YoYoNews Interview – Paul Escolar
Editor’s Note: This interview first appeared on Throw Plaza. We were so impressed with the work that we invited interviewer Matt McDade to join the writing team at YoYoNews, and he accepted! We’re excited to have Matt on board, and are re-publishing his fantastic interview with Paul Escolar to welcome him to YoYoNews. – Steve
Whether you’re familiar with Paul Escolar or not, chances are you’ve learned, are doing, or have at least heard of some of his tricks and concepts. Paul is the genius behind Magic Drops, Kamikaze, White Buddha, Green Triangles and countless others. He is a long-time member of the Duncan Crew and currently still does demonstrations and more for Duncan. He is also a fantastic artist, and he can often be found sharing his art on social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Paul was generous enough to do this interview and share some information about the art of yoyo.
Paul, thanks for agreeing to do this! Back when I was first learning Kamikaze and White Buddha, I never thought I’d be interviewing the man behind them. Not only are you still appearing in clip videos today, but you of course are also featured in SuperYo’s infamous Kickin’ Tricks VHS from the late 90’s. How did you get your start in yoyoing back then?
Those tricks are so old now, that I actually am the “man” behind them! I made up most of those tricks when I was 16, and I pretty much only actively thought about yoyo tricks and combos for a couple years – 1999-2001. I’m still around obviously, I’ll usually just peek my head into people’s clip videos, or do old tricks and hope no one has seen them yet. Most of the time you can find me at the judges table. I would love to make more appearances in yoyo videos, but most of my “new” tricks have all been in progress for over 10 years. I’ll finish them one day, lol.
Someone at a demo recently asked how long I’ve been yoyoing. I said “15 years.” Then I had to pause and redo the math in my head because that sounded hella long. Whoa… that’s older than the kid I was teaching a trick too. Like a lot of us, I started in 1998 during the 90’s boom. SuperYo came and did school assemblies, Yomegas and ProYos were in every store, Team High Performance reigned supreme and yo-yos were the coolest sh*t I’ve ever seen. I was friends with Gary and Jeff Longoria, who would later create “Seasick” and “Spirit Bomb”. We joined David Capurro’s yo-yo club, the Spindoctors and there was no stopping us. That played a big part in how I stuck with yo-yos. We were fortunate to be around legends like Grand National Master Bill DeBoisblanc and legendary manufacturer Tom Kuhn. Spindoctors YoYo Club is responsible for developing some of the most influential players in new school yo-yoing; Gabe Lozano, Gary Longoria, Johnnie Delvalle, Augie Fash, Spencer Berry and others. And Sector-Y was there to capture everyone and share our tricks to the yoyo community.
Wow, well not to make you feel even older but I’m actually only 16. I’m definitely a fan of the of the old Spindox videos, I feel they were the equivalent of todays clip videos that are nothing but “bangers”, and it’s cool to watch those videos and see tricks that are now common premier for the first time. Do you think the Spindox kind of ushered in the whole concept of long, sidestyle tricks that really weren’t just transitions between mounts? Some of my other early favorites from you are Pure 143 and Red Clover.
Back then you could get away with doing very little and still have something very unique. The ball bearing yoyo allowed us more time to mess with string tricks, constantly explore new ideas, and run into a lot of “happy accidents”. I don’t think we intentionally tried to make yo-yoing predominately sidestyle, side style tricks were just more physically comfortable and just seemed to have more potential – uncharted territory.
I think a lot of us were just fortunate to be experimental at a time where New School yo-yoing was still at it’s infancy. Actually, I consider my era “Mid-School” yo-yoing – that’s the end of fixed axle / beginning of bearing transaxle BEFORE Non-responsive Binding (which I consider actual “New School”). There was a huge wave of creative players coming from California; NorCal had the Spindox and SoCal had the DXL crew, but of course anyone who was anyone repped them too, including myself – DXL WORLDWIDE!
I definitely know what you mean about sidestyle tricks having “more potential”, still you’ve definitely had your share of cool frontstyle tricks that I’ve seen. Speaking of “happy accidents”, is that how you invented the Magic Drop? What did you think of the Magic Drop at first?
