Starting this week I am going to be doing a weekly throwback series about the history of #SDK, I want to start the series at the very beginning with this photo, me in the black hoodie and Label in the grey. Yes, this was before I had hair on my head or my face😎
This is how it all began, first of all this photo was taken at the old Ephin Shop way back in 2005. Around the same time the name “Stompdown Killaz” was created by both Label and myself.
Back then things were pretty terrible, I will only speak for myself on this issue but drug abuse, depression and anxiety was an everyday problem. It was a dark time and it felt almost as if there was no hope for the future. I was an angry lost young man. Label was in a very similar situation as mine and things needed to change fast!
One day before we even came up with the name SDK, Label and I decided we needed to find a way out of this hole. We needed something badly but we didn’t know what that “something” was. So we did what we always did, we got fucked up, we grabbed some very strong cheap beer from a pub in Surrey BC called “The Moose” and we went to the Guildford mall parking lot, where the old Walmart used to be, and we sat, smoked and drank all day.
Something happened that day, maybe it was desperation or fate, who knows. What I do know is that was the birthday of what would later be known around the world as STOMPDOWN KILLAZ.
All day we brainstormed, coming up with ideas, some insane, some brilliant, but we wrote everything down. After many hours we decided to start a business based on ART. Label was and still is one of the most talented people I have ever met in my life, he is also a natural comedian. I knew we would be successful I just didn’t know how.
We designed our own business cards some of you might remember, it was an amazing drawing by Label, the word “Stompdown” and a jungle background with the silhouette of a soldier and his rifle (photo 2,3) We had no idea about business or even what we wanted to do, so we decided to just try anything, graphic design, custom murals, we even started selling spray paint. The 2 of us would walk down the street handing out our cards to any business that would let us in the door, most wanted nothing to do with these 2 scary looking wierdos. It was disheartening and seemed impossible.
We managed to get a few mural jobs here and there but times were very tough and it only got worse, but we never gave up. Probably because there was absolutely no plan B. It was success or death.
I will continue the story of SDK every Thursday and explain what happened next. Thank you for reading and thank you to the people who have been with us since day one, and thank you to all the new ones along the way! Love you all. To be continued...
Today is part two in this weekly series about the history of SDK, last week I talked about some of the very early days before we even had the name Stompdown Killaz. Today I would like to go back a little bit further and explain how we all met. I know I’ve talked about this in the past but I’m sure some people have never heard the story or might have forgot. So here we go!
I graduated high school in 1997 and immediately began working at a warehouse loading trucks. It wasn’t a terrible job but I knew there was something else for me out there. I stuck it out for six years but in 2003 I just couldn’t work full-time anymore and made the decision to only work part time. I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time to wander and that’s exactly what happened. There wasn’t very much money coming in so I had to sell my vehicle and walk everywhere I went.
I was broke and in debt but other than that life was fairly stress-free, it was strange to have so much free time alone. Sick of walking everywhere, I managed to get a BMX bike and it felt like the greatest thing in the world after being on foot for so long. I lived in the country and there were no buses so there was some really long days before the bike. Now I could really go places!
One day I was riding my bike through a place near where I live called Brookswood and I found a skate park. BMX was a big part of my youth, but when I was growing up there were no skate parks where I lived so this was something exciting and new. It was a busy day at the skate park and the weather was starting to get a little bit warmer so everyone was out skating and riding. At first I was nervous to ride in the park with a bunch of strangers, so I peddled slowly around the edge of the park and that’s when a couple of the older guys recognized me from when I sold weed for a short time in the area.
The first two people to approach me were named “Milk Money” and “Dirty Joe”. And they were some greasy shady fucks! But they offered me a Pilsner beer and asked me to come over to the grass hill where a large group of people were drinking beer and smoking weed. This hill had a name “Pil Hill” because Pilsner was the only type of beer they drank. They all began introducing themselves, with fascinating names like Doug Drealer, Keep6, Craver, Brown Josh, Hash Brown, Rad Chad, Nick The Red Headed Stepchild, Fat Head, Surgen, Rad Dad, Palm Trees. There was probably about 40 of them.
It was during this first meeting that It became clear, I had found my people! This is what I had been searching for all along, a group of guys and girls just like me. People that didn’t really fit in anywhere else so we all gravitated to the skate park for various reasons. I was home! Summer was just around the corner and for the next several months we would show up to the park every single day. We had no idea at the time, but this was the group of people that would be known as the Stompdown Killaz just two years later!
These were some wild times in the beginning and it is what made us such close friends, like Keep6 would later say “I’m surprised we even made it out of that”. But that was the fun of it all, we were lawless vagrants, willfully homeless, days turned into night so fast there was times when all I did was sleep on a couch or at the park, I hardly ever went home. Fist fights, being hassled by the police, angry civilians that blamed us for all the crime in the area. It was beautiful and terrible at the same time. We did some petty crime but it was mostly just to get food or beer, we would steal loaves of bread and pepperoni sticks from the local store and make super dry nasty hotdogs. We always felt terrible because we abused our bodies so much, but looking back now it was the greatest time of my life!
As I write these stories I’m starting to realize that this is not going to be a few weeks, this is probably going to take a few years each Thursday to write the story from the beginning struggles to where we are now, globally successful. Please join me next week for part three! SDK!
Today is part 3 in the weekly series about the history of SDK. I’m going to talk about something that I’ve never talked about before and didn’t think I ever would. But after thinking about it for a very long time I have decided that it is necessary if I am going to include the most important pieces of our history and how it all became what it is today. First of all I want to say that looking back I am genuinely remorseful and apologize to the people that it affected negatively and to the people that I hurt. I wish it didn’t happen the way that it did but I can’t change the past, so here we go.
After the summer of 2003 we had become a very close group of friends, and although I appeared to be homeless, I was actually renting a home that I hardly ever went to because it was about an hour long bike ride from the skate park. Sometimes a group of us would party there for days and days in a row. One of these nights things got really out of control.
We were all drinking and smoking in the living room watching graffiti videos when I went outside to get something from the garage. I was only gone about five minutes but when I returned one of the guys had painted an entire wall in my living room with spray paint! I was furious!! This was the first time I realized the type of people I was hanging around with could really negatively impact my life.
I don’t know why I did this but instead of a fist fight, I told the guy that he would have to get all of the best graffiti artists that he knew to paint something over it. A few days later they arrived. I didn’t know some of them at all, things got out of control very quickly. The door to my house was literally kicked opened before I could get to it by a guy named Big Miles. I had met Miles a few years earlier when I was looking to buy a large amount of weed but the deal fell through after we got into a heated argument about the quality and the price. I was shocked to see him again and in my kitchen of all places. The next hour was a blur of chaos.
Instead of just painting over the living room wall, they started painting every wall in my house, I was in complete shock and out numbered so I just let it happen. When they finally left, my house looked like a graffiti covered skate park as you can see in the photos. I just stood there alone in my house wondering what to do next. I knew that if my landlord saw this I would be kicked out with nowhere to go. My house smelled very strongly of spray paint for weeks, it was hard to sleep.
