Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg Interview
‘I just did the interview and I don’t know man… I’m not really hyped on it. I don’t know what it is… I think I just don’t like talking about myself.’
It’s two days after the text submission deadline for this issue. Oski’s supposed to have the big interview this month, with possibly some of the best shots we’ll ever print. He doesn’t know this but we’ve chosen one of them for the cover. As it stands we haven’t seen a single word of the text that’s supposed to accompany it. On the phone he sounded worried. I am worried. This is shit.
Being good at skating is one thing, being comfortable with how you come across in interviews is a whole other. Think of the thousands of skaters who from these few pages will be forming an opinion about your personality? If I were in Oski’s position, I’d be stressing about it too. Especially if I’d worked as hard as he did on this. Does that mean that he takes himself too seriously? Of course not. It takes about eight seconds to figure that out when you meet him. He’s as down to earth as they get. All it means is that he actually cares about what we do and not coming across like an asshole. I bet Nyjah and Corey Duffel would have been better off taking a leaf out of his book.
So where does that leave us? Well somehow we’ve ended up with not one but two very different interviews. The first was conducted by his former teacher at the Bryggeriet Skate School in Malmö: Gustav Eden. The second by one of his closest friends and Polar teammate: David Stenström. Easy to see how the two of these might complement each other.
– Arthur Derrien
(Editor’s note: This interview was conducted in April 2017 and originally ran in our May/June 2017 print issue. This info will provide context to a lot of the questions and answers.)
First interview by Gustav Eden
We are sitting in a café in Malmö on a cold April Tuesday, the weekend after Vert Attack XI. John Magnusson, skate godfather of Malmö and filmer/hypist Tor ‘Tao’ Ström have joined Oski to get this interview logged and ready.
Gustav Eden: You’ve been on a few trips with P-Stone lately…
Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg: Yeah I was travelling with him because we were filming for my Thrasher part that came out. You get into a lot of interesting situations when you’re travelling with P-stone. Sometimes it might be tricky to get out of them but we always do. He knows how to have a good time like no one else and he is the best traveller I know. He takes good care of his friends.
John Magnusson: So that part – that was sick, obviously, but how much time did you actually spend on that? How many trips?
Well maybe eight during a year and a half. Well most of it was during one year and then I spent all of last July in the US with Nando, Jakko, Grant and Cory as well as P-stone, Pat, Joe and BHD.
GE: How is that crew to hang out with?
You get stoked to skate, because that’s all they do. They don’t give a shit about anything else and just shred. They skate a lot.
JM: Well that’s different from some people. Some people wait for their spot – Personally I like when they skate everything and don’t hold back. And sometimes you see people in videos that you don’t quite get and then you see them in real life and realise what the hype is about.
Yes well like you told me once – you can’t have a favourite skater unless you’ve seen them in real life.
JM: No you can’t – It’s a different thing.
Well both Cory and Grant are better live. They just skate everything and give it all the time.
Tao: What about Patlanta?
Yes do you know him – Pat McLain? He is one of the guys behind the Atlanta DIY spot – the one they are tearing down.
GE: Did you take part in any of the building?
Yep just a little though – maybe for a day or two.
JM: Ask Grant’s dad to come to Vert Attack – he’s a vert skater. He can be in the father and son division.
Well he’s got a foot injury, but when we were out there he came down and slashed around. He was really stoked.
JM: How is the park at their house?
It’s good – we skated that.
GE: Any good stories?
Some good P-stone stories…
GE: By all means share.
Tao: How about the glass bottle story?
One morning in Atlanta we were skating down the street from Grant’s house and I see P-stone and Pat share a board in the sense where Pat would be running for a bit while P-stone was skating and vice versa… When P-stone was running I noticed he had a glass bottle in his back pocket. When it was P-stone’s turn to skate Pat sent the board in his direction and when P-stone landed on the board he lost balance, shot out and fell backwards. He broke the bottle and got cut pretty bad. His pants started getting bloody so we went over to Pat’s house to try and dress the cut in his living room. That did not work out too good so we got in Pat’s car and drove to a friend’s house. The friend that we originally were heading to before P-stone got cut. Out on our friend’s terrace Pat stepped up and cleaned the cut with some Jäger before he tried to sew it up with a bent fishing hook and a wire. That was the best material we had. Pat is not a doctor so he was not used to doing emergency surgeries like that and I could definitely tell by the expression on his face. P-stone calmed him down by assuring Pat that he was in no pain. This went on for what seemed like a long hour and Pat was getting more and more stressed as the fish-hook was getting stuck in the cut. Luckily the house owner’s neighbour who was a nurse came over to smoke some weed at the terrace. After she smoked her joint she handled the situation with some proper equipment. P-stone’s cut got fixed and he was very thankful to the lady. I would have been too. We could go on with our day thanks to the friendly Georgian lady. This was the day before Thanksgiving and since we had planned a secret mission for early Thanksgiving morning some of us went to bed early.
