Nigel Sylvester Speaks On His BMX Career, Friendship With Pharrell Williams And His Pyradice Clothing Line
Nigel Sylvester has become the face of professional BMX riding. His dedication and love for the action sport has lead the 27-year-old to travel the entire world and have some of the biggest brands behind him.
His love for bikes began at an early age and continued throughout his teens eventually landing Nigel his first major BMX deal with his childhood hero Dave Mirra at the young age of 18. As Nigel's name became more visible in the BMX scene, brands like Nike and Gatorade began to offer the Queens native sponsorship deals for his skills on the bike. Several sponsorships later and trips around the globe, Nigel has successfully become a role model to the younger generation that shares the same love for BMX.
We recently caught up with Nigel Sylvester during one of his stops in New York City to discuss his career, sponsorship deals, friendships with celebrities and much more. Check out the full interview below.
At what age did you develop the love for riding a bike?
It was early in the game. Maybe when I was 5 or 6 years old I understood the love I had for bike riding. The feeling that it evoked out of me and the things that I started to do on the big wheeler in my grandmother’s driveway were incredible at the time. I was doing things on the big wheeler that I never seen no kid ever do before. The freedom of riding a bike made me addicted to it.
You grew up in Jamaica, Queens, a place known for its hip-hop heavyweights. How were you able to keep up with the BMX world at a young age since your neighborhood is unknown for BMX riders?
Coming from Jamaica, Queens it’s highly unlikely to have a BMX rider come out of there. You are more common to get a rapper first and foremost. You got 50, LL Cool J, Run DMC and more. All these dudes grew up 5 minutes away from me. Then you started seeing football players, basketball players and baseball players come out of the neighborhood, but to have a BMX rider come out of there was very different. It wasn’t a sport that was in my face all the time. We had no skate parks in Jamaica, and Queens in general didn’t cater to action sports so it was something that I had to find on my own. All this was pre-internet days, so I had to go look for VHS videos on BMX, go to my local bodega and get the BMX Plus magazine – all these things is what kept me into the sport, and of course watching BMX programming on TV during the summertime.
How were you able to discover the BMX scene in New York City?
I was in high school and I met a good friend of mine, who put me on to this spot called Union Square. When I started going there it was packed of bike riders and skateboarders that had a passion and love for action sports just like I did. Going there opened me up to a whole different world. I loved bike-riding so much, but I didn’t know it existed in New York City on such a high level. I had no clue at all. I even met BMX pros in Union Square. I was able to ask them questions and ask for advice. It was then and there that I realized I wanted to be a pro in the BMX world.
How often would you start going to Union Square and practice on your bike-riding skills?
I went to he city as much as I could - after school, on the weekends. I was there all day long riding on my bike. The determination was what kept me in the game and made me take this serious. I would ride around from Union Square to anywhere in the city until 3 or 4 in the morning. It was some of the most purest moments in my life because I didn’t have any money and I was broke as fuck, so I had to eat dollar menu food, but it didn’t matter to me I just wanted to be out and about riding my bike all day.
What would you say have been your biggest moments in your BMX career?
Man, there have been so many moments that have defined my career. Whether it was going pro at 18 years old after my idol, Dave Mirra signed me to his company MirraCo. or being the first professional bike rider to have all these sponsors that I work with. The fact that I don’t ride national competitions, but I’m able to work with some of the biggest brands in the world is an accomplishment within itself. Another big moment for me was when I smashed the MTV red carpet with Pharrell. We were 20 bike riders deep and had the internet buzzing so that was crazy and even this year, being the first BMX rider to grace the ESPN Body Issue alongside Venus Williams, Serge Ibaka, Michael Phelps and all these world champions was incredible. This is a marathon and I’m planning to ride this out until the wheels fall off. There’s no other choice for me, I put all my eggs into this basket and I have to win! There’s no other option at all.
I know you signed to Nike, but how did it feel to have your own Nike SB sneaker out in stores earlier this year?
I was the first BMX rider to ever have a Nike SB. That was a long time in the making. I’ve been signed to Nike already for 9 years and to have my own sneaker, and have people all around the world buy my sneaker was a great feeling.
Is there another one of your Nike SB silhouettes in the works?
We’re trying to see what’s good. The first one sold out in less than a day. Probably within 4-5 hours coast to coast. I know Nike didn’t expect that.
What made you want to design your sneaker on the Nike SB High silhouette?
I’m a huge fan of the Dunk high silhouette, and me being signed with Nike and on the action sports side of things, it was kind of a no brainer that I wanted to do that shoe because I ride with it everyday. Nike presented me with the opportunity and I said let’s make it happen, so I worked with DJ Clark Kent on the design of the sneaker and it came out clean.
Talk to me about your PYRADICE clothing line?
PYRADICE is a click, it’s a squad, it’s a place that the people around me create. We play off the word paradise and we flipped the spelling to give it the fuck you attitude. PYRADICE is about taking something and making it your own. It’s a brand in which I’m just trying to bring dope products and put on dope events. It’s something to call our own and help identify kids that are just trying to get out their dreams and live their own. We got Rick Ross, Bun B, Ne-Yo wearing the apparel already and people are starting to take notice. We selling hats all over the world right now but it’s more than just a hat company. We doing products that we naturally believe in. We getting orders from Japan, Europe, and Croatia I mean every continent has placed an order and people are loving it. They are supporting the product and I’m grateful to have people embrace it the way they’ve been doing.
How did you partner up with Pharrell Williams?
Pharrell is part owner of this company called Brooklyn Machine Works and at the time we linked up I was leaving MirraCo. I was with them for 6 years, but you know you I had to evolve and I left the company. Through mutual friends and business partners me and P met and he signed me to Brooklyn Machine Works. The company is more like a boutique BMX brand where we do small quantities and exclusive shit. We want to be a contender in the BMX market and I’m excited about it. Being able to work on a bike company where all my ideas can come into fruition and I can get out my deepest thoughts for a bike and work with someone like him is incredible. We started 2 years ago and we just put out some bike frames this year and we’re working on some handlebars and bikes It’s cool working with P because he helps me out with other parts of my career and life. He gives me his opinion and he’s like a big brother to me now.
You made a cameo on A$AP Rocky’s “Multiply” video. How did that come about?
I promoted a bike ride in the city via social media and we had like 300 kids come out to the event in NYC. After that we all linked up with A$AP Mob and they were shooting the “Multiply” video on the same night. Everyone was having a great time and it meshed up well. I knew they were shooting the video because I spoke with members of the Mob earlier in the day, so I had invited them to the bike ride and they were like ‘yeah we shooting a video in the city as well.’ It worked out even better because all the Mob members ride bicycles so it was fun for us.
What did you think about the record once you heard it?
I thought it was awesome. He shocked the world and if your going to do something you better do it big and he did. Nowadays with so much things coming out on a daily everything gets lost in the internet, so if you’re going to do something and speak your mind do it, and I definitely respect the way he did it as far as speaking his mind and creating a buzz.
Talk to me about your sponsorship with Sony?
I’m signed with Sony now which is crazy because I grew playing PlayStation, so now Sony has this action camera that you can take anywhere with you. It can fit in your pocket, you can film yourself, you can do whatever you want and it’s perfect for me because I’m always bouncing around doing tons of things so carrying a big camera is something that I cant carry.
What about your latest sponsorship with Incase?
Yeah, Incase just sponsored me so I have a collection coming out with them that consists of backpacks, phone cases and travel equipment. It will be very premium quality so I can’t wait for that.
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