Chaz Ortiz has strong influential ties to music. From growing up in Chicago, Illinois a place that is a major center for music, and first skating for Zoo York—a board company that blends raw East Coast skateboarding with heavy hip hop. We recently spoke with Chaz to dig deeper into his musical influences in his latest On Rotation interview.

All right, we’ll kick it off with what are some of your favorite music?
I’ve always had a wide variety of music. Growing up, my dad listened to a lot of oldies, and I was around a lot of old rock. I mainly listened to hip hop, but that gets old, and I like to switch it up. I have like 5,000 songs on my phone from throughout the years from just gathering music. It’s usually hip hop, but I just hit shuffle, and some rock or some oldies will come up, and I’ll bump that—some Lil Wayne or stuff that brings me back to when I was younger.

You grew up with different types of music other than hip hop around your house. How did that shape what you listen to now?
I feel like it opened my mind to different music and stuff, you know? Because a lot of people listen to one type of music. So I feel like listening to everything lyrically, the beat, and stuff I like to break songs down. What’s cool is that I remember my dad would have poker tournaments, and all my OG uncles and my family would just be blasting music all day and just smoking cigars playing poker.

That’s rad, I’m a big fan and oldies, and I like coming across original songs that newer music sample from.
Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot in hip hop they’re bringing back older songs, like samples and beats, it’s cool. It’s a breath of fresh air.

My dad used to have a bunch of CDs like Dr. Dre The Chronic. My dad, he used to listen to Tupac a lot. He knows every word to Tupac.

Chaz Ortiz
Photo Credit: Chris Ortiz

That’s hard.
Yeah, he’s so funny. It’s weird my dad could listen to a song like two or three times and then know all the words to it. That’s kind of how I am, and people trip out. I just listen to music a lot. Then my wife, whenever she’s getting ready, she’s always playing music in the morning and stuff. Music is heavy in our life, especially in the car, when I’m alone, it’s just like, full blast down Michigan Avenue. (laughs)

That’s rad. What are the music vibes usually like in the morning with you and your wife?
Sometimes she’ll be playing like some older song, and it’s always random. Or if a new album comes out, she’ll usually listen to that. Like the new Juice World album, she likes a lot, so that’ll be playing.

Do you two have similar artists and taste in music? Are there any artists you learned to like that you would typically not listen to?
I feel like I’ve been putting her onto a lot of stuff. (laughs) Usually, when I shuffle my playlist, its a bunch of random stuff from skate videos. But she has put me on to like some more chill stuff.

Chaz Ortiz
Photo Credit: Ferra

What do you throw on to get hyped up for the say and go skate?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Shoreline Mafia lately. They just put out a new album that’s super cool. It depends on what I’m skating. If I’m at the park or chilling, I usually go through my shuffle list and play whatever. But if I’m like, going to skate a big rail, then I’ll throw on some Metallica to get psyched.

If it’s just a chill skate day at the park, do you rock headphones?
I do, but only when I warm up. Then for some reason, headphones distract me because I like to hear my board. Plus, I like to socialize and I don’t want to be that dude with the headphones on at the park. I like to bullshit while I speak with the homies. That’s just me, though.

Growing up, once iPods and mp3 players came out, it became weird to wear headphones while skating. It’s funny how It’s still kind of an old stigma that’s around.
Right, I remember like, Dew Tour and when Dre Beats came on, and Panasonic had these big headphones, everyone was bumping music while they were skating it was funny. It was definitely like a phase I feel like, and a lot of kids do it still, too. But like I said, when I skate, I want to talk and bullshit, and that’s what makes it fun to me. It’s cool to be in your zone. I get it, but I just like to talk.

If you are skating a bigger rail, do you keep them on to stay in your zone?
For a few first seconds, but as I said, I like to hear my board snap. Usually, when I ride my bike, I have a speaker, and I’ve been bumping a lot of Lauryn Hill lately and ride around the city bumping music. It’s pretty sick.


How are you finding new artists these days?
On Apple Music and I hang out with like a lot of younger cats, they’ll put me on to new songs. I used to be online, searching hip hop, and on My Mixtapez, SoundCloud, all that stuff. If the homies are playing some music and I like it, I’ll add to the playlist. That’s pretty much how I get everything now.

Is there anyone you toured and hung out with back in the day that influenced what you listen to today?
That’s a good question. I never thought of this one. Oh, recently, it was pretty funny, we’re on tour for the Sheckler Foundation with Fabrizio [Santos], and he was playing some of his beats. That was cool. Me and Manny [Santiago] listened to a lot of music when we live together in a house.

Then there’s all the Zoo [York] heads they listened to a lot of old school New York hop hop like, when I was with RB Umali, he put me onto a lot of different songs I wouldn’t know today if it wasn’t for him. I think he [RB] has been in the studio with like, Method Man and stuff like that.

What about video parts that stick out in your mind that the music had an impact on you?
TransWorld Skateboarding’s First Love. They had such a dope soundtrack in that video. That was one that I loved like I downloaded all the music when I was younger, put it on my mp3 player and me and my buddies would like because we had one mp3 player and it was mine, but we would be like ‘alright, you get it for an hour. I get it for an hour.’ (laughs) So, we would switch off it was pretty funny.

Anyone’s part in particular that stood out to you the most in First Love?
I know Ryan Gallant skated to O-o-h Child [by The Five Stairsteps] that was a good one. Shiloh Greathouse had a song I’m spacing on what it was, but it was sick. [Editors note: The Killing Moon by Echo and The Bunnymen] Every part in that video was amazing. I feel like we used a lot of cool songs for edits when I was younger, like a lot of East Coast influence.

In the past, have you had a say on what song to use for a video part? How do you go about selecting a song?
A lot of my songs were Chicago influenced. We did the Kanye West and Vic Mensa track for one of my parts, but it sucks because it got deleted off YouTube. They only had paid for the rights for a certain amount of years, and I think they paid probably like ten grand to use it for my part.

If you could have all the rights to any song to use for a video part, what would you select?
That’s a tough one. I would probably do like an old Biggie song or maybe a Nas song. I have a really good song for my part that’s coming out, and this is like one that I’ve been eyeing for a while.

For your upcoming part, did you already have a song picked out in mind and just made it work with your skating?
Well kind of, in the middle of filming, I played it in the car to my filmer/editor, and I asked him, ‘what do you think of this?’ and he was like ‘dude, this is perfect.’ Now he can go off that and knows what he has to shoot to go with it and edit it.

Closing question, you a fan of karaoke? Ever get down on the mic?
You know, it’s funny when we were in Japan. We sang every night and just drank so many beers and did karaoke, and it was super fun.

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