Jérémie Daclin interview

When Jérémie Daclin was 20, a TV crew from France 3 came to film him and his friends at Hôtel de Ville in Lyon, where he grew up skating. When they were done jumping over each other’s boards for the cameras, one by one they were asked if skateboarding was something they could picture themselves still doing later on in their lives. Unanimously the answer was ‘no’, that it was a ‘kids thing’ and that they’d grow out of it. Twenty-five years later Jérémie is the guy crossing the Atlantic to skate supermarket car parks at eight in the morning with skaters he met over Instagram. Along the way he grinded some seriously fucked up hubbas and started Cliché, kicking the door open for all the European board companies we have today. His passion for skateboarding has done nothing but grow and his contribution to our culture is immeasurable. And when you look at some of the decisions he’s had to take, some of the obstacles he’s faced, both as a ‘pro’ and with his brand, nobody could have blamed him for getting sick of it. Yet here he is sat in front of me banging on about how he wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Not quite what you expected huh Jérémie?

Interview by Arthur Derrien

Can you start off by telling us a little bit about picking up skating in Lyon? Around what year was that?
Jérémie Daclin: Where do I even begin, ha ha! It was around 1988. Like for a lot of people it started off with me just doing it with a few friends and loving it because it went hand in hand with discovering the city, getting away from your parents’ house and the feeling of freedom that goes with all that. I’d also add that one of the main differences with skating back then, way before the Internet, was you didn’t really get to see many videos. You’d be able to get magazines but still that’s a static image, it’s not enough to understand whole tricks. Getting out there and meeting other skateboarders was pretty much the only way to properly see new tricks, which is why contests weren’t seen as wack like they are now. They’d be where you’d actually get to see new skating and meet people. So yeah at first it was a lot of comps… That’s how I met loads of the Parisians and started becoming friends with people from other cities, then going to visit them and stuff.
Lyon had a pretty strong scene because of La Piste, which was at the time one of the best skateparks in Europe. There was a bunch of dudes my age that were ripping and then there was JB (Gillet) and his crew coming up… And Fred (Mortagne) was there documenting all that with his first videos.

How did you first get sponsored?
A shop called Le Surplus d’Ainay (which later became ABS) started hooking some of us up. That lasted until one guy took a super expensive complete and we all got kicked off because the owner realised he couldn’t afford it, ha ha.

Then what? I seem to remember the first few experiences you had with American brands sponsoring you not being the best…
Yeah then came V7, the first skate distributor in France. They started importing stuff like Tracker Trucks and Blockhead (boards). Through them I started getting sent stuff from those brands direct from the States as well as being put on the mailing list to receive Transworlds… So that was great.

It’s when you actually went out there that it gets interesting though! Tell us about the time you got forgotten at the airport.
I got flown out to LA to link up with the Blockhead guys and skate a comp, but when I landed in LAX nobody was there to pick me up and my only point of contact, Pierre Andre Senizerg, I just couldn’t get through to. This was obviously long before mobile phones and stuff so all I could do was just wait there.

How long were you left there on your own?
Someone came to get me the following day. I remember trying my hardest to skate just so that I wouldn’t fall asleep but ended up giving in every now and then. I remember the airport people constantly making announcements saying ‘please do not skateboard…’.

And then when you finally got picked up what happened? Didn’t they take you straight to a contest you hadn’t been signed up for or something so you couldn’t even skate in it?
Yeah basically, ha ha.

Frontside air at the Cliché ramp, Lyon, 2005. Ph. Seb Michelini

I’m guessing that didn’t go on for much longer after that?
No it wasn’t really working out, ha ha. But I got on New Deal and that’s when there was the whole thing with the 1281 video.

What was that?
They basically sent someone over out of the blue (Gorm Boberg, who kind of filmed for them) and I got half a day to film my part for their video.

That’s just how it was back then though. I wasn’t even fazed by that sort of thing because in Europe we were so detached to what was actually going on that I didn’t even question it. I had a day to film a part, no way of seeing the footage, and that was that.

