Hometown: Las Vegas
Nick Michel (like Michael, not Mitchell or Michelle) might not be a household name in skateboarding yet, but he’s about to be, so you’d better get to know him. He’s one of the best new dudes out there, with the added bonus of having his head screwed on straight. We asked Lottie’s Skateshop owner, Mike Gigliotti, to call Nick up and hit record. Here goes.
Alright, so we’re doing this interview for Monster Children. A lot of these questions I’m kinda curious about too, ‘cause it’s not necessarily shit we’ve talked about.
So, you’re from Las Vegas?
Yeah, born and raised.
Is there a big skate scene out there? Is it exclusive to skateparks?
You could say it’s more exclusive to skateparks, for sure. I feel like right now it’s past its time as far as it being big [in the skate world]. I’d say the golden age of the scene—or whatever you wanna call it—was back when I was in elementary or middle school. You know, people were still filming videos. People are still filming videos and stuff now, but it’s only so often and it seems like there’s certain groups of skaters these days, like crews you know.
Would you say Vegas is a good place to skate?
I’d say it’s hit or miss. I feel like when people visit, that’s what they say. Either they have a great time or it’s whatever, it could have been better. That could be due to the weather, ‘cause it gets so fucking hot there. I’d say there’s a good amount of spots, but at the same time there’s not much. It’s kind of hard to explain. There’s a ton of ditches and stuff like that.
Throughout history, Vegas has had a lot of rad people come out of it: Kenny Anderson, Braydon (Szafranski), (Sammy) Baca. I was actually curious, how did you link up with Frog (skateboard company) and meet Jesse Alba, Chris Milic and those dudes?
Well, I met Mango a few years back. I think he came to Vegas on a homie trip. They stayed at my friend’s house, so we just all went skating together. I think he watched one of my video parts or something, and he wanted to send me boards not long after it started. I was skating for that company Heroin at the time and I was fairly new to that. I had already been a huge fan of Chris and had looked up to him, same with Jesse, and I already liked Frog since the beginning. I just didn’t want to like, dip on Heroin so fast, you know? So, I kinda turned that down the first couple times. I think before I met Chris, I’d met Jesse a couple of times from going to New York and stuff, but I didn’t really hang out with him until he came to Vegas on an Atlantic Drift trip a couple years back. I got to know Jesse, and he was down for me to skate for Frog, and by that time I had started to get over Heroin and didn’t really want to skate for it anymore. Chris asked me again if I wanted to skate for Frog and once I knew that everyone was down, it all went down.
Jesse and Chris have an interesting thing going. I love Frog. I love seeing the people (in the shop) who like it and the videos. Both Jesse and Chris, even before I met them, being in New York City we always used to watch old Chris videos when he used to film with Erik Winkowski and those guys. I used to love looking at all their shit.
Old Welcome stuff inspired me so much.
What are you working on right now?
Pretty much just the Lotties x Vans thing for now. Your shoe that’s comin’ out soon (laughs). You want me to talk about that yet?
I mean you can, that’s fine; I just didn’t know if you had other projects you were working on.
No, not really. I think there’s a Frog video that’s supposed to come out pretty soon, just some random footage. I have no idea what’s up with it actually. I think (Daniel) Wheatley sent over some clips. I don’t know, aside from that I’m not really working on anything aside from the Lotties thing, which is unfortunately being pushed back a little bit.
Yeah, because of quarantine. But I guess that could be a good thing ‘cause it gives a couple people more time. What are you doing for quarantine, have you been skating?
I’ve been skating a bit. Not every single day, I’ll probably skate every few days or something. Other than that, I’ve just been chilling really hard at home, watching movies, listening to podcasts and music, stuff like that. Not a whole lot, it’s been pretty boring, especially just being at home in Vegas. It’s the longest I’ve been at home all at once in a long time. It’s not the worst thing ever.
What kind of music have you been listening to?
I’ve been listening to that band Pavement a bunch, and Smashing Pumpkins. A lot of Weezer, random rap.
Do you go and skate parks or curbs during the quarantine?
I’ve actually been skating this park in Vegas that was the first skatepark ever built. It’s basically just these little banks and these flat bars. Recently these older skaters went and put curbs on top of the banks and filled in these really big cracks that were all over the park, so it’s a lot of fun. Right next to it is this hockey rink with a little yellow wall going all the way around it which is waxed like a ledge. You can just go in circles forever and it’s the best.
We have a slappy spot that I’ve been going to every single day if I’m not at the shop packing online orders and stuff.
Which one is that, Costco?