To be totally honest I loved it, it was the craziest thing to look at every day and I had always been a huge fan of graffiti so I just left it. My plan was to paint over everything one day before I moved but that day never happened. About seven or eight months later there was a knock on my door and it was my landlord, he had been doing some yard work and happened to see one of the paintings through a side window, he was furious! I knew I was busted so I let him into the house. He went into every room and then he went into the basement.
A few years earlier I had attempted to grow weed in my basement but I was inexperienced and it didn’t work out very well so I gave up. But the stupid thing was I didn’t take anything down so all of the equipment was still there, he left and he called the police. This was an elderly man that had no idea what he was looking at but probably thought it was a drug lab and that’s what he told the police. I was living on the USA Canada border and a few months earlier my neighbour was caught with a drug tunnel going from Canada to the USA (google Aldergrove Drug Tunnel)
I didn’t know the guy but my landlord had seen us talking several times and I think he thought it was all connected somehow.
About half an hour after my landlord left I heard a very loud helicopter so I walked outside to see what was going on. Immediately I heard a loud speaker tell me to put my hands in the air and walk backwards away from the house. That was when I noticed that there were two helicopters and a line of police cars coming up my driveway. I was arrested at gunpoint and my house was raided. The police found nothing illegal in my house and I was just about to be released when One of the cops said I had an outstanding warrant.
I totally forgot about my court date because I was always so fucked up, it wasn’t for something serious but since I didn’t show up to court I had an arrest warrant. I was only in jail for 24 hours but when I was released I returned home to find it completely empty. My friends and family thankfully came and got all of my stuff. I was not allowed back on the property. After living on my own for seven years I had nowhere to go, so I moved into my parents basement. This was the lowest point in my entire life... I will continue the story next week with part four. Thank you for reading, see you then.
Today is part 4 in the history #SDK. So far I have talked about how most of us met each other and some of the very beginnings. Now I want to talk about how Stompdown & Ephin joined forces.
From 2003 to 2005 the group of us from the skate park had been living pretty wild lives and built quite a reputation in our area. All we did was party and live dangerously with not a care for the future at all. We were mostly located in Langley British Columbia, Canada which shares a border with the notorious Canadian city known as Surrey, BC. Some of us grew up in Surrey and like myself we had a lot of family out there. A group of high school friends from Surrey formed a clothing/music company called EPHIN in 2002. One of the founders named Ryan “Vision” Wiese was very interested in meeting me because he thought my group of hooligans had great potential in the business world. Shortly after I heard about this I headed out to his shop with my brother Label.
Right away we could see there were very strong similarities between our two groups and we kept in contact with each other over the next few months. There was one famous night when my group was invited to a house party in Surrey that they were hosting. Like a scene out of the movie Mad Max we left the skate park in a convoy of dirt bikes, stolen vehicles and uninsured cars. It was an epic night and shortly after we decided to join forces into what is known today as EPHIN SDK.
Most people might not realize this but I honestly believe if I had not met Vision we would all be dead or in jail today and there would be no #stompdownkillaz. We were too wild to operate a day-to-day business and the thought of working every day sounded like the worst thing in the world to a group of guys who partied 24/7.
We later created a DVD series named after our lifestyle called “Die Slow”. And that was exactly how we were living, slowly dying. But it was the camaraderie and the power of friendship that made it all seem appealing for some reason. Vision opened our eyes to the reality we were facing, by becoming a legitimate business we were able to avoid a lot of legal problems and possibly make money for once. Vision was also fearless just like us, we were a perfect match. I could go on for days about how much this guy has done for myself and everyone else included. He turned out to be one of my best friends years later, and once he saved me from going to jail for many years in Montreal when I was denied bail for aggravated assault. But that is a story for another day, what I want to make clear today is that without this man you would not be reading this story today. Immediately the value of my team was evident, one example is the music video by Caspian “Rock It” (YouTube) we did the graffiti for the video and added some colourful characters to the shoot. It was an unbelievably exciting time and it was very strange to suddenly have a retail store.
The Ephin boys/girls were a wild bunch and we got along great, continuing the party lifestyle in a business setting, which is not always the best idea. Surrey was only one city away from the skate park but it seemed like an entirely different country, we now had rappers on our team! I never would have thought we would have musicians in our group. We were mostly graffiti and they were clothing & music, The elements of hip-hop were being represented to the fullest now. Quickly the graffiti/music combination led to my first YouTube video series where we painted and I edited music videos using our artists music. These graffiti music videos got the attention of a legendary local graffiti artist, recently turned rapper, named #snaktheripper. Snak was already very well known for his cross country vandalism and now that he was a graffiti rapper he decided to contact us because that’s exactly what we were doing. I will continue from here next week.
As I continue to write the stories I realize there is going to be some back-and-forth and these are not going to be in any perfect order but I’m doing my best and I thank you for reading along each week. I will continue the story next week with part 5 “ The birth of a movement”. Have a great day and keep your head up, life is war, each day is a battle!
Welcome back, today is part 5 in the history of #SDK. I will continue where we left off last week explaining about how #snaktheripper and myself met and began filming music videos together. This first photo says it all, we were a couple of weirdos with big dreams!
Just like every other day I was passing time with CASPIAN & VISION at our retail location in Surrey (Fraser highway & 152nd street) trying our best to take over the world. As we sat there brainstorming crazy ideas, there appeared a strange creature outside of our shop--you know that scene in a movie where a very important character is first introduced and it pauses for a few seconds so you can absorb what you are actually looking at? This was that moment in my life.
SNAK THE RIPPER was very well known in the graffiti world and we had been hearing a lot about him because of his rap/graff combination. KEEP6 was the first person to bring him to our attention, but until I met this guy myself I had no idea the potential we were dealing with. If the word grimey had an image, this guy was it. And then I heard him speak! Raspy, rugged, too many cigarettes, whatever the ingredients, this guy was unique!
SNAK was in town with WERD filming the last scenes for his first music video “Warning” (YouTube.) As we talked about his music video we came up with the idea to do a graffiti video. We went to a wall in Delta on the train tracks and spent the day painting and filming. Sometime during this crazy day VISION suggested that SNAK film some of him rapping his new song while he was painting. At first he was hesitant because he didn’t want to associate his face and his vandal name to his rap name, so we came up with the idea for him to wear a ski mask to hide his identity. Little did we know, this would turn out to be an iconic moment in our history that brought global awareness to the SDK movement.
What started as a graffiti video turned into my first music video, and as the day continued the energy only increased. Soon we were back at the shop drinking and smoking. The next thing I knew I was filming my first official music video. Snak was standing on the roof of D-Recs car, with the roof caved-in, holding a hammer. (Photo 3) The music video can be found on YouTube titled Snak The Ripper “what’s street, dangerous state”. To be totally honest I don’t remember the rest of the day but this was the first day of my music video career.
