if you`re there with the photographer or filmer at the spot, but you don`t feel it that day.
Then you feel like you`re forced to do it! Plus it takes me at least 20mins to set up and everything, you have lots of time to lose your focus.
Chris– Lebeau he knows me well, he told you about it this summer. I have fun to land as many tricks as possible before he set up his camera. That’s why now he’s taking the camera right away.
It’s not to play with the people, it’s just to take the pressure off me.
Mason, C-turn to frontside lipslide, Montreal
Weed before or after the sesh?
Chris– What is that question? You know me Babas!
Yes, you are before-after and everything in the middle, and you take some advance for the next day, haha!
Chris– I realized that this year for skateboarding, smoking is not the best. I`d rather have the heal-balls.
Your special pills you mean?
Chris– Yes, but these days what I take is some weed butter.
Are you making some toast in the morning with it?
Chris– Yes, in the coffee it is not bad, it’s kind of unctuous. It’s more a body feeling. It’s different, you’re mellow but you’re good. I am someone hyperactive. I pound the nerves easily. It’s like the dudes that get nerves on their skateboard, when I was kid I was like that. And then I discovered the weed. I was like, you had to cool down man, it’s not good to get the nerves on your skateboard.
Was what in your pills?
Chris– It’s from canabidiol extract, but I had 2 kinds, one was CBD plus for the mind, and the other one was more for the sleep.
“I found it magical, there’s something Shaman inside, it’s magic with skateboarding.”
That was the one you had this summer on trip?
Chris– No it was another one, that was the magic potion ahah.
What about you Mason?
Mason– All the time, with a couple of beers haha!
Tell us about your trip to Toronto you made for the Mehrathon video?
Mason– That was fucking sick! It was my first trip with them. There is so many spots in Toronto. That Skydome spot with the big stairs and a rail. We went at night after going to a restaurant, I was drunk and felt nothing but I was like, « yeah I`m gonna do something on this, we will come back tomorrow! » and the next morning my ankle was fucked, I couldn’t walk so I couldn’t do it, I was so bummed.
Chris– That’s what I used to say, skateboarding and momemtum. Even if you were drunk, but you felt it. If you had tried, you would not feel your ankle because you were drunk, you would have had it, or not. Because your state of mind “I got it”.
Mason– Yeah, because I wanted to kickflip front board down it, so I was doing 20 kickflips up top. But the next morning I was paralyzed.
Chris, Sugarcane, Montreal
You are both on Palm Isle skateshop, how did you get in?
Mason– I was skating the contest « wednesday night » thing, and I was going to the shop and getting to know Oli, I think I sent some footage. After a while he told me « Yep, you’re on! ». Oli is doing a lot for me.
Chris– I rode for another shop before that I’m not really proud of, and the manager of this shop played in a band. In that time Palm Isle had 3 owners. It had Frank Ouellet, he played bass in that band with the manager with whom I got along well with at the shop that sponsored me. When this shop closed, he made me meet Frank. I was on the north shore, and Palm Isle was on the south shore. I went there, I dropped down on Friday, they had like an apartment in the backstore and the dude was hanging on the weekends to go skate with the older guys. At the time Palm Isle gave nothing to their riders, but it was not a question of being cheap or whatever, they started it with $5,000 or less. You wanted to ride for them, to be in that crew not to have free boards. Otherwise I would have been on Empire or that kind of crap.
Yeah Palm Isle is a real family!
Chris– At the time it was called the skate mafia. Just because they’ve had this crew and colors, you wanted to have the fucking hoodie of the Palm, you wanted to be part of the squad.
You recognize the real, those who need to pay to have people who represent them, and those who represent for real.
Chris, how would you describe Mason?
Chris– I have not known him for so long, the first time I had skated with Mason was on the roadtrip to Quebec. To be honest, I tried to a hate a little. Because we were an old family of the Palm, and made him part of the new school. Deep down I was trying to hate you a little. But dude, he is too smooth, you see he likes to have fun, and he is fucking good! It’s mostly what shook me, it’s natural. He is down for flip-in on rails, but not necessarily to get a shot. Because there are some who are like « Do you think it could go in the mag? » You see that Mason skates for himself.
Mason, how would you describe Chris?
Mason– He’s fuckin` fresh! Fuckin`fresh dude! He sees things so differently, like you said, we will walk somewhere, find some stuff, and just find something fuckin` rad! He will make you to want to skate more.
Mason, Kinked boardslide, Laval. Photo Monk Lavoie
Thanks and sponsors?
Mason– Shake Junt, Palm Isle, Mehrathon, Emerica, Timebomb, Furn, Independent, Centre Distribution. Family, all my friends, everybody who has been there and who helped me out when times were rough. Thanks a lot.
Chris– Palm Isle, and thanks to everybody who helped me through life. I can’t remember everybody.
Mason– Merci Babas!
Chris– Yes, merci Babas.
INTERVIEW & PHOTO BY BABAS LEVRAI / EXCEPT MENTIONNED