Darius Trabalza is a skater and painter from London who’s sponsored by Slam City Skates and Adidas. His skating is flowing and stylish with a helping of next level tech thrown in whenever he wants to connect the dots on a series of his moves. His bag of tricks is sick and he knows how to take them down new paths.
Similar to his skating, his artwork reflects the complexities of the interiors of his own mind with a unique and rad style. It’s been interesting to see Darius grow as a skater and as an artist over the years. So we were stoked to chat to him about some of the standout tricks he’s nailed in London and abroad on trips, talk to him about how he has defined his style on his board and painting on his canvases and catch up with him about what he’s been up to and plans for the future.
We’re hyped Darius is now a member of The No Comply Network. Read his interview to find out how he started skating, got sponsored by Slam, his stories behind his parts, tricks and clips, his experiences of going on Atlantic Drift trips, the story behind that huge roll on 50-50 that he nailed in their latest Istanbul edit and his thoughts on his artwork, his favourites and his announcement of a new project that he has been working on that is on the way.
Check it below to discover all about it for yourself.
Frontside Bluntslide, Shot by Rafski
What’s your full name?
Darius Cato Trabalza-Haynes
Where did you grow up Darius?
I lived in Bromley most of the time I grew up.
Where are you living at the moment?
I currently live in Waterloo.
When did you first start making art, what did it look like and what inspired you?
As far back as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed making art it was always my favourite subject at school.
When I was about 5 I was pretty into dinosaurs so I would just draw them with colouring pencils.
I was into ancient Greek mythology around age 10 so I drew a lot of that with colouring pencils.
I only really experimented once I studied at a GCSE level when I would draw with graphite and oil pastels.
I also did some acrylic painting here and there. But they didn’t have oil paints at my school so I didn’t try that until much more recently.
When did you first see skateboarding and think I want to do that too?
When I was 8 or 9 me and my friends would go down this big hill on our estate on our bellies on our boards.
That’s my first real memory of skating but someone told my mum that I was doing that and we all got in trouble because it was dangerous with cars and stuff. It’s a shame I didn’t keep skating from then
What was your first setup and where did you get it?
My first proper setup I bought when I was 14.
I can’t tell you what is was. The boy I paid £20 to for it had spray painted the underneath yellow and I think the rest of it was unbranded.
Who was in your first skate crew and where did you go skate?
So my friend Nana skated for about a year before I did and then an Australian boy called Lewis moved to my class and we had to show him around. He skated a bit aswell so we all skated together.
Then we met people in Bromley like Louie Levinson, Matt Anderson and Joe Davies and we would make videos together on Matt’s camera.
We would mostly skate the street in Bromley which was basically a slope in front of the police station and some car parks.
Darius Trabalza, Switch 50-50 Grind, Shot by Chris Johnson
Bromley has a big scene. What was it like skating there growing up? Did you go to the park a lot or skate street just as much?
Yeah the scene is pretty good. I lived at that skatepark pretty much. I loved it.
There wasn’t much in the skatepark initially then every 2 or 3 years they’d add something else so I learnt to skate each thing at a time.
Darius Trabalza, Frontside Feeble Stall, Shot by Chris Johnson
Where was the first place you skated in Central London and what was that like?
We skated around St Paul’s sometimes trying to Ollie the 4 and the 5 set. And we’d go to Southbank on the weekends a lot.
There used to be no barriers at Waterloo so we didn’t have to pay for train tickets there which was nice.
Darius, Kickflip, Shot for Adidas London
In your City of Rats section you nailed a Tre Flip down the 10 at Bromley skatepark. Why did you want to do that trick and what was it like to make it and roll away?
I mean I would’nt describe that rollaway as nailing it. It was pretty sloppy haha. But luckily I find a bit of mess interesting to watch.
It was a really tough battle for that I think it was 2 sessions of close to 3 hours.
After the first session, I remember sitting in Biology class the next day. My body was so destroyed, more than it had ever been. I really questioned my life choices for a minute there.
