Charles Haycock is an extremely creative, skilled, and unique yoyo player who is continuously creating amazing tricks, tutorials, videos, and more. The Team Manager for CLYW, Charles in an integral personality within the company and does a lot of great work in both promoting the company online and working with the company behind-the-scenes. To the yoyo community, Charles embodies creativity, and is a favorite amongst countless players for his unique, well-developed tricks. Charles was requested for an interview more than once, and I was beyond excited to talk with him about tricks, videos, CLYW, and more!
Charles, first and foremost, how did you start yoyoing?
My dad first bought me a wooden yoyo when I was about 8 or 9 years old (it might have been a Tom Kuhn yoyo actually, now knowing what they look like). He taught me Gravity Pull, Sleeper and Forward Pass, but it wasn’t long before I lost it. I ended up kind of forgetting about it for a long time; however, I still seem to remember how it intrigued me. Years later, when I was about 13, I snatched another wooden yoyo from a tourist shop while traveling in Oregon.
During that trip, I also obtained a back injury which, for me, meant no gymnastics. So, I had a lot of time on my hands. My neighbor knew and taught me Eiffel Tower and Rock the Baby. Thanks to the internet, I then found the Yomega website where I learned some more basics, and was introduced to yoyos that looked more capable. My little sister knew of my interest, and for Christmas she bought me the most expensive yoyo she could find: the Metallic Missile. After that, I learned Trapeze and Double or Nothing, and soon found yoyonation.com and Andre Boulay’s tutorials on Expert Village. That was when the infinite portal was opened, and I’ve never been bored since.
How long did it take you to get to the “Master” level on Andre’s tutorials?
Oh, I really can’t remember, maybe a year after the portal opened? That could be inaccurate, but I remember skipping Ladder Escape and Superman because they were too hard for me. I ended up learning Superman years later from a friend, it’s a great trick.
What were some of your favorite tricks that you actually did learn back then?
It was so long ago, that time frame is a blur to me in some regards. But, I remember that some of the tricks/concepts that stuck with me early on were Kwyjibo, Magic Drops, Boing-E-Boing variations, and Whips/Hooks, of course. Then, a bit later from other places, I learned and liked Yuuki Slack Chops, Hashbrowns (Jake Bullock), Rancid Milk, and other Yuuki, Spencer Berry and Jake Bullock elements that I picked up from videos. There were many other inspirational players to me, but it was mostly those guys.
By the way, for a laugh if anything, you can check out some of my super-old videos here: http://vimeo.com/user445659/videos
Was that the period where you learned some of Spencer’s old tricks that you later made Cabin Tutorials for, like Enigma and Havoc?
Yeah, Enigma came fairly early on, Sterling [Quinn] taught me that one, and Havoc some time after. I also learned elements from Breath and the Superman-ish trick in the “Spencer Berry’s Apartment” BAC 2008 video. I watched that video a ton.
“Spencer Berry’s Apartment” is such a good video, that’s like the equivalent of having most of the CLYW team in the same video nowadays.
Haha, well thanks man. But yeah, the camaraderie felt in that video is so appealing, and the tricks happen to be amazing as well.
When did you first start getting into making up your own stuff?
I started making up my own stuff very early on. That was, and is, where most of the fun is for me. I look at the yoyo and the string as me on a playground. So, I just play, letting my curiosity roam free to discover new things (‘new’ for me at least). Of course, it is easier to explore after you have learned some basics elements to work off of. But yoyoing can also just be pleasurable in itself, the feeling of doing a trick or how it looks. That’s why I have always enjoyed learning other people’s tricks, and it definitely affects my style.
It’s like Ernest Hemingway, he used to write out entire Charles Dickens novels just so that he could know what it feels like to write a great book. Not to say that this is the only way to go about it; playing yoyo means something different to everyone, and even within the creative realm the process can vary greatly. Jensen, for example, never learns other people’s tricks. He is a real off-grid-type-hermit in that creative sense. Although, starting out, even he had to learn from others to implement that playground structure.
Do you remember any of the early things you came up with?
I can’t really remember that far back, but I think you can track it pretty well with my early videos. I started making videos fairly soon after I started, within the second year I think.
Did you start competing early on? How did you get hooked up with CLYW?
Well, I went to my very first contest in Seattle (PNWR) after about two years of yoyoing, and that happened to be where Chris asked me to join the team. I had put out a couple of videos at that point, and Jensen was messaging me before the contest to say that they were interested. So, I was very comfortable to not accept the other sponsorship offers I got.
