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interviews

Skateistan South Africa Skate and Create students. Photo: Tim Moolman
Interview

Sk8ology x Skateistan

We love Skateistan more and more over time. We met them in Berlin a few years ago and immediately fell in love with their work, dedication and true love. That’s why we picked up a special Sk8ology x Skateistan carabiner for this mix. We’re stoked that their mission resonates with more and more people in our community.

Tell us about the Skate Carabiner Tool. What was the inspiration for it?
At my previous company I created the UNIT “T” Tool. It does everything except cut grip tape but it’s too big to carry. I wanted to design a skate tool that was a combination of ninja butterfly knife and fully functional skate tool… the engineering firm I was working with really didn’t want the liability of skate tool combined with an instrument of death so we did some research and settled on the carabiner form. The design allowed us to drop a ton of weight, act as a keychain/bottle opener, and always be available for quick tune ups. In addition, it works great to hang your backpack high up so you can see it from wherever you are skating. It came with one trade off: It’s a pain to build up a complete from scratch with it simply because it’s a “tune up” tool… not a “build a complete” tool… oh, and since I’ve had mine, I’ve never lost a set of keys!

Skate and Create Girls Session in Phnom Penh ©Skateistan

Skate and Create Girls Session in Phnom Penh ©Skateistan

Why did you decide to partner with Skateistan for this product?
Long story short, they bring the joy of skateboarding to places where “joy” is in very short supply. Go to the website, YouTube ’em, if you are not touched by the impact they are making then you are not human. Everyone that backs Skateistan is legit: Thunder has a Skateistan Truck, Zero makes boards for them, Spitfire does a wheel, Tony Hawk & Jamie Thomas sit on their board of directors. We said, we’d be honored to be their Sk8 tool supplier/licensee so we started making them and paying them a royalty. We’ll back them forever.

Sk8ology carabiner

Skateistan - Empowering youth through education and skateboarding

A short version of this interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 18 that shipped with the Love KrakBox. 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!

Lisa Whitaker of Meow Skateboards
Interview

Founders Interview: Lisa Whitaker of Meow Skateboards

Lisa Whitaker has a long and impressive history in skateboarding. Though you might not recognise her name, if you follow women’s skateboarding you will surely know her work. Lisa has filmed for a bunch of female skate videos including the legendary ‘Getting Nowhere Faster’ by Villa Villa Cola. She also founded Girls Skate Network and works with the Women’s Skateboarding Alliance. In her most recent venture, Lisa founded Meow Skateboards, which supports one of the best all-female skate teams in the world.

Lisa Whitaker behind the lens

Lisa behind the lens

Why did you decide to start Meow and what were your goals for the company when you first set it up?
My husband had the initial idea to start a company after getting a tax refund. He grew up skateboarding as well and thought it would be a fun project we could work on together.

For me the spark was being at one of the biggest contests with some of the top female skateboarders in the world and realizing a majority of them didn’t have board sponsors and even the top three on the podium were only “flow” and not officially part of the team. I skated for Rookie Skateboards in the late 90s, which was an awesome opportunity for me; now I was in the position to make something similar happen for the next generation.

We weren’t setting out to make a “girls” skate company. We just wanted to start a company for fun that would support a female team, give them something to be a part of and a platform to be seen.

As the gender gap in skateboarding closes, do you see Meow ever sponsoring guys?
I don’t want to compete with things that are already being done and done well. My passion has been filling this void. I’m very excited by a future where a company like this won’t be needed and I’m open to changes as long as we’re doing something unique.

 

Lacey Baker, wallie. Photo: Anthony Renna

Lacey Baker, wallie. Photo: Anthony Renna

Where did the name ‘Meow’ come from? Being a corgi owner, I wouldn’t pick you as the “crazy cat lady” type…
At the time we were trying to come up with a company name a lot of my friends were saying “meow” to each other instead of “hello”. I’m not even sure how that all started or if there was another meaning to it… I was just hearing it a lot and thought it would be a fun name. I also love cats and would likely be a “crazy cat lady” if my husband wasn’t so allergic to them, but don’t tell that to Milo (my corgi).

You have an impressive team of skaters including Lacey Baker and Vanessa Torres. What do you look for when considering skaters for the Meow team? How much of it depends on skill vs. attitude and personality?
I love our current team, we have such a great mix of amazing skateboarders and personalities. It is hard to put in words what I look for, but I know it when I see it. Skill, style, trick selection, speed, personality, self motivation, ability to create content (photos/videos) and sometimes location all factor in.

Mariah Duran, kickflip. Photo: Alex Coles

Mariah Duran, kickflip. Photo: Alex Coles

Do you run Meow entirely on your own? How do you find the time (you have a kid now too!) and the motivation to do it all?
My husband helps pack orders when I have my hands full and he designs the catalog. Other than that I do everything myself… usually in the middle of the night when my son is sleeping. Lack of time is my biggest struggle right now, but I know he won’t be this small forever so I’m enjoying my time with him. It doesn’t take much for me to stay motivated because I love skateboarding and all the people it keeps me connected with.

Last but not least, where can people get their hands on Meow products?
Over the last year or so we have opened several distributors, so our product can now be found around the world. If your local skate shop doesn’t have what you are looking for in stock then you can ask them to order it for you or get it on our website.

Kristin Ebeling, b/s smith. Photo: Tim Urpman

Kristin Ebeling, b/s smith. Photo: Tim Urpman

This interview was originally featured in the printed special edition Yeah Girl KrakMag that shipped with the Yeah Girl capsule box. 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!

Amrit & Spencer Fujimoto, 2016 NYC. Photo: David Serrano
Interview

Founders Interview: Amrit Jain of Skate Sauce

If my math is correct, this year is the 10 year anniversary of Skate Sauce. When you started the brand, where did you imagine it would be at this point in time?
Yes this November will be 10 years since I started Skate Sauce. That’s such a trip to even say. Time flies! I have always been an ambitious person so back then I imagined in 10 years the brand would be doing worldwide tours, in the big magazines, have a huge warehouse with a TF and I would be able to work on Skate Sauce full time without depending on a side job. Now that I am here, none of those are happening, haha! But that’s ok. Over the years I have learned so much and understand why we are where we are. The knowledge I have gained and the fun in growing a company is priceless. At the same time I know what I have to do to get to that goal – get an investor to throw down some serious loot.  At the moment we are actually entertaining that idea but I honestly have enjoyed building the brand from the ground up using only the money we started with and whatever profit we made put back into the brand. It may be a little slower growth but I believe it’s kept us around longer than a quick investment that builds hype but may not last. Specially with the way the industry has fluctuated over the past 10 years.

Yeah, surviving as a small business in the skate industry for that long is an accomplishment in itself. What’s the secret?
Patience and persistence. And being smart with how you spend your money. I remember reading some business article 10 years ago that asked the question: if you had $1,000,000 to spend on your company, how would you spend it? They produced two examples. One example was spending that budget in 2-3 years to create a huge amount of hype – ads in the mags, tons of product, pay to have the top Pro skaters, etc. The other example was spending $1,000,000 over 10 years. In their conclusion the company that spent the $1,000,000 in 2-3 years wouldn’t have enough time to build a solid following and value versus the company that’s around for 10 years. That resonated with me a lot. It made me think of companies like Independent Trucks, Bones, etc and how they are the go-to’s, not only because they make quality products, but because they are household names, they have been around so long. So for us we didn’t have a $1,000,000 investment or anything close, but I used that formula of just slow but sure growth. Starting small and growing at our pace – taking the time to see what products work and don’t work, analyzing the industry changing to things like social media and developing an understanding on how to tackle those challenges.

