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A FAMILY AFFAIR | ARTICLE

14pm // 28.06.2018

Family Portrait Final 950

AT HOME WITH KAYLE LAWSON AND NATHAN JACKSON

It wouldn’t be considered unusual for Trent Fahey, the esteemed and hairy editor of this magazine, to call and ask me if I want to interview a skateboarder. It would, however, be considered unusual for him to call and ask me if I want to interview two skateboarders and their girlfriends, in their own home, at the same time. But if the past year or so has taught us anything, it’s that unusual things happen.

And so, on one early May evening, I find myself in Richmond, an inner suburb of Melbourne, sitting in the kitchen of a house shared by Nathan Jackson, Holly (Nate’s girlfriend), Kayle Lawson and Jamie (Kayle’s girlfriend). The collective noun for this group, they tell me, is The Awesome Foursome. As I sit with them for close to three hours and swallow Peronis whole, it becomes pretty evident that awesome is right on the money.

Interview by Oliver Pelling.

Photo above: Kayle, Jamie, Holly, Nate and his NERF gun. Portrait by Jake Darwen.

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Nate, kickflip five-o. Photo by Jake Darwen.

The crew didn’t know each other before moving to Melbourne (Holly is the only local – Kayle and Jamie are Kiwis, Nate is from Brisbane), but having lived here together for just over a year, they have developed a rare kind of bond. They have dinner together most nights (Holly’s the house cook); they go to the laundromat together; they do their grocery shopping together (“If Jamie and I go on our own, the supermarket staff will ask us where the boys are,” laughs Holly); they party together and they have NERF gun wars together. To these guys, everything – even putting groceries away – is fun. “We’re so lucky,” they tell me as we talk. “It’s not like living with housemates. It’s just living with your best friends.”

Between the four, there’s a lot going on. Nate’s skateboarding has more momentum than ever; Kayle has recently got on adidas and is running Melbourne brand Local Girl Gang with Jamie; and Holly is a teacher who has her own jewellery label (run out of the spare bedroom). “I think we’re productive because we don’t have a TV,” says Holly. But around the time this mag hits the shelves, the dream will be drawing to a close. In July, Nathan and Holly will be leaving Melbourne to move to California, where Nate will pursue his skateboarding. And later this year, in October, Kayle and Jamie will be taking a couple of months out to travel to the US and South-East Asia. One thing I discovered about interviewing four friends at the same time is that you end up with a lot of words. The text you’ll find spread across the following pages probably isn’t even half of what we covered on the night...

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Kayle, backside nollie over a block and down. Photo by Dave Chami.

What’s the deal with the house mouse?
Jamie: His name’s Stu. I think he eats the leftovers, but we haven’t seen him for a while… We were going to get a cat at one stage because it was that bad.
Holly: Jamie’s so scared… It’s affected her the most.
Jamie: I sleep with a towel under my door every night so he can’t get through the gap. I’m pretty unlucky with that stuff. I pulled my sheet off the line the other day and there was a huntsman on it. Nathan had to get my sheet off the line this afternoon because I couldn’t do it. Kayle: I got a text from Jamie a month ago and she said there was a tarantula in her bed. It was as big as her thumb.
Nate: I’ve never seen the mouse at all.
Kayle: I caught him once. I caught him in a bag, but he jumped out of the bag.
Jamie: You failed us.
Kayle: I don’t know where he went from there.
Jamie: To my room, probably.
Holly: I don’t want him to die. But I think he did die, once. Nathan found him inside a party hat.

