The following interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 15 that shipped with KrakBox in August 2017. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!
I’m not sure everyone knows where Zaragoza is actually, and how big it is too. Could you give us some quick/general background info about your city please?
Zaragoza is the fifth biggest city in Spain, with nearby 800,000 inhabitants and with a strategic location (3 hours from Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao), represents one of the Spanish main capitals. We have a huge ecclesiastic tradition, which means tons of marble spots but unfortunately they are surrounded by cops daily. We have huge heat in summer, and crazy wind in winter!
Are you from there originally? If yes, how was it growing up there? If no, where are you from initially and when and why did you move in Zaragoza?
I come from a small town up in the north of the mountains called Les. 600 people live there and it is the closest place from paradise… It’s just 4km far from France, so basically I grew up half in Spain, and half in the French school, where I started skating with my friends. When I was 18 I just wanted to visit bigger cities and skate, I decided to fly out from my parents house and I met some friends from the skate scene from Zaragoza. At that time the skateboarding scene from Zaragoza was GREAT… f_ck that was 21 years ago!
How do we call people from Zaragoza?
Maños! Greatest Spanish hearts, really nice people.
How would you describe the skate scene in Zaragoza?
Early 2000 the scene was boiling, we were sticking all together and we used to travel around other cities, by bus, by train, squatting on ATM´s, under the mini ramp, picnic, wherever… just focused on skating and parties. Unfortunately the town hall from our city decided to kick out the skaters from the spots and skateboarding suddenly became almost “forbidden”. Anyone who has been in our city understands what I mean… Actually the scene is smaller, there is a big gap between my generation and the newcomers, nowadays once kids are able to move they just goes to Barcelona or Madrid, so it does not help to keep the hype in our spots.
We’re talking about Spain after all so my guess is, weather wise, you’re pretty much able to skate all year long is that right?
Yeah, if you compare to other countries we are really lucky weather wise, however in August you want to take your nap till 6pm cause with over 40 degrees it’s not recommended to go out! In our cold and windy winter you can always find a spot to get covered.
That being said, when is the best period of the year to come and experience your city?
From April to July. Perfect weather. The perfect complement will be the best beer in the region. Let me know when you guys land so I can fill half of my fridge with Ambar 😉
First plaza and/or street spot no one should miss when in the city?
The Auditorium. It has perfect marble benches, perfect marble floor, it’s covered and has street lamps for your night sesh. The only issue is that it’s a “russian roulette”. You can spend two days skating non stop or be kicked out in five minutes.
I should have started with this maybe but who are you, Ivan?
I am the orchestra man on the back of Nomad!
When did you start skateboarding and how? Do you have any early-days type of anecdote?
Around ‘92 there was a skate boom in my hometown. My best friends bought their first skateboards and I was always sneaking on their tricks to catch their boards and cruise or try something. I have 5 brothers so after pressing my parents they could just afford to buy a “Holy Sport” skateboard I made it to mix some other parts with friends and I ended having something proper! Just a few VHS videos were within the community and we were meeting after the school to see the videos and then go out and skate. That was hella fun…
Now that you manage a brand, do you still take time to skate as much as you’d like?
With 39 years unfortunately not. I run also my skate shop and work on a real estate company from UK, but I keep playin’ flat and cruising with my 7 years old kid as much as I can, he’s my motivation and my best ever session mate.
You launched Nomad in 2001!!! Wow, I have to say it man: I’m really impressed, big up! We were happy to celebrate our 2 years a little while ago but still, 16 years, that’s another level haha! Much respect.
There was a long road! Good periods and also really bad moments, but I have learned so much from everyone. “Stars can’t shine without darkness.”
How was it in Spain skateboarding wise back then? Everyone only bought the US brands, I guess? Cliché was already around in France for sure, but I don’t know about Spain actually…
Yup, we were buying all US brands, which were landing after several distributors at unaffordable prices. Cliché was there pretty quick, for sure my reference number one, MUCH RESPECT to them. Still cannot believe what happened…
And how was it to be the first brand in Spain? Did you benefit from much love and support from the community? Were people were stoked to have a local brand or not really, in fact?
I must say that we had total support from the community and skate shops. We grew up really quick within the first years, I would say even too quick for a young kid as I was!
Tell us some early anecdotes around Nomad, we love these kinda stories.