Gavin Nolan, frontside noseblunt, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

Gavin Nolan, frontside noseblunt, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

Is it still a one man show or do you have a team working with you behind the scenes now?
It’s pretty much still a one man show.  It was easier in the beginning but it has been a bit tricky now that we have grown so much.  There is just so much to do from filming new videos to editing them, shooting photos for catalogs and ads, designing new products, making new graphics, sales, overseeing production, accounting, marketing, etc etc. I handle it all while working a full time job at SLS & ETN. But now we are slowly starting to try to build a team. I have a friend named Freddie Lonka who is a rad skater from Denmark and has been helping me lay out the catalog this year. I’ve been looking for a graphic designer for some time now, but I am picky and it’s hard to find someone that will work with our budget and make the type of graphics we like. Also looking for a salesperson. So if you guys know anyone send ‘em our way!

Damn, you’re a busy man! Ok, so if there are any qualified people reading this, how can they get in touch?
Either DM us on Instagram @skatesauce, or DM me @amrit, or email me: amrit@skatesauce.com

Skate Sauce is, in all seriousness, pretty big in Japan. What led to this and how did you first connect with the Japanese riders on the team?
Yea Japan is SAUCED UP!!  The brands success there has helped us grow so much. It all started with a pretty known Japanese skater named Yuto Kojima. He came to live in LA for 5 years and we became friends.  He was the life of the party and actually brought all the LA crews together because he was friends with everyone. Around 2012 a distribution from Japan reached out and wanted to distribute the Sauce.  From there it was really rad to see how much effort the distro put behind the brand. They helped us get ads in the big Japanese mags and built a whole team of really good Japanese skaters. But it all started with Yuto. He was the first Japanese rider and then worked with the distro to help us build a solid team. I was fortunate to meet all of them in 2016 when we did a mini Japan tour and they were all some of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met.

Japan team, 2016. Photo: Amrit Jain

Japan team, 2016. Photo: Amrit Jain

Any funny stories from that tour?
Yes it all had to do with one of the Japanese Skate Sauce riders whose nickname is Junyafire.  For some reason he kept saying DAAAYYYYYUUUMMMMM… TIGHT. Maybe he had just learned about that East Coast slang word TIGHT, but he kept saying that phrase whenever something happened – whether it was someone landing a trick, eating good food, etc etc. And the way he said it was hilarious. You can see some of it in the credits of the Skate Sauce Japan Tour on Youtube.

Let’s talk about your job at Street League and ETN… What do you guys chat about at the water cooler?
Haha currently sitting at my desk looking at that water cooler as I type this… making me thirsty! Working at SLS & ETN has been a dream come true.  Besides wanting to start my own company, I have always wanted to work in skateboarding. I had a brief stint in 2008 before I started Skate Sauce helping Steve Berra build The Berrics as their first official employee. But when I was approached to work for SLS at the end of 2014 it changed my life.  They asked me to run their social media because they liked the way I did social for Skate Sauce. And because of my extensive knowledge of skateboarding I was also able to help contribute to building SLS – from course design to invited skaters to format to judging, etc. In 2016 we started working on the ETN idea and vision. In 2017 we launched ETN and it’s been a fun experience trying to do something new in skateboarding.  As far as water cooler talk, it’s actually a lot of fun games of skate with the other employees, shredding the park, coming up with new ideas for shows, talking about skating, the industry, racking our brains for days to pick the Trick of the Year, etc, etc. Between all of that and running my own skate company, life is currently a dream come true.

Has the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics had an impact on your role there or on the general office vibes (or politics)?
Not so much actually. Maybe next year since that will be the year before the Olympics.  It’s talked about in meetings for sure, and there is a plan I can’t discuss at the moment.  If anything it will help SLS grow which is a cool opportunity. Office vibes haven’t changed one bit.  At the end of the day it will be an event that goes down once every 4 years so I am not too worried about it. It’s not stopping me and my friends from having fun skateboarding!  I just wish I could help make it cool as I am not sure who is in charge of setting up the actual event. As for politics, yea I hear it when I’m out and about at industry parties. There are the die hards that are like, fuck that shit it’s going to ruin skateboarding, the optimistic ones who see the benefits, and the neutral ones who just don’t care and are going to have fun skating no matter what.

Amrit, Oscar Gronbaek, Tom Penny, 2017 Copenhagen

Amrit, Oscar Gronbaek, Tom Penny, 2017 Copenhagen

You’ve been shooting a lot of photos lately… I scoped some cool ones from Copenhagen Open on your Instagram. Do you just shoot for fun or does it tie back into your work with SLS?
It’s mostly just for fun. Ever since I picked up a video camera in 2004 I have been into videography and photography. It was mostly video up until 2010 when I got a Canon 7D and started shooting HD videos while also being able to shoot crispy photos. At the time websites and blogs were still big so I would use the photos for the Skate Sauce blog or for social media or our catalogs. When my HD cam broke in 2014, I started just shooting photos & videos on my iPhone.  Working for SLS in 2015 I pretty much traveled the world with an iPhone and since I had a background of videography & photography I was able to just shoot stuff on my phone and post it instead of waiting for the SLS photogs & filmers to send me stuff. So it does tie back to SLS to a certain extent. In 2016 I bought a Canon AE1 film camera which came out a year after I was born – 1984! That one has been so fun to shoot photos on, like those Copenhagen Open photos.

What do you prefer to shoot, film or digital?
Since everyone has gone full HD/4k/etc I thought it would be cool to go back to shooting photos on film and filming with a VX video camera.  It’s been pretty fun because unlike digital where you see what you shot right away and can fix it, you have to know your shot/lighting/etc for film and cross your fingers that you got the shot. So it’s fun getting the roll developed and seeing if you shot it right or fucked up. And if you shot it right it just looks so dope and classic. Same with VX – the sound of skating is perfect and I just like that raw older look. But I still have fun filming HD on my iPhone 7! It’s a trip to see how good the phones have become at shooting photos & video. As for preference, I like to just balance them both out.

Luis Tolentino, backside powerslide, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

Luis Tolentino, backside powerslide, 2016 NYC. Photo: Amrit Jain

When we spoke to you way back in issue 4 of KrakMag you mentioned you weren’t filming as much as you wanted to. Are there any Skate Sauce videos in the works at the moment?
Yea I def still don’t film as much as I want to. I have been trying to change that but it’s tough these days. Everyone has a camera now so a lot of the guys get tied up shooting other projects. On top of that they don’t always want to film VX and have to wait months for an edit to come out which I totally understand. So I somewhat get it out of my system by filming on the phone, but I truly miss working on a big project over a few years, having the premiere and putting out a DVD. With that said I filmed some sick VX clips in 2016 with a bunch of the guys in LA and Barcelona and have a 4 minute edit called SHAOLIN JAZZ thats marinating at the moment [fresh out the oven, see below! – ed.]. I’m putting the final touches on it and then releasing it in the next few weeks. After that I want to try to work on more smaller projects. Maybe just film over a weekend or two and then put that stuff out after a few weeks instead of trying to work on larger projects.

Lastly, what are you excited for in 2018?
I’m excited and thankful to still be able to do what I do and to ride a skateboard down the street. Thats def number 1, nothing can top that feeling. For Skate Sauce I am excited to see where we go this year and hoping we can find that graphic designer to help us get to the next level.  We have some new products we are designing that I am hoping to drop this year as well as some new distributions around the world that are interested. I also have an idea for a Sauce shop that I want to do. I don’t want to reveal it yet but it’s not just a skateshop. Other than that I am super hyped for another year of traveling the world with SLS/ETN while spreading the SAUCE!