To roll away at all was such a relief. I think I had done a Tre Flip down Southbank and it was feeling like my go to at the time so I thought I should just try at least.
You were sponsored by Slam in your teens, how did that go down and what’s your favourite thing about being sponsored by Slam?
I got on Slam when I was like 17.
Jake Sawyer and Jon Laidlow hooked me up with Ben Dominguez to film some stuff.
Me and Ben went out on a bunch of missions and managed to scrape together a Rat Signal. That’s how it got started really.
Slam has a huge history in the London skate scene and it’s nice to be a part of that story.
What’s your favourite memory from filming for City of Rats?
I think just the process was pretty fun just to be out on the streets skating different spots with friends and making new friends.
I didn’t know many spots too so it was nice to be taken around to all different kind of spots and to see spots from videos I’d seen.
Who are you skating for at the moment?
Adidas, Pop Trading Company for clothing, Slam City Skates and Independent Trucks.
I’m currently in the market for a board sponsor haha
Switch Flip, Shot by Rafski
Your bangers and lines in adidas’ Buffer video were so tight. What was it like filming for it and what was your favourite clip to film and why?
It was fun to go around Europe as a group with homies like Twiggy who I’ve known forever but had never got a chance to be on a skate trip with.
My favourite clip was probably the Switch Front Board down that thing in Croatia. I landed it really quickly, in like 5 or 6 tries, which doesn’t happen often to me. So, I have to appreciate that.
The Front Blunt at Southbank was rewarding for me too. I think I did at least 3 sessions trying to get it so felt lucky to get it.
What happened on that Boardslide bail in Buffer and what did it feel like to slam from that height?
That was a bit of a weird one, it was second to last day of the trip I was super burnt out. I felt like I could barely Ollie off the ground.
That morning I did the Switch Front Board and in my head I was like ok I’m done now for this trip my body is too cooked.
Then we went round the corner and I saw that spot and I was like holy shit I barely have to Ollie on this one. And I was actually having loads of fun skating it and didn’t feel stressed at all.
I got really comfy pumping through the corner because I wanted to go quite far after it. Then one go I missed the pump timing and went of the other side. It would have been fine, I went to put my left leg on the floor as I slipped off the boardslide but my tired legs accidentally stepped on the waxy ledge and shot me over to my head.
It was really strange because the hitting of my head glitched out my memory of a split second of what happened because from my perspective I felt my face hit the floor while I felt like I was falling.
You do some dope manuals in that part. What do you like about doing manuals and which is your favourite?
Well I think everyone can agree that manuals aren’t that scary which is a nice bonus but the fear is replaced by repetitive frustration.
I liked the Double Nose Manny to Nollie Flip.
I think I haven’t always been very technical so when I do something that is a little, it feels satisfying to get away with.
You’ve filmed some epic tricks at Southbank. But what has been your favourite thing to film there?
After the Stay Gold premiere when I was like 16 I tried to Crooked Grind off the outledge down the stairs and completely missed and landed on my face. That’s definitely the best clip I have there!
Henry filmed your Nollie Heelflip Backside Noseblunt Revert on the bank, it’s such a sick, unique trick. How did you end up learning it and filming one with Henry at SB?
I skated the Bromley bank in the skate park a lot and I would do Nollie Back Heels on it like 50 times a day so I felt like it was a natural progression just to land a little higher but it was definitely harder on the Southbank bank when I filmed with Henry.
You are a part of the Atlantic Drift crew and have been on a lot of trips with the squad. How did you join Atlantic Drift and what was your favourite trip to go on?
I actually love all of the Atlantic Drift trips it’s such a great group of people and I feel really stoked to be a part of it and get to see some amazing stuff go down first hand.
I’ve known Jake Harris for a long time and he thought it would be a good idea and I’m stoked he thought I would be a good fit.
Those trips more than any feel like home to me. Istanbul was really fun and more recently Bangkok was really cool. A little too hot there though haha
In the Atlantic Drift Istanbul episode, you did a roll on 50-50 to close down the edit. Tell us the story behind that roll on 50-50 and how it went down in the end?
