The House of Reup + Hold Tight Henry Interview

After taking a bit of a hiatus, Henry Edwards-Wood is back with another Hold Tight instalment, this one entitled: House of Reup. Now some of you might remember seeing Henry’s “breakdown” of sorts on social media a while back, well Henry was kind enough to talk to us about that time to set the record straight. Hold Tight also weighs in about his efforts with the LLSB campaign, working with the Reup crew and what he has planned for the future, among other things.

You started filming this edit at a pivotal at a time in your life. Can you tell us a little bit about that time and why working on it meant so much for you?
Yeah so in 2013 we started the Long Live South Bank campaign to save the historic undercroft that’s been skateboarding’s home in London for 40 years and my local spot since I was young. It was a very stressful time and I ended up as spokesman, coordinator and basically had to stop working to be able to focus on it all properly. I was super driven but there was a lot of pressure, a lot of talking to ignorant suits and politicians, late nights and early starts and it felt like we were getting nowhere. About nine months in after finishing The Bigger Picture campaign film I had a bit of a meltdown and what the doctors thought was a psychotic episode. I had another episode about four months later and have since been sectioned for a while and diagnosed as being bipolar. I did and said a lot of crazy shit in those moments, a lot of which I don’t really remember but it was pretty scary and confusing for a lot of people and left me quite isolated from the skate community as well as being in the grips of deep depression, which always follows a manic episode.

Eventually we were successful in saving South Bank, but I found myself living back at home with my parents in South London, depressed, without a job and without a camera (my HVX broke during the LLSB campaign). Eventually I started working again as was able to sort out a new camera by the end of 2014 but hadn’t filmed anything in like two years so I just started to bring it down to SB and I would skate and then get it out when anyone had something to film – kinda just to practice filming and keep myself occupied – it was basically like rehab for me, getting back to who I was before all the shit happened.

Because of social media your “breakdown” rapidly became a public one. Has this changed your view of social media in skateboarding or even society as a whole?
Well to start with I was posting shit online to see peoples’ reactions and was kinda taking the piss, although deep down I think it was a cry for help and it got out of hand. I had become really cynical about people being active online and posting narcissistic shit all the time but nobody actually getting their hands dirty with the campaign and doing physical stuff to help our workload. I guess I found it weird that all the people who seemed to be constantly posting mundane narcissistic stuff were having a go at me for doing the same. Skateboarding is full of characters and people who are a bit crazy, but I think because I’ve always been so steady and reliable it shocked people a bit.

I don’t know, social media has its positive aspects but I think it has diluted skate content and maybe misleads young skaters. These days I don’t post anything unless I got something important to share, but generally I just keep off it as much as I can.

Can you tell us a little bit about Emeka and what he’s trying to do with Reup?
Emeka is a good friend and someone who’s being skating the South Bank area since I was a kid and we’re about the same age. Reup is his thing, coming from his South Bank crew, it’s a small clothing company at the minute but he’s working on it real hard at the moment and I think the goal is to turn it into a hardware or wheel company in the future. I rate what he’s doing with it, representing South London skateboarding and hooking up people like Josh Jennings, Cameron Gooden, Domas, Karim, Taylor Lewis and little PJ. It’s got a raw vibe and he does what he wants – look out for a lot more from Reup in the future.

How did the idea of making a Reup promo come about? How was working on it different from other projects you may have worked on in the past?
Well I hit him up early 2015 as I was looking for a new project and a lot of the skaters I used to film with were working on other stuff like Vase, the Palace video, or were off traveling with their sponsors a lot. We started going out filming with the crew and got some good footage quite quickly but then some injuries and life shit got in the way a bit and it just made sense to fuse my SB project with the Reup promo and just make a banging mixtape of all the heads with a Reup section in the middle. When House of Vans opened up in Waterloo someone graffed “House of Reup” on the floor at the entrance to SB and I just thought it was sick as this place is like the perfect counterbalance to the more commercial side of skating HOV is cultivating just round the corner. The name stuck and I started playing around with ideas and filming more and eventually found myself with a solid 15 minute mixtape I think truly represents the underground scene that revolves around SB.

The process hasn’t been too different to any other skate film I’ve made except sometimes if you’re working for big corporate shoe companies they cut out drink and drugs and funny stuff of random people so with this I’ve had a license to do what I want. For me it is also a response to all the politically correct nonsense I had to preach about South Bank during the campaign – I hated having to censor certain stuff for the media and wanted to return to the true essence of skateboarding which is anything goes… Censorship is weak as fuck.

Is this the return of the Hold Tight London series? What’s the next step for Hold Tight Henry?
I’d like to think so, the last volume Innocence & Experience came out in 2014 though most of the footage was filmed before the LLSB campaign. I liked that it introduced a new generation of London skaters who are all killing it right now and this one does the same for the next generation. I’m planning to get out and shoot another one fully on the streets but I don’t have as much time as I did back in 2007 when we started it.

Other than that I have some plans for the future and am in talks with other filmers about doing some kind of web-based video magazine but that’s a while off. I’d like to continue to work in the skate industry, but the phone doesn’t ring anymore and there doesn’t seem to be any filming work around – I don’t know if that’s because of my breakdown, or because of the influx in new younger filmers that will work for less, or just because in the UK the industry isn’t big enough to pay a decent wage for filming skating. Either way I hope to continue to shoot skateboarding for as long as I can, I’ll always make independents but that doesn’t pay the bills, I’m doing corporate freelance work at the moment but its not very fun so we’ll see.

For now I’m just thankful to be stable in terms of my mental health and grateful for the true friends that stuck by me through what was the most difficult time of my life – they know who they are. It’s a new year and I’m looking to the future and I’m hyped to be dropping this film, which wouldn’t have happened had we not saved South Bank. Niall Neeson wrote an article at the beginning of the campaign saying South Bank was dead and there was nothing left to be done there – I hope this video shows him how wrong he was – No hard feelings mate! LLSB.