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 18 that shipped with the Love KrakBox. 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!

Flo Marfaing, 2017 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit

Flo Marfaing, 2017 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit Jain

Oscar Gronbaek, kickflip, 2011 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit Jain

Oscar Gronbaek, kickflip, 2011 Barcelona. Photo: Amrit Jain

Amrit, Tom Penny, Evan Smith & Josef Scott Jatta. 2015 Barcelona. Photo: Thomas Winkle

Amrit, Tom Penny, Evan Smith & Josef Scott Jatta. 2015 Barcelona. Photo: Thomas Winkle

Yuri Murai filming Sayaka Jino Giannini
Interview

Meet Yuri Murai the filmmaker behind Joy and Sorrow 3

There’s a lot more to skateboarding in Japan than the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Though it only dates back a little over 30 years, skateboarding has deep roots there and a particularly strong girls scene. Filmmaker Yuri Murai, has been documenting Japan’s female skaters since 2013 and last year released the third video in the series, Joy and Sorrow 3.

This is the third Joy and Sorrow DVD you have made. Why did you decide to start filming them and what inspired you to keep making more?
I had always wondered why there were no girl skate videos, although there are many boy skate videos. I met many girl skaters who were really good but there were no girl skate videos. I thought, if only there was a video that I could use to shout out to the world that there are many good and cool girl skaters in Japan. So I decided to make it.

I made more because thoughts like “I wanna try this idea”, “I should’ve filmed it from this angle”, and such go through my head and it’s so fun to actually make the improvements in the sequels. To me it’s an endless fun cycle of creating and improving.

Mirei Tsuchida

Mirei Tsuchida

What camera do you usually film with?
I use a Sony VX2000 camera. I always film skating (no photography) as I want to show the audience the speed and aggressiveness of the movement.

Do you film, edit and produce everything yourself? Do you have any support from skate brands?
Yes, I film, edit and produce everything on my own. None of the videos were sponsored or supported by skate brands. I personally think skateboarding is nothing but playing around, so when it comes to making videos, I just try to play around as seriously as I can.

Which skate video gets you most hyped to skate?
Ummm, there’s no video in particular. I just watch whatever video that matches my mood at the moment.

Although I do love watching the billiard part from “Overground Broadcasting”, a Japanese skate video created by Morita Takahiro. I recommend anyone reading this to check it!

How long have you been skating and what’s your favorite thing to skate?
I skate about 3–4 times a week. I don’t have any particular obstacles that I like skating. To me, it’s more about who you’re skating with. Any obstacle is fun as long as I’m skating it with people who I click with. I’d say quarter pipes are my forté though.

Yuri Murai on the VX

Yuri Murai on the VX

There are more and more female skaters from Japan, like Aori Nishimura and Kisa Nakamura, making names for themselves around the world. Has the number of Japanese female skaters increased recently or are they just now starting to travel and compete globally? What do you think has changed?
The number of female skaters in Japan has definitely been increasing over the past few years. It’s true that there have been some female skaters that went and skated abroad but most of them went for vacation and not for contests like Aori and Kisa. I think it’s only recently that skateboarding started becoming popular in Japan. To be honest, I’m not sure why this is happening. Maybe it’s because there are more skateparks in Japan than before.

What do you think about skateboarding being in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Now, skaters are being picked up on general TV shows. It was impossible until now for something like this. It’s really changing. Even the number of skate parks is increasing. The number of people who started getting interested in skateboarding is up. I hope many people who are interested in Japanese skaters, parks, and films want to come skating in Japan from all over the world.

Can we expect to see Joy and Sorrow 4 in the future? What’s next for you, Yuri?
Joy And Sorrow 3 is going to be the last one for the series. My next goal is to create a video that would inspire other girls to be filmers.

Nanaka Fujisawa, noseslide

Nanaka Fujisawa, noseslide

Cover image: Yuri Murai filming Sayaka Jino Giannini. All photos courtesy of Yuri Murai.

This interview was originally featured in the printed special edition Yeah Girl KrakMag that shipped with the Yeah Girl capsule box. 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!

Rob Brink The Hundredth Acre
Interview

Founders Interview: Rob Brink of The Hundredth Acre

Rob Brink’s career has seen him go from a skate shop employee in New Jersey to one of skateboarding’s hardest working behind the scenes guys. He’s worked for companies like DC Shoes and Sole Tech, written for TransWorld and hosted Weekend Buzz. There are plenty of interviews out there about Rob’s involvement in skateboarding, but we wanted to chat to him about something a little different: his candle company, The Hundredth Acre.

There are plenty of interviews out there already that cover your extensive history working in the skate industry so I won’t dig too much into that. But for those who don’t know, can you give us a brief summary of how you went from a skate shop employee in New Jersey to skateboarding’s hardest working behind the scenes guy?
It was such a whirlwind that sometimes I can’t even remember it all happening. Once I gave up hopes of becoming a legit sponsored skater, I continued college and then grad school. All along I’d been working at a bagel shop and a skate shop … and by the end of grad school, about summer 2000, I quit the bakery to work full time as a book editor at a small publishing house in NJ. But the whole time kept working remotely, for free, helping the skate shop with their buying. I kept that door open because I loved working in skating and didn’t want to not have it in my life. At the exact same time, Tim O’Connor, who was a good friend of mine, was blowing up. He introduced me to all the mag editors and they were all super gracious in giving me a chance. Ted Newsome at TWS, Aaron Meza at Skateboarder, Eric Stricker at Strength. So I was a book editor, freelance writing for skate mags and buying for the shop all at once.

Then the shop came back at me with a full time General Manager offer. People were tripping because I’d gotten my foot in the door in publishing in such a short time … but I knew if I went back to the shop and immersed myself in skating fully again, I could focus on the writing more while sitting there all day, and using that as a way to get myself out west. So after 3 years at the shop again, I got a job offer from DC shoes and moved to California. From there, 8 years at Sole Tech. All the while, writing for TransWorld or being staff writer for The Skateboard Mag and doing other stuff on the side. Then I helped launch Ride Channel and with that, Weekend Buzz came along. Soon after was the opportunity to help launch Primitive skate, for a year and a half, which is awesome to see doing well.

I’m telling you all this because I’ve basically had 2-4 jobs since 1997. I just kept chasing what I loved and working hard and doing what felt right. Kids hit me up all the time asking me how to get there. But to be honest, I rarely see anyone who has the drive and the commitment to do what needs to be done. It takes serious work and sacrifice. Like I said, I don’t remember a ton of it because I was sleep deprived, stressed out and also enjoying the ride. I was out of my mind on a mission to get published or to have my interviews or brands I worked for be the best they could be.

The Hundredth Acre candles by Rob Brink

What’s your involvement in the skate industry these days?
I think I’m “the guy who put enough time in to still be invited.” Hahaha. I’m stoked I’m still allowed to be involved and to be honest, it’s so fun being able to just be a fan, without any allegiance to a certain brand. I can just be a skater again and enjoy video premieres and contests and stuff. But as for involvement, I don’t have any really. Buzz is done after 5 years. I don’t work for any skate brands, instead I have been working for a nutrition brand outside of skateboarding and it’s been going really well. They are called Orgain and I am the director of content and social marketing. They have been great to me and I’m learning a lot.

My last articles were in Playboy earlier this year. I have sort of stepped back for a reboot and to work on my brand. But I’ll be back soon in some capacity I hope. I always want to write. I want to start a new podcast because I miss Weekend Buzz so much and I still feel there is something missing from skate interviews and shows that I could bring to the table, the way I think they should be done.