We were done with the mission as well as an extra mission by lunchtime on Thanksgiving Day. Then we went to Pat’s family house and had Thanksgiving dinner all day. Thanks Pat!
JM: So you’ve been travelling a lot then – is it really all it’s made out to be?
(Laughs) It’s the best. Just skating all the time. You camp, skate different spots and see different environments. You might find yourself on a boat, in a van, setting up a tent on top of a hill, sleeping by the fire, swimming in the Columbian river before you get kicked out by the sheriff, meeting 100 new friends, meet up with P-Stone’s friends, crash at theirs, sleep in a hotel, new day, new city, forests, mountains, BBQs… It’s so much fun but you got to keep it tight!
JM: How much drugs are in that scene?
There’s a lot of drinking and smoking, which is fine with me. There’s definitely more than that but it’s pretty rare I would say – at least in the scene that I’m around. I don’t mind it that much, but I like the skating part of it more. I know that when I get back home I won’t be able to skate all these different places and the weather will probably be worse too. But it’s not like I’m gonna try and hold anyone else back from what they want to do, I’m just gonna be sleeping instead.
JM: I had another question about your part. You have several people travelling across the world with you, hotels paid for, expenses paid, etc. When you think about it, it’s a crazy amount of money to pay for something that I feel like just drifts by in the feed over three days.
Well, for me it’s worth it.
GE: You’ve been travelling and filming with Tao quite a bit – is it good to have a good friend along for the ride?
Yeah for sure we just came back from a three and a half week trip in the States together – it’s nice to have someone you know that well when you are that far away. I’ve been on a lot of trips with Nando too. We know each other really well, obviously, so that’s been good.
(We watch Oski’s new part filmed by Tao. At one point Oski tries to ollie a set of stairs on a ship.)
GE: Where is that?!
In Sicily, we skated this boat. The captain wanted us to skate it, so we asked ‘where?’ and he pointed at the stairs and said ‘there’, so we had to give it a whirl.
Tao: We were having dinner in Sicily and someone at the table behind us asked us where we were from, and when he found out we were all from different countries, he was stoked. In the end he invited us to dinner and to perhaps try skating the boat the next day. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we arrived they served grilled rabbit, freshly brewed beer and let us skate the boat. It’s 104 metres long and 150 people work on it, saving refugees from Syria.
(We see the last trick, which is… Watch the clip, fools!)
GE: Was that cop giving you a ticket?
Yeah he was going to. Right after I landed the trick I told him I didn’t have any ID on me so he asked for my address. I told him my Swedish address. That he did not like. And then he found out we were all from Europe.
Tao: He said ‘I’m gonna get Trump to deport your ass!’
GE: So the Polar video came out and was really well received. Have you had good feedback from that?
JM: Have you had any major offers from random sponsors?
No not really. The only ‘major offer’ I can think of is when Universal Studios were in touch about doing some music video with ‘Sweden’s biggest rock-band’. I checked out a song they did on YouTube and was like ‘Nope!’. I get a lot of those kinds of things. There are a lot of people on Instagram that want me to do stuff for them.
JM: With these kinds of decisions, do you ever ask anyone for advice or to check to see if it’s OK?
I make those decisions myself. If I don’t feel like it I don’t do it. I just want to do the kind of thing that Tao and I have been working on now.
JM: Well that’s all fine now that you have an income but I suppose that may change. What width board do you skate?
GE: Shoe size?
US 7 or 7.5.
Tao: The outfit is more important than the setup.