Right … so there’s more than one Stu?
Nate: Yeah. There must be a couple. But we just call them Stu.
Holly: We need to tell the story. So this one night, our fire alarm was beeping every minute. Have you heard how loud they are? So loud. And at the time, Nathan was overseas and Kayle was out with his parents.
Jamie: I came home and Holly was so frustrated. We didn’t have a ladder, so we couldn’t reach the alarm to reset it. We were just sitting in the kitchen trying to figure out what to do.
Holly: Right, and then we hear the mouse in the cupboard. Jamie was on the table freaking out and I was like, “Nah, fuck this! I’m gonna catch the mouse tonight!” I was real annoyed because of the alarm. My friend Amy was coming over. So Jamie’s standing on the table, I’m by the cupboard figuring out how to catch the mouse, then Amy turns up and I tell her about the mouse and she’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to catch it.” So Jamie’s basically crying on the table, Amy has the cupboard open and is holding a container to catch the mouse in, and I’m standing over by the oven. Then the mouse jumps at Amy and runs under her legs right at me. I get such a fright that I basically jump up onto the hob – I couldn’t even do that again if I tried – but my knee turns the hotplate on and my hair catches on fire. It was like whoosh!, up in flames. I can’t really remember what happened after that because I was so scared. I tapped my hair out because it was all singed and I had to cut a bunch of it off. And we all just started sort of crying and laughing. It was such a weird turn of events. Stu almost burned my face off.

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Kayle, nollie noseslide. Photo by Dave Chami.

Jamie: And the alarm kept beeping.
Kayle: I swear if you filmed it, people still wouldn’t believe it.
Jamie: So then we bought rat poison. We put it everywhere. It’s all wrapped in two-minute noodle packs.
Nate: Poor Stu. I’m the only one that feels for him.
Holly: Nate comes home from work and he’s like, “Hey Kayle, hey Holly, hey Jamie, hey Stu!”
Nate: There are always stories when me and Kayle aren’t here. When Jamie’s by herself she gets attacked by Stu and his homies.
Jamie: Oh my gosh, yeah, I saw two one day. Anyway, I can’t talk about this anymore.
Kayle: I think it happens to the person who’s most scared. They can smell your fear.

Amazing. So Jake Darwen stays here quite a bit, right? He’s like the unofficial fifth housemate.
Jamie: He’s the sixth. Stu’s the fifth.
Kayle: So I used to live with Jake at the Playboy Palace. It was me, Jake, Christian Low and Deen Rakich. But then I moved out and he moved out a little while after. Now he’s like our… pet.
Jamie: [Laughs] Did you say pet?
Holly: He travels a lot, so he might be here every now and then for like a week at a time.

What does he bring to the dynamic?
Kayle: Entertainment. Holly: He’s so funny. He’s the hype man. Nate: If we go to work, and it’s a rainy day, and he stays here and does some work or whatever, we’ll get home and he’ll be hyped up and ready to go. Like, “Woo! You’re home!” He’ll be wagging his tail ready to greet you. It’s the best.

You guys have a few people coming through and using the spare room, yeah?
Nate: Yeah, we’ve had a few. We’ve had Josh Pall more than a few times. We’ve had Julian Davidson a few times.
Nate [to Kayle]: Had you met Julian before?

Nathan Jackson Fs Tailslide 950
Nate, frontside tailslide. Photo by Jake Darwen.

Kayle: Nah, that was the first time. I met him when [Alex] Lawton took him to Yellowbird.
Nate: Right, so Lawton took Julian to Yellowbird as soon as he got into Melbourne. It was a Tuesday night and I asked these guys if they wanted to come along. So we head along and Niddy’s [Nic Burton] there pouring on the Fireball shots. We all had work the next morning and it quickly turned into the most ballistic Tuesday night of all time.
Kayle: It was probably the only Tuesday night that’s ever been that wild. Jamie was in her bra and the girls were pouring beer over each other. They were on the tabletops, drenched, dancing to “Pour Some Sugar on Me”.
Jamie: There were people there having nice dinner dates and whatever.
Nate: I think Niddy brought us like 100 Fireball shots.
Kayle: My jaw was on the ground. I was just like, “What are these girls doing?” It was epic.
Holly: We were rinsed. So that was Julian’s introduction to us. Then Julian and Niddy started play wrestling and Julian cracked his head open. I had to get the first aid kit out and everything. Niddy had a bleeding arm. So, Julian knew nothing about us… and then Jamie tells him…
Jamie: So, there’s a bike in our hallway, and we told Julian that whenever somebody rings the bell, it’s the sex bell. Which means we rotate partners. So I told him that if he hears the bell ring, he’s welcome to join in. 
Nate: He split his eye and was all confused, but Jamie said that and he just stops and he’s all like: “Really?” 
Jamie: He fully believed us. 
Holly: Then he woke up in the morning and was like, “I was waiting last night. What happened?”
Jamie: We had to tell him we made it up. 
Kayle: He was so confused, the poor guy. 
Nate: He stayed for a week or so, and by the end of it he was fully into the weird house humour.

