What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists, musicians, and establishment owners and get a five-song slice of their current playlist.
“I used to be a sailor. I have been to all of the continents. I’m a family first person. I enjoy traveling, cooking, camping and riding my motorcycle.”
Local skateboarder. Photo Melissa Uroff
Melody White, the founder of Boulevard Skate Shop and this month’s WILT playlist curator, grew up in a house that sang. “My dad always sang mariachi songs and stuff. My mom was always singing Dolly Parton. So I grew up singing around the house.” White played the cello in middle school and did a brief stint in a Riot Grrl band named the Crack Whore Ballerinas when she was 14 (“we didn’t play anywhere because we sucked”) but found her real passion in the 9th grade when her friend Mercedes got her into skateboarding. “I immediately loved it because of the sense of community. It didn’t matter what socioeconomic background you came from, it just mattered how hard you tried.”
That love of skateboarding never left White, even through a five-year tour of the world as a sailor in the Merchant Marines. So, a couple years later when she had the opportunity, she started Boulevard Skate Shop. “The reason I started the shop was that I grew up skating. My uncle, mom and everyone I knew skated.” Originally, she was the sole proprietor until she decided to partner with her best friend Todd Philpotts, who she describes as “a skater and lives and breathes skateboarding.” Together they try to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to everyone.
White says running Boulevard is “rewarding and fun because I get to see the next generation of skateboarders do their thing while getting to reminisce and keep the dream alive with established, older skateboarders. My favorite memories are when someone lands a trick they’ve been trying a long time, Just the look on their face is so precious.”
Skateboarding is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, White says. However, “there’s still some stigma surrounding” it. This isn’t all bad as it keeps skateboarding a smaller subculture, she says, but it can be disheartening for kids who want to try the sport. “They [shouldn’t] need to worry about others’ opinions about their skateboarding or… about cops.”
Though White no longer plays in a band, music is still important to her. Nowadays, she uses music to change her mood or recapture a nostalgic feeling. Skateboarding has affected her music tastes as well. “When it comes to music, it’s a diverse scene. There is a lot more independent music and less radio/pop stuff. Skateboarding has actually broadened my music horizons.” So what is the founder of Boulevard, former Merchant Marine, and current proud owner of a Harley Davidson 883 Sportster bike listening to?
Vicente Fernandez-‘Volver Volver’-“We just took a motorcycle trip and rode our bikes down to San Philippe in Baja California and ever since then I’ve been listening to this random Mariachi song… this is something that my Dad used to play. It’s the only Mariachi song that I know the words to.”
Janelle Monae-‘Django Jane’-“I just love her. That’s all,” she says laughing.
First Aid Kit-‘You Are The Problem Here’-“That song in particular, with everything that’s going on lately with the politics and all this shit that’s really… when I first heard this song I was reading about that Standford swim team rapist dude and I was like ‘this is the perfect song for that.’ Sometimes you gotta be pissed and be like this is fucking enough and I feel like this song is exactly that. All of their songs are really good but this one, in particular, is a little harder than the rest of them.”
Bleached-‘Can You Deal’-“The guy who I own the skateshop with, Todd, he listens to everything. He’s always like ‘here’s a new band’ or ‘there’s a new band playing down at Press Club, let’s go see them.’ … Sometimes I like [the bands] and sometimes I don’t. He [always tries] … to find bands I’ll like and [Bleached] is one of them. Every time I listen to this song I think about how much I love him.”
Babes in Toyland-‘Bluebell’-“I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing and so that’s just a throwback to my Riot Grrl days.”
Boulevard Skate Shop (3747 W Pacific Ave Unit H, Sacramento 95820) regularly holds events from art shows to movie premieres. “When there’s a need in the community to create an opportunity or space for someone to showcase their work, I am happy to help,” White says. Keep up with them on their Instagram and Facebook pages.