At least it was maybe a more honest way of representing how people actually skate, rather than these days when people spend a week trying one line with tricks they’ll never be able to do again.
I guess, but not being able to really see or know what you had for a video was tough.

Was it the same for everyone though? Like was your footage alongside the footage of people that had more time to film?
No it was just us Europeans, it’s like we were always just an afterthought. The same thing happened with a Tracker Trucks video I was in: the Euro TM dude showed up one day, I had a few hours to film then that was it.
I guess shooting photos was the same for everyone but that was even worse! You had no way of knowing if the photographer had actually got the shot or not. You just had to wait and hope.
It was a completely different time for skating in so many ways. It felt like you couldn’t really have a future in skateboarding. In 92/93 the industry was tiny, there weren’t that many proper brands run by skaters, being ‘pro’ didn’t really mean anything. Like I got a board on Deathbox, but I never got paid or anything like that. At most I got given like ten of them or something… Which is why the whole time I had a job on the side; I never thought of skateboarding as a way to earn money or as a career.

Slappy backside nosebluntslide at Venice Lyon, 2018. Ph. Nikwen

What were you doing on the side?
I was working with an artist that made these big glass sculptures for a bit. Then I opened a skate shop in Lyon called All Access, which was a great introduction to the business side of things in skateboarding. It really made me understand skate shops’ needs better, margins, working with distributors… That sort of thing.

Which in turn helped you realise that starting your own brand could actually work…
Yeah. There was that and there was also the fact that Brooklyn Boards (whose distributor was based in Lyon with Zoo York’s and who I was friends’ with) put a board out with my name on it and it sold really well.

What like a guest board? ‘Cause you weren’t skating for them were you?
No I wasn’t skating for them. And yeah sort of like that but this was before ‘guest boards’. Gonz did the graphic. It was to see what would happen if you put a European name on a board, see if it would sell… And it really did so I knew there was potential.
Also you need to remember that things weren’t how they are now. This was a time when skateboarding was already global in the sense that people were skating everywhere but almost only skateboarders from California were benefiting from it. You couldn’t really make it without being there, which is why Flip felt like they had to move out there when they did… In Europe the only skateboarding we’d have access to, the only skateboarding we’d ‘consume’, was American. I wanted skateboarders to make it without having to go out there. I wanted us to have our own industry.

Which we now have, in part thanks to you and Cliché opening that door…
You mentioned the Gonz doing the graphic for the Brooklyn Boards model that sort of set the wheels in motion. He spent a year in Lyon right? That’s why he has a bunch of footage there in that Real part, like that long curved 50-50 on the mini hubba… What was it like having him around?
Yeah I filmed that one!

No way?!
Yeah that’s what was so crazy about that whole period, there wasn’t really anyone filming most of the time when we’d go skating and he’d always do insane stuff. Obviously occasionally there was, like for that famous 50-50 wallie 50-50, Fred was there, but he did so much crazy shit that was never caught on film.

Any examples?
You know that transition to wall spot that used to be right by the station in Marseille? The famous one where Natas (Kaupas) had a photo doing a frontside wallride on it and later Bob Burnquist did a rock fakie in Menikmati? Well Gonz did a frontside rock on that with no filmer and the photographer who was there shooting fucked up the photo so nobody ever saw it!

What?! That’s so gnarly!
That sort of thing happened so much with the Gonz; his skating was so instinctive that without warning he’d just do incredible stuff. Like if we’re cruising and he sees a bench he’d casually just no-comply lipslide it or something mad like that.
I’ve definitely got a lot of good memories from that whole period; he was in the shop almost every day…

Backside tailslide, Warsaw, 2001. Ph. Mike O’Meally

Sick. Coming back to what we were discussing earlier, from what you learnt from opening the shop and the little ‘test’ you did with the Brooklyn Board thing, you decided to launch Cliché on your own… Can you tell us a little bit about that? I still find it crazy that when it started off it was just you basically doing everything.
Yeah I don’t know what to say about it really… It was just lots of calling up shops and packing boxes whilst still trying to skate as much as possible.