Oh, and also speaking of “happy accidents”, do you also think Bob Ross really could’ve gotten down with a fixed-axle yoyo?
“Happy accidents” are a big part of many of holds and mounts I’ve used in the past. I think when you’re curious, willing to explore and dissect string tricks enough, you’re bound to discover something new. “Magic drop” was an accident, doing it I noticed the yo-yo’s spin forcefully throwing the string out of its plane and landing in a different hold, so I practiced it until I could control where I wanted the yo-yo to land. I consider “Magic drop” the simplest and earliest form of String rejection, and there’s still so much potential to explore it.
A lot of trick elements happen when exploring, making accidents and trying to duplicate them again. “What happens if I hit this string instead?” “What happens if I do this trick this way?” After all the layering, and plucking, you always find something that’s different and you have to keep experimenting! “Green Triangles” was also a trick I came up with to say “hey this mount is inside of a knot, whatever, lets do tricks with it.”
Haha, Bob Ross probably does have a copyright on “Happy Accidents”. R.I.P.
It’s cliche to say that yo-yo tricks are an art form, a lot of people say that, but I really believe it. Bob Ross would’ve been amazing at it. He goes with the flow, and if he makes a mistake, he figures out a way to fix it as make it look even better- that’s what yo-yoers should do. Embrace the mistakes and try to make something new and different from them.
In terms of combinations, I also use music as a metaphor for what I think makes a trick, combination, or routine look good. I haven’t competed or created a trick in a very long time, but I’ve done a good share of Judging and watching over the years. I think that every trick element visually has its own distinct sound and rhythm. What makes a good looking trick or combo is the players ability to “compose” them tastefully. Dumb that sh*t down as much as you can, keep similar sounds/elements together and make sure your combo has a beginning chorus and end. And your trick combo will surely make a greater impact and be more memorable.
That’s all so true. I look at it a similar way, and while I feel that today’s players have less of an excuse to explore things (it seems like everything’s already been done), great players are still coming out with extremely innovative stuff that blows my mind (Janos Karancz for example). Another advantage we have today is checking out older clip videos for inspiration for tricks. Twisting and bending elements to make them you’re own, building tricks with flow, all help with building a good library of your own tricks for sure.
I’m pretty much a fan of all of your tricks, but three of my favorites appear in the “Wish we were at worlds” clip video. White Buddha 2nd Generation, Yellow Airplanes, and Orange Tulips which are all sequel tricks, in my opinion, are some of the most creative work to come out of the “Mid-School” of yoyoing. What was the story behind that video & those tricks? So much good stuff in there.
Yeah. Janos is on another Level, his tricks are from the future, real New School sh*t – mind blowing. Most things have been done, but a lot of older tricks and concepts still have some meat on the bone. A lot of newer yo-yo players are easily amused by certain tricks, and there are frequently trends that get started and get more play during those times, leaving other trick concepts in the dust to be soon forgotten. If you watch an old/mid school player, we won’t be doing the most technically complicated combo, but I guarantee you might still see something you like or haven’t seen before. In a rare time when I am actually yo-yoing, sometimes I hear “That was kind of cool, is that new?” and then I laugh because I’ve been doing the same sh*t for the last 10 years. haha. It just goes to show that trick trends come full circle, and a lot of older concepts still need to be explored.
Well, I and a lot the Spindox owe a lot of credit to Gabe Lozano (created of Shockwave and other tricks) and his website, Sector-Y. “Wish we were at Worlds” is exactly that, none of our crew had money to go to Florida so we just filmed a bunch of videos back home instead, lol.
