It’s hard to give Chad Muska a title. Yeah, he started out as a skateboarder, but to leave it at that dismisses his work as a music producer. Just adding producer disregards his time as an artist, designer, videomaker and entrepreneur. To cover everything, I think we’ll just call him a renaissance man. What’s special is his unique ability to take things that once appealed to so few—like skateboarding—and make them pretty enough and interesting enough to appeal to the masses. Most recently, he’s unveiled a new shoe for Supra. Since linking with the brand when it first created back in 2006, Muska has designed three versions of the “Skytop” sneaker and, just last Friday, released his fourth. The shoe went live black Friday and the first black on black colorway is already sold out online, but you can still try your luck at the local Supra retailer. If everything’s already gone there too, don’t worry, they’ll be more. Next up is December 24th for the exclusive red colorway. If you’re sad the “Red Octobers” might never see the light of day, these might just be the perfect replacement. In the meantime, here’s Chad himself on design, skating and why these kicks bring that classic “Skytop I” straight into 2013.
Mass Appeal: What attracted you to designing sneakers?
Chad Muska: I think it came from growing up not having any money, but always wanting to have a sense of individualism. That forced me to be creative and re-think things. I would go to thrift stores and get stuff to chop it up and sew it up and make it my own. That was when skateboarding was more of this rebellious kind of lifestyle and everybody sort of had their own thing within it. When I was in high school I was the only skateboarder in my entire high school and there wasn’t really much of a fashion culture based around that. There weren’t a lot of brands where you could go and buy streetwear and even those I couldn’t afford. A lack of money forced me to be creative and forced me to think in different ways and imagine things that I didn’t have and come up with these ideas in my head.
I just like the action of creating and making things real, instead of just thinking it. I have so many friends who tell me oh I thought of that or I wanted to do that or this and it’s like well just do it. Get it out of your head and make it happen.
MA: What do you love about the “Skytop?”
CM: It was really cool thinking of somebody like Metallica wearing tight jeans with these tall white high tops and at the same time Grandmaster Flash wearing similar high tops with crazy leather pants. I like that there was a connection between the two, but they were complete opposite worlds. I always think it’s cool to create a product that can be embraced by rock n’ roll, by hip-hop, fashion, skateboarding and you are still able to wear it your own way. It sort of represents the genre depending how you lace it up or what colors you wear, but it transcends genres and doesn’t really get trapped within one thing. Skateboarding is sort of a mesh and blend of all these worlds. It has hip-hop influences, it’s punk rock and all these different things that inspire skateboarding and the culture of skaters. They’re forced to interact with each other just because of the love of skateboarding. I grew up around all these different kinds of people, races, rich, poor, white, black, rocker, hip-hopper. My whole life was like that. I’d be at a punk rock show that night and the same night I’d end up at a Wu-Tang show. That’s how skateboarding is and so I think that diversity comes across in any design that I try to do.
MA: Why is music so important to you and the design?
CM: It’s almost like a reassuring voice in your head that somebody else is thinking like you. When I was growing up I always knew that whatever society was handing me—the way that I was supposed to live my life—I knew it was wrong and I had to think differently in order to make my life what it was supposed to be. Music was a major part of that. Of being a voice to think different, stand out, not be scared to go for something in life if you really believe in it. Music brought a lot of that to me and music, in turn, also influenced my style and what I wore and the attitude that I had and the things that I was interested in.
What’s funny is that the older I get, I’m starting to appreciate the sounds of nature more and silence and there’s beauty in that too. I go in different directions all the time, but I’m enjoying the sounds of birds and stupid things like that. Nature in general as art, as sound, as creation, you just can’t top it. There’s no artist that can ever compare with Mother Nature, there’s no composer that can ever compare with the sound of wind and oceans and all that stuff. It’s kind of cool, though, to get older and have an appreciation for things that I may have laughed at as a kid and been like oh that’s so stupid. I’m getting older and embracing different things.
MA: Do you have all time favorite sneakers?
CM: Shit. At this moment it’s changed so much it’s more of just the old time things that I hold on to. Obviously the Dunks and the Jordan 1’s and Chuck Taylor’s and Vans “Half Cabs.” I’m not really a traditional sneakerhead in that sense where I know every single model and every year it came out and what colorway. I know them when I see them, but I’m not a sneaker bible or anything where I know all the information.
MA: What do you look to for influence and inspiration?
CM: I wouldn’t really care to call out any particular shoes because there are so many that influence me over the years that now I don’t really look to footwear for inspiration. Now I like to look at the city on a whole and architecture and art and textures found within nature and creations that man has done and all these things. I just absorb the world, kind of, and take bits and pieces of everything and find ways to turn it into lines or texture or color inspiration. Objects and elements like concrete texture and a ghetto blaster, which represents music to me and the music inspiring the work and skateboarding. If I’m in New York and walking down the street, I’m just sort of scanning every single thing that passes. I’m looking at feet, I’m looking at eyes, I’m looking at the walls, I’m looking at the ground, at the sky. It’s the combination of everything that I see on a day-to-day basis that accumulates and somehow computes and spits out information from my brain.