But you were also doing everything from the team to the graphics to all the admin shit that comes with setting up a company… It’s nuts.
There were also so many weird little things that today we have a hard time imagining, like after shooting a photo having to run around the city to get the film scanned for example…

What’s also interesting is that this being the ambitious project that it was, especially for the time, you’d be expected to want it to be the only European brand. Except rather than trying to crush the competition, you put some money towards helping start Antiz, gave them all your production contacts, etc. Can you explain the thought process behind this?
I was convinced that the more proper Europeans brands there were, the better. It would help give European skateboarding credibility, help us slowly start having our own industry, that kind of thing. And I was friends with Hugo (Liard) so why not? I told him everything I knew, shared my contacts… In fact you know the OG Antiz logo with the upside down A? Hugo drew the A but the font used for the other letters was a Futura Extra Bold, which was the same we used for Cliché at the time. Eric (Frenay, the Cliché art director) made that logo…

I had no idea! Can you explain how you put together the original Cliché team and how it ended up being quite different from the one that appeared in Europa?
The reason why the OG team was so different to the one that appeared in our first video is that people in Europe weren’t really used to filming proper parts back then. You need to remember that this was before Puzzle (video magazine) and stuff… So you’d sponsor people because they were incredible skateboarders, like say Manuel Palacios, but that didn’t mean they were necessarily capable of filming parts. That’s a whole other thing than just being good, you need to think about stuff in a very different way and really push yourself. That’s why working on videos is a good way of updating your team, it allows you to know who’s actually going for it and who’s not. Seb Daurel is another great example of this… I’ve seen Bob Burnquist watch him skate and be in awe because he was doing fucked up shit, but he’s just incompatible with the process of filming a proper section. Which is a shame ‘cause we’ll never have seen him skate to his full potential…
Also when I started Cliché sure we had three pros (Roland Gueissaz, Seb Daurel and Jérémie) but I was giving product to like 20 people or something so it wasn’t like a properly defined team. Even Flo Marfaing was sort of part of it then… With the video we set strict, high standards and it’s what helped properly define the team.

How did Ben Derenne end up making that video?
Ben Derenne was the guy behind Puzzle and they wanted to do a part with me, only since I was busy with the brand I thought it might be hard for me to make time for it. So I convinced him to start working on a Cliché video so that he’d focus on the others and I wouldn’t be under pressure to film, ha ha.

That video obviously had a huge impact on European skating but how much did it actually change for you guys as a brand? Did sales go up a lot? Could you actually start paying yourself and the team after that?
Sales went up yes but it didn’t really change anything for us. It was exactly like what Steve Rocco always explains about launching World Industries: we’d put 10,000 in and make say 15,000 back but there was always such a high demand that we kept having to reinvest everything to match it. So you pay to produce, then shops pay after 30 days, then you need to reinvest more because they want more… So quickly we were working in big quantities but we’d still never have money!
But I knew what we were doing had potential. The fact that we were skating all the same spots as in Menikmati (because of Fred being in Lyon) also meant that people were really paying attention to what we were doing… But it got to the point when I was sick of not paying my mates that were filming, riding or doing anything for the brand so that’s when the Salomon thing came about.

What happened with Salomon?
They were basically just an investor but from the day they came into the picture I was able to pay riders properly and do all the shit I’d been wanting to do since the beginning. We still had complete control over every aspect of the brand but it made it a lot easier for us to keep growing, keep making videos…

They are also how Link Footwear came into the picture right?
Yeah. Basically Salomon really wanted to make skate shoes. This was in the 2000s when there was a massive boom in the skate market… I was running Cliché at the time and to a slightly lesser degree Link (Al Boglio was more in charge of that one). Anyway so they wanted to make skate shoes, the problem was that they wanted to go at it with a Salomon style, ultra tech, product development strategy. In retrospect I think the approach should have been a bit more ‘skate’.

