Jura – The Alibi
A role model, inspiration and friend to many, Juan Algora (Jura) has been holding down the Madrid skate scene for a few decades now. As a direct descendent of the OGs of the famous Plaza de Colón, Jura is definitely carrying the torch for his city. Everything he does is with intention and care, from running his brand Damage, stacking clips, helping out at Welcome (one of Spain’s best skate shops) and creating community all around him, he does it all like a boss! I’m proud to be his friend and honoured to interview him for the mag. Cheers Jura! Love you buddy!
Intro & Interview by Ben Skrzypek
Photography by Adrian Rios
What up Juan!?
Ha ha Juanra. They called me Juanra in a Kingpin… Remember that?
Ha ha yeah I remember… What’s up with your real nickname though (JURA)… How did you get that?
I got that from my sister’s good friend Xavi. He was the graffiti god in the area where I was living and my idol as a kid. He was the guy going into the metro and doing all the criminal shit. When I was like 12 I used to write and looked up to him so much I was scared to talk to him. One day I asked him like, ‘hey I’m trying to change my tag name, what do you think a good name would be?’ He said ‘Jura’. The graffiti artists would call the metro security Jurados. So he said just tag Jura, as if it were making fun of them. That’s where it comes from. Shout out to Xavi.
So you were really into graffiti as a kid?
Yeah I’m still into graffiti just not that crazy anymore. I painted my first train when I was like fourteen… I brought my skateboard with me. I remember seeing the security guards’ little bungalow with the lights on and being so scared my legs were shaking.
Word. Well let’s get to it. It seems like getting a spot in print media these days is rare and a bit harder every day. What does it feel like to be blessing the pages of Free Skate Magazine?
To be honest I´ve been kind of waiting on it… Not waiting on it, but hoping for it to happen. We had a lot of mags in Spain at one point but they all disappeared besides one or two. There was a time when I was appearing in all of them every month – all I had to do was just skate. I´ve been a fan of Free Mag for years; it’s a blessing! I love Free!
This isn’t your first interview in Free though is it? You were saying earlier you had one a while back? When was that?
Yeah it’s my second interview actually. The first one was 2016 or some shit. Nobody really remembers that though. I have close friends that when I talk about it they’re like ‘oh shit, you had an interview in Free Mag?’ and I´m like, ‘yeah what the fuck what do you mean?’ Ha ha, they don’t remember.
Ha ha yeah I didn’t remember that either. Want to shout out any of those Spanish mags that were always supporting you and publishing your photos?
Of course man! Big shout out, fucking Shape magazine, Erosion, Dogway… Dogway is still alive and killing it!
It’s crazy to think about how skateboarding culture is so strong that in almost every country they have their own micro industry and print skate magazines to document their scene. What is the importance of print skate media to you? How have magazines impacted your upbringing as a skateboarder?
I think if we lose print mags we´re fucked. It would be so depressing. Maybe for new generations it doesn’t matter but for me it would be devastating. I remember going to the newsstands and getting any skate mag I could buy and rush my ass home to read it. I was super hyped to see who was in it and see what they did (I’m talking about the local mags). I remember back in the days people coming from out of town and bringing their local skate mags from Brazil or France and I was always hyped to see what was going on there too.
Let’s talk about Madrid as you’re obviously from here. Me coming from such a smaller, rural place, I wonder what it was like for you growing up skating in a city with such a rich skate history and so many banging plazas at your fingertips?
I feel lucky. You know there are a lot of legends from Madrid, like Jesus, Alfonso, and David, the Fernandez brothers, Dani Lebron was living here too… Plaza de Colón was an iconic spot! Unfortunately I wasn’t there when it was really hot back in the day. I wasn’t even skating yet. I’m just a huge fan of the OGs though. Jesus Fernandez is like an icon to me. Other people Like Rodrigo Mena and Dani Rubio also had a big impact on me. There were a lot of people around when I was a kid in the plaza I had so much respect for and there wasn´t any Instagram or social media… These days you can send a DM to your favourite skater. I think with that we lost something that was lovely. Back in the days I would go to the plaza, see all the OGs, and just sit down and watch them skate as if they were gods! I would analyse everything, from the way they dressed, to how they tied their laces. Everything. It was very fucking special. I think kids nowadays probably do the same but these days it just feels different with social media. I just feel lucky to have grown up in a place where I was influenced by so many great plaza skaters. I’m pretty nostalgic with the Colón times. I still watch videos of the OGs pretty often, you know?
You can tell the city’s history has definitely had an impact on the way you look at skating.
Yeah… I’m just a big fan, yeah.
It’s crazy because I’m hearing you talk about how much all these guys influenced you but these days I see a bunch of mini Juras running around all over the city. Do you ever stop to think about how you are now in a position of influence, and the type of impact you have on the younger generations?