Yeah, we’ve been going there but there is another one near where Rowan (Zorilla) and I live that’s been fun to go to. There’s a strict ‘no Instagram’ policy for the time being, so no one blows it up. It’s getting so good right now. We’ve seen a couple really harsh crews show up and we’re like ‘Fuck, how did people find out about this?’ Certain people put it on Instagram and… Oh god. So, you just came to LA to buy a car off Wheatley, is it your first car?
Yeah, it’s my first car so I’m pretty excited. 2006 Honda Civic.
Alright, here’s a question I always liked reading in interviews. It doesn’t have to be in order—is there a list of five skaters that have influenced you?
It’s funny, I’m in like a little Instagram text thing with my two friends and randomly one of them just asked ‘Top 10 favourite skaters, go.’ I’m pretty sure my top 10 went a little something like Julien Stranger, Nik Stain, John Cardiel, Dan Drehobl, Wade Speyer, my friend Evan Wasser, you know him, he’s for sure one of my favourites. Who else, man…
That’s a good list right there.
Just people who skate really fast and are able to skate everything; I’m really into stuff like that. People that rip skateparks, I love watching old Anti Hero videos where they just skate all these gnarly tranny parts.
Danny Brady recently told me that I look and dress like Dan Drehobl. He didn’t say I skate like him, or that I’m as cool as him, just that I dress and look like him. He’s like, ‘Who’s that one guy, he’s always got a cigarette? You dress like him, you know flannels and stuff?’ I’m like, ‘Drehobl?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, you look like him.’ That is a really solid list of people that can also skate street really well too. Nik Stain, I don’t know if the world knows or watched his old like Bruns parts, but he can destroy a fuckin’ ramp.
Yeah, he can do it all and he looks fuckin’ great doing it. It’s awesome. Also, and I know this is kind of a typical answer, but all my friends. Honestly, everyone that I’m friends with… I’m friends with some really amazing skaters. Everyone that was in Daniel Dent’s last video, With the Apple. I’m really thankful to be doing stuff with them still, doing stuff with Daniel Dent after years of filming in Vegas, it’s awesome. And then becoming friends with all these people, like Mango and Jesse. If you told me five or six years ago that I’d be riding for Chris’ company and really good friends with those guys, I wouldn’t believe it.
How old are you?
You’ve done a lot in a short amount of time. How’s everything with Vans going? I see you’ve gone on a bunch of trips with them and been featured in stuff affiliated with Vans.
It’s great. They’re taking really good care of me and they have me fully on the team, which is still really crazy to me that I’m able to do that. Especially just being a kid from Vegas, still living there right now. Stuff like that doesn’t happen very often for people out there. Not very many people make it so far out of Vegas. It just means they’re down for me and they want me to go on trips and be a part of the actual thing. It’s like a dream come true. Yeah, big thanks to Johnny Layton, Frank Mare and Zach Sheats. Those guys are the best.
Frank and Zach rule, luckily for me I’ve gotten to see them a couple of times in this quarantine. They’ll ride their bikes over and skate the curbs and stuff. Let me think of a question… Alright, you’re a young dude, riding for cool companies. Do you feel pressure or do you feel pretty comfortable in your lane?
No, not at all. I don’t feel pressure to perform or do contests or anything like that. Those companies aren’t pushing me to do any of that stuff, which is cool. I’m still able to just skate and do what I want, pretty much. I’m still just doing what I was already doing; it’s the best thing.
I definitely see what you’re saying. Coming from Vegas, it’s not like every kid gets those opportunities to travel and stuff like that.
Yeah, it’s such an insane feeling. I wouldn’t say I get overwhelmed by it, but I just think back on it sometimes and I just feel really grateful for it all, that it was able to work.
Do you have plans for after quarantine is lifted or is everything still pretty up in the air?
It’s hard to say when things will be chill again, because I think things are pretty fucked. So, I guess things are up in the air, but once quarantine is over I want to move to LA. I think getting a car was a good first step. I’m saving money, so I’m hoping at some point toward the end of the year I’ll be able to make the move and be around all my friends.
Hopefully sooner than later we can get back to a version of somewhat normal and get on some skate trips again. Hang out without fear of transmitting some virus.
Yeah, it’s so fucked, man, so scary.
You’re driving back to Vegas today?
Tomorrow. I think I’m gonna skate a little, maybe head back middle of the day or something. I’m not really in a rush, there’s no shit to do.
Well shit, dude, I’m gonna hang up. Actually, I’m gonna stop recording so I can tell you where our secret skate spot is.