I read in your interview with Get Born that your first ‘foot in the door’ moments in your career were kind of just “random happenings”. Would you say that a lot of your career has evolved like this?
Random happenings that came from a lot of hard work. Yes. I’d say all I’ve done is a split between luck and then the persistence of chasing something. Like, for example, even recently with Playboy … that was a DREAM mag of mine to write for and NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS would I think it would happen. So much so that I never even tried. But I was job hunting outside the skate industry in 2016, before the Orgain gig happened, and spoke with some random woman on LinkedIn who worked for Playboy to see if they had any digital marketing openings. I just hit her up. I wasn’t even applying to a job. When she saw I was a writer she kind of ignored the digital thing and passed me on to the editor and he asked for pitches. Next thing I know I’m interviewing Dill for Playboy and had Brian Anderson’s first interview after he came out on Vice? Dude, for me, it was fucking nuts. Not long before that I’d also interviewed Gonz, Neil Blender and Tony Alva all for mags outside of skateboarding. I had a 5-year run with Weekend Buzz and interviewed hundreds of skaters and had the best times. That’s why I have chilled out a bit. So much good shit happened that I felt so fulfilled, if that makes any sense? I didn’t need to be chasing every opportunity to do every little skate interview I could, or more talk shows. Like when you have a great meal and it’s the end of the night, you don’t want more food, you know? You are content.

Rob Brink

Was your transition into candle making a result of random happenings? It seems like a big jump from working in skateboarding.
It sounds random as hell, I know. But this should put it into perspective. I wanted to start a brand. But the skate world doesn’t need another hardware or griptape or hat or tee shirt brand or even another blog or magazine, you know? Plus I’m the old guy now. Skate brands should be started by the kids or the pros… like Hardies or Dads or WKND or Numbers or FA/Hockey. That shit is sick! I wanted to start something that was a reflection of me. And the other half of me, the non-skate half, is the writer. So the idea was to create a lifestyle brand for writers and bookworms and people like that. A brand I could tie into skating when possible. “Things for Thinkers” is kinda the mantra. The Hundredth Acre is not just a candle brand. I have pens, tees, I am working on journals and tea as well. Just all the things that accompany my journey as a writer, with the aesthetic of libraries and children’s stories and great literature and legendary authors and typewriters and a “writer’s cabin in the woods” vibe.

But the candles were the first thing and the main thing because they are wildly popular. A growing industry. And I figured out how to make them myself pretty easy. And they are a vehicle to tell stories with every single scent. And when people pick them up and say to me “Oh my God this reminds me of my grandfather I need to have this.” And they start telling me about their grandfather’s pipe smoking and how this pipe tobacco candle smells just like him … I have done so much more than made and sold a product. I have told a story to someone else who has a similar story. We share a story. I brought back amazing memories for them, transported them back in time, whatever … it’s so much more than just a product.

My other goal was to be as eco-friendly and socially responsible as possible. I use all natural soy wax grown in the USA. My jars are partially recycled and recyclable. My boxes are recycled and recyclable. The bag it comes in is reusable. My oils are phthalate-free and not tested on animals. I hire my friends to make my supplies whenever I can. Skaters make my tees and stickers and shoot my product photography and design my logos. I want to make sure I am supporting the industry I came from. I also donate portions of sales whenever I can to what’s going on in the world, from Standing Rock to World AIDS Day to Hurricane Harvey to the Charlottesville NAACP to multiple LGBTQ charities.

Coming from such a macho industry like skateboarding, did you cop any slack when you started making candles? And if so, how did—or do—you deal with those reactions?
I actually didn’t. My friends always seemed a bit thrown at first, like “Candles? WTF!?” And I explain what I just told you above. And they get it. I get the occasional troll talking shit and gay bashing as if candles aren’t masculine, like you said. But someone like that is too pathetic to “deal with.” Nothing you can do or say is going to hurt them more than they are already hurting. I have a growing candle business I started with my own hands in my kitchen. Even if it fails I’m proud and having a blast. I have an amazing life surrounded by amazing people and the things I love. They can hate me all they want but they’re just mad ‘cuz their gal wants to buy my candles. No, but really, it’s been all love and support.

Rob Brink

How did the Kenny Anderson x Converse x Chocolate collab candle come about?
I’d been bugging Kenny for a Poler connect because they have a really cool store in Laguna Beach where I live and I wanted to pitch the candles to them. He circled back a while later talking about how his new shoe is coming out and he wanted to have something cool and unique for the gift bags at the launch party. I jumped right on it. Then we agreed to make ‘em available on my site for people who might want access to it as part of his capsule. It’s not an “official” collab with Chocolate and Converse. Like, those two brands aren’t selling it to shops as part of the collab. I don’t want to mislead anyone. But shops can order from me or people can buy them on the TheHundredthAcre.com until they sell out. But it’s just kinda something he allowed me to piggyback on and it’s been super cool I am so appreciative. Kenny is an amazing person for skateboarding, both on and off the board.

Was there any specific thought given to the scent of that candle?
I went to Kenny’s place one day with dozens of fragrances for him to try. Since the theme of his capsule is “plant, grow, pollinate” he wanted it to be sort of “gardening/herbal” themed but not necessarily like fruits and vegetables or produce. So he landed on lavender and citrus blend and a sage leaf blend in glass that matches the white and black colorways of the shoes, and we’ve got the logo on there to match the deck and shoes too.

What if you were to do “pro model” candles where skaters have custom scented candles? Who would you want to make one for and what would the scent be?
If I answer that, it’ll get ripped off so fast. But there are some really good ones that can be done.

The Hundredth Acre candles

Do you sell many candles to skaters? I mean surely they can appreciate some of their uses—seduction tool in the bedroom, bad smell camouflage in the toilet…
Haha, yes. More people are into candles than you think. It’s just not something people in our world run around talking about. Lots of pros and industry people hit me up for them or buy them. Especially for their wives and girlfriends. They’ve all been so supportive. But also, I have plenty of skate customers to my web store and to my retailers and at my pop ups. It’s awesome to be able to connect with skaters over my own brand, even if it’s not a skate brand. And it’s awesome to turn people onto quality candles and maybe introduce them to something they wouldn’t have been exposed to yet. You know? Not that people don’t know what a candle is, but letting them know that it’s simply a nice thing to treat yourself to or helping them understand the value of a luxury, all natural candle as opposed to a cheap toxic one from Target.

What’s the story behind the name, “The Hundredth Acre”?
It’s inspired by Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood—the forest where the characters all played and interacted. And it was an interaction between humans and nature. All different types of friends having fun adventures, creating memories. It’s the type of place you wish you could be in when you are reading or watching Pooh. It just gives you that special feeling. I think we all have a special place like that from some past time in our lives that we reminisce fondly of, or wish we could get back to. For me, it’s the forest behind my grandma’s place in New Jersey. I grew up exploring and playing there. Reading books and observing plants and trees and making forts and learning things and using my imagination. I could sit there for hours on soft beds of fallen leaves and pine needles. With birds and squirrels and insects doing their thing all around me. Smelling all the different smells. Eating wild blueberries. Just existing with nature and feeling safe and feeling that awesome energy you know? When I was about 17 that forest got torn down and made into housing. I was devastated. Some of these things, we can never get back, but we all think about them. We all have our own version of that forest, our own Hundred Acre Wood. I also liked the idea of the notion that “The Hundredth Acre” is the final acre, like you are at the border. Do you want to leave and go back to the real world or do you want to stay in that special place full of imagination and creativity with your friends? My logo almost ended up being a really old school hand made wooden fence to represent that notion, but I went with the spruce tree instead.