I remember thinking it was weird how there was almost a year of hype /marketing around it, with a really sick team (JB, Lucas, Marcus McBride, Cale Nuske, Alex Moul, etc.), ads in US mags, etc. before anyone had even seen any shoes in real life.
Yeah, and then finally when the shoes arrived they decided to shut the whole thing down! What’s crazy as well is that at the time Salomon belonged to adidas and we were initially like ‘just give us adidas moulds and we’ll work from there’, to keep it simple. But they had something else in mind. They wanted these shoes to be waterproof, bulletproof; you name it, ha ha.

50-50 grind, Paris, 2000. Ph. Benjamin Deberdt

Was getting French Fred on board for Bon Appétit a difficult one?
Not at all… He’d done his thing in America and was in exactly the same state of mind as us. We wanted to show the world that we could do it just as well as them, but at home and with our methods, our approach.

Can you explain what the initial concept for that video was and how it changed along the way?
The idea was to base it around the feelings you get from being in these different parts of the world we visited to skate. It was only supposed to have sections like the Asia one or the Maghreb one and not have any proper parts. Only the ‘rules’ that define traditional skateboard videos caught up with us (which is ironic for a sport that’s not supposed to have rules) and we ended up compromising and having a mix of both. It’s just too hard to do when everyone’s waiting for that part from Lucas Puig or whoever.
It was before everything was on the Internet so we’d actually be discovering stuff for the first time on all these trips. Like no other skate team had been to Greece before us… Now if you just Googled: ‘skateboarding Greece’, a million photos would come up in a second and you’d get a good idea of what was there.

I remember going to the premiere in Lyon and suddenly realising how big the brand had become. Did it feel like a turning point?
Yeah I mean it also came at a time when everyone in skating really started paying attention to what was going on out here, which helped a lot. All these Americans started coming or even moving to Barcelona… It almost felt like more of a turning point for European skating as a whole.

If my memory is correct the following video, Freedom Fries, came out just over a year after right? Which was an insanely short amount of time, especially back then. Why so soon? Did any of the dudes on the team struggle with it?
Everyone was still in filming mode from Bon Appétit so we just kept the momentum going. It just felt easier back then: we’d go to a country where there was a distributor we got along with, film some tricks, come home, film some more, find another place… And they all had fresh legs back then, ha ha.

I was hoping your answer would lead me into this question a bit better but here we go: after that the team changed quite a bit… Can you tell me about letting Vincent Bressol, Thibaud Fradin and Jan Kliewer go? How did it happen?
How did it happen? It happened because a decision had to be taken and I took it.
Skateboarding’s a weird one because it’s not completely a sport, it’s not completely an art but it’s a lot of you. It’s probably the only ‘sport’ that you do dressed the same as when you’re not doing it, which when you think about it nicely illustrates how blurred the lines are. What you are in life feels very intimately linked to what you are in skating. So if someone tells you ‘you aren’t as good as you used to be’ it quickly becomes super personal, you start to think that it’s because you’re not as cool of a guy anymore. So basically in some cases it was really tough, but with time everyone managed to be adults about it. Vincent Bressol even comes to hang out at mine in the summers!

And from a brand perspective do you think it was the right thing to do? I can’t help but feel like it’s the older guys that have already put out a bunch of parts with a company that hold a brand’s image together. Not the new guy that’s just been put on… Like how Girl and Chocolate keep their Gino’s or their…
Well not Gino (Iannucci) ha ha, he’s gone.

Oh yeah ha ha! Well you know what I mean. Let’s say Chico (Brenes) then. Basically don’t you think people would rather wait five years and see a video with all the guys they’ve grown to love and associate with Cliché, rather than have ones coming out all the time with new dudes?
The difference is that in Europe not everyone’s as iconic as a Gino or a Chico or a JB. That’s sadly just how it is… Someone like JB can afford to only put out a part every five years; his image isn’t going anywhere. If your older guys aren’t selling boards and your flow dudes are really pushing themselves and coming through with incredible footage you sometimes just have to make some tough decisions.

