2011 saw National Master Steve Brown present us one yo-yo trick a day at the 365 Yo-Yo Tricks project. Next year Steve is ramping up the project by making it a team effort, with an incredibly diverse and remarkable roster. From YoyoFactory, in addition to Steve Brown himself, David Ung will be showing off his tricks, which are mostly seen in his amazing clip videos. This will be a great chance to catch up with David’s tricks, as he’s seldom seen freestyling at contests.
Finally, Drew Tetz of Duncan Crew will also be part of the roster. Drew, who’s always been a trick creation enthusiast, he used to run a now-defunct YouTube channel filled with single trick videos, and will no doubt have plenty of new material for the project. We caught up with Steve Brown himself to talk a little more about this very welcome surprise:
YoYoNews: Thanks for taking the time for this little chat, Steve!
Steve Brown: I always have time for my funk soul brother from another mother.
YN: That’s quite a crew you got on board! When did you decide you wanted 365 Yo-Yo Tricks to become a multi-man project?
SB: A couple of months ago I started thinking about the project, and realized I needed to make a decision…was I going to just end it when I hit the last trick, or keep going? I’ve put so much work in to the whole thing this past year…but at the same time it’s been a MASSIVE time drain for me and I haven’t made any money off it. The actual video editing and uploading is the easy part…finding time to spend an hour or two every day to make up a new trick isn’t easy for me at all. I’ve got two kids, two small businesses that I’m trying to get off the ground, the Triple Crown of YoYo, and a beautiful wife who prefers to spend time with me instead of just seeing the back of my head while I’m sitting at my desk.
After thinking about it for a while I realized that I didn’t want the project to end, but I really needed help. And after winning the Trick Innovator Award and seeing people come out of the woodwork to tell me that my tricks suck and that I’m no good anymore, I have to admit…I was really rattled by that. I’ve been a professional yo-yo player since 1995…that’s 16 years. Hearing that kind of crap, especially from a bunch of people who have been around half as long as I have (or less), really stung. So I decided that I needed help with the trick creation, I wanted to take some of the focus off myself because I’m sick of being a target, and I wanted to expand the project beyond just being another piece of vanity on the web.
At that point, the only logical decision was the bring in more people. It helps me with the workload, gives the viewers a wider variety of tricks, gives me a chance to show off how awesome some of my friends are, and still accomplishes the same goal of giving yo-yo players a new trick, every day.
YN: Why these players?
SB: David Ung’s video “Broke” was amazing. The way he started and ended every single trick with a trapeze, the pacing, the flow, the style…I loved every bit of it. I had the same reaction that Ben McPhee did…I had to stop in the middle and catch my breath because it was just so much to take in. I’ve always known he was a really good player, but that video specifically sealed the deal for me.
Drew Tetz has been doing some absolutely amazing counterweight stuff for the past year, and some of his wrap concepts really are next level. He also has a style that’s really effortless but earnest…when you watch him play you know he’s working hard but you know he’s really enjoying it. It’s a neat combination, and the end result is a player that I can watch all day long and never get tired. I also like that Drew is local, which means if he doesn’t get me his videos in time I can show up at his apartment and completely ruin his day.
I defy anyone to come up with a single valid reason why Ed Haponik is not one of the most inspiring and awesome yo-yo players in the world. If you don’t love watching Ed play, then you don’t love yo-yos. Ed will be completely mortified and embarrassed by this…which is part of why we love him. And his personal challenge to only throw a custom-built wooden yo-yo for the entire year is pretty awesome. I can’t imagine limiting myself to just one throw for an entire year, so I’m really looking forward to see how he does with it.
I’ve known Nate for a really long time. I was doing a demo many years ago at A-2-Z Science and Learning Center in Northampton, MASS and the original Freehand was the hot yo-yo at the time. I had a couple of rare colors of them in my bag and announced “Best trick wins one of these. Go!”. All the kids came up and showed me the hardest trick they knew, and for anyone who knows me you know that I didn’t care at all. Then Nate came up and said “I’ve got something”…he threw a suicide, but grabbed the loop as it came around his throw hand so the loop never actually flew across….and stuck out his catching finger anyway, and looked at it. We all looked immediately at the catching finger, and it took a full 5 seconds before any looked at his throw hand to figure out where the loop went. It was brilliant, and hilarious, and perfectly executed. I handed over the yo-yo immediately, and have kept an eye on Nate ever since.
I love watching Sebby play, and every time he picks up a yo-yo I feel like something incredible is going to happen. His freestyle at Worlds 2011 was my absolute favorite of the year, and to me it really highlighted everything that I love about watching him play. He’s got a really casual style, and when he’s nailing his tricks he tends to pace, but tightly wound like a panther. His tricks are all built around singular concepts, and even his combos will always revolve around getting into and out of one particular movement that defines the larger sequence. His style and creativity are exactly what I always hope my one tricks look like to other people, and what I see in him forces me to re-evaluate what I do and try to make it better.
YN: Do you plan on having a new roster every year?
SB: Yes, although it’s almost impossible for me to think about saying goodbye to any of these guys before we’ve even started. But I think for the project to really push creativity and keep people interested, a new roster every year is the best way to go.
YN: What else is changing in 2012 for 365 Yo-Yo Tricks?
SB: Some people have noticed that I’ve started posting the videos from my Vimeo account instead of YouTube. They’re still going up on YouTube for now, but starting in 2012 they will ONLY be uploaded to Vimeo. It’s a better quality service and I’ve had tons of copyright issues with YouTube…having content taken down for using music that I actually had the rights to use, having audio deleted without any notification, and the fact that if you do use a piece of music that gets flagged as a copyright violation, they don’t offer you even the smallest window to delete it yourself and avoid penalty. I’ve used songs from my friends bands that I wasn’t aware had been licensed out to a larger company for something, and gotten a copyright strike…even though I submitted documentation from the band that said I had permission. I just hate the way YouTube handles all that stuff and Vimeo seems way more artist-friendly.
I’m also in the process of upgrading the site and moving from Tumblr to WordPress. I’ll keep the Tumblr active and probably mirror the posts to there, but the main site will be moving to WordPress, and I’m working on organizing the tricks better to be more of a searchable database.
YoYoExpert.com has come on board as a sponsor and provided some nice perks for the players that I’m pretty excited about, and all the manufacturers involved seem excited about helping to promote the project. Most of the changes really are just technical, though…behind the scenes stuff that is going to be a huge time-suck for me but will ultimately make it a lot easier for the fans to enjoy what we’re creating.
YN: Thanks for your time, Steve! We’re looking forward to seeing yet another full year of yo-yo goodness!
SB: Thanks for the interview!
Be sure to tisit 365 Yo-yo Tricks’ players page for full bios of the new team and more information about the project!