The Hundredth Acre candles

I’m a huge fan of your writings about skateboarding but my favourite pieces I’ve read from you are the ones you wrote about your late dad. When you’re in the skate industry it’s refreshing to see that sort of raw honesty and emotion. Do you often write personal narratives and if so have they or will they be published?
Thank you. If someone doesn’t write with raw emotion they might as well not bother. In my opinion, with creative writing (or films or music or any art), the goal is to create a visceral experience that leaves the reader sitting there like they got kicked in the chest … entertained of course, but breathless with their brain spinning out of control. That’s how I feel when I watch a good movie or read a good book. I can’t sleep after. I’m all fucked up from it. I’m inspired and want to create. Stuff like that doesn’t come from anything but raw truth and emotion. You can’t connect with an audience by being vanilla and fake.

Funny you should ask though. I’m finally doing more of that writing now because I’m back in grad school for another master’s and much of what I’m working on revolves around the loss of my father and the years leading up to it that I spent working at a bagel shop, which kind of became my second (or maybe even surrogate) family. So we’ll see where that goes.

What’s next for you? Are you working on anything exciting at the moment that you can tell us about?
I think a book might come out of what I just mentioned. I don’t know when but it seems like it could be a possibility. Which is really cool. I like to just let things happen so if it does, so be it. If not, I’ll be busy with other stuff.

Time permitting, I really want to start up a podcast or show to pick up where Buzz left off. But it would be just me so I can create my own vision a bit better, as opposed to a team effort with a lot of elements in the equation and some of the limitations that come with working for a larger media entity.

And of course, the candles. I would be blown away and the luckiest person ever if The Hundredth Acre got to a place where it could support me and it was my only job. It’s got a long way to go but I’m enjoying the ride.

Well I look forward to all of those things. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us Rob, and for everything you’ve done for skateboarding.

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 16 that shipped with the Halloween KrakBox. 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!

Risto Petkov
Interview

Founders Interview: Risto Petkov of Stinky Socks

What‘s the story behind the company? When did you start?
Everything started from our Ninja Squad crew, a bunch of us that would hang and ride together. That started around 2002. Then around 2008, we started NS Distribution, just because we couldn’t find brands that related to us on the market here in Bulgaria. We had a bunch of sponsors, but they were just making us rep stuff that we didn’t like. So we started to distribute a couple brands like Ashbury Eyewear and Airblaster outerwear from US to Bulgaria and it was fun. So in 2011, we thought that we might as well just start something that is ours and that represents how we see snowboarding and skateboarding, and that’s how Stinky Socks was born.

Why did you focus on snowboarding/skateboarding?
I would say because it’s what we know, and it’s what makes us feel alive. I don’t know anything about golf or basketball, and really don’t want to mess with fields that don’t relate to us. When we work on Stinky we get inspired by what we do in our actual life. It represents us and what we are.

Why socks?
Well we were poor kids and we wanted to have a brand that’s related to snowboarding and skateboarding. So pressing boards or making trucks wouldn’t work for us, ‘cause we didn’t have the funds. Making t-shirts and hats also wasn’t an option, because everyone does that and we weren’t as good as the rest of the competition. So that is how we ended up with socks. Also, we wanted to be a global brand, and shipping around the world can be quite expensive, so we needed something really small and cool.

What inspired the name?
We wanted to have a name that is both related to the product and has meaning in Bulgarian and English. It does sound pretty impossible. We all know what Stinky means in English which relates to the product, but in Bulgarian, “stinky” is a slang word for change (quarters and dimes), so we thought that’d be cool.

Socks are so important for skateboarders/snowboarders. What makes Stinky Socks good for riders?
Stinky is good for everyone! We do have a unique treatment of the yarn that makes the sock softer and at the same time keeps your feet fresh for longer. We also have a special anti-moisture treatment that removes the moisture from your feet if you are an active person.

What’s more important, function or fashion?
I’m not much of a fashion person, I prefer the word ‘style’. It’s perfect when there is a good mix; good function and still stylish.

Do you have plans to expand to underwear or are you only focused on socks for now?
We will stay a sock only brand, we don’t want to lose focus on our one product. We are always down to run collabs with other brands, so that will give us some experience with other products. But that’s it for now.

As a brand, what does Stinky Socks value?
We value the people that support us, and the people that are part of our family. We would do everything for them. It doesn’t matter if the brand gains any profit as long as we are able to help a friend.

You use the term ‘family’ often. What does it mean to you?
It means a lot, as cheesy as it may sound, but we are family with the people that are part of Stinky. I care about everyone that’s involved in Stinky and I really want them to know that. And I for sure hate the word “team” and I really wanted to use something else. Teams are in basketball, soccer, or at the Olympics.

Speaking of the Olympics, do you think that skateboarding is ready for the world stage?
The Olympics was a good idea initially when it was created, but that was centuries ago. Now it’s just a bunch of corruption and trying to make money. I don’t back the Olympics at all, never been a competition guy and I don’t think skateboarding has a spot at this event. I’d rather watch a game of S.K.A.T.E at the plaza, that’s for sure a better show for me.

I hear you and Lucas Beaufort are friends.. how did you meet?
I actually met him at a trade show in Berlin, 5 or 6 years ago. But I think we were emailing a couple of years before that. One of my friends introduced me to his art and then I think I bought one of Lucas’ first books. He personally sent me a “thank you” email and I got stoked, and that’s how it started I guess.

How do you relate to the DEVOTED documentary?
I was contributing with a few of my friends here in Bulgaria a while ago, helping them with some stuff while they were producing a snowboarding print magazine. So I know what it takes to make a good magazine and how much effort it takes. On the other side, I still remember the mid 90s when the only information that we were able to get from the snowboarding/skateboarding industry was through the magazines. And believe me, those days there would only be one copy of a magazine in my town, and if you are the last one to get it, it was likely that all the pages would be ripped off already and hung on someone’s wall. So definitely the magazines and the VHS tapes were our source of inspiration and that was what formed us. Not only as snowboarders, but as people.

Devoted x Stinky Socks

Devoted x Stinky Socks

What are your thoughts on printed media in skateboarding?
Honestly, it was hard in 90s to get a magazine out here in Bulgaria. Right now, it’s still not so easy to get a copy of a magazine here. We are just nowhere for the skateboarding scene, and that sucks. That’s what we are trying to change with Stinky; trying to put Bulgaria on the map, at least for snowboarding.  

Is it any different in snowboarding? Is snowboarding media in the same position?
Unfortunately, it is in the same position. Since last Summer, NS distribution is the company that distributes the oldest snowboarding magazine (Method Mag) in Europe to Europe, Asia and North America. I really hope we can help out that industry and make sure the mag gets in the hands of more kids. It’s free at local shops; you just need to go and grab it, and that’s really good.

As a brand founder, what do you think about printed media? Would you be ready to pay for a full ad tomorrow? Why?
It means a lot to me, ‘cause I grew up with magazines and that’s part of me. Nowadays, everything has changed. I would pay for sure if my brand can afford it, I won’t hesitate at all. But I would love to see the magazines push themselves a step further to create unique, meaningful content with value in it, for sure. We all need to adapt to the current way of consuming and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as we can create stuff and stay true to what we believe in.