What’s with the NERF gun situation?
Holly: It was Nate’s birthday, and he’s super hard to buy for. You have to get something fun.
Kayle: So we went to Big W to buy a washing basket. I saw the NERF guns and thought: This is it. We were going to get one, but we couldn’t just get one because we wouldn’t be able to protect ourselves.
Nate: I had my birthday in Brisbane and came back. Holly’s like, “Close your eyes and go into your room.” So I go in and see these presents on my bed. I open the first one and it was a Vortex [a NERF football].
Kayle: The Vortex came from the idea of vortexing your beer. It’s a gimmick back home where if your beer’s half full, you can swirl it around and then it’ll go straight down your throat and you can drink it in one. That’s vortexing your beer.
Nate: The Vortex was sick. Then I go to open the second one and I’m like, “Sick! A NERF gun!” I turn around to show the guys, and they’re standing there with their own guns and just attack me like bombombombombom, and then it was on. We did that for hours.
Holly: I didn’t want to go home for a week because I knew Nate would be hiding somewhere with his gun. Jake’s the best to have wars with because he’s so dramatic. The boys had a big one the other day when it was raining, and Jake would be fake crying when he got hit. It was so funny.

Kayle and Jamie, what’s up with Local Girl Gang?
Kayle: So I started that about two years ago, and now Jamie and I work on it together. It was just a side gimmick to start out. I painted a skateboard some colours and came up with the name Local Girl Gang, so I painted a girl on it. I put it on my Instagram and didn’t even have a handle for LGG, but I used @localgirlgang anyway, then figured I should probably make an account for it. It just went from there. Since two years ago it’s changed 180 from what it was. And since I’ve been dating Jamie we’ve been doing it half and half. She helps out with wholesale and design ideas, and I focus on creative and running the Instagram. It was never supposed to be a skate brand, I just wanted it to be a fashion thing.

Is there any mission or agenda behind it?
Kayle: It’s been moulded by the audience, for sure. It’s like 80 per cent female. It was a real shock; I thought guys would be buying it. All my mates wear it, but it’s predominantly a female, Melbourne audience. I just want to ride it for as long as it goes. I thought it might have a shelf life of a couple of years, but hopefully it doesn’t end.

You’ve got some distribution overseas, yeah?
Kayle: Yeah, we’ve got one store stocking it in Japan and one in Korea, then a bunch of stores in Australia. I don’t have much idea of where I want it to go, I just want it to be fun. I’m not thinking about making money or about what stores I should be in. It’s just the fun of doing it.

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Kayle, switch ollie. Photo by Dave Chami.

The Instagram account is pretty racy, with half-naked girls and whatever, but then you’re saying it’s an 80 per cent female audience. How’d you think that works?
Kayle: It’s interesting, yeah. I didn’t expect the female audience to be so engaged with it. I think a lot of people assumed I was a girl. 
Jamie: Heaps of people used to message or email like, “Hey girl” or “Thanks babe”. 
Nate: His name’s spelled K-a-y-l-e… 
Kayle: People might think it’s pronounced Kayleigh or whatever… 
Jamie: And people probably think Jamie is the boy. Kayle changed his Uber name… 
Kayle: I’d get Uber drivers calling me Kayleigh, so I changed it to Kayhill, because when you say it fast it’s basically my name. Anyway, people always ask if it’s a skate brand. But it’s not a skate brand, it’s just fashion.

Where’d you get that interest in fashion from?
Kayle: I’ve always been into fashion. Fashion photography, just always out for the trend. Anything that fuels, that is good.

