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4 Oct 2016

IGNITION 04: Sean Ricany

“Just have fun, and never take this shit too seriously.”

cult vans flying v clean

Words and photos by Jeremy Pavia

We live in a society today where having a cell phone in our pocket that’s ready to use at all times and making sure it isn’t further than arms reach first thing in the morning has become normal. A society where repeatedly looking at the same few apps on that very cell phone in an almost obsessive nature throughout the day has become normal. A society where we feel more comfortable texting words and tiny graphics of smiley faces that laugh, cry and happen to wear sunglasses as opposed to actually communicating verbally has become normal. A society where you know more about your friends, family and complete strangers than you ever have without even interacting with them but by just simply checking their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or whatever the hell else people are using out there has become normal. A society where everyone seems to have the attention span akin to goldfish and people mention they can’t sit through videos longer than a few minutes has become normal. How you take in and consume media is an individual choice these days. You have the complete freedom to choose what to watch, what to listen to and what to read on a regular basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With that said, the people that choose to seek out and read this feature, are the ones it was written for. 

Next up is Sean Ricany. Sean happens to be a rider that can adapt to anything BMX can throw at him. He has deep East Coast roots, can barely buy beer legally and has been in the game longer than some newcomers may think. He has seen sponsors come and go and by default has learned a thing or two along the way. His motivation to always stay riding parallels the way he lives his life. He hustles hard not only on the bike, but also off as well while putting his remaining energy into his clothing brand Further, which I’m sure most of you are well aware of at this point. He has dedicated countless years to his bike and all of that time and effort has finally paid off. He’s currently one of the best in the streets, and has more bike control than anyone should ever need. He is constantly pushing riding to a whole new level and at times has the ability to make some other pro riders question their career choice. Let’s get into it. 

Why don’t we start this off by giving the readers some background on where this thing we call BMX started for you?

Well BMX started for me when I first went to the skate park on a skateboard. About five minutes into being there I was standing on the flat bottom of the spine mini and someone on a bike jumped the spine and smashed me! I went home that night and told my pops I didn’t want to skateboard anymore and next time I was there on my 16-inch Haro Backtrail! Ever since then I’ve been hooked.

When did you realize what BMX actually was and can you think of a specific moment that you remember thinking you wanted to be a part of it?

I don’t know to be honest. I was just so hyped on the feeling that I got from riding and progressing that nothing else really crossed my mind. But if I had to pinpoint a moment where I put it together that BMX is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life I’d say it was winning my first local contest. I was 12 in the Expert class at Somerville skate park. I smiled the whole way home.

Where exactly did you grow up and what was it like getting your start on the East Coast? It’s not the same palm tree lined streets and 24/7 sunshine you are used to these days that’s for sure.

I think that the East Coast made me who I am in a sense. I didn’t know any different so the winters and shitty attitudes didn’t even faze me. I had the Incline Club skate park like five minutes away. I’d say that place basically raised me in a sense, well the locals at the park at least. I had a backyard ramp setup and I remember one year it snowed around four feet and I was out there as soon as the snow stopped shoveling it. We started riding with 12-foot piles of snow on every side of the ramp, three hoodies, gloves, thermal pants; the whole nine. I can honestly say there’s a part of me that misses the East Coast winters.

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“I think that the East Coast made me who I am in a sense. I didn’t know any different, so the winters and shitty attitudes didn’t even faze me.”
- Sean Ricany

You made a name for yourself and got noticed as a standout rider at such a young age that it almost seems like you have been in the spotlight just as long as you have been riding. Do you remember being young and thinking that you could one day be pro?

I mean of course it was a dream, but I didn’t really think about it too often, I just rode. When it really hit me that it could be a real thing was when I was asked to do the Fuel TV “New Pollution” show, and the month prior to that I got my first free bike.

Obviously being a pro these days is much different than when you were growing up. What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about being a pro rider? Is it all you thought it would be?