Strange Brew, Yawgoons, Trash League, Gremlinz, Ninja Squad, Too Hard.. I’m going to put you on the spot here: Which crew has the best style? Last to leave the party?
That’s a tough one! We had most of those dudes here in Bulgaria this winter. We invited a lot of them to join us here and film for our first Stinky snowboarding movie, so we spent two weeks traveling and partying around the country. It was a blast, because pretty much none of them had ever been in Bulgaria before. So they all party way too hard, and snowboard way too good.

What would be your biggest advice for the readers who’d want to start a brand/company?
Be yourself, don’t feel bad to be different and be constant in that.

We are posted up in Boulder, Colorado for the next few months. What is your relationship with this town?
I used to live close to Boulder when I spent a season in Breckenridge ten years ago, and it was fun for sure. I think it’s a good spot; really good nature, I think 99% of the population there is into outdoor sports so that’s really good. They also have cool bars, the Satellite Skate Shop looks good too. I hope we can sell Stinky there one day.

Who would you be more stoked to see wearing your socks, Shaun White or Danny Way?
I’ll get stoked on both as long as they go to a local skate shop and buy them. Justin Mayer, who’s the greatest producer/filmer in snowboarding in my opinion, said once “I like poor snowboarders”. This is what I think as well. I don’t necessarily dislike them but I don’t really care about “athletes” and don’t really know much about those kinds of  “extreme sports famous people”. Does that make any sense?

It sure does.

 

Are you a subscriber of KrakBox? Sign up your friends and they will receive a free DEVOTED KrakBox Capsule with a special pair of Stinky Socks (SS ’18 Line out now!). Sign up 3 friends and get a free Krak deck! 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!

Diligent Skateboard's Florent Bavouzet
Interview

Founders Interview: Florent Bavouzet of Diligent

The brand tagline on your website is ‘French Core Skateboard Company’; what did you have in mind when you picked this one up? What’s a ‘core skateboard company’ for you anyway?
For me, ‘skatecore’ means pure and raw skateboarding; no fuss; no fashion; no trend; no duty to perform this trick or that one. Moreover, it’s a company owned and operated by skaters; every type of level I don’t care but everyone should skate. Here at Diligent, the photographer rides, the filmer too, the graphic designer and so on and so forth. We make our products either in Canada or in Spain and they come from a great factory which is managed by skaters too. I mean, we’re not a cult either but I like the idea that the people involved at any level feel a kind of emotional and personal relationship and get some skills with what we’re making. All that being said, we should probably acquire a non-skater-type of commercial development haha!

Is it important for you to stay ‘core’ in the long-term?
For sure. We want to stay ourselves. I don’t want us to have any partnership with some energy drinks or some other shitty stuff like that. We want to stay independent. And we don’t want to participate to any kind of ‘fun contest’ such as the FISE or anything else like that.

Has there been any moment where you told yourself ‘we won’t do this’ because you could have lost this ‘core’ mindset?
I’ve never gone through any decision like this to be honest. I think it’s because we’re still small which means we don’t receive that many requests and consequently, we’re still free.

Ben Raitano, switch heel

Ben Raitano, switch heel. Photo: Johan Verstappen

Do you think there are a lot of ‘core’ skate companies? Too many? Not enough?
I think there are quite a lot of them but unfortunately they’re not the ones we hear the most about. You know it’s always the same thing, they are crushed by the big guys in the business. Their resources are also limited and they don’t have a lot of money for communication. Like they can’t afford any ad in skate mags for instance. So obviously it’s not simple for them to grow efficiently. Now you have social media which is mandatory and actually a cheap way to get the word out.

What are the biggest challenges for these kind of brands?
First: to exist. Then: to survive. And then, to be introduced in the skate shops. Because typically shops tend to deal first with the big guys because prices are cheaper and risks lower. But I think that if you focus on quality, that’ll work at some point. Nevertheless I have to say, some shops are big supporters. Some others just talk a lot and claim ‘support your local shop’ but I’d want to tell them ‘support your local brand’. I don’t want to blame them neither, I mean I understand their challenges. It is indeed quite complicated in France to manage a store; especially when you consider all the pre-orders required by the ‘skhateboarding’ sneakers companies.

Okay we went a bit too fast; let’s come back to the basics: who are you Flo? Where are you from?
Florent Bavouzet, 40 years old. I come from the center of France, a town named Chateauroux. This is quite lost but there has always been a small and super motivated skate scene. Consequently when you grow up there, it kind of forces you to get out and progress. Then I’ve had many lives: experienced the contests, managed a skate shop, got a pro-model, skated street, vert etc… I got the chance to explore the many sides of skateboarding but I’ve also been very down-to-earth in the other sides of my life; like a normal life with a job, family time and everything. Skateboarding is like a big passion for me that consumes a huge part of my energy.

Sammy Idry, wallride grab

Sammy Idry, wallride grab. Photo: Johan Verstappen

When did you start skateboarding? How?
When I was 12, in 1989. It was mainly due to the group of Emmanuel Camusat [he’s the one who drew the Krak logo diversions you might have seen on our Instagram]. I saw them riding a bank on a bike lane and that how everything started. Then I just never stopped haha! It’s funny because we didn’t talk to each other (Manu and I) for like 20 years and recently, we bumped into each other and worked together on a graphic for a deck named ‘Forbidden’… so beautiful haha!

Mandatory questions to understand your skate-influences: favorite skate video? part? trick nowadays?
H Street ‘Hocus-Pocus’, Plan B ‘Virtual Reality’ – of course I talk about old ones because these are the ones that stay just engraved in my mind! The others… well, they’re good in terms of performance for sure but I clearly don’t feel the same thing when I watch them.

Who’s on the Diligent team?
Sammy Idri (Nimes), Ben Raitano (Marseille/St Etienne) and then the flow team Mathieu Sabourin (Lyon), Remi Larnould (Lyon/Montpellier), Arthur Fontis (Grenoble/Mâcon), Victor Naves (Nimes), Adam Geidt, Florian Bac, Guillaume Nozieres, mostly south-east…

Do you all live in Lyon? How did you meet each other?
Well half of us live in Lyon. We met each other through skate sessions obviously. Then some others emit the desire to jump on board so we made them come to Lyon for an interview haha!

Mathieu Sabourin, f/s ollie

Mathieu Sabourin, f/s ollie. Photo: Johan Verstappen

Do you have any favorite skatespots these days?
Gorge de Loup if we want a battle. Small Place if we want to play and drink. Never HDV. Charpennes a lot and every spot that is non-conventional.

We were talking about videos… If I’m right you’re currently filming your full-length, yeah? Are you happy?
Every time we just want to make a 2min edit and we end with a mini-video project which is way longer… we improvise a lot haha! Then I have to say I’m a bit old-school so all the lazy Instagram-clips in which you upload everything and anything, I find them dumb. And this is really sad to focus on ephemeral stuff just for the sake of buzz, no? Well it’s my opinion at least.

Do you have a name already? Or a theme? When is the release date?
March 2018 I think. We don’t any theme yet. A name? Queen Mary 2 – related to our Dilivan.

It’s your first one right? Why this format actually? Was it important for you to release a proper full-length? Why?
We already made a 13min edit in 2015. The name was ‘Plaisir solitaire pour tous’ [Selfish pleasure for everyone]; that was related to a deck graphic we released named ‘La Marianne’, a kind of French standard but porn-oriented; kindly of course… well this isn’t the topic!

So this time we target 15min or slightly more… ok let’s stop with the minutes counting; wait and see finally. We aren’t in an online video contest right!! The length isn’t important at all. But I find a video longer than 25min painful!

