The nexus between alternative music and the culture of skateboarding is one that runs deep. The progressive nature of both respectively, resonates in a unique kinship that bridges the two worlds in a way that makes them unique and one in the same. While each could and certainly do operate independently, they are inextricably linked such that one almost mirrors the other.
In the spirit of that symbiosis, Santa Cruz Skateboards has launched a digital series that spotlights the artists that carry the banner for DIY ethos and street level credibility. Establishing the criteria for whom is featured to serve as an extension of skateboarding's collective culture, the artists in focus presented by Santa Cruz Skateboards embody the core values of the community and ultimately serve as a representation of what the culture stands for.
Meeting that criteria to a tee is the PA's genre-bending juggernaut, Code Orange. Amassing a global audience and continued dismantling of aggressive music's status quo, the band maintains a hands on approach that is unprecedented for a unit of their rank. Becoming a streaming fixture in the era of the pandemic, meticulously involved in the production of their own videos, even opting to design their own merch, Code O's work ethic and creative ingenuity is second to none.
Showcasing an uncanny ability to pivot, adapt, and thrive under extraordinary circumstance, Code Orange, much like the greater universe of skateboarding - aren't interested in playing by the rules, they are redefining them.
Santa Cruz Skateboards' brand manager Andrew Cannon detailed the latest installment of the series and why Code Orange remains such an important, enigmatic entity.
What about Code Orange aligned with Santa Cruz Skateboards that made them the right choice for this documentary series?
Our goal with this new series on our YouTube channel is to share the stories and go behind the scenes with artists, musicians and other creatives that either skate themselves or that we find inspiring. Code Orange fits both. Code Orange was a great fit because of their own personal dedication to pushing themselves and trying things outside the norm. Which is what we are trying to do with all of this too.
Code Orange has a very unique DIY ethic that differentiates them from a lot of other bands on the same level. How important is that identity to the skateboarding community?
It means so much and it’s the backbone of skateboarding. There are so many rad brands out there that are doing their own thing regardless of what people think and thanks to social media there is an audience for all of it, no matter how niche. The reason Code Orange is so awesome though is because they are going above and beyond. It’s not abnormal to see a band pulling screens for their tee shirts or hopping on Instagram live to play some songs, but to do a full-on concert stream with light show, visual effects, Sunny’s (Hate5Six) epic filming and then great sound? It’s unparalleled. This is a group of people from Pittsburgh making shit happen. Joe said it really well in the video, nobody is coming to pluck you from obscurity to do it for you, you have to make it happen. And seeing what they are doing in the music sphere is influencing what we plan to do in skating for sure.
Similar to skate culture, Code Orange has broken into a mainstream consciousness but still have real connection to the underground. How integral is that balance in the world of skateboarding?
The balance is such a must. We are feeling that same stuff pull as SC continues to grow and it's always about staying human. That’s been the coolest part about what Code Orange has done, in my opinion. Yes, they are growing. People are interested. But with all they have done on Twitch they are showing what they are all about. And to me that shows more than just who they are, but also shows the confidence they have. When you are a leader you don’t worry about showing what’s on the other side because you are following your own vision and although people can learn from you, they can’t do what you do.
Code Orange really has blurred genre divides and bridged different circles in a way that has changed heavy music. What value does that have in connecting them with Santa Cruz Skateboards?
Absolutely! They have really pushed the envelope in a way that is exciting a polarizing and that’s exactly what you need to do if you want to leave a mark. There are plenty of bands that follow the same formula, and they can play shows and do some tours but they are never known for much. That connects with Santa Cruz because we don’t want to just keep playing the hits. With a brand, especially one that has been around as long as SC, it’s all about adaptation and trying new things to keep people interested. If you just play the hits over and over people will lose interest.
Skate culture is very diverse, very progressive. How important is music In that equation?
Music in skate videos and skateboarding has always been so essential. Generations of skaters have grown up falling in love with bands based off what they heard in the background of someone’s skating. And although things have changed in how people consume skate video and the importance of a song / video part, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still share music with our fans. And this is a way for us to extend our excitement about artists of all genres to them.