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MX News Update 2024

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TURNING CLASSIC SKATE SOUNDTRACKS INTO AN NTS RADIO SHOW


Have you ever wanted to make sweet love to the R&B hits of your favorite skate videos or perhaps wanted to cook dinner with the musical stylings of Strobeck’s Stallion keeping you company? Well, not to sound like an 80s infomercial, but now YOU can!

Gian Quagliano hosts Skate Muzik, an NTS Radio show out of Milan that repurposes the music of classic skate videos into tasteful radio episodes. Each hour long episode is themed by a genre of music, a special video or artist important to skating and gives a musical deep dive found nowhere else.

The show has been graced by legends, including Gino Iannucci and Patrick O’dell, who offer their insights about their sonic choices and musical favorites. Because Gian has dedicated so much time to listening and mixing skate soundtracks, I wanted to know where his passion for music and skateboardings lengthy relationship was coming from.

Read through for his takes on Wu-Tang, his humble beginnings at MTV and the plague of passionless DJs.

Who’s an artist used in a skate video that you hope never gets used again?
No one should ever use Primus again after Pat Duffy’s Questionable part (laughs).

Do you think a song can ruin a skate video?
If a video part is sick, music can make it better. It can amplify the cool of a video part. It can also make it less enjoyable for certain viewers, but if it’s good it’s good. Music can make a very good skate video great or from great to iconic, but it’s not like a bad song will make a video part suck. You’ll still appreciate the skateboarding, even if you have to turn the volume down a little.

We talk about music rights in skateboarding a lot, and how these iconic soundtracks from the 90s can’t be recreated anymore because of copyright laws. What’s your take on the matter?
You might notice that I have a high consideration of skateboarders as people. If you’re a skateboarder, and you fell in love with it, you’ve probably got great taste. We’ve always been a little bit ahead of the times, creating and setting the trends for future groups of people. With that being said, for us it’s a way to dig more and discover new music that will be the iconic music of the future.

Skate videos and clips are released every day, so it makes sense for people to not want to use another Method Man song or another artist that has been used a lot in the past. It’s good. Sometimes I see YouTube comments like “Yo, what’s the song at 3:45,” or something like that. Typically the filmmaker who made the video is secretive about the songs, and it forces people to do their research and dig as well. A lot of these songs aren’t even on streaming platforms or have like 100 listens on BandCamp, so it forces people to discover something new.

So you like that these music rights issues are forcing people to dig and find new stuff again?
I think so. I really like the idea. Also, I see myself as a consumer and a fan as well, so I like watching skate videos and listening to something I would have never listened to before. Some stuff you can Shazam, and some you cannot. I enjoy that.

“I think Courtney Love got Kurt Cobain killed. Also, Wu-Tang is forever.”

Gun to your head give me your top 5 favorite artists.
I’m not great at top 5’s, but today is Ilmatic’s 30th anniversary and I’ve been listening to Nas all day. Other than that, I have a tattoo with a verse from “Shut the Door” by Fugazi on me. I think Biggie’s flow is still unmatched and I don’t like rappers with skinny pants. I listen to a lot of jazz, and I’m in love with Japanese jazz. I recently re-bought the Naked City-Torture Garden vinyl that I had lost, and I think Courtney Love got Kurt Cobain killed. Also, Wu-Tang is forever. Is that an ok answer?

HAHA. Where’s your affinity for Wu-Tang coming from?
Wu-Tang is one of my all time favorites for sure, but mostly 90s Wu-Tang. Don’t forget that I’m Italian and I grew up wanting to skate like Gino (Iannucci). Gino skating to the Wu at the time was probably what got me into them, and why I still to this day have the Wu-Tang logo as the screensaver of my phone, but it’s also a respect for the movement and their golden era.

Wasn’t one of your first episodes about jazz and skateboarding?
The very first NTS was played live, in the studio, and the first song I played was Traneing In by John Coltrane, the Gonz’ part in Blind Video Days. That was back when I still didn’t know I would be doing Skate Muzik for so long, so I wanted to play the best tracks.

Why do you think everyone thinks they can be a DJ nowadays?
It’s easy to approach the discipline and get paid to play music, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be a good DJ. You can buy a plane but that won’t make you a pilot. The thing is, some people don’t even want to be DJs because they love or know about music, they just want to do it for the “status” like being a DJ/ influencer which is pretty lame.

How’d you first get involved in music?
My first job was with MTV. In Italy you couldn’t make a living in skateboarding when I was looking for a job, but I could make a living through music. It was a way for me to be close to the things I liked. I worked at MTV for five years, and then I worked at the Italian National Radio for ten years. It’s all been very organic, and I’ve always been involved in skateboarding while doing music.

Milan is popping into skateboarding right now. How is that to see?
It’s deserved. I see kids from the city getting recognized around the world, and I can’t wait for the homies Vince (Palmer) and Nils (Matjias) to turn pro.

20 years ago, you couldn’t really think of having a career in skateboarding if you were from Italy. There were some amazing skateboarders back then in Milan who would have been pros these days, but people didn’t know about them because they were not featured in videos from the US or magazines. The scene right now is pretty exciting. Milan is doing a good job.

Why do you think certain artists get so popular and re-used in skating? For example, why does skateboarding love Daniel Johnston?
I think Daniel Johnston is kind of a genius. I don’t know much about him other than his music and aesthetic, the things that everyone could see, but I think skateboarders love his songs for the same reasons everyone else does. There’s a lot to be said in simplicity. Skateboarders have great taste when it comes to music, and everything else. If someone like Daniel is a skater’s favorite, it’s because he deserves it. Skaters get his music.

“If you don’t have good music taste you’re probably not a good person (laughs).”

Your show feels like a music deep dive, and it’s natural because I do the same thing after hearing certain songs in skate videos. Who have you discovered through doing your show?
There’s certain things I know well, like Jazz or Fugazi, where I can recite every song or whatever, but some episodes I’m discovering things right alongside the listener.

This happened with Navy Blue (Sage Elsesser’s music alias). I didn’t know about all the music he had been releasing, but I dug into his discography doing the episode and I learned all about his music. Navy in particular doesn’t have any tracks featured in skate videos, but the process is the same. Even if I wasn’t totally into Navy Blue it’s great to learn and discover. It’s not like I would feature everyone on Skate Muzik, it’s just the things I think are cool.

90s skateboarding is synonymous with rap. The 80s are synonymous with early punk. Do you think a certain genre works with skateboarding best?
If you can skate to a great jazz song, most of the time it’s a great part. 90s hip-hop and skateboarding is also a perfect combo. It’s powerful, smooth and stylish, and a lot of skate video parts I love feature different types of music, but I can’t get enough of watching someone skating to some jazz or hip-hop.

When I think of Jazz I think of Gonz. His skating looks like Jazz, how it’s spastic and natural. Do you think music can be a judge of someone’s personality?
Yeah, I think so. In a way if you don’t have good music taste you’re probably not a good person (laughs).

Would you consider yourself more of a music nerd or skate nerd?
Before starting the show I never considered myself a connoisseur of anything in particular, but doing this show has transformed me into a nerd, and I say nerd in a positive connotation. Whatever it is that you do, I like when people really get into it and want to know more and more. That’s what happened to me, and I learned so much through doing this show. When I’m with my friends we usually talk more about skateboarding, but all around I’m equally a nerd in skateboarding and music.

Will skateboarders ever be as cool as rockstars?
I think they’ve always been cooler than rockstars. The culture may have its ups and downs, and there’s plenty of bullshit in the skateboarding industry, but I’ll always look at the bright side and I’m very protective of skateboarding culture. We are the rock stars.