We went to check out a nearby spot and stumbled across that spot. I felt like it was made for me I like skating walls and roll on grinds.
So, I tried it out and it was going pretty good but we got the boot after not long as security were in a room just above the spot. Jake and I came back on the last day to try and get it.
But security was pretty on it. So I would have 3 or 4 goes and then security would come out and we’d walk off before they got a chance to talk to us.
We’d wait a little way off for 10 mins or so until they walk off again and then we’d run back and have a few goes.
I felt like I was getting really close, but it was probably not going to happen and then all of a sudden one try I was rolling away. And I think you can see from the rollaway I was beyond excited. That was a great feeling that I won’t forget for a long time.
You’ve got a sick flick on your Frontside Flips. What’s the key to nailing that trick with style in your opinion?
Hahah thanks. I like all kinds of Frontside Flips. I like when people can do a straight kickflip and drag it around last minute
Who has your favourite Frontside Flip?
I mean its gotta be the Boss Andrew Reynolds.
Cyrus Bennet has an awesome one too.
Frontside Flip, Shot by Rafski
The same for Back Tails, you’ve got a sick Back T but what’s your favourite one that you have filmed?
I’ve got a couple in the part I’m working on at the moment which are probably my favourite. But you’ll have to wait to see them haha
I’ve seen that your girlfriend is a really sick skater too. What’s it like having a girlfriend who skates and do you skate together often?
Yeah we skate a lot together. We go to Southbank a lot, Clapham sometimes and street skating.
When did you start oil painting and what was your first piece?
A few years ago, I started with some abstract painting. That was my intro into oils, although how I use them now is very different.
The Jade Lamp by Darius Trabalza
How long does it take for you to make a paintings and what are the main subjects that you like to paint?
It takes forever these days. My last painting took over a year start to finish. It was the most complex and challenging painting I had attempted so far.
Although I was painting intermittently so it could have take a lot less time. I like to paint different stuff.
I’m just exploring in a way to gain experience painting different stuff to become a better painter. I will paint anything that isn’t a landscape haha. I like interiors and sometimes people come in too.
The subjects of your oil paintings often seem reflective of your own life experience. I may be wrong but it appears they feature people you know or have met and yourself sometimes. Why do you think it’s important to include your life and identity in your art?
I guess the entire journey for me is discovering who I am as a painter. I started off a lot of making up scenes learning how to draw properly in perspective.
But now I like to paint places that I have come across. I think there is something magical about noticing something beautiful across on your path and the exact moment that the light is perfect.
I’m very particular about how the light should be for my paintings and it’s a small window of time so I always feel lucky when I do.
The Green Room by Darius Trabalza
Have you been commissioned to create a painting?
Not really. I’ve done some things for close friends.
I guess its hard because I have to be interested in whatever they want too so it’s fun for me to paint.
Cactus by Darius Trabalza
Are you working on any pieces right now that you want to mention?
I just finished this piece last week called ‘The Dutch Dreamhouse’.
I’m really proud of it and it was really difficult for me. You can check it on my Instagram.
Do you have any plans to do an exhibition soon?
Yeah I do. But I haven’t done one before so I need a bit of advice about how to go about setting one up and that kind of thing so I need to talk to some friends that are also painters and see what they can tell me.
What’s your favourite skate video of all-time?
Who’s your favourite skater?
Heath Kirchart. Its so rare for someone so gnarly to be so graceful. Just the way he does Kickflips on flat is incredible.
Who has your favourite style on a skateboard and why?
Heath, because he’s so light on his toes and has a really quick flick.
What is your favourite skate spot in the UK?
I like all the spots in Canary Wharf but you can never skate them
What is your favourite skate spot in the world?
I guess it must be Southbank as I’m there so much haha
Any new plans or announcements you would like to make Darius?
I’m going to put out a part before the end of the year so look out for that.
Any last words?
Have fun skating!