Ha ha that’s funny. I’m recently starting to realise that I’m playing my role… I don’t want to say as an OG, but I just know how kids look up to certain people when they are starting to skate, and yeah I definitely have some kids that look up to me because I’ve been skating in my city for half of my life probably, and I have sponsors and all that. I just try to do the same that the OGs were doing with me like giving me free shoes, and free boards. They would give me a used deck when I was a kid and I couldn’t believe it. It was like receiving a million dollars or euros whatever you call it. So I just do the same. I can see their faces when I do stuff like that and that’s when I realise now I´m one of the dudes who I was looking up to when I was growing up in my city.
That’s dope! That’s how it should be, man.
That’s how it should be, yeah. Just treat the kids and the new generations good ‘cause like for real you can change their vision of everything with just a small gesture. I am involved with what I would say is the most important skate shop in the city so everything I do is going to have an impact. Yeah so just take care of the new generations.
I know you have been skating for Welcome for a long time, and now you are working there as well. It seems like you are involved on many different levels. Do you have any other responsibilities at the shop besides just skating for them and working as a clerk?
Yeah I’m super involved with the shop because they pretty much raised me. Borja and Pablo, the owners, are pretty much my biggest inspirations in life… It was my first sponsor and I grew up with them, they took me on trips… And just to have witnessed what they have become… This isn’t really the answer to the question.
Let’s just say that I’m like their connect with the streets, because I’m working there but I’m also in the streets skating, partying or whatever. They are older than me so they live a more chill life. Whatever ideas I have I share with them and they share their ideas with me to create something and push the scene. I think we are doing a great job… I mean they’re doing a great job, really.
On the subject of Madrid’s skate scene I´ve always kind of noticed that Spain seems to be a bit disconnected in general from what’s going on in skateboarding on an international or even just European level. Do you think ‘The Geography Lottery’ or just where you grew up skating has a big impact on opportunities in the skateboarding world?
Of course it matters the place you were born. Imagine you were born in a fucked up country where you have no opportunities and shit. It definitely matters. I say that a lot to my friends or my girl. We’ll watch some fucked up shit on the news and I’m like, ‘do you realise how lucky we are?’ It’s just easier in general and of course in skateboarding too. You have amazing architecture, plazas, and skateparks. I guess I won that geography lottery in some ways. But to be honest with you as far as skateboarding goes in Europe I think Spain is pretty low on the totem pole. In Europe people love to come to skate, live that Spanish life, party and all that shit, but I don’t really think the industry cares too much about us you know. I just don’t… It’s a delicate subject, but I definitely think we’re pretty low on the totem pole as far as skateboarding, fashion and all that shit.
Do you feel like that has created any obstacles for you when you were trying to come up or while creating your clothing brand Damage?
Oh fuck yeah! Of course. My brand Damage is bigger in Japan than it is in Europe. Why is that? Well I don´t know. I’m just saying. I’m not saying my brand should be big in Europe… There are so many sick ass brands out there. I just think being from Spain and a brand from Spain… I think some emails I send, they go straight to the garbage bin, ha ha ha. Nothing wrong with that. Who the fuck am I? Ha ha ha.
Now that we’re talking about Damage, tell me a bit about your brand for the people who aren’t familiar with it.
Damage is a brand I started about ten years ago very slowly. I started taking it more seriously a few years ago. I want it to be the hot shit. It’s the hot shit in Madrid right now; it’s just hard to grow. We’re working on a video right now. I lot of people every-where fuck with us but there’s so many dope companies… There’s a lot of competition. I’m not even knocking on doors though; I’m just doing my shit. Whoever is down is welcome to work with me. We are working hard on some stuff you will be able to see by the end of the year.
That’s what’s up. Who is involved in Damage besides you?
Dude, pretty much everybody that’s close to me. You because you print all my shit and you’re one of my best friends too. My girlfriend and all my homies who are down with Damage. I don’t even like to say team or the riders I fucking hate those terms. They sound too old for me. Lots of people are involved. Santino is filming the video; you are in there, Javi de Pedro, Victor Martin, Said Lamchatchi. Adri Rios shoots all of our photos. Kruman helps out. I don’t want to leave anyone out… But we’ve all been working hard.
I remember when you started Damage you were a young buck. What motivated you to start a brand at such a young age?
I don’t know. It was just me and the good homie Felix who was filming everything back then. He was my partner in crime for everything. We would go to the States together and we would see homies there starting like brands or magazines. We were young and hungry and were thinking about doing something so that’s how it started you know. We just made a few hats and beanies. It was a slow ass process because we weren’t really taking it seriously. We were just having fun and enjoying the process. Super good times.
The brand has definitely come a long way. I feel like Damage pretty much sets the tone for the scene in Madrid, and you have a lot of support in the city. How many people have Damage tattoos ha ha?