Yeah, I watched some old footage of you when you’re wearing the ghetto gowns. How would you describe your fashion now?
Jamie: Great question.
Nate: I don’t even know…
Jamie: He always says to me: “I can’t wear that. It’s not street enough.”
Kayle: I can’t describe it. It’s obviously street.
Holly: [Laughs] Progressive street! Kayle: Seven years ago it was gangster. Vic Apparel, 3XL T-shirts, size 38 jeans, just emulating DGK and all that. I was into fashion, but I wasn’t into magazine fashion, just street fashion. Then I moved to Melbourne and I realised it’s fucking hard to wear those type of clothes in the heat. So it all tightened up. Nate: It’s pretty common for skateboarders, I think, to wear that baggy shit when you’re younger.
Kayle: I think it’s just the era.

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Kayle, frontside noseslide. Photo by Dave Chami.

What do you think of Blondey McCoy, the English kid on Palace? From a fashion point of view, he’s kind of out on his own in the skate world…
Kayle: I think he’s sick. He skates in track shorts with a gold tooth and some big glasses. He’s a wolf by himself.
Jamie: That’s like your life motto: “Be the wolf.”
Kayle: You gotta be.
Holly: Kayle’s wearing motocross pants right now.

That’s definitely a wolf manoeuvre.
Nate: It’s a wolf manoeuvre if you’re not at the motocross track.
Kayle: If you are wearing motocross pants at the motocross track, you’re just into motocross. 
Nate: But when you go to the motocross track, you’d wear basketball shorts, right? 
Kayle: Yeah, that’s right. Or a tux. 
Jamie: He would, too. 
Kayle: I wore a Chinese police outfit to a party last week.

Where’d you get that?
Kayle: In China.

From the…
Kayle: From the uniform store.

It’s weird in skateboarding, though. I think skateboarders like to think of themselves as being pretty free and easy, but if you step outside the boundaries you can get harassed pretty hard.
Kayle: Yeah, people notice it.
Jamie: And you’re good, because you don’t really care.
Kayle: I don’t try to bring fashion into how I skate. I don’t get too crazy out there. Whereas outside skating, I’ll wear what I want. Especially living in Melbourne, it’s so acceptable.

Did getting on adidas affect your fashion choices?
One hundred per cent. I’ve always liked adidas, but now it’s head to toe. I’m like, “Dave Chami, I need the tracksuits.” I think I bought the last couple of tracksuits. It’s not a burden to buy stuff, I’ll wear it outside of skating. Speaking of clothes, what’s up with your local laundromat?
Kayle: Basically, Jake broke our washing machine.
Holly: Don’t say that! He’s so sensitive!
Kayle: OK, it broke after Jake used it.
Jamie: His load was in there when it stopped.
Kayle: He felt terrible. But it’s not even an issue going to the laundromat. It’s got air hockey, vending machines…
Nate: Someone will ask if anyone needs to do laundry, and we’re always like, “Yeah! Let’s go!”
Holly: I think it comes down to us doing everything as a family. Even when Julian was staying here, he came with us.
Nate: He didn’t even have any laundry.
Holly: We like doing everything together, we don’t like anyone to miss out. We have a group text called ‘The Awesome Foursome’. No man left behind! 
Nate: You go there, put the laundry on and play air hockey. Last time, Jamie spent like $20 on the chocolate claw machine. She came up a whole Celebrations box. 
Holly: There’s something slow about going to the laundromat. It’s kind of romantic. 
Kayle: There’s actually a waffle shop in there.

That sounds amazing. And you guys do your grocery shopping together, too.
Kayle: We do our shopping every Monday.
Jamie: They’ll notice if we don’t go together. They’ll say, “Oh, you’re shopping without the boys tonight!”
Kayle: We gave our register girl a birthday card.
Holly: She knows all of our birthdays off by heart.
Nate: Her name’s Tracy. She’s a sweetheart.
Holly: Shoutout to Tracy!
Jamie: We made her cry when we gave her a birthday card. She couldn’t believe it.
Holly: I thought she forgot my birthday, but then she popped up in the aisle with chocolate for me. I don’t know how we became friends with her.

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Nate, kickflip onto the platform to drop. Photo by Jake Darwen.

That’s a really intimate relationship to have with your checkout girl. 
Jamie: We are her highlight. She wasn’t even on the tills today and she ran up behind me and was like, “Jamie!” She opened up a till just to serve us. Holly: If we don’t get Tracy, we’ll say to the other checkout guys: “Um, where’s Tracy?” 
Nate: She finishes at seven. 
Holly: Jacob’s good, too. He works in the deli. 
Kayle: We just know everyone in Richmond, aye.

Do you have different responsibilities when you do your shopping?
Nate: I don’t do squat, aye.
Kayle: Nate just puts stuff in the basket that we don’t need.
Jamie: I follow Nate and laugh at whatever he does.
Nate: We won’t need Coco Pops, but there’ll be six boxes in there.
Kayle: I reckon doing groceries is the highlight of the week. We have so much fun [laughs].
Holly: It’s definitely an event. Even unpacking the groceries, we’ll all stand in different parts of the kitchen and someone will throw everything out of the bags to us as fast as they can.
Jamie: Sometimes you get thrown five cans of tuna at once.
Kayle: It’s like a circus.

Holly and Jamie, living with a couple of ‘athletes’, do you find yourselves getting into the skate scene?
Holly: We go to the skate parties. It’s hard not to get involved. If I say something about skating the boys will be like: “How do you know that?” I’m just interested in everything.

Do you have any favourite skateboarders?
Nate: Holly’s is Brandon Westgate.
Holly: In the Emerica Made video, he’s so good.
Nate: She’s like: “Who’s this guy!? Look at him! Jumping over things, jumping onto things, jumping off things.”
Holly: We don’t have a TV now, but when we did, Nate would always have things playing. The soundtracks would always get me into them, and then, after watching that Brandon Westgate part, I decided he was my favourite.
Kayle: Do you have a favourite skater, Jamie?
Jamie: Yeah, Kayle Lawson. He’s got really good fashion.

And do you get into the scene at all?
Jamie: I love Street League. I get all the emails. I love it. Holly: She does love it.

Who’s your favourite in Street League?
Jamie: Evan Smith.

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Nate, nollie 360 flip. Sequence by Jake Darwen.

Good choice. You guys have good taste. 
Jamie: So with Street League, I’d do all the research and find out when it is on and at what time. At the Playboy Palace, Nate and Holly would stay on the airbed and we’d all get up with Jake at 4am or whatever and watch it. Then when we moved in here, we’d get snacks and make coffee and watch it, too. 
Holly: Dating skaters affects us on a personal level, too. Like, if Nate or Kayle go skating and they don’t get a trick, it’ll be like, “Oooh, Nate didn’t get a trick, I feel bad.” 
Nate: Then I’ll start punching the fridge and breaking the windows [laughs]. 
Holly: So yeah, I get stressed, too. He’s my boyfriend, when his body’s all scraped up, I don’t want him to be hurt. Oh yeah, you have to wash the sheets all the time as a skate girlfriend, too. Bloody sheets. Disgusting.
Jamie: I don’t have to do that so much with you [Kayle]. You’re not as hardcore. 
Kayle: Nah, Nathan hucks. I’m more strategic in how I get hurt. I reckon out of 365 days a year, I probably skate 40 of them. I could go three weeks without skating. If Nate went three days, he’d be dying for a skate. 
Jamie: Do you know what’s fun about dating a skater? Going to the events and meeting all the people and just getting into the community. 
Holly: It’s a family, for sure. We’ll go somewhere and the boys are like brothers. Everyone has a similar outlook on things. 
Kayle: I think dating a skater would keep you young. 
Holly: Definitely. My whole idea of what life was about flipped on its head when I started dating Nate.

