In Conversation with Stevie Williams

When Stevie Williams appeared in Element’s Fine Artists Vol. 1 nearly three decades ago, he made a strong first impression on the skateboarding community. Credited only as “Lil Stevie,” Williams wove intricate lines—skating both regular and switch stance—through Philadelphia’s LOVE Park with abilities well beyond his early teenage years.

From that point on, Williams has become synonymous with the iconic plaza and East Coast skateboarding. Every video part he has released features increasingly technical tricks at home and abroad, all with his relaxed, unique style. As he honed his abilities on the board, Williams has fine-tuned his business acumen as well. Establishing respected brands ranging from hardware to softgoods, he has not only cemented his own credibility but launched the prolific careers of others as well.

Today, Williams is based in Los Angeles, still skating with the same swagger that put him on the map back in 1994. When he’s not piecing together tricks at JKwon, he’s hitting the gym, being a father, and developing his newest endeavor—Lord Williams Farms. High Times caught up with the North Philly legend to talk about his years coming up, the role that cannabis plays in his skateboarding and training regimen, and his plans for the future.

Frontside noseslide / Photo by Liam Annis @liamaphotography

What was the motivation to start taking an active approach to fitness?

It was really just being bored. My kids were going to school in the mornings, and I didn’t have anything to do afterwards. I felt like I was kind of getting out of shape anyway. So I started looking up some workout stuff. My uncle, he’s a huge trainer, so he was always trying to get me in the gym. I felt like it was a good time to try to figure it out. And then I started taking these boot camp classes and I fell in love with it.

You are setting a good example for skaters to take better care of their physical health.

That’s what I realized after getting into it and seeing the benefits of the boot camp. I started actually skating more, and my legs felt better. And then I started trying other things in the gym to strengthen what I was doing, [such as] breath control. And then I started jumping into strength and conditioning, and setting goals. It’s just disciplining yourself. 

There is increasing research about how caffeine can benefit a workout. What are your thoughts about cannabis and exercise?

Yeah. I smoke before the gym, and I smoke after the gym.

How does that affect the experience? Does it help with your focus?

It balances out my pre-workout [laughs]. Right before I leave [for the gym] I’ll have a pre-workout. The pre-workout I take is super strong, so smoking balances it out. When I get to the gym, I still get the kick from the pre-workout caffeine but I also get the mood, mellowness, and concentration from the cannabis.

Photo by Liam Annis @liamaphotography

Growing up in North Philly, do you remember the first time you were exposed to cannabis?

I mean, my parents smoked. I didn’t know what it was when I was growing up. When I found out what cannabis was, and the smell, it brought me back to when I was a kid. I thought, Oh, I remember this from when I was young. When I started skating, I started smoking weed, pretty much.

What was it like to start experimenting with cannabis and learning to skate at the same time? 

One thing about skateboarding is that when you are young, you skate, but you are around older people. So I was 11 and hanging out with 16 or 17 year-olds that were already smoking. I wouldn’t say it was a bad influence, but it was around. So, me being curious, I picked cannabis up at a young age.

How did it influence your process of learning how to skate?

It was crazy because when I started smoking it started helping me out with tricks. Cannabis helps with concentration; if you are productive with cannabis, you can focus in on whatever you are doing. Cannabis and skateboarding go hand-in-hand.

In your experience of being professional for over two decades, have you seen the flipside of that? Getting too into cannabis and not using it for the right reasons, can that be a distraction?

Yeah, it can be a distraction. It can make you super unproductive, and you get to a point of being lazy. You start to doubt yourself. Start hanging with potheads and just not completing the tasks that you need to elevate. Cannabis has its ups and downs, and depending on the type of person and the choices he or she makes, cannabis can either set you up or set you back.

Do you think certain individuals are better at learning that than others?

I have no clue—I don’t want to speak on other people’s behalf. But, just through research and development and what we have seen, cannabis can make you lazy. There is no positive push to cannabis being productive. 

There is no real acceptance of cannabis with athleticism, too. Maybe with working out, skateboarding, or martial arts, but your traditional sports, they don’t even accept cannabis. Maybe because it would take away from your tenacity?

With skating being more artistic and creative mentally, it makes sense. With other traditional sports, it’s very black and white.

I understand, because not everybody participates in cannabis and it could be looked at as an enhancement to your performance. But when it comes to lifestyle sports, it’s kind of used as a tool for concentration and relaxation.

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Switch frontside 5-0 / Photo by Liam Annis @liamaphotography

During the LOVE Park years, how prevalent was cannabis during skate sessions?

The older dudes were always smoking blunts. Being from Philadelphia, Phillies were always available. They were super cheap—like ten cents.

Skating was so illegal at LOVE, did things ever get crazy with smoking cannabis there?

Nah, never. It was a plaza that was filled with homeless people and skaters. Even though they chased us out, we would always come back. The people that didn’t have a skateboard would stay there, and those would be the people that would have weed and shit like that.

It sounds like skating was way more illegal than cannabis.

It’s just about how you would do it. The cops didn’t come in there looking for weed, they were looking for skaters. And if they were looking for weed, they wouldn’t be looking for skaters. It’s weird.

You’ve traveled the world filming for The DC Video, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year. What was it like seeing cannabis culture in different places, such as Europe?

They had better weed and knew how to roll it better. They were just proactive with cannabis. It was more accepted. In America we got these crazy laws and this crazy cesspool of people that we live with. Some people accept it, some people don’t. The culture has grown internationally, and it’s way more accepted now than it was when I was traveling.

In Baker 3 you close out the friends’ section and introduce Dustin Dollin. How did you get into hanging with those guys? Were you stoned when you filmed that clip?

We were in Barcelona, and there were all types of skaters out there. Dustin and I have been cool for a long time. We were probably just smoking and drinking at MACBA, someone pulled out the camera, and I just started talking some shit. But that’s my dude, though. Andrew Reynolds is my homie too, so I support Baker skateboards, for sure.

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Switch heelflip / Photo by Liam Annis @liamaphotography

You are no stranger to launching successful brands, DGK being one of them. Can you expand on what Lord Williams Farms is?

Lord Williams Farms is my underground cannabis brand that I have been pushing quietly. I wanted to get people aware of the name and the direction, but I’m also completing the technology that is going to come with it as well. If you look at my page you will see a lot of augmented reality stuff, some merchandise, and some good trees. It’s more experimental right now, but I’m going to launch it pretty soon.

Do you have details that you can share before the official launch?

More so the technology—it’s a Web3 cannabis brand inspired by skateboarding, technology, and lifestyle. I’ll have the augmented reality to go with the merchandise, accessories, and cannabis bags. I’ll also utilize NFC chip technology attached to the product as well. All of that will be under a Web3 type of system connected to a blockchain for authenticity.

Any other projects going on? Shoutouts?

I’m still skating, staying in shape, working on my brands, and being a dad, a son, and an all-around solid person. Shout out to all the homies at JKwon, DGK, High Times, and all the people learning new things and trying to evolve into the best version of themselves.

The post In Conversation with Stevie Williams appeared first on High Times.


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