Shooting The Breeze: With Preston Okert
Here's one that we're super excited to share.
After having Brisbane biker Josh Turley contribute to the 'What's Good' segment on The Journal, with his selection of Preston Okert in the 1030D video, the dudes name was on my mind. I was absolutely aware of the kid, having watched all his videos and even keenly anticipated more of his riding, however had never met him nor spoken to him. Again, with another form of motivation (i.e. the dudes at LUX suggesting to do more interviews for The Journal), I thought hell, let's see if we can make something happen here. Shortly after, thanks to the interconnected world we live in, I'm now eagerly typing out this introduction for an in-depth interview with CULT & Odyssey biker, Preston Okert.
Moshlord, what a moment to have on still. Photo supplied by Preston
Based out of Fullerton, California, the 23 year old has followed a similar path to many freestyle bikers in starting off on the race track. After learning the basics, from how to stand on a bike, managing speed, distance perception, absorbing pressure, how to pedal rotation smoothly, manualling and more broadly, confidence, you've built yourself a platform to build off. After time, it becomes super obvious that the racing background has resulted in a calm, unique and graceful style - that which is inherent to the way Preston Okert holds himself on a bike. It is this that characterises Preston Okert and further, elevates him above others.
Watch any video featuring Preston and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Thankfully, there are a couple big name brands that have noticed what Preston offers and more thankfully, have produced videos featuing his riding. I can only hope that the kid keeps with BMX and continues to evolve his style and trick selection. It really is beautiful to watch.
When I'm talking about style, this is what I mean - Arizona table. Photo from the dudes socials
In researching for this interview, it surprised me that there wasn't an interview (digitally anyway) with Preston, really not that much information at all. For a kid on the precipice of greatness, this seemed a wrong I wanted to right and a gap in the BMX world which I am stoked to fill.
My preference would be to hang with the dude as part of an interview, to get a personal and intimate experience of the dude to be able to convey to the audience. With this not possible due to distance and life priorities, I reached out to 2 x Australian boys who have met and ridden with Preston for some thoughts on the kid.
Pat Freyne (fellow CULT rider and LA resident) explains:
"Preston bloody Okert. Not many younger heads in BMX in this day and age come as humble and well rounded as this bloke. Having known Presto roughly 6-7 years now & countless hours in the van together, beers shared, clips filmed and photos shot.
He’s got that ability on a bike to ooze effortless style on any terrain, a solid taste in music & good humor to boot. Little fuckers got a bright future ahead of him and we all cant wait to see where he sends it to next."
Another fellow team rider (this time Odyssey) Boyd Hilder, credits the dude with his versatility:
"Preston's a younger guy that's doing it all, he's down to ride street or seek an empty pool. But he really thrives in a skatepark alongside that he's down to film anytime."
Anyway, take a read as we delve into the important topics; BMX videos, racing, riding bikes in Australia as well as the influence of CULT and heavy music. Preston Okert ya heard.
Let's start off with the 1030D part. I linked you a recent Journal article in which one of the local boys chose your part as a modern favourite, citing that it had a timelessness to it, something that's able to be watched over and over again. Can you describe your experience working on this video part and how it feels looking back on that time?
Man working on the 1030D video was a treat. Covid hit like 2 months before we moved in to that warehouse. Had no real plan of making a video like that going into it, but as easy as it was to go out riding on the weekends it became obvious to us that we might be able to get a lil' project goin' whatever that may be.
The homies on a break mid-grind. To outsiders, this might look boring as shit, but to bikers, you know that this is the gel. Photo supplied by Preston
From my perspective, working on a video part is the ultimate form of creativity, incredibly rewarding and a way to leverage your best riding. Looking back on old video parts brings me great joy. How do you feel watching the 1030D video now that it's been out in the world for a couple months?
I agree! I feel as though my riding or the way I see clips progresses the most during the times I'm really trying to film. Looking back at the whole 1030D video, I'm quite proud of how it came out. It was always a dream to live in a BMX house and be apart of a full length. All the dudes went in and it feels like we were able to kinda give a lil' vibe of what that time period was like for us.
Folding one over in the deep end, accompanied by crew (Eddie Cuellar and Hoder). Photos supplied by Preston
Going back to your past, you raced BMX as a young fella, eventually finding yourself drawn to freestyle and away from the structures of racing. You can see how it influenced your riding, which is quite obvious through how natural you look on your bike and how easily you handle manual lines. Can you talk about what racing was like for you and why you now find yourself in the freestyle world?