Growing up I thought that being a pro was just riding every day and not working a regular job. I don’t work a regular job and I ride everyday so I’d say it’s exactly what I expected. If my life could be how it is now, forever, I’d be stoked.

I’m sure a lot of people out there must assume that you’re older than you are since you’ve been in the industry for so long now but the truth is you can’t even legally rent a car yet. How old are you and how long do you see yourself on two wheels for?

Yeah I actually get that one a lot. I’m currently twenty one and I will ride my BMX bike until I physically cannot anymore, paid or not.

If anyone felt the need to look up footage of you as a young rider, it was clear that you had an incredible amount of bike control from the get go. Did riding just happen to come naturally or did you have to work for it?

Thanks. I mean I started riding at five and pretty much rode every day since. I’d say it just came from time. I basically grew up at one of the best skate parks on the East Coast.

Obviously that bike control has only continued to evolve over the years and the older you got, the more refined your style became. Do you feel as though you’d be at the same place as a rider had you gotten a much later start in your career

Absolutely not, I think starting at such a young age made me learn the things that somebody at eighteen could be scared of. Just because I was young and didn’t process much, I kind of just sent it and a lot of stuff worked.

When did you first become a pro rider?
I believe I was 14 when Premium turned me pro.

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Who all do you officially ride for these days?

CULT, Vans, Blenders Eyewear, Further Brand, Ethika. Salute to y’all.

You’ve had quite a few bike sponsors for only being 21 but seem to have officially found yourself a good home with Cult. What is it about the company that made you pursue that connection initially?

The vibe of the brand was always so sick to me, and I have also always been a fan of Robbie Morales and the way he did things. Kicking it with Grant [Germain] and Andrew [Castaneda] a bunch and the way they spoke of things involving Cult was just dope. I seriously couldn’t be more stoked on how things played out, it’s seriously so tight. The few trips that I have been on with the squad have been the best trips I have been on in my life.

What’s going on with your signature products? I know you mentioned a frame and grips coming out, what are the details with those?

I have an SOS colorway that should be out any day now, some grips that are the best grips I’ve ever rode, and a seat with a Further Logo on it. Goddamn it’s surreal. The best part is that they are all products I am truly happy with.

I actually remember talking with you about it early on before it all went down and I remember you saying that you didn’t see yourself being hyped on riding for any other companies. In my opinion that’s a huge nod to the Cult guys. What is it about Cult that had you in that mindset?

I think the main reason was the squad and vibe. I had also been talking to Robbie a bunch and liked how straight forward he is with things. The parts are dialed, they’re local, go on a bunch of trips, host a bunch of jams, I just saw it working really well and couldn’t picture being anywhere else.

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“I had never lost a sponsor, nor even thought about it then one month I lost three and was like, oh shit.” 

- Sean Ricany

You’ve been riding for them for half a year or so now. How has that transition been and what is it about riding for Cult that keeps you motivated to put in work?

The vibe man, we go out and it feels like we’re just cruising but come home with clips. It’s a great feeling.

What new projects do you have going on with those guys? Are you currently filming anything that we can keep an eye out for?

I’m actually currently working on a frame promo for my new colorway so people can look out for that over the next month or two.

Speaking of filming, you live with Veesh, the creative mind behind the Cult videos and the man that hustles behind the lens to keep the fans happy. What brought you down to the Huntington Beach area and what’s it like living with the team filmer?

Veesh kills it. I moved to H.B. because I got pretty exhausted of L.A. and wanted to try something new. I grew up by the beach so it feels a bit more like home over here.

How have things been working with a legend like Robbie Morales? The dude knows what’s good and seems to have a non-stop hustle mindset, which I respect.

It’s been great, and I couldn’t really ask for a better “boss.” I’ll catch myself going over to Cult just to chop it up with him a few times a week. A legend on the bike and a great business man.

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It’s no mystery that in 2016 the line between full-on video parts and web sections has been blurred to the point where it is no longer visible. How do you approach filming and how do you decide what clips go out on social media, what clips go to a web edit, what and clips go to a full video part?

