Who is John Dilo?
John Dilo is a fairly fresh face in the world of skateboarding, with his name seemingly popping up every few months with another mind-melting part over the past few years. John hails from Jupiter, Florida, somewhere that for whatever reason is producing some of the worlds best skaters at the moment, and John is proving himself to be exactly that.
What really sets Dilo apart is his rare mix of technical manual tricks combined with huge pop and big drops. It’s incredibly rare for a skater to blur the lines between these two aspects of street skating, and it results in video parts that hold a sense of true originality and consideration.
This is clear when looking through his collection of parts, which can broadly differ stylistically from section to section. For example, his Boss Fight part was hard-hitting and filled with hammers, whereas his ‘Summer of Manuals’ project was a fun (still mind-blowing) manual concentrated video. He is a dude full of ideas and passion and we cannot stress enough how happy we are to have been able to catch up with John and ask him some questions. He is a huge favourite here at Supereight and we hope he doesn’t slow down anytime soon.
Personal life and tigers
Let’s, start by talking about you a little… what is it about tigers that you like so much?
One aspect I love is how they are practically demanding to be seen, most animals are meant to blend in with their habitat typically. They roll solo too which I think is pretty interesting, As I kid I don’t think I really had a reason, I just always felt so attached to them in some way, like a spirit animal I guess.
Which do you prefer, Tigers or Manuals? What would you pick, land every single manual you try, or be able to hang out with tigers, Dr Doolittle style?
I think I prefer manuals just because they are really satisfying for me, tigers are more just cool to look at. I’ve never pet one before or anything though, which would be sick.
I saw in your Thrasher interview that you did the artwork of the tiger and was very impressed. I didn’t know you were into art, is it something you do a lot?
As a kid I was always drawing, my parents really wanted me to go to an art school and stuff cause I guess they saw I had talent with it or whatever. It was something I had before I found skating to kind of escape from reality. I never took any of it too seriously, I ended up picking it up again in recent years, I have a little art Instagram now and I want to involve myself more with the art direction of my graphics or maybe a series if possible, but it’s been super fun to revisit and get stoked on it again.
You do a lot of tricks into nose manuals, I can’t fathom how it doesn’t give your leading foot/ankle any grief. Do you maintain your body in any way? Or is it because you do them so often, you are almost conditioning your ankles naturally?
I really don’t know, but the irony of it all is I actually had an ankle surgery when I was 22 for some chronic ankle pinching pain on my right ankle and sometimes it gives me a lot of grief but it’s not often the ankle I lean on for those drop to manny tricks, so its never really on my mind. The other ankle though seems to be holding up well with all the shit I put it through, I sort of feel like I made it really strong through all of the mannys.
The Florida scene and influences
I know you are a big Ryan Lay fan, which part of his is your go-to?
I really love this old part of his for an Ipath video, I forget the name. He does a sick wallride at the Oakland courthouse. I also really like all the welcome videos he is in.
Favourite skater to come out of your hometown, Jupiter, Florida?
I mean its gotta be Zion. We have been friends since he was like 8. To watch him succeed to the level he is at is incredible and is something most people would only wish to see happen for their friends. I’m super proud of him and he’s definitely the biggest deal to come out of Jupiter in all aspects. Haha!
What is it with Florida that seems to be churning out all these amazing skaters?
Maybe cause we don’t deal with harsh winters like snow? I’m not really sure, but something I believe played a strong factor in our generation was the number of crews with the drive to make it happen from Florida. Most all of us being genuine friends, like wanting each other to succeed, you know? I feel like a lot of crews can be on some competitive small town shit when you are young, and when you get older it can kind of makes things awkward. For us, that was never a thing and we always had respect for each other, would watch each others homie videos drop and stuff, so when coming out west to skate and try and see what we can make happen, it was only natural we band together and push each other instead of going for it solo.
You seem to be pretty into video games, with the term ‘Boss Fight’ being used between you and Max Geronzi. You also seem to be a fan of Pokemon Go. Would you say there are similarities in getting clips for a video part and catching Pokemon?
Haha, yeah I play video games for sure, I haven’t played pokemon go in so long though. It was hot on the scene then sort of died out for me. I want to get a Switch though so bad haha.
