Victor Pellegrin Interview
Skateboarding has introduced me to A LOT of carefree human beings in the past 15 years that it’s taken over my life. To the point where I can’t help but wonder if it attracts them, or if it’s the activity itself that brings it out of us. Probably a bit of both… Either way none of the ‘relaxed’ personalities I’ve come across compare to the Jedi level of insouciance Victor shows on a daily basis. It’s hard to think of anything life could throw at him that he wouldn’t be able to laugh off after a session the next day. So where is all this positivity coming from? ‘I think I’d just been such a dickhead for so long that it got to a point where I didn’t have a choice. I had to switch things up.’ Well, dickhead or not, what’s certain is that Victor Pellegrin sure crammed enough into his 26 years of existence to grow up a hell of a lot faster than most of us.
Interview by Arthur Derrien
Arthur Derrien: Yoooooo!
[A mountain of curly hair appears on my screen. Victor’s eyes are nowhere to be seen but he’s already laughing about something.]
Victor Pellegrin: Hey! I completely forgot we were supposed to do this ha ha… I literally just woke up!
No worries man, want me to call you back in a few hours?
Nah it’s cool. I’m just going to roll this zoot then I’m good!
Where are you right now?
Well right now I’m at a mate’s place in Biarritz (south of France) but I’ve been living in Hossegor.
What’s it like there? I haven’t been in ages but I remember it being pretty shit for skating…
Yeah it definitely sucks for skating but it’s great for partying, ha ha. And surfing!
Oh yeah you’ve been surfing quite a lot recently haven’t you?
Yeah man I love it! I’ve been surfing for about three years. We’ve got a really good crew at the moment: Sam (Partaix) is here, Lucas (Puig) is here… Everyone’s super hyped on surfing. It’s sick! Last summer I surfed so much I got proper hench though. Like I put on twelve kilos, ha ha. I looked ridiculous.
I bet it felt weird…
Yeah definitely! Especially for skating. I felt way too heavy. I wasn’t comfortable on my board. And slamming really hurt… I’ve lost it all now though.
I’m not surprised. I bet when winter kicked in the drinking got rid of that excess muscle in no time, ha ha. You’ve always done a lot of other sports as well as skating right? Didn’t you and your brother used to do a lot of Motocross?
Yeah I come from a family of Motocross riders. I did that for a bit but I’m sure you can imagine the kind of scene that is… It’s a proper Monster/Red Bull jock kind of vibe so I wasn’t really feeling it.
That’s when you were living in the countryside right?! Livron was it?
Good memory! Yeah that’s just what you do when you grow up in the countryside: ride motorbikes, BMX, go fishing, build huts, etc…
At what point did you move to Lyon then?
Well I didn’t go straight to Lyon, I went to Nimes first. I got into some beef at home and it escalated to a point where I didn’t really have a choice. I just had to leave.
What do you mean ‘beef’?
Basically I got myself into some pretty shady business and made a lot of money that wasn’t exactly clean… Someone stole the money off me, so I stole it back but had to get the fuck out of there.
How old were you?
Yeah I was fifteen. I’d boyed off school and had shitloads of money so I just went to Nîmes (south of France) where I got myself a flat and stuff. It was pretty mad.
What the fuck! What about your parents? Did they have anything to say about this or were they never really in the picture?
Yeah they never gave a fuck about me.
What were you doing when you were in Nimes then? Just skating?
Yeah I just skated there for like two years then went to Lyon.
How did you find that?
I don’t know if you remember but I wasn’t doing so good when I was out there. I was just staying indoors getting fucked up all the time… It had nothing to do with the place itself though. Now I love going back there and get along really well with everyone. I think it was just me and what I was going through at that point…
That’s when you started to skate for that Blaze company right?
Yeah. Actually no at first I was skating for Jart, ha ha. That company is the fucking worst…
I just think that brand sucks. I don’t like those guys and what they contribute to skating is just stinking.
Where did you go after Lyon? Is this when you went travelling?
No after Lyon I went to Montpellier for a bit first, fell in love there, lost my shit when it ended and decided I needed a proper break from everything. I’d made quite a lot from some stupid comps at that point and thought it would be a good idea to use the money to go travelling.
Where did you go again?
Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and loads of islands around there… I’d been sent to Malaysia a few months before for some weird contest/demo thing and had visited the Langkawi Islands. I fell in love with that place… This was when I’d just started getting into surfing so I thought it would be cool to go away and do that for a bit. I didn’t even bring the skateboard! Best trip of my life: just being alone on the most beautiful Islands surrounded by turquoise water… The food was incredible…
Was it not tough being on your own?
Obviously it was really hard at times, it forced me to face a lot of stuff… I found myself crying my eyes out alone more than once but I learnt so much from it. And I met tons of amazing people out there… Plus I linked up with Kevin Vu (skater from Belgium) when he was living in Phuket. That dude is such a legend…
So I’ve heard! I didn’t realise he was living out there. What did you think of Thailand?
Kevin was there for a bit; he’s back in Brussels now though. Well I loved most aspects of the culture but in the main cities a lot of the people I met were just horrible, really wealthy dudes out there for sex tourism. Especially the French people you meet… It’s pretty depressing.
