How a skate accident inspired Angel T33th to find her true artistic self
Pittsburgh born, Angel T33th cut her teeth (pun intended) on the skateboarding circuit of the early to mid-2000s, competing in everything from the Vans Triple Crown and the X Games to securing a sponsorship with Roxy. While pursuing a skateboarding career on and off for several years, Angel T33th also managed to stay creatively fulfilled with her passion for music and songwriting. However, it wasn’t until an unexpected accident occurred, causing her to cease skating temporarily, where she began to fully realize her vision as a musician. In turn, that spawned the birth of the artistic project known as Angel T33th.
Three is my favorite number. Does the “three three” have any significance?
It’s actually an angel number. Angel No. 33. There are all sorts. Any pair is considered an angel number. Specifically, 33 was talked about uplifting and positive energy and creativity. When I first thought of Angel T33th, changing the “e”’s to threes, I was like, “That not only looks cool, but it also has more of the meaning behind the angel No. 33.”
You grew up with music around you, but you grew up competitively skateboarding. Tell me about the beginning and how you went from skateboarding to getting into music and other creative ventures.
There was an indoor skate park called Shady Skates that was pretty close to my house. I ended up living there. I would go after school every day. At the time, I was the only girl who was skating there ever. So I immediately made friends with everybody there, and it brought this little bit of community. Shortly after I did my first contest there, my mom was like, “We should try to see if there are all-girls skate events.” So I went to New York and did my first All Girls Skate Jam contest.
That was my first taste, and I was like, “I want to do this. I want to pursue skateboarding.” It was so fun to meet other female skaters, and at the time, being so young, I was so determined. So I started doing contests like the Vans Triple Crown. The big one that actually changed my life was the All-Girls Skate Jam in California. I ended up placing first. I got discovered by Roxy and got sponsored shortly after.
As I started to grow up a little bit, I started getting tired of doing contests, and I was almost losing sight of why I loved skating in the first place. So around 13 was when I actually decided I didn’t really want to continue to do contests. About that same year, I picked up a guitar, and that’s what I immediately latched onto. I started to go, “All right, I’m going to just sit here and learn how to play this. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I want to sit here and plunk a bunch of chords and randomly hear different things.”
Did any of the music from skate parks creep into your life? Did it influence you at all in the beginning when you were young?
It totally [did]. When I was young and going to the skate park every day, I remember hearing artists. I remember I got [introduced to] Gorillaz at a young age. I remember, over the years, just listening to different artists and discovering music while skating and having it playing in the background. You start to build this subconscious love for discovering new music and getting inspired. Also, my mom always inspired me. She has such great taste in music. I’ll never forget when I was younger, she got me into Tori Amos, and I had a little silly cassette that I would walk to school every day with and listen to her music.
So now, the next part of the journey is you start producing your own music, and then you can hear this electronic element, the programmed element of Gorillaz and also the vocal influence, and the DNA of Tori Amos and where you are now.
Growing up, Madonna was a huge influence. I would say I’ve always been inspired by her and her music because she’s evolved. Her albums can sound a little bit different and play around with different genres, and I’ve always loved that. That’s what I’m inspired by, especially with the music I make. I’ve always loved Tori Amos, Cocteau Twins and even newer artists too like Chromatics, Black Marble.
I just like to take the spectrum of stuff I grew up with and was inspired by at the time, growing up skating in the early 2000s [with] the music that was coming out then and how that affected me. We all like to hold on to things that we listened to when we were younger. It definitely subconsciously carried through, even when I was doing just singer-songwriter acoustic things, and then now electronically, I still create these natural pop structures when I create my music because it’s so inspired by those types of artists.
Do you have aspirations to work in studios and find producers to collaborate with? What are some of your dream collaborations? It sounds like your influences are vast and varied. Where do you see the next chapter going?
I still am thinking about that because as I’ve been making music, even though it’s been a long time, with Angel T33th, it feels so recent because I released my first song “Let’s Go” at the end of 2019. It feels fresh to me, even though I know I’ve been making music for a very long time. Right now, I’m taking things in baby steps, but I would love to collaborate with other artists.
With the music I’ve been making, it’s been in my room, and it’s been siloed. One of my songs I named “Silo” because I honestly feel like when I’m making music, I’m in my own orbit. It would be cool to meet the right people to collaborate with. When it comes to the sound I want, I don’t always know how to articulate it. I’ve learned that it’s really got to be the right person who can listen to my wild thoughts. When it comes to the bigger picture, I want to play shows and do remixes with other artists. I want to do more things where I’m working with other people but also expanding and playing around with different genres within my own sound.
There are so many ways you can go. You can go in that Kate Bush, Tori Amos direction but also toward electronic, drum machine, bigger production stuff. I’m excited to see everything you do. So far, you’re rolling out a video right now. Where should we look to find your music and videos?
[There’s] this video I’ve been working on with my dad right now. My partner, Jake Menne, he’s the videographer, and my dad is the creative director. We’ve been exploring all these different concepts, and we’ve shot 10 different concepts. They’re all short, edited-down 15-second clips. What’s cool about it is that I’ll be sharing them on Instagram and TikTok. You’ll see it as each concept by itself, but [we’re] putting them all together in a music video.
One of the cool things we did was animating a TV head on my body while I’m dancing, and I’m singing the lyrics of the song on the TV. Even just incorporating my skateboarding [is cool] because one thing I’ve been able to do is share my music with my skating. When I skate, I always wanna listen to music, and when I’m making edits, I’m always thinking, “What song am I going to put with this?” To be able to put my music to that is the coolest thing.
I think you’re going to do amazing things. You’re a really good example of “Start where you are. Use what you have.” I think that’s super inspiring and encouraging. I think it’s cool that you have this background and history in skating and that it’s always been intertwined in your music. You’re just doing what you can, and you’re putting it out there, and people are reacting to it, too, because it’s pretty fearless. I’m really excited to see where your music goes.
It’s been a fun learning process. One of the things I didn’t share with you was the catalyst. I mentioned I’ve been skating on and off since I was little, but there was—when I was making music—a 10-year break that I didn’t skate. I was over it. I got back into it later in life. Then about three years ago, I destroyed my ankle skating. I’m talking trimalleolar ankle fracture dislocation. My ankle went the other direction. It was a gnarly surgery, and [it] rocked my world.
That’s the moment that I actually started to pursue Angel T33th. That was what inspired [it] because I was at home all day. To get past such a severe injury mentally, you really need to focus and channel that energy into something positive. So that’s what I did. Making music is what helped me get through that injury. It took me two years to start skating again, [but three years later], to be able to full-circle come back skating strong, slowly progressing, and then now having my music that I feel is a true version of where I’m going with my sound. It couldn’t have been more of a worse-best-case scenario.
This interview appeared in issue 398, available here.