I feel like this might spoil the mood, but does anyone have any annoying habits?
Kayle: It used to annoy me when Nate would clear his throat out, but he doesn’t do that anymore.
Holly: We’re good enough friends to find our habits funny. We’ll just be like: “Can you stop fucking doing that!?”
Jamie: Nate doesn’t have an annoying habit. He’s perfect. Neither does Holly. Kayle will just leave random things in random spots.
Kayle: What do you mean?
Nate: Oh yeah, I remember this, I came home once and was like, “Who leaves the drawers open?” I’ll come into the kitchen and there’ll be drawers left half-open. I’ll wake up and go to put a coffee on in the morning and look at the drawers and be like, “What the fuck is this?” [Laughs] “Who didn’t finish the job?”
Kayle: The thing is, I’m just trying to be considerate. I didn’t want to slam drawers when people were in bed or whatever. Jamie’s a light sleeper, so I was trying to be as quiet as possible.
Jamie: But we can laugh about anything that’s a bad habit.

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Nate, fakie 360 flip. Sequence by Jake Darwen.

Kayle: We really are like a family. Like, I could get really angry at Nate, but after half an hour it passes. Sometimes he spits water on me and I hate it. I fucking hate it.
Jamie: There you go, a bad habit.
Nate: He hates it so much.
Kayle: He did it to me in the car and I just took my shirt off and got out of the car.
Holly: All three of us were still in the car, laughing. 
Jamie: He was “removing himself from the situation”. 
Kayle: He knows I hate it. Jamie: You can spit on me whenever you like [laughs]. 
Nate: If I do something and Jamie laughs, I’ll be like, “Oh, you think that’s funny?” and that’ll spur me on to just keep doing it. I’ll spit on Kayle, and she’ll laugh, and I’ll keep doing it. 
Kayle: Jamie and Nathan are the kids of the house; Holly and I are like the parents.

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Kayle, highly visible, highly street, switch backside lipslide. Photo by Jake Darwen.

And you guys have family dinners most nights, yeah? What’s the deal with highlights and lowlights?
Jamie: Yeah we do, most nights. We basically go over our highlights of the day. If somebody does have a lowlight, we try to turn it into a highlight.
Holly: We sort it out.
Kayle: You get stories from it. It’s good.
Holly: It’s been my first year teaching, so I’ve been having some really funny ones.
Kayle: It’s a good way to stay positive throughout the day.
Jamie: And during the day, I’m always thinking, “Oh, this could be a highlight later.”
Holly: If someone says, “I don’t have a highlight today,” we make them dig deep. I do it with the kids at school, too.
Kayle: I always think it makes me appreciate how lucky I am. My grandma will be like, “Do you know how lucky you are, Kayle?” And I’ll be like, “Well, yeah, actually I do.” Jamie: Holly and I do it, too. We’ll talk about…
Kayle: How lucky you are to have such good boyfriends?
Jamie: We actually do.
Kayle: Oh yeah, we do it, too.
Nate: I was talking about it with James James the other day. We were like, “Fuck, we’ve got it good, hey?” We’ve got houses – I mean, we don’t own houses – but we can afford to pay rent…
Holly: Your girlfriend’s a 10 [laughs]. Nate: Yeah, my girlfriend’s an 11 out of 10. You’ve got to appreciate those things.
Holly: We live in an amazing house and have each other. What more could you want?
Nate: Sometimes I’ll get mad over the smallest thing and I’ll just think, Fuck, what am I doing?
Holly: That’s what I was saying before. When I met Nate I was 19 and my life was just about trying to get here or trying to get there. Then I met all these different people who are different ages and doing different things, and it changed my perception. I think it’s like the skater mentality, it feels like they’re all the same age. It just made me feel like I didn’t have to stress and I could just keep doing the things I was doing.

I think skateboarding really helps you realise that you can have fun any day of the week with so little. You can really take that with you through life.
Kayle: It’s such a uniting thing. It gets rid of stigmas and all that kind of stuff. You meet so many people.
Nate: We met you just from doing an interview for a skate magazine.

Holly and Jamie: how does it feel to have your first ever interview in an international skateboarding publication?
Holly: It’s very cool.
Jamie: I’m speechless.
Nate: You haven’t stopped talking…
Jamie: [Laughs] I’ve been waiting for this day. I’m not going to believe it until I see it.