For those that don’t know, can you explain what you do at CLYW aside from just being sponsored by them?
I work with the team to make videos, make sure they are getting gear, answer questions, support projects, make travel plans, etc. Then, I also contribute on CLYW’s social media.
Speaking of videos, what’s your personal favorite that you’ve made or appeared in?
My personal favorite that I’ve made is Ill Vibes. I think the idea was neat and it was fun to collaborate with Jensen. Good memories.
How do you pick what tricks to throw in a particular video?
As far as choosing tricks goes, sometimes there will be a theme for a video, so I’ll put in the tricks that work alongside that. For example, in Ill Vibes the theme was horizontals (simple enough). For Goldmine, we knew that we would be shooting slow motion and that tighter, more technical tricks would look better.
Then, a lot of videos have just been me doing the most recent tricks that I’ve been working on since the last video. Actually, most of my videos have been done this way. For my next project, however, I’m going to try to group tricks a little bit better together according to their vibes and flows and such (there will be 3 different parts to the video). Some tricks feel more complete and look good just by themselves, whereas other tricks look better in a combo strung together with complimentary elements.
At least, these are just some of the things that I think about. But, I’m really not that organized, so I should shut up, haha.
Ill Vibes is one of my favorites too, along with The Yeti. Other videos that you’ve obviously appeared in are The Cabin Tutorial series. What inspired you to start making tutorials?
Chris and I had talked about making tutorials for a while before it all started. We were inspired by Jensen’s Ghetto Tutorials and the fact that there weren’t any other resources out there that were teaching the more advanced, specialized, personal tricks that we like. So, it just made sense.
Is the trick selection process similar for those as well?
As for choosing tricks, I really just do the ones that I like from either myself, or what I’ve learned from other people.
Based on what you wear in the tutorials, what’s your favorite sweater/pair of socks that you own?
My favorite sweater has got to be that green/brown plaid one I got; it literally feels like wearing a blanket and has thus been the cause of much comfort throughout these cold winters. I have a thick pair of knitted socks that I got (yellow/orange/green stripes) that are hella comfy and durable. I dress for comfort exclusively if you can’t tell already.
Next, what, in your opinion, makes a trick “good”? What do you look for in yoyoing that you like?
Well, I usually try not to over-analyze why something is appealing to me, because beauty for the sake of beauty is not something explicable by reason or logic. There are things that come from the heart, and I submit to that (admiration is also subjective). However, I will try to articulate a bit of how I think and what I tend to admire. I will be talking about the creative and expressive side of what the toy can be, not the sport/competing side, which I respect but have less interest in.
I never understood what people meant by “finding your voice” or “hitting your stride”, but I think more recently I’ve gained a better understanding of what that means. I think that it’s quite simple, organic and just takes a very long time. I think “hitting you’re stride” is when you have practiced and put so many years into a medium at hand that it becomes a natural extension of yourself, a third limb so to speak. Then, you are able to use that new medium to express yourself seamlessly, as you would with a hand or eye gesture. It’s not a place you can think yourself too or reach in a forced intellectual way, it’s just a slow, ever-evolving natural progression. Of course, this is a theory of types, that I think proves to be useful.
So, what I’m trying to say is that the tricks and styles that I feel drawn to and love most of all come from the people I feel have hit their stride and turned their yoyoing into a reflection of their personality. They’ve become so comfortable with the toy that it effortlessly channels their essence and their interests and frames it in a way that connects with others.
Let’s take an example: Ky Zizan. When you meet this dude and then see his yoyoing you just think, “Yeah, that makes sense.” His style is so honest and genuine to who he is that, even if he tried to, he couldn’t do it any differently. It’s organized chaos in the most harmonious way. His concepts are hooops level complex and borderline alien, and his flow is as confident and as organic as a curvy beach babe. His execution is Mr. Clean clean too- you can really tell that he’s an old school player and has put in the time to get good. Of course, this is me trying to put his style into words.
Then, you get someone like Anthony Rojas who is just as dope in a completely different way. Anthony’s style is almost like watching comedy because he is such a master of the element of surprise, you can never predict where the trick is gonna go, and he always makes it better than you can try to guess. In the framework of conventional play, Anthony’s tricks are basically non-linear. Moving in unusual planes and axes is just what he does naturally. His style is also very musical and has a prominent dance-like rhythm to it (the way he incorporates his body is very rhythmic too).
