David Ung is kind of a genius when it comes to making up yoyo tricks and putting together great clip videos. For a while now, David’s been sharing his innovative tricks with the community and making a name for himself as an extremely creative yoyoer with a lot of talent. Sponsored by YoYoFactory, David recently released his new video, “Daydream” and is without a doubt maintaining his reputation as a force to reckoned with in regards to trick creation. His short, subtle tricks are amazing, and he is along the same lines of great, modern trick-creators like Adam Brewster and Guy Wright. I was really excited to interview David, and we talked tricks, his videos, and more! Enjoy!
David, you’re one of my favorite yoyoers and are, in my opinion, a master at coming up with super creative tricks. When did you first pick up a yoyo?
Thanks for the kind words, Matt! I think my story with yo-yos is pretty similar to most people’s my age. When there was the huge yo-yo boom in the late 1990s, I learned to throw a sleeper on a cheap transaxle yo-yo and that was pretty much the extent of my tricks. Then in middle school (around 2005), I saw a FAST 201 commercial on TV and thought it looked super cool. A friend of mine bought one at the store and started to learn, so I did some research online and came across JD’s Worlds 2003 freestyle. It blew my mind and I was hooked. I bought a Kickside shortly after (which I then broke–long story).
I remember those commercials! So, I’m guessing you learned most of your tricks back then online?
Yup! I learned most of my fundamentals from André’s old website, Mastermagic. I think I got stuck on the more advanced tricks (ie: Black Hops, Spirit Bomb, Superman, etc) so I started to watch clip videos and tried to come up with my own stuff.
Aside from JD’s stuff, what were some of your other favorite tricks and influences when you first started?
As a beginner, I really tried to absorb anything I could, so there is a lot of influence from pretty much all of the big names. I would probably say that Spencer Berry and Jason Lee were the biggest influences in my early style, you can see this in my older videos “Visage”, “Incidental”, and “To and Fro”. Actually, if you watch Spencer/Jason’s video “The Fidget” and watch my videos “Incidental” and “Broke,” you’ll see that my videos were actually a bit of a tribute. I think my yo-yoing is mainly focused on doing subtle moves rather than constructing whole tricks (which is why I started filming short moves on Instagram–which I think lead to #trickcircle), so I find a lot of inspiration from pretty much everyone.
I love a lot of your older videos, when I started making my own tricks they definitely inspired me because they seemed like something that I would come up with. As I went on though, my tricks kind of branched out into something more unique to me. I definitely see the Jason/Spencer influence! What was your method to making up your own stuff then?
Back then, I was a big proponent of learning on a responsive yo-yo to get proficient at yo-yo control. After I had a solid foundation (smooth yo-yo control + tricks like White Buddha, Skin the Gerbil, etc) I just sort of stumbled on things. I spent a LOT of time watching yo-yo videos back then, so sometimes I would see a trick and then think of my own variation and sort of keep it in the back of my mind until I had a chance to try it out.
That’s definitely a good method, it worked well because a lot of your older (and newer!) tricks are really good. How did you end up getting sponsored by YoYoFactory?
Ben used to run the “Project Red Alert” blog back in G5/GM2/888 era which was basically the YYF blog that had all of the info on new releases. He posted my video “Visage” and I was super excited about it. It was a really big deal for me at the time, so I sent him an email just saying thanks. He responded saying how he really enjoyed the video and he mentioned wanting to sponsor/support me somehow, but I wasn’t quite at the Contest Team level. After a couple of emails, he asked me if I would be interested in joining a YoYoFactory Junior Team if they started one. I said yes, and that’s how the Junior Team was started. We then had video “auditions” and ended up adding Paul Kerbel, Patrick Borgerding, John Chow, and Yuji Kelly to the team. Looking back, it was a really impressive line up.
That is an impressive line-up, that’s awesome! One of my favorite videos of yours is “Broke”, which is a straight up trick video that’s over 4 minutes long. How long does it take you to compile enough tricks for a video like that?
“Broke” is a good one, I was always a big fan of those pure trick videos. Four minutes of new tricks sounds impressive at first, but I think it’s important to note that it was released three years after my last video at the time, which was “Your Future’s With Us” (I’m not counting “Edit,” which was just a quick clip).
What do you do to stay creative?
I don’t really do anything in particular to stay creative, I have periods of highs and lows. Being invited to Steve’s 365 Yo-Yo Tricks project with Ed, Drew, Nate, and Guy (+ guests!) was a big help, though. That year was really good for me. Actually, a lot of the tricks in “Daydream” have moves that directly came from that project.
That’s true, I’m not sure if I could come up with that much great stuff even in 3 years. For those that can’t tell yet, you make a lot of good clip videos. Do you have any creative inspiration behind those? You have a good variety with your videos too which I like.
In high school I got really interested in film making after talking to Miggy and Spencer a lot. “PATH to Agartha” is a tribute to Miggy’s “Tunnels” video, while “Incidental” and “Broke” are a tribute to Spencer’s “The Fidget.” I also remember talking to Bergy about making yo-yo videos that are tributes to the music video of the song. I think he wanted to do a video to Lisztomania by Phoenix. I thought that was such a neat idea and was really into Tokyo Police Club at the time, so I tried to make “Your Future’s With Us” a tribute to the music video for “Your English Is Good.” I thought it did a great job of capturing the feeling of a bunch of friends relaxing and hanging out.