I started buying a few tees and 50 decks in the states. I was going out with my VW van selling the boards from the back of my van to the skate shops, and with the cash we were replacing orders. That was funky business! Our first tour was supposed to be the North of Spain with that van. We were my 40kg dog, 5 guys and my ex wife. In the middle of the journey we ran out of money already and the tour was over! But those days were unforgettable: great sessions, flamenco music at night and tons of laughs 24/7…
Where does the name come from?
From all the nomad souls we all have inside, the necessity to move and travel around seeking for new spots.
Who’s on the team?
Actually newcomers/killers from Europe, a few from our OG´s, and the best of all: good friends. OG Jeff Luque (SP), OG Shinichi Yamada (JP), OG Sasha Tushev (RU), Miguel Sánchez (SP), Cristian Delgado (SP), Niki Diaz (SP), Vladimir Ivanov (BG).
What do you think about the current Spanish scene, both on the brands/business angle and on the riders/skaters one?
In terms of skateboarding, Spain is blowing up. The level is growing exponentially and soon it will be reflected internationally. Business wise, the industry is suffering a lot, but that’s also a reflection of our economy. We’re still struggling after the financial crisis which destroyed, literally, the country. We were almost out of business in 2012, but we had distribution internationally and thanks to this, my friends at MDCN who hook me up, and four jobs at once that I was running, I was able to get back on board. Nowadays we keep pushing and we are living a great #rebirth. I feel really lucky and proud of my fam who always trusted on me.
About the European scene?
Well I would say the same… on both.
Typically are you happy to see more and more European brands popping up pretty much everywhere across the continent?
Yes! It helps to keep the scene alive, but I believe that there should be some “rules” that should be respected, concurrence is good, always. That is healthy…
Do you have a favorite top 3?
Cliché 4ever, Isle and Sour.
We mainly see videos from Barcelona; is it hard for the other cities in Spain to exist next to such a big hub? Or is it an opportunity, in fact?
Honestly, I prefer that other cities stay off the radar… if you ever come to Spain, visit Madrid, Málaga or Valencia, and be welcome to heaven.
At what time did you start to expand outside Spain? Europe first I guess, but how did you choose the countries?
Our first export was France, that was 2003 or something like that… BIG UP TO THE GUYS AT BUD Skateshop; they were running a core distribution company and we started selling there. After some trips to ISPO Munich and meeting some friends, the rest came organically.
What was the process for a brand like yours when you decided to expand?
QUALITY / PASSION / SERVICE / FRIENDSHIP, then let it flow.
We were freaking proud to be the first one to introduce your decks in the US and Canada; you will then launch Nomad in May, is that right?
Yeah! We have been so hyped to land under your wings. We love the Krak concept and it always helps to work and support a skate operated business.
In May we will have a distribution platform with my good friend Justin from Generator Distribution, which will deliver to USA and South America. And in Canada soon under Control MFG wings also. Sean from control saw the potential of Nomad and we will be crossing North America soon!
Why have you waited 16 years before expanding in North America?
We were trying to cover Europe and Russia, and honestly USA was too big for us. After we made it out of the crisis, let’s say we broke lot’s of mental barriers we had and now we want to share #thenomadfamily vibes worldwide and we found great friends to share that path so, what else!?
From another angle: was it really necessary to expand there? Did you hesitate, honestly? Could you share the rationale behind this move?
We have a great connection with South America, we have got distribution in Chile, Peru, Venezuela, but export taxes and shipping were always a break to keep growing. Our friends at Generator gave us the solution, and as I said, the rest just flowed.
Beyond Europe & now North America, is Nomad available somewhere else in the world?
We have been distributed in Japan for more than a decade. Hideo Sakuragi, who was one of the first Japanese sponsored skaters in USA after making the American skate dream, went back home and settled his own distribution company. He has been pro on Nomad for 5 years, and he kept supporting us since day one. Russia also since 2007, and in 2008 we did our first tour which was so fun in St Pete and Moscow. China for 3 years already. My friends Luke and David run a great company there and are doing amazing things to grow the scene there.
What are the plans for the near future?
Have fun and learn daily.
And the next 16 years, tell us…
See my kid having fun skating and keep Nomad alive!
You can’t imagine how happy and proud we are to partner with such brands like Nomad that literally contributed and wrote our skateboarding story here in Europe. Long live Nomad 😉
THANKS Krakbox for keeping the good vibes within that marvellous world, and THANKS for being the first ones trusting in our dreams! NOMAD X KRAK CONSPIRACY!
Cover image: Jeff Luque, crooked. Photo: Astur