Dharam Khalsa Photographer Interview

November 13, 2017
photos by Dharam Khalsa

Dharam Khalsa, wallie p- Mike Herron

What you been up to today?

My camera got recalled by Nikon and Ritz Camera sold it to me knowing that, so I went in there and tried to get them to exchange it but they weren’t having it. So this is a perfect opportunity to tell people don’t buy shit from Ritz, they scam you!

Where are you from?

Austin, Texas originally.

How old are you?

Man I’m thirty six.

How are you related to Guru?

Well we’re not related by blood really, I guess we’re related by religion. We’re friends now, which is funny because I met him in India which is where we both went to boarding school. I’m a few years older than him and I was out there when I was like ten years old, so he had to be like five or six. So it came to be that he was from Houston, and I’m from Austin and our parents actually knew each other, but we never knew that. Then I was skating a contest in Houston and seen this little dude in a turban, cause we used to rock turbans, doing kickflips over the pyramid and I was just so hyped on another dude wearing one. So I went and said what’s up to him and he remembered me from India, and so that’s how we reconnected, but only a little.

And how long after India was this contest?

This was maybe six or seven years after boarding school, but then a few more years later we started getting more skateparks built around Texas so there were more contests. We had one in Austin which he came to. It was him, Trace Saylor, Brian Bohtehlo, and Cody McEntire. That was their little youngster crew that would come from the outskirts and skate the contests and stuff. Thinking about it now that’s a pretty solid young skate rat crew. So then we’d skate around each other a bunch and just through skating we’ve just become close you know? And also through Sikhism.

Anthony Hunter, bs overcrook

Is that a big religion in Texas, or is it rare to find another Sikh around?

I mean my parents specifically moved to Austin to be the only Sikhs in the city so not really, no. There are more around these days but not many whatsoever.

So your name is pronounced different than it’s spelled right?

Yeah it’s pronounced ‘Dhrm’ where the R is rolled all crazy, and then you gotta say the H too. They only put vowels in it to translate it to English.

So what’s yr favorite thing about Texas?

Man really just to be able to live my own lifestyle and do what I want to do whenever
I want. Like when I was living in New York I was always doing whatever was going on. Now what’s going on, is just what I want it to be, I guess. Also man I got my family here, and my dog, and my father passed away and my other siblings have family so I’m just trying to stay close you know?

Guru Khalsa, back 50

Makes perfect sense. What do you do fr work?
I’m actually going to school right now, and I work at the community college as well. Right now I’m chilling cause it’s summer time so I don’t got no school, but that also means I don’t got no work! But I got some money saved up so I’m chilling.

What’re you going to school for?

I actually just finished a kinesiology degree cause I wanted to know what was up with my back and stuff, but to be honest now that I’ve been around all those people… I mean not to offend anyone, everyone can do their own thing, but they’re just not my kind of people. We’re skaters, we’re athletic, but we don’t need to wear sports clothes to prove we are, or to have an identity or something.
So now I finished my degree and I’m taking a photography class haha. Cause I was mostly self taught. I just shot as a hobby, so I figured why not really learn this stuff. And if you don’t go to school for too long you have to start paying back your student loans.

So what happened to yr back?

It’s kind of a long story, but we used to jump BMX bikes as little kids and I almost died a few months before I hurt my back, and I was still only like fourteen at the time so I didn’t want to tell my mom I hurt myself again since I was just in the hospital. So it just kind of became a problem as I got older so then I’d be skating every day and I was the type of dude who was just skating as much as I could. Fucking energizer batteries, get some coffee or a cinnamon bun, anything that would keep me going. So I just wore my shit out, and what I learned in my class is that I was muscle guarding, which is just creating all these fucked up postures to try and protect injuries and shit. I hurt it really bad a bunch of times in a row about two years ago and so now I’ve just been really focused on healing and fixing it. And it’s been a real blessing to have this camera because I want to be in this shit you know? I’d go crazy if I didn’t have something to do. And I can still go hang out with my homies and be a part of the session too.

It’s funny you always hear filmers/photogs complain about having to lug around the backpack all the time, and rightfully so, but it seems you embrace it cause of yr injury.

Ha, yeah that is true. The only thing I hate about it now is after we’re done, we just got
a photo or whatever, everyone just starts bouncing and it’s like “wait up, I’m still packing my shit!”

What makes a good ditch?

Ahh man, gotta have good hips. They just let you fly more.

What’s the best shop in Texas?

Oh that’s No Comply, no doubt.

Adam Barousse, wallride


Whats yr favorite place you been to on the East Coast?

Oh definitely the city dude. Skating New York is like… pfffff… yeah man. I was lucky enough to live there for five years so I got my fill. Just crushing through the streets. I mean SF is tight, but I’ve only visited, but there’s hills in New York too man! Like uptown, near Columbia, got some of the illest hills you’ll ever see.

If you had to go East or West from Texas for a year which would it be?

That’s a hard one but probably West, I been out East. I’d like to go to Yosemite for sure, cause I like to take photos outside of skating too, and it definitely looks beautiful up there.

Did you skate for anyone in NY?

Yeah I skated for Shut, 5boro asked me to ride for them a few times but I was riding for this little company out of Texas called Elysium. They actually wanted to turn me pro but I was like, Nah, no ones even heard of me yet I can’t just be that dude. So then I was getting boards from Zoo York and Rasa Libre. Apparently Darin Howard told me that I had just missed out getting on Rasa’s last am spot after sending them all my footage. You know who that spot was filled by? Fucking Dylan Rieder.


I was like, “I’m good! Good choice!” You know? It was crazy. But man back then I was just caught up with a bad girlfriend and I had some opportunities I just didn’t follow up with the right way. It just wasn’t meant to be and that’s fine, I know how shit goes. But I mean I had some good parts out there! I had first part in Lurkers 2, I’m super hyped to be a part of that. Sam Salganik, man the way that he made the video is just timeless. Lurker Lou, Ted Barrow, Jason Dill, Ian Reid, and Charles Lamb. That definitely was some of favorite skating during that time.

When was that? Mid 2000’s?

Yeah that was probably 2003-2004, maybe a little later but who knows, I’m the worst with that shit. I can’t even remember I’m thirty six anymore, I’m like “What? I’m not twenty eight!?”

Chris Batts, lipslide

Ha, how high do you think you can ollie?

Shit, right now I need a jump ramp man. But in my heyday, I don’t know set it up, I might be able to get over it, haha. I could get up with the best of em.

How high are you right now?

Haha! About as high as I used to be able to ollie. Nah, I’m just chilling right now laid back in the summertime. I guess I got a bit of a reputation…

Nothing wrong with that. So what do you want to be doing tomorrow?

I just want to be taking photos of people I appreciate and are inspired by. That’s how things go you get into something and you want to feel it and you want to know what it’s like. Cause for a long time I was skating and people were giving me stuff and I felt like what I was giving back was my skating. Now this photography thing is giving back to people in a whole new way and I’m stoked.

Roddie, ollie over 5050 down