Thursday, December 7, 2023

Jak Pietryga – Slam TF Mixtape

by Chandler
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Jak Pietryga holds it down for Slam City as both a team rider and member of our warehouse crew. Between managing the warehouse, he’s often snagging a dope phone clip on a near daily basis. We remixed his footage at the Slam TF into one part and spoke to Jak about what he’s logged over the years.

‘Playing Around At Work’ – Jak Pietryga’s Slam TF Mixtape. Edit and interview by Farran Golding, filmed by Jak’s iPhone with assistance from Mark Jackson with cameos from Jacob Sawyer and David Mackey. YouTube version here.

If you follow Slam City or Slam team rider, Jak Pietryga on Instagram, the chances are you’ve seen him killing off our warehouse: the “Slam TF”.

Jak started working behind the scenes at Slam around eight years ago and joined the shop team in 2018. He’s long been one of the UK’s most productive skateboarders with an almost 20-year long videography of regular output, the most recent entry via Jake Martinelli’s Rugged Raw 3.

When not filming video parts, Jak’s day job is managing the smooth running of our warehouse and more often than not, squeezing in an hour to lay waste to the Slam TF’s block.

Following our recent Daewon Song interview, it was remarked by Jak’s friend and regular filmer, Kevin Parrott that his heavy output at the Slam TF calls to mind Daewon’s warehouse footage from the Deca days. Near immediately, Jak was asked to round up his clips…

He came back with literally a video part’s worth so, pulling from the same musical pool as Daewon did for 2nd To None, here they are presented as one. Enjoy the mixtape above alongside the interview below with Jak about his Slam TF adventures covering lunches well spent, his extensive bag of ledge tricks and appreciating Gino Iannucci’s approach to picnic tables.

Jak Pietryga at the Slam TF.
Jak Pietryga talks the Slam TF

You’ve been sponsored for long time but was the Slam warehouse the first time you’d had a regular job linked to skating?


Originally, I went for an interview to be the assistant manager of the Covent Garden store. I didn’t end up getting it but my interview was with Chris Pulman and Dave Atkinson. I guess they liked me because…

It was weird, actually. I was out with Joe Buddle and Harry Lintell, skating some off-key areas around Walthamstow where there are loads of industrial estates. I remember looking into a warehouse, seeing these guys working, thinking, “I could see myself doing a warehouse job.” 

I got home and Slam had posted up a job in the warehouse. I was like, “It’s meant to be,” [laughs]. I contacted them, Pulman came back to me straight away and I ended up getting a job.

It’s funny, I was basically working for Palace for the first few weeks because we shared a warehouse at the time. Slam were doing a move as well, we used to have a warehouse in Brick Lane which is where all my Nike packages got sent to. It was tiny space so they moved out here into the arse end of nowhere [laughs].

“Most of my footage is filmed on my lunch breaks, maybe going a bit over my allocated hour a few times…”

Ever show up early to have a roll around before work?

I never get an early skate in. Most of my footage is filmed on my lunch breaks, maybe going a bit over my allocated hour a few times…

How’s the Slam TF changed over the years you’ve been in there?

The Nike block was given to us after some event they had in town. That’s been there the whole time. I believe adidas wanted to do a wear test so they sent a bunch of obstacles which we ended up keeping but we’ve given away some.

It started off with just a ledge which suited me fine [laughs]. I think of lot my footage came from when we just had the ledge, actually. It slowly turned more into more of a “skatepark” as time has gone on.

How spontaneous are your sessions there? Are you just generally working then a trick comes to mind and it’s, like, “Right, that’s lunch sorted…”

Yeah. To be honest, a lot of the time if I don’t set up a camera to film, it’s dry.

I’m basically skating it by myself and there’s no reason to push yourself, you’ve got no-one to vibe off. That’s why that footage racked up, I guess. I wouldn’t try most of those things if I wasn’t going to get a clip from it.

When Tom Tanner was working here, that’s probably when the best sessions popped off. Good times.

Jak Pietryga skating the ledge at the Slam TF.
Switch heel backside tail, shove out on Jak’s favourite ledge at the Slam TF.

How often do you spend the whole day with a trick in mind, finish work, then before you know it you’ve sunk in a few hours?

I’ve never stayed late to do a trick. I’ve definitely gone past my lunch. Days when it’s quiet, I can get an hour in towards the end. Nothing’s ever gone past five o’clock. As soon as it hits five, I’m out of here regardless if I’ve done the trick. I’m getting that next train and going home [laughs]. 

So you filmed most of these tricks on your lunch breaks?

Yeah. The majority of the time I’m skating here is in winter too. These first few months of the year are quieter in so I’ll have a session and film a few things.

How much of a saviour is the Slam TF in winter?

It’s glorious, having somewhere you can skate and it stays warm. Well, it’s not that warm but once you get into it, you’re good to go.

You’ve got a straight minute of footage on the ledge in this mixtape. What’s so good about it and what trick took the longest?

That ledge is the perfect height. It’s not quite the height of the Mile End, pop-out ledge, but it’s not above knee height. It’s been a skated a lot as well so its worn in perfectly.

You know those ledges where the angle iron is above the actual wood? It’s not like that. I hate ledges like that, it doesn’t feel right. This one is kind of ingrained, level with the wood. It’s perfect.

As far as a trick that I’ve battled…

Switch heel into back tail, bigspin out?

Actually, no! I was shocked when I rolled away from that. It only took maybe twenty minutes.

It was after I’d done the shove out. I thought, “Fuck it” and lucked out. I mean, it was sketchy. 

