Jill Perkins Interview: Snowboarding, Music, Wisdom + More
Dedicated, driven and full of style, Jill Perkins embraces originality and strives for better. Still, her inability to chill while riding has catapulted Jill Perkins onto the snowboard scene fast, and with force. But did you know it all started on a skateboard?
"I realized that snowboarding is basically skateboarding but it's a little bit more glamorous." — Jill Perkins
For us at Nixon, though, Jill's personality is what seals the deal. Equal parts rad on the snow and in everyday life; she kicks back, cracks jokes, dabbles in various hobbies and occasionally drops a few words of wisdom on us.
“If you are continuously seeking out what other people want you to be, you're not going to be your authentic self.” –Jill Perkins
Perkins is about to pump up our Custom-Built, Team-Designed program. Hyped to officially announce her addition to the squad, we threw Jill some questions and she tossed back some answers. Check out her full interview below.
You were recently up in the Northwest, right?
Yeah, and Saturday I'm going back. In the summertime I spend a lot of time at Hood. So fun. I love Oregon.
What were you doing up there?
I used to work at the camps, like High Cascade. They have snowboard camps that are for kids. I used to work in the kitchen and then I was a coach for a little bit. Now I just go out. They do sponsor week, so fans will have a week or Dakine will have a week. I go with different crews and hang out the kids, snowboard, go to the water, go to Portland. It's super fun. I've been doing it for like eight years now.
So, you grew up in you grew up in California? Where did you start snowboarding?
Yeah, I grew up in Moorpark California. In between Ventura County and LA, kind of ranchy.
Where did you start going snowboarding?
I grew up skateboarding, actually. I skated from when I was super young to fifth grade. I want to say I was 11 at the time, then stopped skating. I didn't really snowboard when I was a kid. I went like three times on family vacations, rented gear and all that. When I was 17 and 18, my senior year of high school, I started going to Mountain High with a buddy who was kind of having a hard time and that was his release, so I would go with him. Then I was like, “This is kind of sweet.” I love skateboarding but I felt super insecure doing it as a girl growing up, which is so whack to say, but that's the reality of it. I realized that snowboarding is basically skateboarding but it's a little bit more glamorous in a way. Not in a bougie way, just more in the way that I didn't get made fun of for doing it. It wasn't gross. Society didn't claim it as gross. For whatever reason, girl skating was labeled as gross back then. It's all good though because then snowboarding actually got me back into skateboarding. I rode Mountain High that first year. The second year I got a pass for Mountain High again but there was no snow, so I went to Big Bear. After that I moved to Utah. So, I would still say my home mountain is Brighton Resort in Utah because that's where I learned the most.
How’s the snowboarding there compared to Southern California or Mammoth?
Mammoth is sick. When I was going to move to Utah, I was also considering moving to Mammoth. And then I just decided it's too small. I didn't want to live in a mountain town really. Salt Lake is really cool because it's also a city. It was between Mammoth, Colorado and Utah. Utah was a city. I could work. I could snowboard and the airport is 15 minutes away. Mammoth was a little too secluded. But as far as snowboarding goes, comparing Big Bear and Mount High to Utah is incomparable. It's cool and they have park, but the fresh snow in Utah is amazing.
A lot of people move there for that. It's supposedly the greatest snow on earth. That's what they say, but I've had good snow everywhere.
Jill Perkin's Top Picks
How would you describe your relationship with street snowboarding? Does it feel creative since you can come up with your own spots and tricks? Or does it feel sporty as far as mapping out spots goes?
No, I don't think it feels sporty at all. It depends on how you do it. Some people might look at it that way. And that is visible in the trick selection and the spots that they choose. But for me personally, I find it a lot more artistic. There's something to be said about finding your own spot and doing a trick that you want to do, that you're comfortable with, and being proud of it. There's a whole new self-gratification. I'm not doing a run and then a judge is telling me how I did. I find something that I think is really sweet and I pursue it. It's not like, “I'm going to do this because somebody else wants me to do it or this is the standard of what's going down.” That's to be taken with a grain of salt because with people continuously pushing the envelope of street snowboarding, there are things that make you say, "Oh, this is now the level of riding that is happening around me, so I have to do something to compare." But you can also make up for that in your creativity and spot selection.
How do you go about finding spots and building spots? Do you enjoy building something new?