How was it competing in your first Tampa Pro?
It was a lot of fun. I love going back there for events. I have real fond memories of that place, it’s where I met Ish Cepeda, Tyson Peterson, Foy, Pedro, Fabiana and most all the Florida homies I still skate with today. We would drive up there with Zion for the All Ages contests and everyone would be there, it was super sick. Now we get to do the same thing all over again but for Tampa pro each year, haha.
Skater Of The Year nomination
You were in contention for 2021 SOTY, was that something you ever expected? I read that you travelled to California at 18 years old with no real intention of trying to make it as a pro, is that true?
Ya, I never expected all this to happen, but it was the dream, you know? Moving to California at the time just felt right, I didn’t premeditate it or anything. My friend David was doing the cross country drive, I had just graduated high school with no plans of going to college so I thought fuck it. I didn’t really have any serious sponsors or industry-in friends. I think maybe I wasn’t trying to think of it so serious in case of it not working out, I just wanted to enjoy my time skating with my friends and I still value that the same.
The minute it feels like work or something being forced ill probably just pack it in honestly, haha. As far as the SOTY contention, I thought in my mind like, “I’ve had a lot drop on the site this year, maybe they will put me as a contender?!”. It was still a stretch, cause so many bigger name pros killed it this year. That’s always been a bucket list goal as well. So for them to not only throw me in as a contender, but one of the final six was so heavy for me. I called my mom and she was crying, haha. I do mannies, you know? I know what I do is a niche thing and not everyone cares or will, and to be put on that level, alongside some of the greats… It was a trip for sure. An honour actually.
Is SOTY something you aspire to now?
I’d say it’s a dream, I don’t feel any closer to achieving it now though, haha. I don’t really like to look at skating for the idea of winning something. I just skate, and how good I’m skating is typically based on how I am feeling, never with a trophy in mind. This might be the best year of my life and I’m okay with that. As long as I’m doing my best moving forward, that’s all that I need to feel good about my place in skating. I’ve said it before but SOTY is larger than life, I don’t think I could ever see myself winning that, but you never know.
Skateboarding and filming video parts
You have had such an amazing stream of video parts come out over the years. Do you ever take a break or are you filming 24/7?
Filming is all I care about truthfully. It’s the feeling of creating something that will never stop being fun for me, I don’t think I have ever taken a conscious break from filming without it being due to an injury, haha. My friend and I noticed this subconscious pattern I have going about filming back to back projects. One is usually more serious and with a sort of checklist vibe, and after that style video part, I tend to dive into something much more conceptual and feel good-esque.
For example, I worked myself all last year to make the Boss Fight video part the best I could, and the moment it was done I was so excited to decompress from that and I went home to Florida and naturally started filming and working on what was to become the 561 part for the skate shop, the concept being it’s all in Florida skating spots I grew up seeing and or skating. Both parts are things I work hard to make the best I can, just with completely different energy attached to each.
On top of releasing a plethora of parts, you seem to have a strong idea of how your parts will look and what sort of tricks it will feature. ‘Summer of Manuals’, for example, was your brainchild. Is this a common theme throughout your video parts?
I love Conceptual pieces, most often I have some weird spin going on in my head, like okay maybe ill film this one all on one spot, or maybe put a lot of mirror tricks. Its not something I want everyone to take notice of necessarily either, it’s just satisfying to me. I don’t know, it’s like a wheel that never stops turning. It gives skating life beyond just doing your gnarliest craziest biggest tricks. I’m a creative person at heart and I appreciate the great minds of this game, as well as the great trick doers.
I saw Weck saying he had a full section of clips with you committing manny based crimes. Has it ever been released? To be fair, he seems to have other things on at the moment anyway!
I don’t think he has ever put it out, I would love to see it though!
In your 561 part, you do a huge Nollie Heel over a gap-to-bar and one of your wheels clips the top of the bar. This has completely divided the office here on whether or not that is a make. Have you got anything to say on that trick?
That trick took me like 3 hours to do that night, had no run-up at all, I think I fully gave up 2 or 3 times but my friends encouraged me to keep trying and I ended up making that one. I don’t care if I ever ding dong ditch the rail I’m skating over, I landed it. Haha!