I actually have a tough time with this sometimes. I’ll film a clip that I know I shouldn’t put on Instagram but sometimes throw it up anyways. Whatever though, it gets the kids stoked.

Do you like sitting on footage or do you feel as though things progress so quickly there is no point in that mindset anymore?

Sitting on footage these days is really hard because the progression is at such a fast pace that the banger you filmed will end up on Instagram done by someone else a week later. So I try and put things out as soon as they can be.

You have done some of the craziest shit I’ve ever seen done on a BMX bike and have done it seeming as though it took no effort at all. If I had to pick out one thing that stands out to me and I always bring up it would be the ice to bar down the legendary Hollywood High sixteen. I feel like very few people would step to that on such a big set up. Did you look at that as crazy or did it really go as smooth as it looked?

That clip was actually supposed to be in the line before. I tried to do the nollie 360, 180 whip and then ice to bar but couldn’t make it all happen at once so ended up taking the crook with the line. I ended up coming back the next day to get the ice to bar. Honestly it was a bit scary because it’s kind of a big rail, but once I got comfortable icing the rail it was just about getting the right pop at the bottom. I believe it took around 100 tries to put it into perspective.

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“The worst part of being a pro in 2016 is that everyone is a pro.”

- Sean Ricany

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How do you get in the proper mindset to go after one-and-done type set-ups?

I haven’t been in that situation in a while, I try not to take the “one and done’’ risk. I like to try things that I’m comfortable trying a few times, or that I’m really confident that I can do. But when I am I’d say the tunes.

I remember years ago having specific conversations with riders about how street riding is all about the lines and putting together tricks that flow back to back. Your riding is pretty line-heavy these days with plenty of single hammers in between and seems to be getting more technical by the video. Has your riding always progressed naturally?

I don’t necessarily believe that street riding is only about lines but I’ve found that I have a lot more fun and get a lot more satisfaction while filming a line that took me a while, rather than a single clip. I think then when I’m filming and take a really long time to film line and do the tricks over and over is when my riding progresses the most. There’s also parking lot or skate park sessions when I’m goofing around and end up learning new things. So I think when you’re having fun is when shit just works.

Where do you pull your influences from and how do you stay motivated to go out and ride on a regular basis?

I stay motivated by the people around me that are constantly hustling getting shit done. Some of my biggest influences are definitely the people that surround me on a day to day basis, but I also get a lot of influence from brands, as well as skateboarding.

At one point people compared your riding to Garrett’s [Reynolds] but that comparison has since been dropped as you have clearly blazed your own goddamn path in the streets. As one of the best, who do you look up to these days?

Thanks, I appreciate that. I definitely look up to Garrett a lot. He’s still the most progressive BMX rider on the planet and I don’t think people realize the shit he just doesn’t show anyone he can do. I also really like to watch Andrew Cast and AK ride.

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Even though you are young, you’ve been in the BMX world for a long time now. Who are some of your favorite riders that you grew up watching in videos and in the magazines?

Back when I was younger I was heavily influenced by the locals growing up at the skate park. I used to watch all the Staff BMX dudes rip on a daily basis. I’d say as for pros when I was growing up I really like Kevin Kiraly, Garrett Reynolds, and J.J. Palmere. Kiraly needs to make a comeback, man.

What are your thoughts on the changes that the industry has gone through in the past decade?

I don’t even know what my thoughts are, I have so many mixed thoughts about it all; some stuff is good, some stuff is bad. But I feel that’s with every industry, right?

How important is keeping up with your social media accounts to you?

I try to keep them all updated as possible and they are @SeanRicany @Leo_Ricany @Further_Brand. As for my personal one it kind of updates itself in a sense, I think just catching daily sessions keeps everything up to date because BMX clips are all kids seem to care about these days, so I’d say yeah it’s pretty important.