Today, January 10, 2019, I woke up feeling very nervous about the story I was going to write today, not because of the content but simply because I get nervous about every Thursday history post. I didn’t realize how emotional it would be and how many times I would wake up in the middle of the night stressing about how I was going tell my story and how people would feel about it. Today I went on Instagram and the first story in my feed was @snaktheripper wishing happy birthday to his dad (R.I.P.) and his brother Kyle...... Of all the years and all the days to post my story about my road dog SNAK, today was it. What a trip life is. Love you brother! ❤️ #stompdownkillaz for life. See you next week 😢
Welcome back to the #SDK History Pt. 6.
In May 2007, I had released 75 graffiti videos on the Stompdown YouTube channel. For the first time in my life I had found something that I was truly passionate about, filming and editing short videos. Almost every day I was filming, sometimes I would be out all day and night with one artist, drop them off, and on my way back home I would get a phone call from another artist that wanted to film a video. There were times that I was up for three or four days before I finally made it back home.
YouTube was still fairly new and we were one of the only graffiti channels posting consistent videos. For this reason we had an unbelievable amount of views in a short amount of time. For me personally it felt like we were famous and on our way to greatness, so I was more than happy to keep pumping out the videos. Not everybody was happy with what some people called “self promotion”. According to the older writers, graffiti was meant to be witnessed in person and not in videos on the Internet. I got quite a lot of negative feedback from people that wanted me to stop doing the videos, but I didn’t listen and kept going. Now there are thousands of people on YouTube doing the same thing we did back then.
It was obvious there was a serious chance of us getting into legal trouble because of these videos, but it was just too exciting to stop. All was good until it was the top story on the 6 o’clock news one night! “We’ll show you how YouTube may be creating a whole new brand of criminal” “Absolute vandalism!” Is what the mayor of Surrey called my videos. “Vandals are using the Internet to broadcast their graffiti”. My heart sank, it was all over!
It was an out of body experience as I watched the news channel showing my videos live on TV. I knew my parents and my family would be watching this. Immediately the phone calls started coming in from the artists, they were as worried as I was that we were all going to be arrested and they wanted me to get rid of the videos. In a panic I went onto YouTube and deleted all 75 videos without realizing that I had none of them backed up. To this day I have never found them again. That was one of my biggest regrets, but at the time it seemed like my world was crashing down around me and I was scared. We knew we could get arrested for what we were doing, but being the top story on the news never crossed my mind!
The next few weeks dragged on, I was constantly waiting for the worst to happen. Since being evicted from my house for all of the graffiti on the walls I had been reluctantly living in my parents basement with my two large dogs. One day there was a loud knock at the front door, looking through a side window I could see it was police. I just froze and I didn’t answer the door, after about 15 minutes they left. The next day when I was at work the police came into the front retail store and asked the cashier if KEEP6 worked here. She obviously had no idea what they were talking about and they left. I was in another room listening to them. It felt like just a matter of time before my door would be kicked down and I would be arrested.
The police came by my house again, this time only my mom was home and they asked if LABEL the graffiti artist lived here. My mom was so confused and told them she had no idea what they were talking about. The police came by twice more but both times I was the only one home and I didn’t answer the door. The strangest thing was it just went away, they never came back and none of the artists were arrested. But the damage was done and nobody really wanted to film with me anymore. I was devastated and lost, for once in my life I thought I had a potential career filming videos. Alone and with so much free time on my hands I spent the next six months at a shady motel pub in Aldergrove BC. drinking, partying and getting involved with a very bad crowd. It was another low point in my life. Next week I will talk about the sad reality of my drug abuse and terribly poor choices. Thank you for reading, see you all next week! #stompdownkillaz 🌎❤️
Welcome back to Pt. 7 of the #SDK History, follow #sdkstory to read them all.
Before I continue where we left off last week, I wanted to show these two photos of myself. The first one is during the dark days of my life following the news story, I was abusing drugs, terribly unhappy and wondering what to do now that i'm not filming. The second photo is me only 5 years earlier. It is hard for me to look at these two photos because of the drastic change in my appearance.
After years of using drugs as fuel, now it was becoming more of an escape for me and less about filming videos. Not only was I letting myself down, I was letting my friends and family down.
I want to use this opportunity to talk to the lost ones out there that might be going through what I went through right now. Because of drugs & alcohol we lost a lot of people over the years, including my little brother Mitch in 2014. I don't think there was a day that went by in the early years of SDK where we weren't completely fucked up. There was probably 1000 near death experiences because of this. I just want to make it very clear that this is not a lifestyle I would recommend to anyone and it is a miracle we are here today. I wasted 1000's of days in a fog of negativity, please don't do what we did because it was a complete waste of time & money. That's all I wanted to say about that subject. Back to the story....
It's tough to write about those days in my life, I was still filming videos but drugs and alcohol were killing my motivation. My days were spent at a local pub, it was basically my home for 6 months. I just didn't have any inspiration or ideas on how to go on with life. Filming these graffiti videos was the best thing that ever happened to me and now it was fading away because of abuse and depression. Days passed very slowly and I just kept to myself in a dark smoky corner of the pub. One day Label and myself were sitting there drinking when we heard about a local kid that was robbed and killed just down the street. He was only 19. We didn't know him but a lot of people around town did and we could see how much pain it caused in the community. Label came up with the idea to paint a memorial for him but we didn't have a wall so Label said "fuck it, lets paint the back of Safeway" (grocery store in Aldergrove BC). I filmed it, the video is on YouTube titled "KYLE NEWBIE MARUD"
I fully expected to have the painting shut down by the police but it didn't. Kyle's mom and family lived behind the grocery store and they stopped by. It was one of the most emotional paintings I have ever done, unfortunately it would be one of many more we would paint over the years. After the painting was finished we left without saying a word. Nobody really knew who we were and we didn't want them to, this painting was for the family. The next morning when we arrived back at the pub and ordered our usual tall cans of beer, suddenly a tray of drinks arrived at our table. Confused, I asked the server who they were from, she pointed to a group of men at the bar. These guys were regulars at the pub and because I was usually alone and didn't talk to anyone, they had been very suspicious of me and even confronted me a few days earlier asking why I was here everyday. Word had spread about our mural and these guys wanted to say thank you, apparently Kyle had some friends and family at the pub. From that exact moment, my life changed forever.
I went from sitting alone in the corner, to sitting up at the bar with these guys all day, all night, then repeat. Not only were these guys locals but they owned the place. There was no closing time for us, it was one big party for months. We went to wild private parties, hosted car shows and held huge events at the hotel. Things I had only seen in movies was now my everyday life. I knew it was a dangerous world I had ventured into but I liked it, maybe this was the path in life I had been looking for. I was fascinated by the life these guys lived and could easily picture myself living this way for the remainder of my days. My film career suffered and only a few people came by to visit me, I even released a music video for a local rapper that was edited entirely at the bar. I was a mess. 12 years later and the painting of Kyle was still up last time I was there. Even when Safeway tried to remove it the community threatened to stop shopping there. Sadly Kyle's mom passed away shortly after but she still got to witness the painting and even be in the video.