Sticking with your 561 part, it feels rare for a skater to have a combination of huge gaps and drops as well as crazy manny combinations. That switch heel to open the part is just nuts, and to then follow it up with a line including a manny fs biggie out is sick. Do you feel like other aspects of your skating are maybe overlooked?
I don’t feel overlooked, I think it’s just a hard thing for people to grasp because what I like to do with my skating is a unique mash-up I suppose. People that jump big shit, typically skate big rails too, and dudes that manny a lot also have these crazy ledge moves and there is often a big leap between those two styles of skater, like Andrew Reynolds to a Lucas Puig, both epic on their respective ends of the spectrum. I grew up loving Baker 3, all I ever wanted to do was jump off shit. I always did manuals on flat ground fucking around with my homies.
We had this hockey rink next to the park I grew up skating and I remember we would drag trash cans or benches in there and just do tricks to manny on flat to nowhere and just laugh about it. As I got older I sort of began to realize what this useless talent I had trained for myself was capable of making happen, haha.
So I feel the reason I skate the way I do is because of the influences I’ve had in my life. Nowadays, what excites me is the idea of “is it possible? Could I go to manny off this?” “Could I nollie up that out of a nose manny?”. It’s like I dove into this rabbit hole and it has no end.
“It’s like I dove into this rabbit hole and it has no end”
Do you get bored answering manual based questions?
Not really, its probably the only interesting aspect about me, haha.
I read that when you were younger you were sort of turned off by handrails due to not being able to tell who the skater was and there being less ‘character’ in the tricks compared to others. This made me think, what would you say is the most character-filled aspect of skateboarding?
Ya, I totally felt that way when I was a kid. Skating was so new to me and I didn’t know who anyone was, so when I popped in the Zero or Toy machine video I was so overwhelmed with quick cuts, fisheye at the top or bottom of some huge rail. I just remember really loving Chris Cole in New Blood because he stood out. He skated everything, cool lines, big stuff, tech stuff. I felt I really got to get an idea of who he was through his skating. I think Ledge skating for sure shows the most character in a skater, maybe mannys too. Anything that you get really close with the fisheye or you can really see their approach before doing a trick I guess. I think lines probably reveal the most about your style. This is also current day me trying to decipher the logic of 11-year-old me, Haha.
I don’t see it that way at all anymore, I just don’t have fun skating handrails. I just never learned how to get comfortable with them, I try to form that trust now but I don’t know, it just is never a fun process for me. I pretty much only do what I have fun doing with my skating if you haven’t already noticed, haha.
“I just don’t have fun skating handrails.”
I saw in an interview that you filmed a switch lipslide on a rail, (and that was going to be the only handrail trick in the part) but nobody else on the session landed anything, so the filmer deleted everything from the session, forgetting you had landed the switch lip. You didn’t seem overly bothered about it when I saw you discussing it, has there been any situations like this that have truly bummed you out?
Ya, that actually did happen, haha.
It’s all good, I see it from both sides. Gotta give it up to the filmers, they do so much. It’s not the end of the world if something gets lost or some shit. I guess if the spot was gone, or if it’s a mega bust to skate, that really sucks. I don’t really mind doing tricks over otherwise, or oftentimes ill just be like “eh we will find another spot for that trick again”.
Sponsors and going pro for Almost
It’s rare for skaters to leave huge companies such as Adidas for smaller skater owned companies. It’s also something I love to see personally, so when I saw you rocking a pair of Telford’s it put a huge smile on my face. How did it come about?
I just went to the skate shop and bought some, haha!
I wore Lakai’s before Adidas, Lakai is a brand I grew up loving. It has so much history in skateboarding, I got so much respect for the brand. Skateboard companies have been struggling badly these days. I get that same warm smile feeling you get each day I put my shoes on, just the idea that I can maybe help a company I love to push through this crazy time is really satisfying to me. I’m not on the team or anything as of right now. I just wear their shoes.
Sounds like the turnaround from getting on Almost to going pro was pretty quick, did you expect it to happen that quickly?