That’s true. The clothes are more important for the skating than the board. It’s all in my head, but if I feel like my shirt is too tight, or something doesn’t feel right, that’s way worse. I would try and skate most setups, like that kickflip in SF. That was on Nando’s board. If you have a bad board but a good outfit at least you can be like: ‘I’m over it; I’m gonna go do something else.’
GE: So with the Vans Park Series, you have been put under the public spotlight quite a bit. Being one of the fifteen selected riders and a Malmö local, you have been part of the story for the event and set up to be the ‘hometown hero’. How do you feel about that kind of attention?
JM: Be honest – you don’t like it. World Championship final, headlines in the press, people with O.S.K.I. signs in the audience… That’s pressure, that’s not necessarily fun.
True. I don’t like it because I just want to skate. It’s fun with comps if you get to go to places, but when I’m here I am just at home and everyone is expecting me to perform. I feel like I don’t skate because I want to, but because other people expect it. It can be a bit too much.
GE: Do your sponsors expect you to do well?
Well of course they would like me to. They wouldn’t pressure me, but they care about it.
GE: At the same time, there are a lot more aspects to a skater than his or her contest results. What do you feel matters more?
Well, it’s about being unique, really.
Tao: Well that’s the difference with travelling with P-Stone and people like that…
Yeah or with Polar, it’s less pressure and more about the fun. With the big contests, I go for the purpose of travelling somewhere new, skating, seeing friends and having fun, but you realise pretty quickly that not everyone thinks like that. Some people go to wear their cap and win. But then that affects the session. Those guys drop in before and after I do, so it affects the whole vibe and atmosphere in the bowl.
GE: Well isn’t that what differentiates the people on the good type of trips from some of the other characters in skateboarding?
If you’re skating for money then that shines through straight away. People choose to skate with the people they like. There are a lot of factors that weigh in, but in the end the skaters you like are the ones that seem like cool people.
GE: Well you’re kind of in the middle of forces within skating pulling in different directions. On the one hand, you ride for Nike and are part of the Park Series’ select riders. On the other hand, you are in the mix with some pretty select credible crew. Do you feel that there is a conflict there at all?
No I don’t feel there is a conflict. Travelling, skating and having fun with people that want to travel, skate and have fun is the point. Travelling to go to comps is an experience and that makes it fun. I’ve never met anyone who had anything negative to say about me being in the Park Series. The first comps I ever went to were the Betongcupen ones, which were kind of the same idea as the Park Series – a tour of different stops and comps. Those are probably still my favourite comps. Cram everyone into a van, skate a bunch of parks on the way to the comp, sleep in some gym hall, skate the comp, meet all your friends from other cities and do the same on the way back. It’s more like a tour. You don’t really care about the comp – you just want to skate and that’s what everyone is there to do.
GE: It seems you’ve still got the hunger to skate.
I want to skate right now.
GE: Well we should wind this up soon, then. Are you staying in Malmö for a while?
We’re actually moving to Copenhagen for the summer in a few weeks.
Tao: We have a flat over summer there.
GE: How is the Copenhagen scene different from the Malmö scene?
In Malmö, there are more organised skateboarding activities, like what you and Bryggeriet do. In Copenhagen it’s more the skaters like Hjalte and those guys that push the day-to-day. And there are more spots in Copenhagen. There are good spots in Malmö too, but Copenhagen is a bigger city.
GE: So what do you do besides skating?
Tao: He reads a lot.
I’m reading a book right now called ‘Sapiens’. It’s about the evolution of mankind. It’s good.
JM: OK I’m interested in hearing about what it’s like to be on Nike in the way that you are. They are obviously investing in you. Do they just let you go where you want to go, pretty much?
Well, it’s been like that lately when filming for this new part. They really look after me. I’ve been able to tell them I want to go somewhere and they’ve made it happen. Then it’s also been trips where they tell me, ‘Hey – next week this crew is going here, you’re going’, which has been cool as well, because you get thrown into a new mix.
GE: And now you have a shoe coming out?
A colourway, yes. It’s a Dunk Elite. I designed it. I wanted a clean shoe with a classic look.
GE: Do you have interests besides skating? Do you make sure to check things out when you travel?
Well, you kind of do other things while skating. Like in New York, there’s nothing better than skating around, looking at the people, seeing the city, then hit a spot, meet new people, then someone gets pissed off at you for skating and you talk to that person, then you go somewhere else, jump a fence… It’s an adventure in itself.