What about Pontus?
What’s funny with Pontus leaving is that one of the things he criticised us for is putting him under too much pressure to film and stuff, and when I spoke to Kevin (Rodrigues) recently he was saying one of the main reasons he left Polar was that he was under similar pressures from Pontus…

I always thought it was cool that you guys gave him what would have been his Bon Appétit footage for his own vid (Strongest of the Strange).
Yeah I mean it comes back to what I was saying earlier about helping out Antiz… We were stoked he was doing that and I think what he’s doing now with Polar is great. The more good videos are getting made, the more magazines exist, the more proper companies with ads and paid photographers, etc. the better. It’s a whole eco-system and every little part is important to make European skating, as a whole, stronger.
The only problem is that people have to play the game fairly. It’s so easy to make boards in small quantities now that anyone can start a board company, which I encourage. But we need companies that pay their pros, pay their filmers, take out ads in magazines AND SELL IN SKATE SHOPS. Because if they don’t it drags the whole industry down.
Which is kind of why with Film (Jérémie’s new truck company), I’ve been going around to all the shops, speaking to them face to face just like I used to when I first started Cliché. Making sure I have a real human connection with them, not just sending spread sheets. Shops are such an important part of the puzzle yet so many of the big brands take them for granted… We’ve all been that kid that goes into the shop just to talk to the people in there, stare at the board wall and dream about the stickers.

Coming back to Cliché, what happened when you guys made the deal with Dwindle?
One thing is that we were no longer in contact with the product in the same way; almost all the stock was in the States while we were in Lyon handling the creative side of things.

Was it like with Salomon where you guys felt completely free to do exactly what you wanted or were you suddenly under pressure to do certain things?
For one it meant that we had to put more Americans on. That’s when (Daniel) Espinoza came into the picture… We were kind of hesitating between Evan Smith and Espinoza at the time. Evan was super keen and I was leaning towards him because he was also incredible at tranny and stuff but in the end we picked Daniel because Lakai were pushing him hard, which was a big plus then.
The other difference is that we had to start putting out way more products to fit their drop calendars. Like ‘we need this amount of pro model graphics for this date, this amount for this date’, so we had to slightly change the way we worked. Before we had the stock with us so we’d spend ages working on a series, put it out, work on another, and when we’d run out of stock, then put that one out and so on.

Boardslide at Bercy, Paris, 2000. Ph. Benjamin Deberdt

Which means that you had more time to come up with cool ideas and ways to push/market them…
Yeah. But it did help a lot in the sense that we weren’t spending as much time packing boxes… And it gave us the freedom to do region specific boards. Like say red boards smash it in this country we can just get a bunch made and sent just to there, that sort of thing.
What also needs to be mentioned is that in recent years the amount of tasks you have to do for one product have multiplied. If you put out a series now it has to be some kind of collab, you need a launch party, you need a clip, and you need a million posts ready to push it on Instagram and Facebook… It’s endless. Before you had your boards in a catalogue and that was it.
I think that’s one of the things the Crailtap brands really struggled with at first. Everyone used to do everything they could to get their catalogues because they were incredibly well made, with tons of great work from various artists and all that. Each one was a work of art! But they really had a hard time with getting that magic across and onto different platforms. It’s this transition into a new way of doings things that really hurt them I think.

I feel like you guys really did well with that transition, but did other creative areas possibly suffer from it slightly? I remember seeing Rasta logo boards and thinking that wasn’t very Cliché…
We’d always have to do stuff like that though, that’s just how it is…

You need to sell boards to be able to do cool shit…
Exactly. One thing that definitely changed in terms of graphics is that we suddenly had access to legendary artists like Mark McKee, which is great, but a lot of people, like Flo (Mirtain) weren’t really feeling it; they thought the boards looked too cartoony.
And let’s face it: it’s also really hard for old brands to constantly have to reinvent themselves…

And you guys lost French Fred at a time when it was all quite tricky…
No but I’m not even talking about that. I’m mean more generally. Twenty years, that’s a generation; if it was cool for the dad and he wears Cliché shirts it’s going to be hard for it to remain relevant and cool enough for the son to want to wear them. That’s why Mike Carroll talks about the 20-year curse for skate companies, that’s when Gino left Chocolate. And with this constant flow of skateboard content, new brands, etc., the life span of big brands is only going to get shorter. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have strong magazines and media outlets that filter through all this and reinstate the relevance of the brands that are playing the game properly. It’s the danger with sites like HellaClips that puts a video some random dude filmed in his backyard on the same level as videos brands put lots of thought, money and energy into creating. Kids are completely lost!