Yeah, actually it's funny. A lot of people don't know this, but I’m a professional shoveler. I shovel more than I snowboard sometimes. When finding spots, you can drive around but a lot of it gets done on Google Earth. It’s in skating too. I've been talking to more people that are like, "Yeah, we look on Google Earth all the time." For me, I've always had this standard that I don't necessarily want to go to a spot that someone else has already hit because they've already set a standard for that spot. As far as building spots goes, I love that. Street snowboarding is also really hard on the body. Running also is, all action sports are. With street snowboarding, you have the flexibility to make it as safe as you want, given that there's enough snow. I think that's really cool. Also, there are little tricks. You can brighten certain parts of the spot, make it more visible and move snow around to make it work for you. Being so hands-on with building you're a lot more comfortable with the spot. You're not going in blind. You've now spent time with it and built it for yourself. I'm addicted to that part of it. It's fun and it's hard work. Based on how much we put into it as street snowboarders, we get a lot more out of it because it's not easy.
How does your competitive personality compare to your more social personality?
I feel like I've changed, gotten older and more chill, less competitive. Being in a competitive environment, not only was I competitive against other people but those judgments made me judge myself as well. Once I lifted those judgments, I started being easier on myself and a way happier person. Not that I was an angry person before. I never wanted to be considered the competitive one, but it has also been a saving grace because without the competitive drive, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish some of the things that I've accomplished. I like to have fun though. On a personal level, I like to have a good time and to not be competitive and laugh with my friends.
What do you do when you're not snowboarding? Do you have hobbies or art forms?
I like to skateboard a lot. I like to go to coffee shops and sit there, work from my computer and read. I have a dog, so I like to take my dog out and go on hikes or runs. I like riding my bike around the city and getting around that way. I spend a lot of time in California and Oregon. Traveling is cool. I would like to get more into art and music. My friends got me an electric drum kit for my birthday. I haven't been using it as much as I'd like to, but I really admire music. My roommate plays music, and a lot of my friends do. I'm surrounded by it and I'm like, "Damn, that's so sick." I would trade certain athletic abilities to be able to do something like that. But again, it's just more time and practice that I need to dedicate.
Have you previously picked up instruments and tried to learn?
Yeah, a little bit but not seriously. It's funny. Now I have instruments in my house. I'll tinker if I'm sitting around. I know like five chords so kind of play the same thing over and over again. I like doing it with other people. It's hard for me to sit down and do it myself. If someone's playing the guitar, then I could hop on the drums and fuck around there.
How do you know Nora? You two are super good friends?
Nora and I have known each other for around eight years. We met at the Etnies skatepark in Lake Forest one random night. She was living in California, but I don't think for very long. At that time, she was working at Welcome [Skateboards]. This was maybe my first or second year out of high school. All my friends had gone away to college, so I was by myself. All I had was skateboarding at the time. I'd travel an hour and a half to different skate parks every day. Just go skating. I met Nora and then we became friends from there. It's been a beautiful thing because we’ve been able to watch and support each other's careers as they grow. It's been so cool. Every year we check back and we're like, "Look where we've gone. Look what we've done." So fun. I lived at Nora's house for a couple months one summer. She comes to my house for Thanksgiving. It's nice to have these parallels, and also to be removed from each other’s sport but understand their inner workings.
What animal represents you the best?
That's so hard. I'm not really animal savvy. I love my dog. I don't necessarily think she represents me even though I've taught her everything she knows. She's a genius. If I could choose one, I don't know about representation, but I think jaguars are really cool. A little sneaky and sly, not that I'm sneaky and sly but I just think they look badass.
What advice would you give a younger rider who is trying to make it in snowboarding or get more connected in the community?
I would say take your time, live in the moment and be present. Take your time in the sense of learning about yourself, figuring out what you as an individual want and removing the external factors of what the world is telling you. Listen to yourself and don't listen to what you think people want you to be. That's the biggest thing. If you are continuously seeking out what other people want you to be, you're not going to be your authentic self. Especially nowadays, what it takes to be in the professional world is being your authentic self. That's a really cool direction that our space is going.
It’s good when personality comes through.
Yeah, talent is all well and good, but focus on being a good person—the best version of yourself you can be. You'll get a lot further than if you are just an asshole and really good at something. I feel like everybody is at some point when you get a little shot at something. My friend once told me, "I look at every sticker on my board as a medallion. If I don't want to represent it, then I don't want it there." I was like, "Damn, that's true." People seek out dollar bills. They don't always seek out what they want to represent. If you seek out what you want to represent, the other stuff will fall into place.
Do you have any plans coming up? What does the future have in store for you?
I would love to continue what I'm doing it for as long as I can. I want to shift my focus into not only doing what I'm doing but creating a place where other people can experience the things that I enjoy because a lot of people enjoy them too. If the opportunities aren't there, I would like to find a way to make them available for other people. As far as immediate things, traveling and snowboarding.