That’s one where I think I actually carried on trying but my phone ran out and I had to leave it. I haven’t been back for it since.

The shove out super sick, it’s almost out of sync with your body.

It’s nothing like it usually is, like if I’d done a regular back tail bigspin.

“Once you’ve filmed it, you can do it. It’s yours.”

How about a nollie heel to crook? Where does that rank in your Slam TF accomplishments?

I was pretty stoked. I think it was the first nollie heel crook I’d done. I learned it on that ledge, actually. After that, I could go to Mile End and do it on the pop-out ledge or film it at a street spot – like with the switch heel back tails. 

If I didn’t have this ledge to skate, here, I probably wouldn’t have thought of trying that trick and filmed one. Once you’ve filmed it, you can do it. It’s yours. You don’t need to do another. You’ve got that trick.

So working there has fed into your video parts a little bit. Course we’re only joking, calling it a “TF”, but it’s great not “training” but are you’re learning things spur of the moment, squeezed in when you could be at Greggs.

Certainly. It’s seeing what sticks [laughs].

What stands out as far as things other people have done?

Dave Mackey has got to be up there. On the picnic table, he 5050’d the bottom then popped up to frontside nosegrind on the top. 

It’s a picnic table, it’s not particularly long, so to have the quick feet to do that is pretty bonkers. I’ve seen him do it on things since, it’s incredible. He did it on the Chewy [Cannon] obstacle at Southbank. 

I remember seeing him in the park, I didn’t even clock it was him.

“Who’s this up-and-comer… Oh, it’s Mackey!”

It’s super quick and it’s Mackey, he doesn’t go slow either.

Favourite trick of your own?

I think that first nollie heel crook.

I kept coming close or getting into it and not grinding. That particular one, I tried to do more of the block so it doesn’t shock me when I start grinding and I’ve got time to prepare. It worked. 

That instantly gave me to the confidence to do it elsewhere like, again, the pop-out ledge at Mile End. Or wherever you’re not dinking it off the end of a block, you’re holding it and having a bit more control.

I felt like A.V.E. for a second. I grinded probably about a tenth of what he would but, still, the feeling was there [laughs].

Jak Pietryga skating the ledge at the Slam TF.

Nollie heel crook from Jak’s Slam TF Mixtape.

“I felt like A.V.E. for a second. I grinded probably about a tenth of what he would but, still, the feeling was there.”

You’ve kickflipped over the table picnic three times… minimum. Was that particular table the first time you skated one?

We took some of those obstacles to Mile End for an adidas jam and I think that was the first time I kickflipped it from flat. But at Mile End you’ve got the best floor, you’ve got ample run up, it didn’t feel like too much of a challenge. Having it here with limited run up definitely felt a bit more difficult. Although I kickfllipped over some racking we had which I think is a bit bigger than the picnic table so I knew I could do it.

At that Mile End jam, I don’t know why he didn’t carry on but Kyle [Wilson] landed on a switch heel over the picnic table. On, like, a 10.5” cruiser board. The wildest shape, this short, fat board. He landed on a switch heel over it first try, I was blown away. 

Hit me a with an all-time favourite picnic table clip?

Definitely Gino Iannucci’s nollie to switch crook, shove out. There’s the one where he does the whole nollie cab through a crooked as well. 

Anything Gino does on picnic benches, to be honest. Switch backside 180 nosegrind, just bouncing out of it, that’s so sick.

When you see a picnic table in reality, that is no mean feat. To do that in the mid-to-late ‘90s is crazy.

“If I rolled my ankle and had to leave to get it looked at, that’s a bit of a dire situation … Like, “Oh. I’ve just fucked myself playing around at work.”

This Slam TF mixtape stemmed from a coincidental reference to Daewon Song’s 2nd To None part in regards to your footage. How much of a Daewon fan are you?

Oh mate, I was all over Daewon! Some of my earliest videos were Rodney vs Daewon – the first and second. They were embedded in my brain as a child.

I had i.e. and he had a part in skating loads of crazy picnic tables over roof gaps and stuff like that.

It’s Daewon, innit? He’s still killing it to this day. Every video he’s come out with a part in, I’ve bought and rinsed.

Have you ever got inspired by a specific Daewon clip to rig up something in the warehouse? The kicker to down ledge, maybe?

That was Jake Sawyer. He trying to mimic a set up they had at the Chocolate/Girl warehouse. It literally looked the same, a white kicker to red block.

Jake was the dude where, anything that’s half interesting, he’d come up with it. I’m content just to skate the block [laughs].

What’s the one trick that got away?

I tried a nollie heelfip to backside nosegrind revert on the block once. I just ended up shinning myself real bad so I thought I better stop.

That’s one downside. If I rolled my ankle and had to leave to get it looked at, that’s a bit of a dire situation [laughs]. They wouldn’t have an issue with it. But it would be like, “Oh. I’ve just fucked myself playing around at work.” 

It’s not the best look [laughs]

More from the Slam TF: Tom Knox and New Balance for the NB# 440, Vans ‘Sid Pro’ Wear Test with Matt Warder, Harry Wilson, Fred Lambert and Josh Nice, Blondey McCoy for the adidas 3ST

Also by Farran Golding: Justin Henry – Doing It From The Home State, LIGHTBOX: Jake Johnson by Jon Menhring,  ‘Lineage’ with Tom KnoxMason Silva InterviewRowan Zorilla Interview, LIGHTBOX: Gino Iannucci by Ben ColenAndrew Allen InterviewBobshirt’s Tim AndersonMark Suciu Interview

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