“Daydream” was made as a goodbye video to LA. I was born and raised in LA and I’m moving to Seattle soon, so I wanted to celebrate my time in the city with a video that incorporated beautiful LA scenery with a nostalgic vibe. I like to think that the most important thing in a yo-yo video is the quality of the tricks, but I try very hard to incorporate a theme to give my videos an extra oomph. That’s partly because I’m not a very competitive yo-yoer, so a lot of my presence in the community is through my videos.
So, what were the ideas and process behind your new video, “Daydream?”
“Your Future’s With Us” was my favorite video I’ve ever made. It was my first time shooting in HD video, I filmed it with the help of my friends, and I learned how to use some video editing software for it too. It had good vibes, music, and color. For years I wanted to make a sequel to it, but I felt a ton of pressure (mostly from myself). If I went through the work of making a sequel, I wanted it to be better.
It had to stay true to theme of “Your Future’s With Us,” it had to have better tricks, and it needed to feature some of my favorite places in Los Angeles.I have tried filming for a sequel for a couple of years now, and I’ve always scrapped the footage because the shots weren’t good enough, or the tricks weren’t good enough, or I couldn’t find the right music. But in late December 2013, I learned that I was accepted to the University of Washington for a graduate school program in Chemistry and I decided that I wanted to get a video out before I moved. I decided I wanted to use the song “40 Day Dream” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and I wanted it to be a goodbye video to the city I grew up in, Los Angeles. So I gathered up some friends, and we did a ton of filming in January 2014. I had just gotten a new camera (Canon Rebel T3i) and was learning how to use it. I had 32+ gigs of footage and I ended up sitting on it for the months because school started again and I was really busy. I eventually went back to look at the footage and scrapped almost all of it–it just didn’t look good. I was still learning how to use the camera at the time, and I wasn’t satisfied with the results.
I moved back to LA in June and I rounded up my friends again to do some more filming. We filmed a ton in the peak of the summer and it was HOT! Unfortunately, I wanted to keep my look consistent between the footage in January and now, so I wore my oxford shirt and long pants for continuity. Eventually we finished filming and I sat down to edit it. I went back and forth editing for about a week. The hardest part was getting the colors right, I ended up having to try a couple of different programs to get the color to look the way I wanted it to. There was a lot to do and learn, but I think it all paid off at the end. “Daydream” is a tribute to the city I grew up in, the people I’ve met, and the memories I’ve made. It sounds a little serious for a yo-yo video, but I love LA and all of my friends I’ve made, and I’m going to miss them a lot.
That’s so cool, the whole experience definitely paid off. I think yoyo videos with that kind of thought put into them are the ones that turn out the best. It was so nice to see fresh tricks and a fresh, great video from you! Nice work! I personally think that impressive tricks in impressive clip videos are just as impressive as impressive contests freestyles.
Have you ever thought of having your own signature yoyo? As much as I love competition-ready throws, I also like yoyos that have more of a laid back, steady feel to them which I could see a signature throw of your’s having.
Thanks Matt. I appreciate it! It’s funny, I think I’m actually one of the guys that have been on the YYF team for the longest and doesn’t have a signature yo-yo. I don’t really mind, though, my yo-yo preferences change pretty rapidly. There are days where I’ll want something solid like a Superstar, or something plastic like a Northstar, or something lighter like a Shutter. Maybe a signature colorway or something would be nice. We’ll see!
You’re welcome! My preferences change a lot too, so I know what you mean. I would really have to generalize everything I like best into one yoyo if I ever had my own signature throw. I’ve noticed in “Broke” that a ton of your tricks start with a simple trapeze and all transcend into something different. Do you have any favorite elements or mounts to work with, like the trapeze?
The start/end in trapeze was actually my shoutout to “The Fidget.” Each one of Jason’s tricks ends in a trapeze in that video, and I thought it was a neat way to add a recurring theme into a video. As far as favorite elements go, I really like Magic Drops.
Oh yeah, I never thought about that. You definitely have some of my favorite magic drop tricks. It’s cool how you were inspired by other yoyoers, and made the inspiration into your own thing. What kind of advantages do you think making shorter tricks has as opposed to making longer ones?
I’m not sure if it has any advantages/disadvantages… it’s just an individual style thing. Some people can come up with really long, cohesive tricks (ie: Yuuki, Zach, Ando)… but I can’t. I don’t think I have the trick vocabulary to make really dense, long tricks like those guys do. On the other hand, I can still come up with neat moves and put them in short, < 15 second, tricks. I think Drew (Tetz) and I are really similar in that regard. Short tricks por vida.
I don’t think longer tricks are “better,” but I do think that the players that can create long tricks have an incredibly impressive trick vocabulary and consistency. But I pride myself in making neat, subtle moves in my yo-yoing.
I never thought about that comparison between you and Drew, but that’s totally right. I definitely like your mindset when it comes to making tricks. What advice would you give anyone trying to make their own stuff?
Learn the trick history. There is a ton of gold that people were working on in the old-mid school era when the technology wasn’t as good. A lot of those ideas deserve a second look. Also, style is just as important as originality. If you’re having a hard time coming up with something new, work on being able to perform a trick in a specific way or with a specific look.
I totally agree with all of that! There really is a goldmine of elements from back in the day, and I also think that being able to do things stylishly is important too. Lastly, what can we expect to see from you in the future? Do you have anything yoyo-related planned for when you get to Seattle?
I’m not too sure! I’ll probably do more #trickcircle stuff, but I am pretty much tapped out on new content. I’d love to make a sequel to “Broke” or “Daydream.” I want to try to get Sterling back into yo-yos (maybe film a video!) and I’m hoping to compete at PNWR next year and to do well.
That sounds like a great plan, good luck David! Thanks for doing this!
No problem, Matt. Thanks for having me!