Farid Ulrich interview from issue 7

farid_ulrich_portrait_hopfenspergerPhotography by Florian ‘Burny’ Hopfensperger. Interview by Julian Dykmans.

So in skating, when you’ve been around for decades, you could say you pretty much think you know it all. And so like most, you judge people and sometimes you keep that judgment, that feeling, for a long time although the truth is that you don’t know that person and that perhaps your judgment is just plain wrong. I am not sure why my instinct was wrong back then when I bumped into Farid who was perhaps a typical cocky 16-year-old skateboarder who ripped, but I am super happy to meet him again now, seven years later. I can see that Farid has various interests in life, the sparkle in his eyes and yes admittedly the same annoying ease on a skateboard. Do yourself a favour and take some time to re-
question yourself. I did, and accepted an invitation to interview someone I barely knew, not to mention I have little experience in interviewing people and last but not least I am typically too busy. But I was down for the adventure and Farid did not disappoint. Let’s go skate that mini Farid!

Hi Farid can you introduce yourself?
Farid Ulrich: Hi, my name is Farid and I am 23-years-old. I’ve skated for 12 years now so it’s more than half of my life. I can remember more of my life being a skateboarder than not. I like to keep that in mind, it’s a nice point of view. I am from Berlin, born and raised. I think the rest we are going to figure out….

Yes we will. Are you related to Lars Ulrich?
Lars Ulrich?

The drummer of Metallica.
Haha, no I’m not related.

You should check it out. Maybe he is close family.
Is it the same spelling?

Yes it is. Go find out about your roots Mr. Ulrich! Tell me more about being born and raised in Berlin…
My father was born in Lebanon; he was a refugee from Palestine. He came to Berlin to the western part when he was six-years-old. My mother is from the eastern part of Berlin. She fled East Berlin six months before the wall came down when she was going on a family vacation to Hungary.

So it was a planned family vacation escape?
Yes, except that once the wall came down, my mom went back to Berlin since her mom was there and she could be in the West and the East. She came to this house where we are now (in Mitte, which is central East Berlin) and squatted here. This whole area was completely empty, almost no people. With some others they moved in to this house and had to fight eviction from the police numerous times – there are crazy stories. For instance, there were a lot of Nazis back then in the area so my parents had to group up with the neighbours to be safe. That was the vibe.

So do you own the house?
No, but for a long time the owners let us have a low rent because they are down for us, we bring culture to the neighbourhood. Right now they are selling our house and a big movie company is going to buy it. What will happen is these new people will raise our rent and that means we won’t be able to afford our place anymore.

I suppose it’s deadline time to get your own place.
For me it’s okay as I am young and when I get kicked out, I’ll start something else. But for the people who have lived here for 25 years and all our friends, it’s tough. It’s a real community here; everyone knows each other and hangs together. Now they will have to find a new place and probably it’ll be outside of Berlin as they won’t be able to afford to live around here.
How did you learn your English? Yours is pretty good…
My first language in school was Latin. And of course I cannot speak it, but I suppose I got the grammar right early on.


farid_ulrich_fs180nocomply_hopfenspergerFrontside no comply.

So you watch your movies in the original version then?
No, not really but I had this Biggie movie for two months when I was in Thailand without WIFI so I watched that over and over again. I adapted the vocabulary of this film to my own.

Haha, so you got the slang, huh? So for instance, if you are going to watch a movie, let’s say the new Star Wars, you are going to watch it dubbed in German?
Yeah. I think if you watch the movies dubbed in German, they are really well done.

But don’t you think if you have an Oscar performance actor in English it kinda sucks for him to be dubbed into another language? Don’t you think his performance will be different since it’s a guy in studio pretending to speak the same?
Yeah I see what you mean, it’s not the real acting anymore. It’s more like acting for the Germans then. Interesting point.

If it were up to me I would force all TVs and cinemas to have everything in their original version. It would just help the world communicate better.
That’s the difference, like Scandinavia, they speak so good English.

Small countries don’t have the budgets to dub; it’s too expensive. What a blessing it is for them, they learn English instead. I always tell kids to watch movies in their original version, also to read Thrasher and TWS. Did you read those mags?
Not too much, when I was young we did not have much money. I had different plans; I wanted to buy a board, no money for a Thrasher subscription really. If I had the chance to get my hands on a Place mag, I would read that.

Who are your sponsors?
Nike SB, team Titus and Lousy Livin’.

farid_ulrich_swflip_hopfenspergerSwitch flip

Can we talk about your Dad? For instance I heard he is the owner of Chalet (famous club in Berlin)?
You would think that because he has the key and he’s the guy to talk to if you have an idea to do something there but he is not the owner. He takes care of everything there. When there is a fight, etc.… He just takes care of the situations.

So he is a gangster right?
No not really… haha. He just handles everything. But he’ll bring the humour: he’ll bring the hose and water down the troublemakers in the garden – things like that.

Skaters are always gossiping… What’s your opinion about that? For instance skaters saying your dad owns the club.
I just keep out of it; I don’t really care. I don’t follow all that stuff. Also I have my friends that don’t skate. I am just not into it. I am more interested in my own project, for instance Wolfstone.

What is Wolfstone?
I skate now and maybe I got three more years, maybe six; who knows. Wolfstone is a family house that we’ve owned for the past 20 years. It’s south of Berlin, an hour away and it’s where I want to put some of my energy – it’s a process that never ends. I kind of realised that it’s the place where I want to be. It’s in the middle of the forest and the next house is like 2 km away. There is no water so we built a pond. So in the morning, you can grab your bucket and wash up, etc…


What’s your idea there? Do a hostel?
Not really, I think since we are going to move, this is going to be my next house. It’s a perfect home base plus I’m always on trips so I would be really keen to keep living with my mom, as I am so down with her. Basically we’d live in a communal house. I have a friend with his camper there already. The idea would be to have more people there. There is a skatepark there too.

That sounds pretty amazing. What will you do if you fall in love and want to move in with your girl?
Wolfstone is not going anywhere; it’s there to stay. So I can move in, move out, it will always be there. It’s called Wolfstein actually because there is a stone stating 781, the last time a Wolf was shot there. The coolest thing is that now the wolves are back.

Really? That’s great! So on to a different subject: What’s up with German skateboarders? Why are there not many on European and Global teams? What’s your opinion?
The first thing is, people in Germany skate a little too strict, copying who they like and maybe not finding their own self. I don’t know though…

Do you think it could be a language barrier as well? Not enough movies in their original version! For instance, crews of Germans go to Barcelona all together and stay in groups, which makes it tough to integrate with locals or new groups of people.
Maybe the German skater gets too cosy too quick. Thing is you can have a German career here and pretty much never leave, guys can get content easily. I don’t know, some want sponsors so much that it ruins it for them. All my friends wanted and got sponsored before me and I just skated and never asked. In the end they all quit and I am here still skating. I was just having fun, spending time on transition, etc.… And that’s what helped me. Transition even helped me for rail skating!

Yes, you know how you do 50-50s on the coping on a ramp? Well on a rail it’s the same thing; it’s the same position!

Except there ain’t as much commitment but hey… Back to that topic, why aren’t some Germans on the ‘cool’ brands?
Most are happy where they are; I guess we have everything we need.

If they’d get on better teams (Europe or Global) they would learn better English. I noticed some skaters barely speak English and after a year or two, it’s on.
Yeah, look at Willow! At the beginning his English was all funny and now he’s really good at it.

But do you think it’s kind of uncool to be a skater from Germany?
Maybe a bit, it’s not my favourite either. Somehow there is too much copying. There are so many skaters in Germany, but not so many are coming out. Maybe it’s the bad skateparks that we have…

farid_ulrich_fsbluntslide_hopfenspergerFrontside bluntslide pop-out.


That’s just excuses. Everyone has some…
Maybe people are too safe here. You do your studies, you start working, you have your habits and you don’t want to change your nice little routine. I hear from my friends it’s hard to be a skater, it’s hard to make it. They don’t want to take the risk.

I think it’s not for everyone. If you want to skate, you will. If you want to travel, you will by all means whatever the cost. There is just a huge difference of motivation in different people. It’s really up to you I think; anything’s possible.
My parents forced me to do my studies, to finish school. But at the same time I skated. It was cool they pushed me like this.

What about the codes of skateboarding? What’s your take? For instance the 360 flip with the yo flip? Or the 360 shove with the yo…
When I was young I could not do a 360 flip without the yo.

OK I am just going to lay it on you… Yes that’s the German 360 flip! So did you try to change it?
No, it kinda changed naturally last year. It just started coming together with a catch with both feet.

And now a Vince question: What do you think of the no-comply trend?
I don’t mind as long as the skater does not become lazy. It must look good. I am down with them – been doing them forever.

Yeah you can even do them down big double sets. How far do you want to go in skating? Head to the US, get big, etc.?
Pro in the US means pretty much skating eight hours a day. I mean it’s pretty much like this no?

No. You could film a trick a week and if it was good you’d be fine. But it’s more about if you like it there. Maybe you’re like some of the Germans you mentioned and you like it in Germany.
I am open for everything. I would not move to the US and force myself in. If I got a good offer I’d consider moving there.

Brands won’t offer you if you are not going there or doing something about it. Are you happy like this?
That’s a hard question, especially for an interview. But yes I would like to go for it all the way.

But how are you going to make this happen? For instance, I don’t see many German skaters moving to let’s say Barcelona and skate there for six months. Within that time, you don’t know whom you are going to become friends with but it might be that you become friends with this team that is visiting for a month, etc… And this might change your life! You can do that with any city: Paris, London…
That’s what I tell my friends: Stop complaining and living at your parents’! Go to a main city and skate. I went for two months to Thailand last year and one month and half in Barcelona. It was a great time; some of my footage comes from those trips. In Barca, we were ten skaters in a small house with all types of nationalities; it was super fun!

Sounds like you got the right idea. I think that about does it. Thanks Farid.