You seem to get a lot of positive feedback these days online and in general which is in stark contrast to when you were in the spotlight at such a young age being judged for every move you made. What do you think the main difference is between then and now? Are you still the same Sean?

I’d say that I’m the same, or maybe more mature than I was at 15. But, I’ve said this before; what were most people doing at 15 years old? Acting 15. I’m glad that I’ve been able to kind of change my reputation over the past few years and show people that I’ve grown up a bit.

Looking back to when you were making big moves and gaining huge sponsors at a quick rate, would you have done anything differently?

I guess I would have not become so comfortable. In all honesty at the time being young and having a bunch of sponsors was a lot to deal with. I just wasn’t ready for it. I had never lost a sponsor, nor even thought about it then one month I lost three and was like, oh shit.

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How was it not only getting invited to your first X Games but also walking home with a silver medal? Congrats on that by the way.

Thanks man, I seriously still can’t believe it. I’ve wanted to be in the X Games since I first saw it on TV. So, to be standing on a podium at my first one was and still is seriously unreal.

Was it all you expected? And what do you know now that you wish you knew before you got put on the main stage and on National TV?

I didn’t really pay much attention to the TV aspect of things. I also got away without doing many any interviews after because of the crazy storm that hit in the middle of the contest. I think all in all it was a amazing experience and I can’t wait for the next one.

Did you go in thinking you needed a solid plan or did you just ride and let things work themselves out?

I kind of just let things play out. I try to get an idea of what lines that I want to do in my head then just work on them a bit in practice. Plus, having my headphones in helps me zone out. Like I said earlier, songs remind me of moments. I listened to Kodak Black “Skrilla” in my last run, ha.

At one point you were in 1st place and as a rookie that typically doesn’t happen. Did you feel added pressure and how did it feel the moment you realized you were going to walk away with some hardware and a decent amount of cash?

There was a time when I really had no idea that I was in the top spot. At one point Colin Mackay came up to me and told me “aye, you’re in first mate” and I was like oh shit really? Then it all changed when Garrett dropped in. But honestly I expected it to. And I was just so stoked man, it’s a blessing.

Are you trying to come up on that gold next time?

I mean sure, I’d love to.

If anyone knows you at this point they most likely know that you spend a lot of your time working on your clothing company “Further Brand” which has been on the steady rise since the beginning. What was the motivation behind doing your own brand?

It was kind of a “why not” type of thing. A few people around me run their own brands and it seemed like something that I could be into. Now it’s what I spend a good majority of my time doing.

What products are you currently offering?

Currently Further Brand has tee shirts, hats, hoodies, windbreakers, baseball jerseys, backpacks, rings, and water canteens.

What is the goal with the brand now that you have Cult handling the distro side of things?

To reach as many kids as possible. There are tons of kids from other countries that hit me up trying to get stuff but can’t afford the shipping prices. So this will be good for them and other people that want to physically see the product.

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I know that you keep a few people laced with Further gear but do you ever see yourself putting an official team together?

Nah, I don’t think so. I mean anything can happen, but for now I just like hooking up the people that I’m down with.

You definitely have a following with Further, and it seems as though people are backing it pretty heavy. What do you want to say to the people worldwide that have supported the brand since day one?

Thank you for the support, and I’m glad you stopped buying skateboard shirts, haha.

What would you say is coming next and what can people keep an eye out for?

The newest product line on FurtherBrand.com will be dropping October 10th.

“Thank you for the support, and I’m glad you stopped buying skateboard shirts, haha.”
- Sean Ricany

You put out some pretty wild parts over the past year or so including your Stranger “No Hype” section, the Primo “Stem Promo”, your Ride BMX “Pro Part”, your “Welcome to Cult” edit, and your Cult “Match V2 Coaster” edit. How do you continually go out and push yourself after putting out such crazy content?

This is a tough one. Sometimes there are clips that I filmed and I’ll go back to the spot and think something like damn, I wouldn’t do that again. But I think as long as I’m hyped on the spot it makes coming up with something way easier. I’d say just the vibe of the day and what not. Very rarely do I go to a spot and know that I want to do something. I kind of just session and see what works out.