It’s mind blowing to think about it. I don´t know but maybe almost ten people have it tatted. That makes me realise it’s not just a company it’s like a movement kind of. I see so many fucking kids wearing Damage. Everywhere I go, every plaza, even in the streets or in bars. I see people wearing the new shit, old shit; I just get so hyped!
Do you ever feel any pressure having to come up with new ideas and keeping the people hyped?
No, not really. I feel pressure if I try to sit down and force out ideas. But then I’m sitting down having breakfast somewhere and all these ideas come to me out of nowhere. It just happens so no pressure; it’s very natural and organic.
You definitely have a lot of shit going on. How do you balance everything? Between running the brand, working at the skate shop, skating, spending time with your family and girlfriend and whatever else you have to get done…
I’ve been complaining lately about not having much time to skate but I guess I just complain and then I realise how lucky I am. I’m just doing my own shit. I think I’m at my best point in life. I’ve never been this happy or beastie about something I love. I don’t know how to explain it but I live a pretty beastie life. I really don’t stop. There is always something to do. I hate being home. I just use my house to sleep.
You have been travelling to the USA for quite some years to go skate. Did Spain’s position on the totem pole motivate you to start travelling more, ha ha?
My first ever skate trip to the States was to your fucking house. Damn I was like 17. Was I 17? Damn that’s fucked up. I brought a good infection to your house. You didn’t even want to high-five me ha ha.
Ha ha ha, yo I was paranoid man. You said it was a spider bite but then you gave it to Borja from Welcome and it turned out to be a pretty heavy staph infection.
Borja I’m sorry about it man. Whatever that was, I’m sorry. I gave him a good infection. He wore my pants and he got the infection too ha ha. There is some footage of that trip somewhere on the Internet. I remember I even went to Hollywood 16 and tried a backside 180 and reopened my staph infection. I’ve always been a fan of the States. When I was a kid I used to love trash food, Dr Pepper, rap music… All the shit that is related to rap music and skateboarding basically. I was so
Yeah when you were 17 I definitely remember you were rocking some heavy tall tees and the New Era caps ha ha.
It was a whole new world. Any store I would go they would sell 3XL, 4XL tees and all New Era caps in every fucking colour you can imagine. Leave the tags on, the price on, the sticker on ha ha.
Shortly after that trip you started going to Philadelphia pretty often. How did that start happening?
Me and Felix met this homie Marcus who runs Skate Jawn magazine. He was studying and living in Madrid. He said ‘if you guys ever come to New York or NJ hit me up man!’ So that’s what we did a few months later. I hit him up on like Facebook or MySpace or some shit. We said, ‘hey we’re coming to New York’ and he was like, ‘oh shit I’m living in Philly, just come to Philly and you guys have a place to stay!’ So Felix and I went to Philly. They were just starting Skate Jawn and they had a big ass skate house. It was a whole new world to us. Like holy shit all these skater homies living in the same house, fucking drinking mad beers all the time, going to strip clubs. It was mind blowing, like a whole new world. On that same trip we met Romain Batard, the French homie. Dude, that was like so much fun. We made really strong connections. That started the whole ‘come on, like, lets go to Philly’ era. Every year we’d go for like one month. I didn’t have a job or anything so I would just hustle to save up and then go to Philly for a month. Batard would do it too. He did it for like two or three years in a row with us then he quit. He was like damn dude it’s too hard, it’s too hard to save that much money. But we kept going and I still go even now.
Is that how you linked up with Brian Panebianco and the Sabotage dudes? Was it through Marcus and the Skate Jawn guys?
Yeah yeah yeah. That’s how. I saw him a few times and then I think we started following each other on the gram. I think he told me, ‘you should film something when you come.’ And I was like holy shit the guy from the Sabotage videos! Holy shit!
You ended up having a part in Sabotage 4, that must have been pretty special for you.
Yeah that was a big deal. It was just the top, top of the world shit for me. VX, grimy, Philly shit, Love Park.
I met up with Penny at 3-block: that was the first line we filmed. RIP 3-Block. We kept meeting up and getting clips so he was like, ‘you should film a full part.’ So I just went back to Philly later on and started filming the whole part for Sabotage 4 with like Josh Kalis, Sucui… It’s weird to think about. It’s just dreamy man.
How influential were those first trips for you? I’ve seen you go through a lot of phases and I feel like Philly definitely made an impact on you.
I mean um… I don’t know man; I had a lot of stages. But those trips definitely… I don’t know how to say it in English, but it definitely made me who I am today. Just skating with all these dudes… And even in terms of trick selection. I had to stop doing lipslides on ledges ha ha.
What? The forbidden 14?
Ha ha yeah the forbidden 14… Shout out to Dana Ericson.
Anything you want to get off your chest? Any shout outs? However you want to end this bad boy.
Just fuck the cops. And thanks to Free Skate Mag and everyone in my life.