What would you say was the highlight of your trip?
I don’t know it’s tough. Maybe Borneo… It’s probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. It’s paradise. I found myself swimming with these giant sea turtles, clinging onto their backs… I’ve got so many incredible memories from there.
Sketchiest situation you found yourself in?
Again it’s a tough one, I ended up in so many… Maybe this one time on a fishing boat when the fishermen tried to steal all my shit. You know those ones that look like they’re made of plastic with the little motor at the back? Anyway I was trying to get to an island and I asked these fishermen to take me. We’d agreed on a fee before I got on board but when we got close to the destination they started telling me it was a different price… I told them that the amount we agreed on was all I had but they said they wanted more so they started trying to take my shit.
What did you do?
I’d noticed that they had this big knife on the boat so I quickly grabbed that and threatened to pierce a hole in the boat. ‘If you don’t give me my shit right now I’m stabbing through the bottom of this boat and none of us will be going anywhere.’
How did they react to that?
They backed away so I took all my shit, jumped into the water and swam to the shore. People on the beach were tripping when they saw me swimming up to them with all my bags balanced on my head!
Sounds insane… And from there you went straight to Barca?
Yeah ha ha. Went from that crazy trip to a month of straight partying in Barca then straight onto a gnarly Volcom tour with all the US guys, even though I was only flow for Volcom in France. I was with Colin Provost, Daan, etc. Going from basically no skating to that was pretty interesting believe me… I still remember thinking to myself ‘okay I really need to go all in for this one’ but still having the wobbliest legs, ha ha.
I remember the photos from that trip. You somehow killed it! How come your footage never made it into the video (Holy Stokes)?
Because I was as flow as you could possibly be at that point. I’d basically just tagged along on their trip and went in. A lot of that footage still hasn’t come out yet…
Damn that’s a bit of a shame…
Yeah but at least now I’m properly on I guess. And we’re working on a video of some kind for Vans Europe so some of it will probably end up in that.
Do you film much when you aren’t on trips?
Never. I never do Instagram videos or anything like that either. You’ve skated with me, you know that when I’m skating I’m too absorbed to be thinking about taking my phone out to film and shit. I’m having too much fun! Although I did learn how to repost on Instagram the other day so I’ve started doing that.
I always felt like skateboarding (the activity itself) you love, but everything else around it you never really had much time for.
Absolutely. Everything else kind of just pisses me off to be honest.
You don’t even watch that many skate videos do you?
Not really no. Although I did watch that new Welcome video the other day. It was incredible!
But yeah I used to be a bit more of a geek when it came to that stuff… I think for some reason since the Internet I’ve just been less into watching skating. Back in the day I’d watch stuff like Charles (Collet’s) part in Bon Appétit so much that I’d fuck up the VHS. The Flip videos too… I used to know Sorry and Really Sorry by heart. Now every day there’s a new part that’s insane! I can’t keep up with this nonsense! Like that guy that jumps down all the kinked handrails… What’s his name? Martinez or something…
Dude’s barely more than four feet tall with his arms up in the air yet he’s still kickflipping onto kinked rails!
You’re skating for Antiz at the moment right? How’s that? You been on any of those Hellfest trips (skate tour organised around a metal festival)?
Yeah! I actually kind of got on Antiz around one of those. I was on a Volcom trip and the plan was to meet the Antiz guys at the festival. I partied with them for a few days then decided to jump in the van with them because I was on a hype and it kind of just happened like that.
But yeah the Hellfest is so fucking messy… I’d end up not sleeping from Thursday to Sunday and having to skate these weird demos in the middle of the festival.
Were you there for the frontside flipping of the dwarf?
Yeah! We were all fucked, skating this demo in a cage at the festival and they let the Viking dwarf into the cage. He had long blonde hair, a kilt and a crazy hat with horns sticking out and someone frontside flipped over him out of a kicker! It was so gnarly… Gnarlier than seeing Motörhead live. The people who were watching the demo could not believe it! Everyone was going wild, we started smashing all the Red Bull fridges on the copings, focused all the boards, stuffed them into what was left of the Red Bull fridges and set fire to it all… We seriously ripped that cage apart. It was madness.
Sounds like it… And aside from that, how’s it been travelling with Antiz?
Riding for Antiz and travelling with them has been so sick. It’s proper gypsy style. Every night it’s ‘okay I’m drunk enough to go to sleep’; it’s usually freezing in the tents so that’s what you’ve got to do if you want to make it through the night! That and making sure you’re not sleeping too far from the person next to you, ha ha. They’re the only trips I’ve been on where during the day you have to keep an eye out for cardboard boxes to sleep on in the evening…
If you’re going on a trip and you’re staying in a hotel after the sessions it’s often each man in his own room, on his Instagram… On Antiz trips you’re all looking for spots to shower and brush your teeth together or helping with the BBQ so you really feel like you’re all on the same mission. Plus you’re 24/7 together so you’re forced to chat and properly get to know each other. The Antiz style of skate trips really brings people together.