Would you rather invest in a single video project for a year or more or do you enjoy the instant aspect of being able to film and put stuff out on a might tighter timeline?

I think that filming for a single project that takes a year doesn’t do it for the kids anymore. Don’t get me wrong I’d love to do that, but at the same time we’re supposed to please the fans and the kids want daily vlogs these days. I’m content with around three good projects per year.

You once tweeted “I wish sleep wasn’t needed, I got a life to live!” and it reminded me that you hustle with the best of them. You do your thing not only as a pro rider but as a company owner as well. What keeps you chasing it?

Yeah man, I’ll catch myself some days not having enough time to do all of the things I need to do. I love running a brand though, the satisfaction of seeing a kid rocking something you made happen is unbelievable.

What is a typical day for you in Huntington? I know you spend a lot of time between there and Los Angeles.

Yeah, I’m frequently driving back and forth. It’s actually a constant thing on my mind trying to decide which city I should live in. I love being by the beach and the vibe of H.B. but then I’ll catch myself in L.A. four days a week sometimes. It’s a tough call but usually I will wake up and take Leo out for a walk, pack some orders, go to post office, ride something, then hit the dog beach. Then there’s other days where I wakeup and drive right to L.A. for the day to handle Further stuff.

When it comes to times when you’re not on the bike and not working on Further, what do you get into?

I enjoy surfing a bunch, but I don’t get to as much as I’d like. In the winter I’ll snowboard like once a week and that’s one of my favorite things to do for sure. I also just enjoy a day at the crib as well.

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You ride with headphones on the regular, is that something you’ve always done and what role does music play in your riding?

I do yeah; it just sets my vibe and helps me focus and zone into what I’m doing. I can’t remember when I started wearing headphones actually, I think it’s something that I’ve always kind of done.

What are the last three songs you listened to?

Way down we go, by Kaleo, Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine and Left Hand Free by Alt J. That’s a chillin’ playlist because I’m sitting at home, but when I’m riding I’m usually listening to some ignorant hip-hop, ha.

Do any specific songs remind you of any certain tricks or lines that you’ve done?

For sure, that or times of my life. If songs that I've listened to when riding a contest run or while filming a clip that took me a while come up while driving in the car I’m like damn I remember that contest or clip.

You just recently went to Interbike in Vegas to not only hustle some Further gear but also because you were nominated for “Street Rider of the Year”, as well as the “Readers Choice” and “Web Video Part of the Year.” How did it feel to be recognized as one of the best in the world? Does that kind of thing ever get to your head?

It was unreal man. When Jeff [Zielinski] called me to tell me I was nominated for Readers Choice I was so stoked. Then like a hour later he texted me and said that I was also nominated for Street Rider and Web Video, then I really couldn’t believe it. It was crazy to be on that list with such heavy names.

You are known to hustle and stay focused. What specific goals do you have for the next coming years?

Maintain Everyday.

What is the best part about being a pro rider in 2016?

For me I’d say this is the best year that I have had, so I’m just super amped on all the traveling, contests, and video projects I’ve been able to work on.

What is the worst part?

The worst part of being a pro in 2016 is that everyone is a pro.

One thing that I believe is important in keeping BMX on the right path for the future is trying to get the younger generation into the mindset that we all share the responsibility of putting it in the right light. As a whole we have to make sure that the kids out there know what’s good. What kind of advice do you have for the young riders doing their thing and even ones out there looking to follow a path similar to yours?

Just have fun, and never take this shit too seriously.

As with every other interview, you need some space to do your thing and thank the people that allow you to do just that so go for it.

Well thank you for the opportunity to do this Pavia, and shout out to Cult, Vans, Blenders, and Ethika.

Any last words?

Go buy a tee shirt at www.FurtherBrand.com

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“I will ride my BMX bike until I physically cannot anymore, paid or not.”
- Sean Ricany

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