Thank you for reading along, see you next week for Pt. 8.
I opened my eyes and looked around the room, nothing was familiar. The sun was shining into the smoky room creating a laser beam effect, where the hell am I and why is there a shotgun on my lap!? My finger was on the trigger and it was loaded, thankfully it didn't go off while I was passed out. Panic set in. I tried to get up but it was almost impossible, the room was spinning and blurry. Wiping my fingerprints off the gun, trying to figure out what was going on, praying that I didn't do something terrible, I made it out the back door. It was very hot outside but everything seemed to be normal. Nobody was concerned, there were no police and I recognized the area, but that didn't explain how I ended up passed out at a strange house, alone with a gun. I felt absolutely terrible, like nothing I had felt before. This was no ordinary hang over from booze, I felt like death.
After a short walk I arrived back at the pub, hoping someone could explain to me what happened. I couldn't go in because of my condition and also the very real possibility that I had done something really bad. It was a horrifying feeling not knowing what had happened. After banging on the back door to the office for what seemed like 20 minutes, the door finally opened. To my surprise it was my close friend Danny, this was weird because he didn't even work at the pub and here he was in the back office holding a microphone with a stack of money, full party mode. Somehow he was hosting an event at the pub all by himself, this was making my brain hurt, now nothing made sense. He broke out laughing and proceeded to tell me about the last few days. We had all been partying heavily at the pub on Friday (it was now Monday evening) and we didn't sleep at all. We did the same thing on Saturday. When people started to finally go home it was Sunday night. For some reason a few of us didn't want the party to end so we went to a local drug house where we kept going until the next day when everyone finally left. I had passed out around noon and some asshole thought it would be funny to put a loaded sawed off shotgun in my hands before he left. This house was a duplex and people were living above and on both sides, had the gun gone off it would have probably killed someone. I was pissed off! I left the pub that day and never came back, over 12 years later and I have still never set foot inside that place.
This was my rock bottom and it was time for change. I needed to get back to filming the SDK videos. Thankfully the guys still wanted to film with me and off we went, day after day. I was motivated like never before, there was no looking back, we needed to change from a negative to a positive. DIE SLOW Volume 1 was the answer.
We decided to film a Graffiti Movie and for the next few months that was all I did. Each day was spent filming with a new artist, just follow and film. Graffiti writers are very competitive and each wanted to have the most memorable parts in the movie so I constantly found myself scared to death, running from police and injured from falls, fights and poor health. This was all fine with me because it kept me busy and out of trouble. That might sound crazy to you reading this but compared to the life I had been living, graffiti crime was nothing.
Making this movie I risked my health, life and freedom but it strangely may have saved me at the same time. Life is one big question with no answers when you are young. If you are reading this and feel lost just remember I was there once too. Stay positive my friends #alwaysmovingforward. Here is the trailer for Die Slow 1, it gives me shivers watching this but I am glad we made it. Tomorrow I am releasing a new video featuring KEEP6 & CRAVER on the Stompdown YouTube Channel. See you next week. :)
Welcome back to Part 9 of the #SDK history. After the release of our first DVD "Die Slow" we went crazy with the YouTube videos. If I wasn't filming I was editing, my whole life was consumed by graffiti. On January 1, 2009 we got started early with a classic video "SDK #53 I Get Paid" featuring Lesen & Keep6 with music from Caspian. It felt like we couldn't be stopped now after surviving what we had been through these past years. The video was released the day after we filmed it. I was on a roll and I was happier than ever before.
The paintings started to get much bigger and riskier, SDK #60 on YouTube is a good example of how serious it got. THE STOMPDOWN KILLAZ was popping up all over our area, sometimes hundreds of feet long. I remember a few giant walls we did that blew me away when I saw it in the day light. It was so amazing to just completely change the appearance of a neighborhood. I didn't think we could keep out doing ourselves but in July 2009 we started to paint entire train cars known as "Wholecars". The first time I had ever seen a Wholecar was several years earlier and I thought aliens must have done it, how could anyone paint something so huge and time consuming without getting caught?! I didn't know what KEEP6 was going to paint that day but it didn't matter, I was down for anything. As I watched him climb up and down the latter hundreds of times over the next few hours I constantly thought we would be arrested at any moment. At one point a helicopter start flying very low and I was freaked out, I thought it was the cops.
I couldn't believe we got away with painting an entire side of a train. The drive home felt surreal, adrenaline was making me shake like I was freezing cold. It seemed like an impossible task that we pulled it off and hopefully we would never do that again, wow was I in for a surprise! Not only did it happen again, it became all we did for a while. Keep6 & Big Miles went into a wholecar painting frenzy!
It became a very serious friendly competition that I was stuck in the middle of. If I thought it was scary filming graffiti videos before, I had no idea the type of fear you get while standing in one position for hours and hours while an artist turned an old rusty train car into a work of art. I would scan from left to right the entire time, constantly expecting to see police. The back pain I would get still haunts me to this day.
Sometimes it was freezing cold and I didn't dress warm enough and other times I was roasting in the hot sun with no shade at all. As I write this and think about how many wholecars we painted I can't believe we got away with it for so long. But all good things come to an end and soon I found out what it feels like to be standing there scanning left to right, seeing nothing and then seeing my worst nightmare, my friends face down on the ground at gun point.
The day it all went sour I was with Big Miles and Lesen who was doing his very first attempt at a wholecar. We arrived at the spot where we had good luck finding trains and on this particular day it was a gold mine, long lines stretching as far as we could see. We went deep into the train yard and found a perfect spot to get started. Big Miles really does live up to his name, and today he was going bigger than ever before. 3 wholecars in a row!! While Lesen got started on his first wholecar, Miles went crazy and started to outline 3 trains side by side. I was super nervous to see this because it was going to be a long day.
We had painted here a lot lately and there was still a Keep6 wholecar sitting there from a few days earlier. It was a very hot day but we had the shade from the large train line and we even had a bunch of beers with us. It was always nice to have a few drinks to take the edge off.
My body was aching and I needed to walk, so after a few hours of standing in the same spot I couldn't stay still any longer. Filming train graffiti on the other cars in the line was a good way to get some extra footage for my videos and to loosen up my back. So I let the guys know what I was up to and headed down the train line with my camera. I stayed on the same side of the trains so that I could keep checking back on Miles & Lesen. I would look back towards them every 30 seconds to make sure they were all good. All of a sudden they were gone! I could see the train and the ladders but nothing else, my heart dropped. I started running towards the trains they had been painting and thats when I saw the strangest scariest thing I had ever seen. They were both laying face down, I thought they were dead! That's when the cop emerged from the forest behind them and pointed a gun at my face. He was just as shocked to see me as I was to see him.