I had no idea it was going to happen that fast, I was tripping. It was like one year exactly, which I think is more common now than ever, but only for those am’s that really burst onto the scene. I was shocked, maybe everyone thinks I exaggerate when I say that. See it like this, I was never good at anything “cool” growing up. I never won anything, I was always picked last on the teams in school and shit. So yea, as obvious as it might seem to the people on the outside looking in, I’m always gonna see my place through my lens.
I worked hard that year, I wanted to turn pro, but we all know in this skate game hard work is not always noticed or even rewarded. I’m just thankful it could happen at all for me truthfully. Especially for a brand I grew up loving.
I know you have touched on this before, but would you be able to talk us through how you found out you were going pro? It’s a crazy story, and I can’t imagine what you were thinking at the time. Did you ever tell anyone at Almost that you knew what was happening?
There were a couple of hiccups that hinted at it happening, and the story everyone knows is just the time I actually saw the ad and was like “Oh shit, this is happening, like right now”.
Maybe about a month earlier, I remember I was out skating with my friend David I moved out here with, which was a rarity given we both are busier now than ever and we rarely get to skate together. We were at this school and I was skating flat with some homies, and I checked Instagram, and I had gotten flooded with comments and DMs congratulating me. I remember my face got all warm and my hands got shaky and sweaty as they kept coming and I was just so confused. I remember texting a screenshot to Luis about it and he ghosted me, haha.
I was telling David while we were together about it, and he went on his phone and was like “Oh ya don’t look into it, there’s a new Dwindle catalogue on Slap, and I guess your boards are in it”. It was super special to find that news out with my homie I moved out here with like 8 years prior. I just left it alone but was always on edge for the next month coming. Haha. That was the original feeling of like “Woah, wait, what?! This is happening!”.
In fact, there seems to be a lot of crazy coincidences throughout your life. One that really tripped me out was the Tampa Pro story of Youness’ vent to you after a bad skate, not knowing who you were at all. Then years down the line, he was a massive catalyst for you getting put on Almost?
Ya, that coincidence is amazing. I think about it often actually and sometimes wonder if I imagined that, like what the hell are the chances of all those things happening. Needle in a haystack type coincidence, TWICE! Haha.
“Needle in a haystack type coincidence, TWICE!”
Almost’s belief in you seems to really fuel you up. How much does having a company really back you affect your skating?
It’s like this right; I work hard at skateboarding because I love it, you know? I want to contribute all I can to skateboarding for as long as I have. That’s really what drives me, the idea of etching these moments, that hopefully, skateboarding will always remember.
How long can I do that if I don’t have support? That’s a question I would ask myself often. If I never get sponsors how long could I realistically survive, and give skateboarding my all?
So with that in mind, yes, having a support system is so crucial for your mental health as well as financial support obviously. Everyone on Almost are my friends, Luis cares about all of us as if we were his children. He believes in each of us and will do all he can to make something happen for us. Almost’s belief in me definitely fueled me in an interesting way. They support me so much, I worry sometimes about disappointing them, and that’s something that makes me strive to do the best I can always for myself and my squad.
You sort of quit Almost for Cliche back in the day, if Cliche came back, would you do it again?
Haha, I did do that.
No, I wouldn’t. The Cliche that I loved was something that cannot be replicated. It was special and had its time in skating. If it came back it just would not be the same.
Another interesting thing about Almost Skateboards today is that it has a remarkable similarity to what Cliche was, in ways that aren’t biting it. We have a strong European core naturally now, with Youness being the OG. Max Geronzi, actually coming over to Almost from Cliche falling apart. I don’t know how familiar you are with the new guys on Almost, but every time I watch Titi Gormit & Mikel Vidal skate, I think to myself how they have that Cliche look, feel, and vibe to their skating. Almost is really just a team of raw street skaters right now, all of which are some of my favorites. With that in mind, it makes me feel I am exactly where I want to be in this game.
“I am exactly where I want to be in this game.”
What have you got planned for 2022? Videos, travel anything else?
Almost is doing some trips, South America and Europe again. Shake Junt “Shrimp Blunt” is coming in February.
Hoping to get in the van with Lakai dudes this year. Gunna see what happens, I don’t like to plan too far ahead.