A Day In The Life Of Motherlan
Born in Lagos and now based in London, Motherlan are the multidisciplinary skate crew redefining the influence of the Nigerian skate scene on the world. Founded in Lagos by Leo, Slawn and Onyedi, the crew are now joined by videographer Petr, musicians Mike, Daniel and Tim, and the group’s resident entrepreneur, Zacc. Taking us on a tour of their favourite London skate spots, the crew tell us about creating their Homecoming X Browns capsule collection and their plans for the future of Lagos’ budding skate scene.
What time do you wake up and where?
Slawn: We live together so we all wake up together, except for Mike, he wakes up mad late.
What does your average day look like?
Slawn: I wake up and I come downstairs and look up references online. I find some and take notes of them. I always wake Petr up and we plan. I’ll ask Freddy what he’s doing, I look at myself and I ask myself what I’m not doing right. I’ll go see my girlfriend, then I’ll come back. Petr helps me prime my canvas to start painting, and I link my friends at night.
Leo: I wake up and I skate.
Mike: I wake up, and pain.
Petr: I think of places I have to go cause I don’t like being outside. I go there and then I go back inside.
Do you have any rituals?
Leo: If design is a ritual, I wake up every day and design.
Can you tell us about the project you’ve made for the Browns X Homecoming collaboration?
Leo: The T-shirts reference the lifestyle and culture of Lagos, Nigeria, and Black culture in general, with T-shirts made in honour of Tarkwa Bay, Nigerian masks and anti-racism. This capsule carries the cultural part of us.
How long have you been based in London? Where are your favourite spots to hang out/ skate spots?
Slawn & Leo: Almost a year now - since November last year. Our favourite spots are Old Street, Tenessy, Banke’s Kitchen. We generally skate around East London.
Can you talk a bit about where you grew up and how you met one another?
Leo: We were born and raised in the ghetto, Lagos, Nigeria, and we met each other through our mothers who were suffering.
How and why did you form Motherlan?
Leo: We created it to skate and have fun.
Slawn: It was a good way to get out of our houses and feel. And obviously to get out of our situation.
What’s the skate scene like in Nigeria? How does it compare to London?
Leo: The skate scene is small but up-and-coming. It’s gotten way more popular now that there is an official crew from Lagos. The difference between skating in Lagos and London is that here there’s a lot of people that can get sponsored. You can make a living from it, but in Lagos it’s very hard to. That’s what we’re planning to change.
Can you talk a bit about cultural exchange on the skate scene? What influence does the African skate scene have globally? Are there any changes you’d like to see?
Slawn: At the moment it doesn’t really have influence - that’s what we’re trying to change. The only way it is referenced in skateboarding is for prints, you see them on all these brands. We are the only ones that actually do fuck shit without caring about anything else compared to the rest. Ask Metallic Inc. about us.
What’s your design process like?
Slawn: See, take, refurbish. Nobody here is creative.
Who do you look up to?
Slawn: My dad. Just kidding.
Petr: Not gonna lie, no one.
What do you see as your role in terms of shaping African cultural narratives globally?
Leo: In Lagos, making things that are looked down upon normal. Towards everyone else, we’re changing the perception of how people see us.
Slawn: We’d like to see less Red Bull, less commercial companies. And distribution of hardware in African countries - we should be able to get decks. And a skatepark - we need to build skateparks.
What are your goals for the future?
Everyone: We don’t want to jinx it.
Photography by Nicole Vernon