Racing was a huge part of my life. Grew up really into dirt bikes and my parents wouldnt allow me to race at the track so BMX seemed like the closest I could get to that. Definitely where I gained alot of the basic bike control, manuals, pulling back, pushing thru etc. As I was getting older and trying to be competitive in nationals it just became clear how much I enjoyed jumping and how little I enjoyed training. Gradually I just faded from the track to more dirt and skatepark stuff where I could ride exactly how I wanted.
Proof of racing, reppin' Fullerton bicycles race threads and looking like a proper grom. Photo taken from the dudes socials
Preston back in 2013 at Sheep Hills, the point at which the lure of freestyle starts to take over. Photo taken from the dudes socials
Crazy to think that in 2013 you were posting about whether you should ride pegs or not, then 6 years later, you find yourself on the Odyssey team. What is it like being apart of such an elite crew and can you describe what it was like to be on the Odyssey Australia trip back in 2019? I remember seeing the flyer for the Backbone Jam of 2019 and seeing your (and other dudes) name and thinking damn that would be sick to see those dudes ride. Seems like you got a good snapshot of the country based on the video.
Yeah man, riding for Odyssey has been unreal. Everyone on that team is someone I look up to and respect heavily. They've given me unreal travel opportunities like said trip to Australia in 2019 for the ACT jam. That trip in particular is one I'll remember forever. Travelin' through Canberra and Sydney with Spriet, Broc, Gary and Boyd was surreal. The scene out there is top tier, full of badass bikers and cool humans. Hope to get out to ACT again and all the other amazing spots we went to out there.
Having watched most of your videos, it makes sense that your favourite rider is Matt Priest. By the way, this is a great choice, his 2013 Source edit is one of my favourites, I watch it all the time. The way the song builds with that grandiose feel works so well. Must have been incredible to then go and meet the dude, what was that like? Is Matt still your favourite rider?
Yes! that video was really influential on the way I rode. The song, the trick selection as well as the speed he carried around every bit had me putting that on at the house as I'd be gettin' ready to go hahaha. In 2018 I was able to get out to the UK and stayed with my homie Luc Byford who was kind enough to drive me all around. Met Matt and some of the other villa road crew at Woodyard and had an amazing sunset session and then kicked it around the fire for hours. Still one of my favourite bikers!
Don't know where this is, but it looks steep and deep. Okert with a timeless can can. Photo supplied by Preston
You also ride for CULT, another super influential brand. I think I read somewhere that the 'Talk is Cheap' video had a big impact on you. Nuts that it came out over 10 years ago. How do you feel about this video, what does it mean to you?
'Talk is Cheap' is my bible. Me and my best friend Dylan Gagnon (who also was in 1030D) would watch the entire video a couple times a week easily haha. 'Talk is Cheap' came out when I was 12, right as I was fading out of racing so that whole aesthetic was very different and appealing to what I was seeing at the time.
Wild tranny in it's natural state, both are a mission to ride so you've gotta be committed. Photos supplied by Preston
I see that the 1030D premiere involved local punk weirdos 'Gromit' playing live. This is so sick, nothing sicker than mixing biking and music, especially at a premiere. I did the same thing with the LUX 'Aeterna' premiere, we had Lizzard Wizzard play and it was the best decision. 'Gromit' sound a lot like 'The Spits' from my point of view, a really great punk rock band of the 90s based out of Michigan. Can you talk about the local scene in Fullerton, from both a biking and live music perspective?
SHOUT OUT GROMIT. all those guys are my friends from Fullerton highschool. But growing up in Fullerton was sick riding and music wise. We had 2 smaller parks to bounce back n forth from and once it was dark there was usually a punk show goin on at Fullerton skatepark, the dam, a skate shop called Programme, or at this cafe called Max Bloom's(RIP). My dad was into old oc punk, had some friends that were in bands, so I just found myself goin to shows more n more frequently!
You appear to have a taste for punk/hardcore. Talk to me about some of your favourite live music experiences of recent times and how you find yourself as a lover of fast and heavy music?
Yeah love a circle pit haha! That kinda shit is just so fun to me. Everyone all riled up just hyped on noise, love the energy of live music. Faster/heavier music helps me not be a puss when trying to overcome my brain, i.e. turn off when doing scary shit on the bike. Sound and Fury was the first time I ever went to a hardcore "fest" and it was like nothing I've ever been to in my life haha. Massive crowd, multiple pits going on and bodies flying haha good times. Thanks Jeff for the free ticket!
Moshing V2. Photo supplied by Preston
Thanks to Preston for offering his time and attention to this piece, it is most appreciated when he is not obliged in any way to do this. I love getting to know the dudes that make up our BMX community, so hopefully this offers some of that. Hopefully the dudes attitude and riding has an influence on you and your scene.
For visual proof of biking prowess, take note: