Rémy Taveira Interview
I don’t really know a lot about skateboarding. So when I met Rémy he just told me he stopped studying a few months ago and is now just hanging around travelling and stuff. So the first few months I had no idea about his skating, I was just wondering what he was doing all the time and why he always stopped in the middle of the street to look at some steps and walls and why he was so obsessed with the weather report. I think it took a few months until I knew that he was kind of skateboarding as a job. That really shows how he doesn’t really like talking about himself – or I think he is just a very humble person.
At some point he was always doing this one trick where he was really twisting his body and you could always see his booty in the pictures; that one I liked. So I asked his friends ‘what’s this trick Rémy always does?’ and they immediately said ‘backsmith’. They thought it was so funny that I loved this trick. I think he learned a lot of new ones now ‘cause I haven’t seen him doing this one in a long time, so that’s all I know as far as Rémy and skating.
I know that he is obsessed with travelling, seeing new things and skating new places. He loves being in Paris ‘cause that’s his home, but I think after a few weeks he needs to see new things. He has always been very dedicated to skateboarding, never really says no and lives quite in the moment. Once I asked him what he thinks of before he goes to sleep and he said he’s thinking of what trick he wants to do tomorrow. So that’s about how far he plans into the future.
– Pauline Jorry
Interview by Arthur Derrien
From what I’ve heard you’ve had quite a busy summer. Can you run us through what you’ve been up to? Maybe you can start off with the Hellfest…
Rémy Taveira: Yeah sure. So every year with Antiz we go to this metal festival called Hellfest. It’s massive; maybe the biggest metal festival in Europe. They’ve always got bands like Slayer, Black Sabbath and stuff. They’ve also got shitloads of budget, so much that it sometimes feels a little bit like Disney Land – it’s seriously massive… I don’t exactly listen to metal every day or anything but it’s always a great experience. Anyway every year (they’ve been doing the festival for like 10 years now) they build a skatepark (recently it’s been inside a cross shaped cage) and they get us to skate in it. We basically do demos for drunk dudes going to metal concerts in exchange for free VIP passes to the festival, food, etc.
Do you ever let people into the cage?
Yeah. We usually pick the ones with crazy makeup/costumes or the really wasted ones and invite them inside, make them skate, and make them embarrass themselves by taking some slams, haha. We’re drunk the whole time ourselves so it’s super fun.
That sounds insane.
Yeah sometimes it gets a little out of hand. Especially during the ten to midnight ‘session’. Last year it looked more like a circus than a skate demo: we let loads of people in and we were using them for ‘stunts’. We even befriended a dwarf who kept coming back into the cage for every session. He kind of became our mascot and by the end of the festival he was getting frontside flipped over, haha. It was ridiculous.
I’d love to see the slams that go down in that cage.
Yeah it gets messy. Although the main issue is that the Hellfest is always at the beginning of our Antiz marketing tours.
What are they?
They’re like skate trips where we go to all the tiny countryside skate shops that stock Antiz to show how appreciative we are of their support and stuff. We skate with all the locals, check out some of their spots, etc. Only thing is good luck trying to get any kind of skateboarding done straight off the back of a metal festival.
Wasn’t Dustin Dollin with you guys this year?
Yeah he was. Well sort of… He’d usually wander off and we’d lose him for ages. Everyone’s so cool at the festival that it’s really easy to spend most of it with people you’d never met before. Especially if you’re Dustin, he’s like a child, haha.
Did he come on the Antiz marketing tour as well then?
That must have been interesting.
Yeah! I reckon what must be tough for him is that he always has to live up to that whole piss drunk thing every time someone recognises him. I can’t imagine being the guy everyone is desperate to offer a shot of Jack Daniels to five seconds after meeting them. Especially when you are trying to recover from something like the Hellfest…
That would be horrible.
Yeah. Then again I guess he’s like the last of the Mohicans, but of the Piss Drunks. I kind of respect that. All the others became vegan, straight edge and are living the super healthy Californian lifestyle… He’s the only one to have stayed exactly the same. And he still skates!
Can handling someone with this lifestyle be quite difficult on tour?
Not at all! He’s always on tour so he knows what’s up. He never complains about anything. Unless maybe if we can’t get cold beers or rosé but he certainly never complains about sleeping conditions or food or anything like that. In fact, he doesn’t really eat.
What do you mean he doesn’t eat?
I guess I didn’t really see him eat that much on that trip, it’s not something he’s interested in at all. We’d try to get him to do it but it wouldn’t really work. He just wants to drink.
Where did you guys go on this trip?
We drove down the west coast of France, from La Rochelle to Biarritz. As I mentioned earlier it was tough because it came right after the festival but some of the spots we did manage to skate were unbelievable. Like at one point we skated this mould that was used to build ship hulls! It was mental. And later on we skated this cognac tank (in city of Cognac) that was basically a massive full pipe. Both of those spots were insane!
But we’ll never get to see the footage of those sessions because Ludo (Ludovic Azemar, the Antiz filmer) got all of his camera gear and laptop stolen right after the trip right?
Well there was a second filmer so there might actually be some footage of those spots, but yeah, the best stuff is lost forever.
Did you set up that crowd-funding thing to pay for him to get a new camera?
No actually one of his childhood friends did it and the idea was originally that the crowd-funding would be a secret, so that once they’d raised enough funds they could surprise him with the new gear. Only when I got the link to it I sent it out to loads of skaters who then straight away sent it to more skaters and in no time it was no longer a secret.
I had no idea it was supposed to be a surprise! We even shared it on the Free Insta hoping it would help him out.
Yeah it doesn’t matter though, at the end of the day he got enough contributions to pay for the new camera almost straight away and that’s what matters.
Yeah surely spreading the word is far more important than it being a surprise. What did you do after that then? Berlin for the trade shows and stuff?
Yeah, but I don’t have anything interesting to say about that – plus it’s already all over social media.
Okay and after that New York?
Yeah I went to New York with Jake Harris, Mike Arnold, Casper Brooker, Chris Jones and Alex Pires to film for Jake’s new project. He’s working on a series of edits for Thrasher. One of them was supposed to be an NYC one, only since it was like 35 degrees every day I don’t think we got enough. So I’m not too sure what’s going to come of that…
And you just came back from that?
No I came back a couple of weeks ago. Since then I went to Evian where I spent some time with Hugo Liard. When Hugo left Antiz it was because he wanted to start living a completely different life, so he built himself a house out of wood, right by Lake Geneva and decided to live off the fruit and vegetables he’d grow in his garden. Antiz was sick for him because he started it, it was his brand, but the reality of running it involved him spending his life behind a computer and that’s no longer what he wanted.
Okay and you’re back in Paris now?
Yeah, I’m back at home trying to get the last few bits for the new Öctagon video that should be dropping with their next line. It’s not easy though because unlike with most other projects, all the clips have to be filmed by the Öctagon filmer (Joaquim Bayle). I can’t just go out and film clips with another guy and submit the footage, he has a very distinctive style… Plus they are super-selective when it comes to what spots we skate, it has to be a specific type of architecture: extremely modern. That’s why we pick cities like Dubai or Frankfurt for Öctagon trips.
Is it easy to find that type of architecture in Paris? What areas are good for it? La Défense?
La Défense could work but it’s such a horrible place to be; it’s got the worst vibe… You’d think Paris isn’t a good city for it but areas are constantly being regenerated with the kind of ultra-modern architecture we are after. New buildings are always popping up with new spots… Which is good for us because it’s an excuse to go to areas we wouldn’t normally go to.
So how do you do it, do you have an Öctagon whatsapp group where you send each other photos of the spots you think could work for the clips?
Are you still sharing that 7th floor ‘chambre de bonne’ (a tiny room where traditionally the servants of a French bourgeois family would live) with your girlfriend?
No we moved out; we were losing our minds in there! We aren’t as central anymore, we’re in Montreuil but at least it’s a bit more spacious. Plus, I quite enjoy the atmosphere; it feels more like being in a village than the centre of Paris. And I’m still just 15 minutes away from République…
The people we feature in the mag usually tend to get most of their photos on trips but most of your photos for this interview were shot in Paris. Was it a conscious decision? If so can you explain it?
I guess I just got a bit frustrated by constantly having to film video parts when I’m on trips, so I’ve been trying to get stuff here as much as I can. I’ve been going on a lot of missions with Guillaume Périmony… On a trip you have a very short amount of time to think of a trick that could work at a given spot. You usually pick something you are certain you can do, as you probably won’t get a chance to come back to that spot. At home you know the spots well so you can put a lot more thought into what you want to do. It’s easier to produce stuff you are really stoked on. You can think of spots that suit your tricks. On trips it’s the other way around. Do you know what I mean?
Of course, that’s why guys like (Tom) Knox or (Nick) Jensen always film most of their parts at home.
Yeah exactly. Obviously you sometimes end up feeling like you’ve seen everything your city has to offer, but new spots always pop up.
Is all this footage you are stacking going towards something in particular?
Not really, it’s just that every time you are asked to film a part you are never given enough time to do something you are happy with. It takes like 2-3 years for me to film a part I’m actually going to be proud of, so instead of chilling and filming an Insta clip, every time I get the chance I try to go on a mission to film a proper trick.
Paris has been through quite a lot of traumatising events this year. Do you feel like the atmosphere of the city has been scarred by what happened?
No not really. Obviously at first we were all a bit like ‘fuck!’, we’re their number one target and stuff but you soon realise that it’s much bigger than that: everyone’s a target. You can’t let that stuff affect you. I feel as safe as in Paris as I do in any other city. You can’t start thinking ‘fuck I’m going to a concert tonight, what if something happens…’ Nothings going to stop people from assembling in big groups and that’s a good thing.
Actually while we’re on the topic of large groups of people assembling the other day I got my first proper taste of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. We were skating around La Villette in an area that is apparently full of ‘rare’ Pokémon. I used to think it was just something that kids or proper geeks were into but I saw all sorts of people running around with their eyes glued to their phones, desperately looking for Pokémon. Seriously it was everyone from families with their kids in pushchairs to people who clearly just got off work to proper rude boys. Me and Joseph (Biais) were trying to skate these stairs and we could only try our tricks once every twenty minutes because of the constant stream of people rushing down them to catch creatures that don’t even exist. It was unbelievable. Why would you want to do the exact same thing as a million other people like that? I felt like I was surrounded by sheep.
It is a bit scary….
Very! Especially because they’ve put Pokémon in every corner of the planet! I went to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere in Italy and every single kid from that village was on that thing. They’ve even got Pokémon you only catch by boat… It’s crazy!
What have you got lined up for the next few months?
Early September I’m going on a RVCA trip with a bunch of artists and photographers. There’s going to be a show in Bordeaux with Ed Templeton, Ben Horton and a few other big names.
Are you going to be showing some of your photos there?
No I’m just going to be skating… I was actually supposed to have a little show in Paris that exact same week but obviously it’s not happening since I’m on that trip.
Have you ever had a photography exhibition?
No. It’s something I’d like to do, but wouldn’t really push for unless someone asked me.
That’s a shame; you’ve been shooting on all these incredible trips for so long now… The world needs to see this stuff!
I know… Especially since I shoot film, it’s a bit frustrating to just look my photos on a computer screen. I’d love to see some of them printed and hung up on a wall. I got my first film camera when I was fifteen so I’ve accumulated quite a lot over the last ten years… Especially on some of the trips I went on with Oscar (Candon), the twins and the Antiz guys.
Out of all these trips which ones have been the most memorable?
It’s hard to say… The Antiz ones where we camp and chill around fires in the evenings tend to be my favourite ones. Then there’s always the big Costa Rica/Nicaragua trip I went on recently, that was pretty incredible.
The wild one you went on with Francisco Saco (South American filmer that lives in Berlin)?
Yeah, haha. I basically went out there on holiday with Pauline (my girlfriend) to surf, enjoy the wildlife/nature and stayed a bit longer after she left so I could skate with Francisco Saco who was filming a video with all the San Jose locals. Then from there I flew to Nicaragua to meet Jake Harris, Henry Kingsford, Mike Arnold and Sylvain Tognelli for a Converse/Grey mission.
How was that part of the trip?
Pretty interesting in the sense that we kind of freestyled it. I found out a week before meeting them that I was actually going on the trip and hopped on a 45 minute flight to meet them. It was one of those tiny planes with like ten seats in them. When I got there we didn’t have a van so we’d go around from city to city looking for spots in cabs (four in the back, one in the front). Sometimes we’d meet locals that would help us out; sometimes we’d just wander around hoping to come across something skate-able. Managua (the capital) had quite a lot of spots and a proper scene but some of the cities we hit literally had nothing. What we enjoyed the most was of course skating spots we knew hadn’t been touched before though. We found quite a few…
Were you stoked on the result?
Yeah Jacob’s video was amazing, especially for us, given it was full of incidental stuff that brought back loads of great non-skate related memories from the trip.
You’ve either been on a trip or skating your ass off in Paris for a while now. For how long exactly have you been just skating?
Five years now, basically since I quit university.
Do you not find it hard to stay motivated? Do you not get skateboarding overdose?
I was actually just talking to Val Bauer about that yesterday. I reckon it would maybe be good for me to get a part-time job. If you skate every day you just aren’t as hyped to skate as you should be. Plus more time in between sessions means more time to properly think about what you’d like to try, where you’d like to go…
Surely you don’t have to skate everyday though. As mentioned earlier you have other interests, couldn’t you focus on those instead of skating for a few days a week?
In theory yes, but that’s not how it works, skateboarding always wins. It’s impossible to resist. If you have a job at least you don’t have a choice, you’re forced to chill on the days you don’t work…
Would you do a job that would be linked to something you could then pursue after your skate ‘career’? Do you think about life after ‘pro skating’ much?
I don’t know… Not really. I mean I know this isn’t going to last forever… Unless maybe if I get into the Olympics, haha.
If you got offered to be in the Olympics would you do it?
Probably not, unless the format was something fun like a death race or some kind of hill bomb challenge, but it’s probably going to be a Street League type thing right?
I think we don’t know what it’s going to be like yet…
Either way I don’t like the fact that it’s going to be exposed to such a wide audience. I’d like to see what we do kept at least a little bit underground. Although if it was just mega-ramp skating in the Olympics I wouldn’t actually care. I wouldn’t feel concerned by it.
Isn’t trying to keep it ‘underground’ a bit of a selfish thing to want? Don’t you want other kids to discover skateboarding and enjoy everything it has to offer just like you did?
Yeah but there’s already a million kids that skate, I don’t want it to become the number one sport like it might be in America or something. I just don’t. Plus I don’t like the idea of the general public watching it and not understanding what it’s actually about, what it is for you and me. Just the fact that it’s a competition means it’s not an accurate representation of skateboarding. I don’t think it’s going to change skateboarding or affect me that much really but that’s how I feel about it.