The Sector-Y clip videos allowed many of us to get some internet attention, gain recognition outside of contest, and make some noise in the yo-yo world. I was never a real competitor, never a national or world champion, I just liked playing with string tricks. I was very fortunate to have been awknowledged in our community without having to dance around on stage (No Offense to competitive players, Freestyles were VERY different back then). I should really relearn some of those old tricks…
Exactly. I’ve only been throwing for a little over 2 years but even I’ve seen some trends in tricks come and go. Some of my my favorite videos are the “BeFree” videos on Sector Y which are from 2002 and feature a bunch of players I’ve never heard of before. The tricks in those videos are absolutely insane and some of them really remind me of things coming out today. Speaking of White Buddha 2nd Generation, I learned that around December of 2011 and I remember learning it and thinking that the part in the middle after making the 1.5 where you swing the yoyo all around reminded me of Figure 8.
I definitely know what you mean about those Sector Y videos, and they definitely made noise outside of contests in that they were the place where so many famous tricks first appeared. I’ve even seen some of Johnnie Delvalle’s very early freestyles back when he was throwing a FH1 and doing White Buddha and Superman on stage..definitely a different time.
The early Spindox videos show almost all of you guys throwing Superyo Renegades, but as time went on you guys (and everyone else basically I think) started throwing Freehand 1’s and Spinfaktors. What was your favorite yoyo back then? What do you think of the modern yoyo itself, and all of the hype surrounding some current releases?
White Buddah 2nd Generation actually had elements of 3D/plane distortion/off plane – It may be hard to see, but the 1.5 elements are less of a Jason Lee/Scott Coyle Figure 9 and more of an actual 3D Figure 8. I wish the camera footage could’ve captured it better. Maybe I should relearn the trick and have it refilmed, lol. I think there’s still potential there as it went under the radar 10+ years ago.
JD is legendary, he is a fellow old school Spindox, trick innovator, and also one of my co-coordinators in running the Bay Area Classic Yo-Yo Contest. He also pretty much put his signature on yo-yo grinds and slack whips – do your history kids! But JD throwing a Freehand 1?! That’s amazing, I don’t even remember that.
I mention the Spindox Club and Sector-Y a lot, because it was the main reason I progressed in yo-yoing earlier on. We were and are a tight crew and always had new sh*t to show off to eachother. We also went through a lot of yoyo phases as far as what we were throwing. After starting on Yomegas like most kids, I was really into Team Losi for a bit because one of my idols, Steve Brown was working for them at the time. I even saw his freestyle debut of Freehand/5A using a Team Losi Cherry Bomb – one of my fav. FS of all time. I don’t remember how I started using Renegades , but it became The Official Spindox weapon of choice for some time. I think we might have been responsible for making those popular within the community , we definitely were the first to do the “Oreo” Gade mod and “Terror Gade”!
Gary Longoria and I were fortunate to actually have been sponsored by SuperYo and Arne Dixon and got to travel and do tours around Hawaii and the states via HPK marketing. Later, around 2001, I was picked up by Steve Brown and the Beginnings of the Duncan Crew and that’s where I’ve been ever since!! DCWW – Throw Duncan!
Definitely! That video of JD is actually his 1st place California yoyo contest video from 2001, I’m pretty sure it’s a yellow FH1 anyway. That’s sweet, I’ve never thrown a Renegade or a FH1 (I have a modded Hyper Freehand though, and my stock FHZ’s have been my weapons of choice lately) but it seems like there’s something about those old plastics that todays throws don’t have. You’re also an artist, and have done work for yoyo companies such as Save Deth and CLYW. Any new projects coming up? And any last words/advice/anything?
PLASTICS! When it comes down to it yo-yos are just toys, we should be able to play with them and not worry about beating them up or loosing them. Newer Plastic yo-yos are sufficient enough to still be a fun toy and whilst still being a useful tool for Modern yoyo tricks.
I’ve done graphic work for almost every yo-yo company. They’re all my friends, and I always take any opportunity to get my art out there, make sh*t look better and help their brands grow! I’ve been focusing mostly on my personal art recently but I have a few yoyo related graphics coming out, you’ll see them when they drop. There are so many talented artists in our community, it’s quite awesome and humbling to be a part of it. It’s very obvious that yoyos and creativity come hand in hand.
So to all the new players out there, BE CREATIVE! Yo-Yos are Toys, have fun with them. Practice your skills constantly, build flow and persistence, avoid trends. EXPLORE and EXPERIMENT!