Is everything taking place in Lyon or have you travelled a little bit?
We skated in Lyon of course but also in Nimes, Grenoble, Marseille. Actually we try to keep things easy. And because we also all have a double-life with a job or some studies, it means we also don’t have much time and this isn’t that easy. This is really an easy-going way of making a video; we don’t even try to go to the ‘must-spot’ like Barcelona, Berlin and all… At the end we even prefer to skate a village. Anduze already done!

Where does the name ‘Diligent’ come from? And the logo?
‘Diligent’ is a word that’s written, pronounced and means the exact same thing in both french and english. That’s really an universal word. That also means ‘someone who does all the necessary to get something done’ and I found this definition very cool for skateboarding. It’s like all the energy and time you put to land a trick.

I found it because I searched online the dictionaries and synonyms for like 2 weeks. I wrote on a lot of papers, I tried every type of spontaneous technique haha like beers, kids crying behind you etc… everything except: talk about it around you. Then I gave the name to a friend—a graphic designer named Jean Lambert—and he thought about a logo like an arrow on the top to give the direction, and then the 4 legs are like 4 wheels. Of course when you read this you’ll be like ‘it’s a bit too far’ but nope, I was all down.

Remi Larnould, blunt

Remi Larnould, blunt. Photo: Johan Verstappen

When did you launch the brand exactly?
March 2013.

Let’s make a quick ‘entrepreneurship detour’: if you had the chance to do it again, what would you pay the most attention to?
Alain Delon never fails! [french reference… sorry]

Do you have any advice for the people who are reading this right now and would want to launch their own thing in skateboarding?
Argh… don’t do it for the money because you’ll be disappointed; even though some people succeeded.

Thanks for the inspiration man!

Diligent team in Marseille

Diligent team in Marseille. Photo: Johan Verstappen

Cover image: Florent Bavouzet, b/s ollie. Photo: Johan Verstappen

A short version of this interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 17 that shipped with the Xmas KrakBox. 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!

Doomtree Records
Interview

Talking music and skateboarding with Doomtree Records

Music goes with skateboarding like beer goes with an awkward first date. It helps to set the mood and relax the vibe; creating a space for free flowing expression. While we don’t necessarily want to encourage your drinking habits, we’re all for turning up the volume when stepping on a board. We’ve got Doomtree Records to thank for some new tunes to skate to and we’ve got skateboarding to thank for Doomtree Records…

Did skateboarding play a big role in bringing together Doomtree Records?
Sims: I actually met P.O.S and Paper Tiger, as well as my Doomtree cohort Cecil Otter, through skateboarding. I was a few years younger than those guys but that’s something that the skate community gives people, a chance to meet like-minded people whom they might not otherwise get a chance to meet.

Between spending time in the studio and going on tour do you still find time to skate?
Sims: We used to skate a lot before we got old, sore and too into rap music. We all still push around and maybe hit a mini ramp here and there, but we are not really active skaters at present. But as kids, skating was pretty much all we did.
Paper Tiger: The closest I get these days is pushing around the neighborhood, just running to a store or something. If I get a few ollies in on the way I feel like I’m ripping.

What were your favourite spots or parks to skate?
Sims: Stairs and ledges. RIP my ankles.
Paper Tiger: When I was growing up my favorite spots were in Downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The federal building was kinda the main spot. This was ‘94/’95 when I was skating there a lot. Sometimes I would roll up and there would be 60 kids there. 5th street towers, the government center, and the marble ledges on Nicollet Mall were great.

What similarities do you see, if any, between skateboarding and making music? Does one inspire the other?
Sims: I discovered a ton of music through skate videos. There was something that felt unified between the music and skate culture… independence maybe. It felt like you could just pick up a skateboard or pick up an instrument and just go rip, without restriction or permission.
Paper Tiger: Skateboarding informed my cultural interests early on, and was my gateway to counter culture. Literally everything I do can be traced back to my skateboarding roots: music, fashion, graphic design, photography… I learned it all through the culture.

In 3 words, how would you each describe your music?
Sims: Heady. Fun. Challenging.
Paper Tiger: Fast. Hard. Soft.
Lazerbreak: Extreme. Lava. Bangers.

Doomtree Records

Photo: Zoe Prinds

If, in some alternate universe, you had become a professional skateboarder and were filming a video part, which song would you choose for it?
Sims: Search and Destroy by The Stooges—no wait, Woo Hah by Busta Rhymes—NO! Vital Nerve by Company Flow.
Paper Tiger: Super Sharp Shooter by DJ Zinc
Lazerbreak: How Does It Feel by Kamaiyah

Which skate video do you think has the best soundtrack?
Sims: Eastern Exposure 3
Paper Tiger: Girl: Goldfish. I also learned a ton about music from the 411 series.

Tell us about the Dangerous Jumps album…
Paper Tiger: This project includes 4 members from Doomtree. We had been talking for a while about doing a project together that was a slight departure from what we had been doing. After making All Hands, we wanted to make a collaborative project that focused on fast, short, and fun songs that spoke to where we are at in our lives currently.

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 16 that shipped with the Halloween KrakBox. 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!

Sk8ology deck display
Interview

Founders Interview: Mark Schmid of Sk8ology

First things first: who are you and what’s your history in skateboarding that led you to creating skate products?
My name is Mark Schmid, aka Schmiddy, and I’ve been in the sk8 game since the 1970’s. My love for skateboarding started on clay wheels and only got stronger as wheels turned to urethane, and then precision bearings replaced the old loose style bearings so even the crappy surfaces we were used to riding instantly felt like we were riding on clouds. Our only connectivity was through SkateBoarder Magazine… VHS tapes were still 10 years away so the only way we learned new tricks was by seeing pro’s at demo’s or contests or trying to figure out how a trick was done by deciphering a 3-picture photo sequence in the magazine. My first sponsor was G&S (Gordon & Smith). I was 13 years old and in the team van with some of the best skaters in the world doing demo’s, contests, autograph signings, etc… once a month I’d get to go to the factory and load up on product. I felt like that kid in the movie “Almost Famous”… except it was just the positive parts! Anyway, after my skate career ended (I simply didn’t have the timing, patience, or pain tolerance to learn the latest tricks… Thanks a lot “H-Street: Shackle me Not”) I started designing and manufacturing skateboard products. We now work with every major deck brand in the industry in making sure their HQ’s are museums of modern art celebrating the art of skateboards.

G&S skate team

Mark Schmid (small kid on the roof) with the G&S team

What was the graphic on the first board you skated?
Back in the days before specific art or an artist really became attached to a brand or pro, we just had our sponsors stickers on our boards. My first art graphic deck was a G&S Billy Ruff Chalice deck in 1983… the artist was Miq Willmot.

You created the Sk8ology deck display to honor the history, creativity and lifestyle of skateboarding and so that people can exhibit skateboards in style. How big a role do you think art plays in skateboarding?
It’s strange because who would have ever thought that a skateboard deck would become an art medium? Check out TheSkateRoom.com and you know that the world’s biggest artists want to be front and center on the walls of folks that love skate culture. Any person that calls themselves a skater will realize at some point in the future that the period of their lives spent skateboarding was a really great part of their life. Your favorite brand or pro most likely has an association with an artist or artists that represents a time and attitude of what you were into… as the years stack up, so do your responsibilities. When I stare at one of my favorite company’s decks on the wall that brings me back to that time when my only responsibility was to go sk8 with my friends…

Sk8ology deck display

Rob Dyrdek with his Sk8ology deck display at the Fantasy Factory

What was the process like for creating this product? What are the important things to consider to make a board hang just right?
It started with a shitty shoe lace, moved to fishing string, and a couple of screws… it looked crappy and didn’t respect how much I loved my skateboard deck collection. I started experimenting with acrylic sheets and bolt’s so my deck collection could “float” off the wall without seeing any visible hardware. My original racks were HUGE! They weighed a pound and a half each, were super bulky, and shipping them was as expensive as making them. Once we figured out that the “float” was the coolest aesthetic, we then needed to figure out how to make it affordable – that meant making it as small as possible, but still functional. As far as hanging decks just right, the most important factors are making sure a deck or group of decks is centered, equally spaced apart, and lit well. If you’re hanging a bunch of weird shaped decks then you’re gonna want to make sure all the noses of the decks are in a straight line.  One of my favorite things to do is go to the thrift store and buy a 2’x3’ frame which will hold 2 standard decks perfectly and should cost around $4 bucks… the more ornate the better – you can always paint it to match or contrast with the decks/matboard.