This cop was doing routine patrols when he stumbled upon us painting. He could see us before we even knew he was watching and because I had walked down the train line he thought there was only 2 people. He waited until a passing train created enough noise for him to sneak through the forest and arrest them. At gun point he yelled at them to lie face down. The train noise was so loud I didn't hear any of this and as I ran back to see where they were with my camera in hand I scared the crap out of the cop and he almost shot me. It didn't seem real, but it got real fast and I joined them face down in handcuffs. I hate handcuffs and even worse I had to take a piss bad. My anxiety was through the roof and the train cop kept us on the ground for 2 hours while he waited for the RCMP (police) to arrive. By now the sun had come over top of the train and we were baking to death. I was not doing well.
I managed to convince the cop to handcuff me in front of my body so that I could attempt to take a piss. After 5 minutes of struggling with my zipper and belt I realized that I can't do it while this guy watched me and panic was running through my whole body. It just wouldn't work, I started to get mad and began yelling at myself hoping that would help, this cop thought I was a lunatic and so did Big Miles & Lesen. FINALLY I managed to relieve myself and went back to sitting on the rocks in the sun. A young cocky officer arrived and started making fun of us, he thought we were complete losers and seemed to find it funny. He kept asking me how it felt to ruin my life for this childish bullshit, he really seemed like he stopped a murder or something. We were finally released with a promise to appear for a court date.
Thankfully its almost impossible to do jail time for graffiti where we live and when our court date arrived the case was thrown out. No criminal record! It was a great relief but it had me stressed to the max for the whole time. We didn't stop painting wholecars but it slowed us down and made me feel paranoid now that our names were attached to the videos. What was actually very funny about that whole day was when the cops were looking at our ID's, one cop looked at Miles and then looked at 3 entire train cars with "MILES' painted on them and said "Let me guess, you're Miles? :) ! -Q
Alright Part 10 here we go! Today is a little different, a few years ago I wrote a book of short stories about my days filming videos. The following is taken from that book.
This is a story about stories, with my brothers Craver and Lesen. When everyone is together it is the best, but if I can only get 2 people out filming I will gladly take these 2 gentlemen. When that car door slams shut and the 3 of us are on the loose ANYTHING can and will happen. It only seems funny now because we lived through it. One of those crazy adventures was a road trip the 3 of us took to Osoyoos BC to visit a friend of ours. Most of the trip is missing from my memory but luckily there is a video for it on YouTube titled SDK OSOYOOS. There are so many videos I don't even know the name of the one where Lesen shot fireworks at Craver or the time he tried to blindfold Lesen while he was driving then started waving a baseball bat around. Times spent on the tracks are the best days. I just searched LESEN CRAVER on YouTube and it was amazing to see how many days we have spent on the hunt or just having a blast no matter what the weather conditions. I have an image burned into my memory from a time when we were hiding from train workers in blackberry bushes. I can still picture the wide eyed look, sweat pouring down, blood slowly mixing with the sweat , nobody is talking or moving and the sound of breathing seems too loud. I was always scared. I still get scared filming train paintings, probably always will but that feeling after when we get back to the car and drive off into the sunset, dirty , dehydrated, covered in blood and grime! That is the best feeling in the world. After more than 10 years we are still the same people but we live farther apart now, work, school, life etc. It is rare when we can all get together these days but we will always film videos.
Here is another short story about Big Miles. First of all I have to say that Big Miles is not like you and me. He is the scariest, most bad ass writer I have ever documented. He is also one of the nicest. Miles prefers to go alone but every now and then I get the phone call and it's go time! The first time I went filming with him I didn't know him very well at all. We get to the spot and it is a train car in the middle of a business underneath 2 cameras!! I ask him about the cameras and he says "there is probably nobody watching them". So he gets started and amazingly enough he is finished in 30 minutes. As we are packing up to leave a train engine comes around the corner and blocks us in the dead end. A worker leans out and yells at us, Miles looks at me and says "what do you think we should do?" LOL! Here I am thinking he has this all planned out so I decided our only option is to go through the trees towards the business and hope for the best. We pop out of the dense bushes but we are right in the courtyard lunch area and all the workers are on lunch break, 50 or more people. Now I am sure we are going to jail or getting beat by these angry Surrey workers. I look at Miles and say well what now? He casually pulls a joint out of his smoke pack, lights it, takes a huge puff and says "Balls of steel bro, balls of steel" and he walks towards the crowd, all of them move out of his way and we leave through the front doors into the street! I didn't think we would make it back to the car, my hands were shaking, we didn't say a word to each other and it was months before he invited me out filming again. That was over 10 years ago or more. Today we are like family and although he doesn't have time to film much, we still get together every once in a while!
Naks One SDK. Wow, what can I say about this guy. I once nick named him Naxel Rose because his energy is so intense sometimes I wonder if he is alone in his own universe. I don't have a favorite but the way this guy has progressed over the years inspires me to work harder at my own craft. Once on tour he said to me "on tour, everyday is saturday!!" This guy doesn't know how to have a bad day and that is why he is part of our team. A few years back we were painting a wall dedicated to Keep6 who was away for a while. Naks and Craver decided it was a good idea to hop on the trains that were passing by slowly and paint them. After a few successful attempts Naks foot slipped on the stairs and goes into the train wheel! It was the outside top of the wheel so luckily he didn't get sucked in but now he is hopping down the train track on 1 foot trying to get his leg out!! After 5 or six hops he does a standing push up type move and flies backwards onto the rocks, tumbling down them and cutting himself up pretty good. Craver collapses on the ground in shock and I stand there frozen!!! As all of this is happening I see a KEEP6 whole car passing!!! WTF! The 2 videos are on YouTube titled TRAINS KILL KEEP6 SAVED YOUR FOOT! and TRAINS ARE DANGEROUS SDK. Then there was the time Naks slipped on the edge of a cliff in Whistler BC, I went to help him and fell even farther, it was all caught on camera at the end of the video SDK WHISTLER (YouTube) We managed to get rescued by Snak The Ripper, Vision and the rest of the guys. Just one of the many times I almost died filming these videos. The next day a young couple died at the exact same spot where we almost fell into the river.