When we were at the Brooklyn Banks, we saw Gonz there who was out skating on a longboard. It was really cool to see him because he was just skating; he didn’t have skate shoes or anything. He tried the same trick for hours, slamming really hard, but just going for it. It was really inspiring to see his approach. Then the cops arrived and we all had to get out of there.
GE: So, final words… What’s so good about this whole skating business?
Well it’s the freedom. It’s the part you can’t explain. Looking out the window in the morning, seeing it’s a nice day, going out skating, meeting up with friends, maybe do a trick you thought about two weeks ago or learn something you never thought of. Improvise.
Second Interview by David Stenström
David Stenström: How do you feel about living in Malmö?
Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg: I like living in Malmö; I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s a bit small. The summers are good but the winters are a bit heavy on people.
What are you doing if you’re not skating?
I sleep a lot. This week I slept 12-13 hours every night since I just came back from a three-week trip. I also look at a lot of clothes in different stores.
What’s your favourite piece of clothing to put on?
This pair of corduroy pants I bought in a second-hand store in NYC two weeks ago.
How did it feel to be on Polar when it started and what’s the difference now?
When I first got on I was 13 and you were 15. I remember that I wanted to do more of it, like skate more with you, Hjalte, Jakke, Pontus, Nils and the crew more often. Now we’re doing more of it but I still feel like we’re not doing as much as I would like. It’s coming though.
Who is your favourite skater to watch live?
I like watching my friends skate like you, Hjalte or Grant. Emile from Portland is one of my favourites, also Gonz… I would like to see Brent Atchley skate. He’s got one of my favourite styles.
If you could choose a new name what would it be?
What’s the most boring trick you can think of?
3-shuv. Sorry Ralph.
Has Pontus given you any good tips throughout the years?
He tipped me about skating for Polar.
What do you think about the Scandinavian skate scene?
It’s a local scene. A lot of people know or know of each other. That’s probably the main difference from the scene in the States. Over there there’s way more skaters and I like that because I like meeting new people.
I like being able to just go to my local park in Stockholm and three of my friends will be there without having to arrange anything in advance.
What’s your favourite album or song?
(Oski takes out his phone and puts on a banging Reggae song on Spotify.)
‘Fire house rock’ is the name of the album. ‘Oh what a feeling’ with ‘Wailing Souls’ is the name of this song.
If you could do any trick once what would it be?
Switch heelflip over the Mega Ramp without any grab and a very slow flip.
If you had to say something about yourself what would it be?
That I should try harder.
Who has the best frontside air in the game?
Raven & GT have epic ones but my personal favourite is the one J-Mag does.
What inspires you?
People who don’t worry too much about how they come across.
How long have we known each other and how much fun have we had together?
Since I was ten, so ten years. Endless fun. The kind of things you will be thinking about when you’re old lying in bed.
How long have you been growing your hair now?
For two years.
What’s your favourite pair of shoes?
Jordan 1 to skate and flex.
What’s your favourite candy?
This chocolate I’m eating right now ‘Tony’s Chocolonely’. The orange one.
Would you be down to skate for Skittles?
I would rather skate for M&M’s.
If you could do something you can’t do what would it be?
Live in a dream and paint paintings all day.
Are you seeing a girl at the moment?
There are a few I hang out with sometimes but no one special. I would rather skate and travel.
What’s the best place to skate at?
Either Stapelbäddsparken where I’ve always skated or somewhere new I’ve never skated before. Recently on a Polar trip in Puerto Rico I skated a park that was designed by the same guy who designed my local park: Stefan Hauser. That park was epic.
How do you feel about Tor Ström?
He has no soul, but apart from that he is a legend. Our last trip to SF and NYC was his first time in the States, so he was embracing it 100% by all means. I thought I was going to be over hanging out with someone 24 hours a day for that long of a period, but we had so much fun and I’m stoked to be able to do it again next week when we move to Copenhagen together.
Last question: Would you rather make out with Paul Grund or kiss Neckface on the forehead?
I would have to choose Paul. I know him really well and at least he is French. He would be stoked about it. He would be like: ‘No maybe a little bit more like dis you know? Like dis wit de lips.’