Sk8ology deck display

Paul Kobriger with the Sk8ology deck display at Transworld

Who is your favorite skate artist and why?
There are soooooo many! In the 80s it was Jim Phillips, in the 90s, Marc McKee. These days my favorites are Shepard Fairey, Don Pendleton, NeckFace, and Ed Templeton.

Do you have an all time favorite board graphic?
Nope. There are just too many.

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 17 that shipped with the Xmas KrakBox. 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!

Close Up Fingerboards
Interview

Founders Interview: Damien Bernadet of Close Up

Sure, you probably dabbled with a TechDeck during a boring math class at some point in your life, but for some people, fingerboarding is a lifestyle. To satisfy our curiosity about this miniature skateboard world we hit up Damien Bernadet, founder of ‘Close Up’ to answer a few questions. When it comes to the fingerboarding industry, Damien really has his finger on the pulse (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Give us a brief history of fingerboarding… when did it begin and who started it?
Fingerboarding appeared for the first time in the middle of the 80s. In the legendary Powell Peralta video, “Future Primitive“, you can see Lance Mountain riding a bathroom sink and showing coping tricks to Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero & Steve Saiz. Since that video, fingerboarding started to be developed by hidden “geek skateboarders” from all parts of the globe, but maybe little more in the rainy parts 😉

When did it blow up and become popular? And was it due to something in particular, like media coverage, a big event, or…?
The whole skateboarding Industry had to wait until 1998/99 to discover that famous 411VM production from L.A., “Fingers of Fury“. It was very different from usual videos because it showed similarities between real fingerboarding and real skateboarding! This video included the French fingerboarding & skateboarding section, which definitively launched fingerboarding as a real discipline.

How did the TechDeck craze influence fingerboarding?
This video was unfortunately also sponsored by Teck Deck (plastic toy businessmen), which also contributed to promote fingerboarding for some larger public.

How did you first get into fingerboarding?
I started fingerboarding with my friend Tony from Dijon, who is also a pioneer. Some weeks it was raining everyday and at that time skateboarding video games did not exist yet! Fingerboarding was already a reality and much more personal and stylish 😉 We created our first small brand “FSB” (Finger Skate Boarding) in 1996, but were too young to develop a company without Internet or digital cameras.

Close Up Fingerboards

When did you start Close Up?
10 years passed after the first phenomena wave, but without any real miniature realistic skateboard adapted to the fingers!? The real skateboarding industry had so much to do—developing decks, shoes, tricks, skate parks, medias, skate shops etc—so fingerboarding was still not really recognized. I decided to create Close Up Fingerboards in Paris 2005. By 2006 I had set up the company and factory molds and we started distributing in 2007.

Were there many other fingerboard companies around at that time?
At that time, only some German skateboarders (from rainy part of germany!) were about to create their brand. They’re actually quite famous but really expensive—kind of “the rolex” of fingerboarding! Aside from them, no one could suggest any wooden concave fingerboard with real metal trucks, urethane wheels, silicon bushings and real bearings!

What’s the demographic of the “core” fingerboarders? I feel like lots of people used to play with fingerboards in high school; but what happens next? Who are the people who stick to it? Do they tend to skate too?
There are more and more users now but most of them are essentially kids from 7 to 16 years old and then from 30 to 77. Because of the realistic miniature skateboard people see it as an object for collection. A good friend, who teaches skateboarding to kids, told me he was using my fingerboards as a complement, to show what’s going on with the deck under the fingers, as under the feet!

Talented fingerboarders are usually good skateboarders, because they naturally study tricks with much precision! A lot of young skateboarders play video games at home, but more more are enjoying fingerboarding!

Close Up Fingerboards

Do you feel any kind of judgement from skateboarders towards fingerboarding?
Of course some “core” skateboarders are critical towards any new fashion or movement and judge fingerboarding, but those are usually between 18 and 25 and often close minded. In a way fingerboarding is becoming more more popular, and more and more respected because it’s democratized!

What’s involved in the design process? Do you customise and test board shapes?
Close Up co. have modified its deck shape 5 times since 2006, trying to satisfy the real riders expectations. But of course we all have different finger sizes and top finger feelings so it is difficult and expensive to produce all types of decks. After 11 years of experience, we know which “standards” satisfy beginners and which satisfy more experienced riders. Unlike other fingerboard brands which suggest really large decks (over 33mm wide) and are concentrated on geeks, tricks and performance, our decks keep a realistic size, not too large.

Close Up Fingerboards

What kind of research and development goes into creating the obstacles?
To be honest, the obstacle ideas come from real skateboarding ideas, but also from production costs or logistic. Close Up co. don’t make classic wooden ramps, as we think it is easier and more fun to build your own, especially if you are passionate and creative.

Without giving away your secrets to success, how are the boards made? Is it the same sort of production as a skateboard but in a miniature version?
The finger decks production process is the same as real skateboard decks: made of 5 plys of maple, glued and compressed. There is no problem in detailing that famous process as it’s now used by many teenagers who also create their own molds!

The Close Up stop motion videos are pretty cool! Who makes those?
The two stop-motion animations (2007 & 2010) are a collaborative work between Close Up co. and an old friend and stop-motion pro animator who also used to skateboard & fingerboard for fun. You should also check out the video we made featuring the turntable fingerboard park we invented.

What are your thoughts on the finger boarding mockumentary ‘Fingers Crossed’ that was shared on Jenkem Mag?
I think it’s an original and funny way to present pro fingerboarding to skateboarders, even if Close Up co. spirit is not to to push fingerboarders to turn “pro” or become famous for few months. New talents are emerging from everywhere every 6 months, like in skateboarding, but fingerboarding has so much less risks and more tries in a minute than real Skateboarding hammers!

Fingers Crossed: The Chad Montie Story from Aidan Johnston on Vimeo.

If someone wants to try their hand (last pun, I promise) at fingerboarding, which media should they follow?
Of course, if someone needs to know more about fingerboarding, they should come to Close Up —closeup-fingerskate.fr—to discover our complete set ups, skateboard brand graphics and original videos. But we have to say, the German brand is definitely the best and most invested in fingerboard contests, high quality materials and sponsoring riders.

In your opinion, who is the best fingerboarder?
I think Dimitri Schlotthauer & Elias Assmuth are the best fingerboarders of the 21st century! Even if there are now young riders bringing technique and combos—like what Shane O’Neill brought to skateboarding—I think those 2 German skateboarders, have done the most technical tricks or movements ever done, with style and perfect pop-outs.

Thanks for putting up with the bad puns Damien!
Thanks for this interview and the original collab!

Close Up Fingerboards

A short version of this interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 16 that shipped with the Halloween KrakBox. 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!