Then there was the time my uncle agreed to drop us off in an industrial area at midnight dressed like ninjas with ladders, he didn't ask any questions :) It's about 5 below freezing as we get started, about 1 hour into the job the loading dock door opens right beside us, Craver and Keep6 take off one way and I decide to go through the ditch to meet up with them, big mistake, got soaked up to my waste in nasty ditch water. The worker doesn't see us so we wait until the door closes and head back in.. Another hour or so goes by and I try to move my legs but my pants and shoes have frozen hard as a rock. Just then I hear ice crunching like a car driving on it, I peek around the corner and there is the cops looking with spotlights into the yard about 50 feet from us. I try to run over to the train where Keep6 and Craver are hiding, but just as I get to the train, I slip on my frozen shoes and land HARD on my ass, shattering my tailbone. I was moving so fast that I continued to just slide off the loading dock and fall into the small area between the train and the loading dock. I am in crazy pain and in big trouble. I just want to cry and give up. We had to get me to hospital immediately but if we try to leave the cops will see us. My brothers drag me from under the train and carry me into the forest all while hiding from the cops that are parked right beside the train now. We have to lay in the frozen bushes for about an hour waiting for the cops to leave. We are cold!! Just as they leave and it's time to go I tell the guys that I can probably make it another hour if they think they can finish in that time? So we carefully make our way back into the yard and they get back to work. After another hour I can't hang on, i'm in so much pain i'm almost passing out and my feet are frozen to the bone. I admit defeat, can't go on. I had to tell the guys the bad news, without being able to finish the painting we go to leave, but we have no car, and no phones. We decide to go into a 24 hour shop and use a phone, hahah the look on the peoples faces as 3 bloody ninjas walk in the front door :) SDK! To this day my tailbone aches constantly.
Hey everybody! Today I was going to take a break from writing the weekly stories because it is honestly very difficult to go on this personal roller coaster of emotions each week. BUT, I didn't ever expect so many people to enjoy reading these and so many messages from people telling me how much they appreciate these posts. So I will write this story today and then I will be taking a break for who knows how long.
Back in 2003 when we all hung out at the Brookswood skate park everyday, I used to tell stories about the future and what my plans were for the group of us. It was my dream to have a tour bus and travel across the country. When I first brought up this idea everyone just laughed at me because none of us had any musical talent or any other reason to be on a tour in the first place LOL. Sometimes dreams can take many years to become a reality and also sometimes dreams just fade away to nothing but a memory. I always dream big and even if it seems impossible I am willing to sacrifice everything chasing my dreams. From 2003 - 2012 I never stopped trying and never stopped believing in the dream of touring the country with my brothers. Stompdown is my family, all I wanted was for everyone to be happy and moderately successful. But most importantly I wanted each day to be like a day at the skate park. In 2012 this highly unrealistic dream finally became a reality and we bought a tour bus! It was actually an old motor home we got and wrapped it in our logos.
Now I know some people might be wondering why we would buy a bus when we’re just a group of vandals, what will we tour for? Thankfully for us the merger with Ephin years earlier brought rappers into the family and with musicians came more fame than we ever thought possible. Some of you might recognize the names Snak The Ripper, Caspian, Merkules, Evil Ebenezer & Prada West. It was because of them that we were now able to book shows in cities all across Canada. Of course much more went into the tour behind the scenes. Thankfully Vision (Ryan Wiese) took care of all the thankless jobs and Rick the bus driver saved our lives by donating his time to drive this bus full of hooligans. The best part about this tour was Craver, Naks and myself got to go even though we really had very little to do during the shows. I always believed this day would happen but nothing can explain that feeling I got when we drove to Vancouver for the first show. None of us had been in a vehicle this size and it freaked us out. I can only describe it as travelling down the highway in your living room.
The show in Vancouver was on a boat and just as we were leaving the dock a fan got caught stealing booze from the bar and was kicked off the boat. He didn't go quietly and put up a fight with the entire security team until he was finally choked unconscious. All of this is on YouTube in the video series titled "SDK DOC" Unfortunately for us this kid was so mad about being kicked off the boat that he decided to take it out on our tour bus while we were out for the night. When the night was over and we returned to the bus we found the windshield smashed in many places, both mirrors ripped off and a bunch of boot marks around the whole bus.
For some reason the kid was still hanging around the area and needless to say the entire team attacked him before he was saved by police.
The tour was over on just the first night! I was devastated but we didn't give up, we rented vans for the first part of the tour on Vancouver Island. We couldn't get a proper windshield replacement in time and we had no choice but to head out on the full tour with a mangled bus. Some days we drove for an entire day with the sun blinding us because of all the fractures in the windshield. It was hell. The initial excitement about the tour was quickly replaced by nervousness and doubt. What had we gotten ourselves into? 40 more days of this?! The first few days of the tour all we did was party but that quickly became a problem because we had to be on the bus early every morning, usually for a 10 hour drive. We were completely out of control and never slept or ate properly. The big bus felt smaller and smaller each day but eventually we got the hang of tour life. For the whole tour I sat in the same seat on the bus, it was just behind the passenger captain chair and I had my own window. I would open the window all the way and put both my legs out and just watch the world pass me by. I had made it! The dream was now a reality and the skate park days seemed like a 100 years ago. I would sit in that chair for endless hours with a smirk on my face. I never slept once on the bus, I had too much thinking to do. I would think about that summer in 2003 when it started to get colder and the dark winter set in. There was something so emotional and depressing about sitting at the skate park alone as the sun went down. Those nights it felt like my dream was dying, or even worse, it was only a dream. On tour everyday was a new city and everyday a new asshole causing problems. If you do watch the SDK DOC series on youtube you will see a small glimpse into the chaos. One of my favorite memories from the bad times on tour was people starting fights, most times there was nothing to do but fight back to save ourselves. I am not a guy that likes to get in fights but there is something special about getting into a brawl with my whole team. Never did I think Craver, Vision and myself would be back to back in a fistfight. Haha it was a wild time but sitting at an all night restaurant with matching black eyes brought me back to the old park days when we fought for nothing and there was no tour.
As the tour continued we slowly began to irritate each other and by the last day in Montreal I was not doing well. Completely worn out, beat up and homesick I was a ticking time bomb. As soon as the last show was over I headed back to hotel. On the walk back to the hotel some guy picked a fight with Merkules. It was over quick, They circled each other and both threw a punch at the same time. Merkules got a split lip but this guy got rocked and fell backwards, hitting his head on the curb. His friends picked him up and we went back to our hotels. On my walk home this guy somehow tracks me down and decides to attack me. To be continued.... Well I thought I could fit all this into one story and take a break but it looks like there will be a part 12 next week after all. Thank you for reading.
Welcome back! Wow, 12 straight weeks of these stories already! I will continue where we left off last week.
The tour was winding down and we had very little left in us. After the last show in Montreal as I walked back to my hotel room there was an incident. I am not able to go into certain details for legal reasons but that night as Craver and myself slept in our hotel room there was a loud banging on the door. I jumped to my feet and looked through the peep hole, it was the Police and there was a lot of them. Speaking loudly, I asked what they wanted without opening the door. They said there was an arrest warrant for Quinn Leathem (me) it was shocking to hear my name from a group of complete strangers. I asked them what the warrant was for but they just kept telling me to open the door. I finally opened the door and told them that I had no idea what was going on. They said I had no choice but to go with them down to the station. As this was all happening I noticed Craver in the reflection of the mirror motioning for me to close the door, so I slammed it shut. I went to ask Craver what his plan was but the door flew open and in rushed a bunch of police. They got to Craver first and threw him against the wall then slammed him face first onto the hotel room floor. Standing there in my underwear I was pinned against the wall and handcuffed. The cops grabbed all of my travel bags and brought me outside the hotel. It was mayhem, there were more cops than I had ever seen in my life. The entire area in front of my hotel was taped off and there was blood everywhere. Apparently there was some sort of fight that ended with one person being seriously injured.
