Meet Jason Caines: London’s skate culture saviour

Jason Caines is a 28 year old Birmingham born creative with a wealth of achievements attached to his name. Skater, filmmaker, writer and lobbyist, Jason was a key player in petitioning for the successful Long Live Southbank campaign against Southwark council in 2014. After our chance meeting in the wee hours of a house party the week prior, his views intrigued me and we arranged a less intoxicated chat and mini photo-shoot in Soho. 

Perhaps Jason’s most impressive accolade to date is his founding of the No comply networkA promotional platform celebrating creativity in skating. He runs the website single-handedly, and has compiled its content for the past three years. Jason moved to South East London’s New Cross in 2008, but often travels home to host skateboarding “happenings” such as his Beyond Skateboarding event he oversaw back in October. 

Jason smoking a cigarette in Soho

Chilled and nonchalant, Jason tells me more about his website and the beginning of his skate career. After winning a set of tickets to a skate event called “King Of the Streets” in 2001, his interest was cemented and he soon purchased a board. It was this exposure to early noughties skate culture that would see him front and win a gruelling 17 month campaign to save Southbank’s historic undercroft from redevelopers 13 years later.  On this ever-present theme in skating, he tells me; Long live Southbank achieved a historic legal ruling. We legally protected a skateboarding space based on its benefits to the skate community, London, and its wider cultural fabric of Britain.”

Wall hunting in Carnaby

At its climax, Jason wrote an article for Vice News detailing the process. When asking him about the most difficult part of what he and his friends achieved, he says it was “spreading the undercroft’s history, cultural vitality and significance to those who simply didn’t know it.” A short film Jason made for the BBC back in 2015 dons a similar title and theme-  “Long live Stockwell” discusses the communal aspect of skateboarding that comes alongside fearing for the safety of culturally significant skateboarding spots. 

The No Comply Network has been active for three years, and is viewed by established skaters as a solid platform that showcases the wealth of talent and art embedded in the skate world. One of Jason’s latest No Comply members, sculptor Arran Gregory  speaks fondly of the website and what it does for skaters, “I think it’s a positive platform for skateboarders who want to get opportunities in the industry, or somewhere else connected to skating.” 

Towards the end of our chat, I ask Jason what he thinks are the benefits of skate culture to creatives, and he leaves me with this: “It’s the execution of new ideas and the pursuit of new, original material that drives all skaters. The creative world needs skateboarders more than skateboarders need the creative world.” 

Jason has positively invested his knowledge and passion for skating. The future looks bright for him, with future projects with Vice News and the BBC just around the corner.