So, there are many different tools available to one’s disposal, and as you can see with Ky and Anthony, you can use totally different tools (or the same tools in a totally different way) to make something just as totally dope. Totally.
I hope that sort of translates how I look at it.
Another reason why I don’t attempt to break down what makes a trick good in completely technical terms is because there is so much more to a yoyo trick than the mathematical reduction of elements. You could learn a Yuuki Spencer trick, but you could never learn how to do it the way that he does it. That’s where flavor and personality comes into play, the real inexplicable good stuff.
Part of what I admire about the old school generation (and why I think that it’s important for everyone to keep looking back and learn from these players), is that they seemed to have had a strong focus on execution and style (plus many of the tricks themselves have stood the test of time). Back then, players were brought up on responsive plastic and wooden yoyos, which are far more strict in nature and forces, which causes your movements to be more fluid, composed, and organic. If you want a Renegade to not snap back and hit you in the face, you have to do the trick right.
I think that there are a lot of great new school players who’s content (tricks) are fantastic, but perhaps a little bit sloppy and interrupted in flow because they don’t have those fixed axle instincts engrained into their execution, and modern yoyos are too forgiving. I think that a lot of players (myself included), would greatly benefit from putting more time into responsive play. It would probably influence the content of the tricks themselves as well.
Wow, I hardly ever talk as much in person.
I totally agree. So, what are you planning for the near future?
Right now, I’m finishing a set of videos for the team, but afterwards I’ll be working on my own project (which I’d like to keep as a pleasant surprise). It will take some time too.
Do you think you’ll ever have a signature yoyo with CLYW?
As far as the signature yoyo, Chris and I met up recently to work on the design. So, hopefully we can get the ball rolling soon.
Lastly, what advice can you share for any aspiring yoyoer out there?
To me, there are two different types of advice I can think of; from the soul, and from the player.
From the soul; I would advise any player to have an honest answer to the question, “Why do you yoyo?” If you find that you are doing it to appease someone else, impress others, get some sort of attention, status, achievement… essentially using it as a means to an end (of which I have been guilty of), then there will be trouble. However, if you can do what it is you do with this toy (whether for you that is a hobby, an artistic expression, a form of socializing, a creative outlet, a sport, etc.) simply out of love, all shall be gravy, baby.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”
From a player’s perspective, I can give some suggestions of technical things to try that I have adopted along the way and found to be helpful, enjoyable, or refreshing.
Trying new yoyos: If you do the same movements with your hands using a light, round, small yoyo vs. a large, v shaped, heavy yoyo, the respective yoyo will go into completely different places, at different speeds, and with a different flow. Neither is better or worse, and I personally enjoy the variety it brings, and how it spices up your play style. Of course, after a long time I have found certain designs that I will gravitate more strongly towards. But nevertheless, if you have the privilege to try new throws, do it!
Playing in front of a mirror: I know John Ando does this as well. It’s visually quite pleasing and I think it makes your brain look at tricks differently which helps to find new sorts of movements and concepts.
Playing responsive: I’ve touched on this earlier, but again, not only do I think it effects execution, but playing responsive has taught me how enjoyable a trick can feel if performed in a more elegant and concise manner. The feeling of executing a trick properly on a responsive throw is the closest feeling that I can get to what I imagine Tressley Cahill feels whenever he’s playing 🙂
Listening to music: yoyoing to music is where it’s at. It’s hella fun, get’s me energized, and it helps me believe that I have some inkling of rhythm or flow to my tricks. Plus, music can be a great source of inspiration.
Good lighting: I take a lot of pleasure in how visually pleasing yoyoing can be, and if you have good lighting (I find that a strong source from directly above yourself is best) it can inspire much enjoyment indeed.
String length: I believe it was Mark Montgomery or Jensen that first told me that string length should be proportionate to the size of the yoyo that you’re playing. I definitely think that’s a good rule to take loosely, but still, do some experimenting! Playing long string vs. short string is just like variety in yoyos, it forces you to do things differently. To me, it’s all about the exploration and discovering new things, and I just kind of bounce back-and-forth between the two while loosely sticking to the rule of proportions.
Bearings: A bearing is responsible for basically 50% of the performance of a yoyo. If you don’t like how something plays, don’t be quick to judge the design, put a good bearing in first.
I’m pretty sure that’s about all I can think of!
That is all amazing advice, thanks Chuck! Good luck with everything, and keep up the great work!
Thank you dude!