The police told me I was charged with aggravated assault and I was placed into the back of a police car. They continued to talk to each other outside the car while I waited and waited. Eventually I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew we were driving. We arrived at the police station just as the sun was coming up. They brought me into the station in my underwear and they all had a good laugh. I have been to jail before but I have never had the police try to humiliate me before. I don't speak french but it was pretty obvious they were making fun of me and my situation. After being processed and having the elastics ripped from my beard, they walked me down a long hallway past a number of jail cells. I was placed alone at the very end of the hallway. It was absolutely silent. After what felt like hours I could hear the faint sound of boots walking my way. A guard appeared and with a confused look on his face he asked me why they put me here? I asked him what he was talking about. He explained to me that this part of the jail was reserved for the loud trouble makers and he didn't even know I was down here. I still had no idea what was going to happen to me but I knew from experience that I would probably be released after about 8-24 hours with a future court date. This never happened.
After about 5 or 6 hours a guard came to my cell and told me to come with her so that I could use the phone. I was brought to a room with two old men in suits. I would be allowed to use the phone but first they had a few questions. According to them I had assaulted someone and because the injuries were so serious the victim was in a coma and not expected to survive the night. I refused to comment and kept asking to talk to my lawyer. Eventually they became visibly frustrated and let me call my lawyer. I was taken back to my cell and waited for my release. This never happened. After another 20 hours a guard returned to my cell and told me I had a phone call. Once again I was brought to the same room and once again it was the same 2 old guys in suits. This time they were very angry and told me the victim had died and now my charges would be raised to murder (they joked that I would be lucky to get involuntary manslaughter and maybe be out of here in 5-8 years. I was absolutely shook. My world came crashing down around me. It was like a movie but the main character was me. To say this was a low moment was an understatement. I stuck to my story and continued to say nothing but "No comment". They brought me back to my cell and the guard told me I have to stay a full 30 hours in this cell before I would see a judge (it had been about 24 hours and I was complaining). I was still in my underwear and it was COLD.
I was so stressed out and lost, my lawyer didn't give me much to feel good about and I had no idea what was happening with the rest of my team, did they go home? Not able to sleep I just kept working out in my cell. I would push my self to absolute exhaustion and then pass out, when I woke up, start the same routine again. It was my only escape from the trauma of my situation. Here I was having the time of my life on a rap tour and now just a day later my life was over, charged with murder, alone in a jail cell. FINALLY it was my time to see a judge. To my shock and relief, I found out those two old detectives were lying to me so that I would give information about something they found on my camera. The victim was not dead and I still had the same assault charge. At this point it didn't matter what I was charged with, all I cared about was being released. The judge told me that because of my refusal to cooperate with investigators that my bail would be denied. I couldn't believe it. I was brought back to a holding cell where a bunch of other guys were waiting to see the judge too. We had been joking with each other when our name was called, apparently "The Clubhouse" is where we would be sent if we didn't get bail. As I returned to the cell they all started laughing because I was going to have a fun ride in the bus now.
As I entered the door of the bus I could hear other inmates asking why I had no clothing on, one guy said it was because my clothing was taken for evidence. The drive seemed to take about an hour and it was along the railway tracks. I can't explain how comforting it was to see all the paintings on the trains from back home, I even saw one of my own. When the bus pulled up to the prison I couldn't believe how much it looked like a prison. Everything I had ever seen in movies was now happening to me, the guard with a mirror looking under the bus, armed guards, sniffer dogs. The song "Murder was the case" by Snoop Dogg kept playing in my head, how could I be here and will I ever get out?? Next thing I know i'm completely naked while a guard looks between my butt cheeks. Another new low point in my life. Thankfully I finally had clothing but now I had no shoes, they didn't have anything even close to my shoe size so I was told to wear them like flip flops with my heel hanging off the back (this eventually wore my feet raw).
The doors to the unit I would be housed in opened and they shoved me in. It was a two tiered giant room with cells on the top and bottom with a bunch of tables on the main floor, with one TV on the wall in French only. I just couldn't get over how much this looked like every movie I had ever seen, there was one guy running very fast up the stairs, along the cells and down the other set of stairs, across the table area and back up the stairs again. He was FLYING, but he never got tired. It was overwhelming and I couldn't understand anything because I didn't speak any french. Eventually I found my cell but there was 5 guys smoking cigarettes, which I am allergic to. Thankfully they left and I hopped onto the top bunk and began my life in prison. I didn't even know what happens next, would it be months before I got out? Do I have another court date or am I forgotten about. I was sure the tour bus had gone home without me by now. A surprising calm came over me, I had spent the past 30 hours on a hard wood bench, working out to exhaustion. Now I was paying the price, my body was so sore it was hard to walk. I now had a bed with a pillow, it felt like the most comfortable bed in the world (even though my legs were hanging off the end of the bed on a sharp metal piece). I passed out. To be continued.
I never thought having my own bed in jail would be so exciting, but after being in a holding cell for 30 hours it was amazingly comfortable. When I woke up it was still light out, probably 6 or 7 in the evening. I was hoping it would be morning already. To my surprise the jail was loud and cheerful, nothing like I had expected jail to be like. Everyone was talking and going from cell to cell trading tobacco or snacks for whatever you wanted. The "President" of our unit arrived at my cell and asked if I wanted any food, but because of my anxiety and stress there was no way I could eat, it had been days since my last meal. I had been given back a pair of pants and shirt from my travel bags and this self appointed President decided that my "Stompdown" shirt was something I would give him. I refused and that was when I realized how quickly things go from bad to worse. This happy face that was just offering me a lasagna suddenly changed into a psychopath. He just stared at me with a blank look, his eyes seemed hollow and he flicked his smoke into my cell and walked away. I knew there would be conflict soon and I was alone. I left my cell and went down to the tables where the TV was. It felt like my first day of high school, everything was extra awkward because I didn't speak the language, even the TV was in French. It felt like I was in a different country and each minute felt like an hour. I decided it was time to call my family and tell them the bad news. There were 2 phones and one was being used as some sort of workout bench. As I waited for someone to answer the phone at my parents house this one crazy inmate just kept staring at me while he did his workout routine on the phone inches from my face. He had wild bloodshot eyes and kept warning me not to shower without sandals because of some bacteria. Finally my dad answered and I had no choice but to break the news to him. As I sat there looking around the jail it took everything I had not to start crying. I told my dad what happened and that I didn't get bail and was probably stuck in this place until whenever my trail date was. He asked how I was holding up and of course I said things were fine. I'm sure he could tell from my voice that I was far from fine. It was the most depressing phone call I have ever made. I told him to contact the tour team and make sure they moved on without me.
What I didn't realize was Vision had been talking with my lawyer and trying to get me a second bail hearing. Alone in this place there was no way of knowing how much he was doing for me on the outside. I was preparing for a long stay in this place but I had no idea my brothers were on the outside doing everything they could to get me out. Since I was already in jail and felt like there was no hope, I decided to try and find weed. I was arrested with $70 and that was my credit so I used it to buy a package of shredded tobacco and then I traded that for the smallest amount of weed I have every seen. Back in my cell I rolled it with tobacco so that it was possible to smoke and waited for the night lockup. When the lights went off and the last guard left the unit I sparked it up with the 1 match I had. Even though I am allergic to tobacco it was the best joint I have ever smoked to this day, I was HIGH! Probably more from the nicotine than anything else but at this point nothing mattered. As I finished smoking I heard the doors to the jail open and a guard came up the stairs to my cell and tried the door, I was sure he had smelled the weed and I was busted but it was just them routinely checking the cell doors to see if they were locked. The rest of the night I just sat alone with my thoughts. There was a small window in my cell and I could look out to the rows of fencing with razor wire, it was my cellmates first time in a place like this and we both shared the same feeling of "are we really here!?". The whole night I kept thinking about how my life was now changed forever, what a sad ending to a great story. No sleep.
Early the next morning a guard opened my door and told me I had court. I jumped from my bunk excited, that was when I realized how sore I still was and even worse, I was soooo hung over sick from the tobacco I smoked last night. It didn't seem possible that I was already going back to court but it didn't matter, ANYTHING to get out of this hell hole. After being shackled from head to toe and stuck in a bus for over an hour we finally arrived back at the courthouse. We all sat in a small room together while we waited to see a judge. The strangest thing was how much weed and other drugs the inmates kept inside of them. Even minutes before court we were smoking heavy. Finally it was my turn to see the judge and a miracle happened, I was granted bail until my trial date!!! This was the best day of my life, a few hours later and I was signing papers for my release. When asked if I wanted to go back to the jail and get my wallet and belongings I said NO. All that I was thinking about was fleeing back across Canada to my home in Surrey. I still had no idea how I would make it home with no money or ID but that was the least of my concerns at this point. I was prepared to ride a bike home if it meant I was free from this place. On the way home our tour bus hit a tornado in Saskatchewan and was badly damaged, during the chaos I just sat there with a smile on my face, nothing mattered anymore. Freedom. Go for a walk, be free.
The simple things in life mean so much to me now.
I don't have a video to release this week so I decided to continue with part 14 of the #SDKstory series. It's been just over a month since part 13 and I honestly didn't know if the series would continue. The book is still being written as the years pass by but I wanted to make sure everyone knows why there is an "SDK". My little brother Mitchell, that's why.
If Mitch had never shown me how to use Adobe Premiere Pro and the basics of editing there would have never been any videos and most likely never a Stompdown Killaz. He also provided me with the camera that all of the early videos were filmed on, it was a shitty little camera called a KODAK Easyshare 360x240 and it was powered by double AA batteries. The first 2 videos we did are still on YouTube today "ARTWORK BY LABEL SDK" & "STOMPDOWN KILLAZ SLIDE SHOW" the funny thing was I didn't realize it was a VIDEO camera so I just took 1000's of photos during the painting and then Mitch would make a high speed time lapse video to music.
The very first 2 videos on the Stompdown channel are these videos my brother made while I watched in amazement. Never did I think editing videos would be something for me but after those first 2 my brother put the editing software on my laptop and told me I was on my own. Looking back he was actually giving me the gift of knowledge. I suffered for months trying to figure out the software, my computer was slow and it would crash causing me to lose days of hard work. I was living in a small unfinished room of my parents basement with my two large dogs. All I had was a small old lady chair that was so uncomfortable. After 6 months of sitting in this chair trying to learn how to edit I wore the arm rests right down to the bare wood.
There were so many times I wanted to give up because I didn't think I was smart enough to do all this computer shit that came so naturally to my brother. Thankfully I could always go ask my brother for help and no matter what he always stopped what he was doing and showed me exactly how to figure it out. Like I said, if it wasn't for him I would have given up. That was 2006. On October 25 2014 I woke up much earlier than usual and had the most powerful feeling take over my body. I needed to leave my house immediately and I didn't know why. My girlfriend was worried that something was wrong and followed me out of the house. I walk everyday for about an hour, it helps me think, but today I went in the opposite direction from my daily route. I was being pulled towards something that I couldn't understand. After about 10 minutes I arrived at a hotel that I've never been to in my life. On the ground floor there is a large wall sized window that looks down the entire hallway of the first floor. I walked through the garden to the glass and said to my girlfriend "there is something I hate in there!!" and I began banging on the windows with both my fists, almost breaking the glass. All of this freaked my girlfriend out and people in the hotel were terrified. Eventually she convinced me to go back home and we left.
It was still very early and we tried to go back to sleep but it was impossible, I thought something was wrong with me and so did my girlfriend. She had things to do and reluctantly left me at home for the day. At 3 PM I got a call from my dad but when I answered it my aunt was on the phone and all she said was "they found Mitchell dead!!!!!!!!" and she just began crying so hard I couldn't even understand why she was calling me from my dads phone. My little brother Mitchell was found dead in that same hotel I was screaming at 8 hours earlier. His body was in that hotel. He had passed away during the night from an accidental overdose. To this day I can not explain how I knew he was in there but clearly there is something else going on in this world that I don't understand. The reason my aunt called me on my dads phone was because when the police came to my parents house and told them what happened my dad collapsed and an ambulance was called, because of his heart condition they were worried he had a heart attack. My aunt who lived in the basement heard the screaming and came upstairs. When I arrived to my parents house minutes later it was a hectic scene with paramedics, police etc. I only stayed for 5 minutes before I left, it was so intense and sad that it was impossible for me to stay there. I don't even know what I did for the next 24 hours. This was almost the end of SDK. I stopped going to the Ephin Shop. From 2014 until 2019 I barely cared about making videos anymore.
One of the big reasons for working so hard and risking everything all these years was to help my brother Mitch, he had been struggling with addiction and anxiety for so many years and for some reason I thought that if I created something so big and famous that I could help my brother. It was just desperation. I know now that unless someone truly wants to get better there is no way anyone else can help them. My brother really never seemed scared of consequence, he had jumped out of 100's of air planes and dozens of base jumps from bridges and cliffs. I have met a lot of fearless people in my life but none that compared to my brother. His birthday was on March 19 and it made me realize that I needed to tell his story before I close this chapter in the SDK story series but I will also use this story for my own personal closure. He would have been 31 this year. I know a lot of you can relate to the loss of a loved one but I also want to use my experience as motivation and proof that we can overcome any and all obstacles thrown in our way.
Don't measure success by how high you climb but how high you bounce when you hit bottom. Never give up. #stompdownkillaz