For sure. And it’s kind of the role of brands and magazines to ‘protect’ our culture, make sure that a kid that has a million followers on Instagram but never filmed a proper part doesn’t get turned pro or get covers, etc.
Yep. We love saying there’s no rules in skating but there are and that’s part of what makes it special.
What’s scary about all this is that because of the way things are changing you’ll find some shops pre-ordering shitloads of boards with some cat on them from a company that has a non-existent team but then will look the other way when it comes to the Girl/Chocolates. Even though these are the brands with artwork from people like Evan Hecox who have inspired every company and every generation of skateboarders. These are the guys who set the standards in terms of videos… For everything basically.

When you guys put out Bon Voyage, French Fred was long gone and it was full of new faces… From the outside it really felt like a new Cliché. Is this something you were aware of?
Yeah because it was a new Cliché. A skateboard company is something that’s in constant evolution; filmers and riders inevitably come and go and that’s fine, as long as the essence of the brand remains the same. Bon Voyage was made by Boris Proust and not Fred, but it’s also the video with Kevin Bradley’s first proper part…

Fuck this is a bit all over the place but we completely skipped over the Gypsy tours, which were a huge part of the brand and something I know you personally felt very strongly about. Tell us a little bit about how you came up with the idea.
It’s nothing special really it’s just the way I’d always travelled and a way most skateboarders are used to travelling. Only this was when reality TV was just starting to emerge and really showing the behind the scenes of skateboarding tours wasn’t something that was really done back then. I’ve always liked trying to push what could be explored with skate videos, trying different avenues… But to be completely honest when Fred and I decided to actually try this we had no idea what would come of it. We’re lucky it worked out so well and got such a good response. One of the main things we felt had worked is that it was finally a skate video that could be enjoyed by people that didn’t skate, that could give them insight into what it was like…

Without coming across as too corny for the people that do skate.
Exactly. Going on a skate trip is such a crazy experience on so many levels but it’s something that until then could only be shared with and understood by a very small amount of people. This made it accessible to everyone.
When Pontus was still on he always used to complain about the hotels we’d stay in on trips and I remember saying to him, ‘you’ll see, one day we’ll do it how I’m used to travelling!’ Shame he was no longer on when we actually did these.

Who would you say had the hardest time on those?
I mean JB didn’t come on a single one, ha ha.

What, but you’d sometimes invite him?
We asked him to come on every single one, ha ha.

I loved the fact that there was always a guest on it too. Bringing Fred Gall was genius.
Thanks, but to be honest that’s what I’d always done anyway. I always loved bringing a skater that wasn’t on the team on trips; we did it with (Louie) Barletta, with Wieger (Van Wageningen)…

Wieger very briefly skated for Cliché though didn’t he?
He did but I’m talking about a different time when he didn’t… He’s such a good dude Wieger. Did you know that when Wieger heard Dwindle were going to stop Cliché that’s when he decided to quit enjoi/Dwindle?

No I had no idea…. How did all that go down for you guys?
Well Al (Boglio) was in closer contact with them, I was more talking to the team and stuff. But I guess yeah they just gave us the news with a couple of months notice so we could try to land on our feet and that was that. Some of the guys on the team did, some didn’t… Dwindle had loads of companies under their umbrella, they needed to cut one, we were the last ones to join, makes sense that we’d be the first to get cut.
What’s certain is that the rise of all these smaller brands definitely made it tougher for the bigger brands like us.

Yeah I mean if you’re an established brand with lots of big name pros, an office, some full time staff and you’re competing with small brands that out of nowhere are smashing it but have close to zero outgoings, it’s going to be tough. Can you tell us about the office come up?
Ha ha. When we made the deal with Dwindle one of the things we wanted was an office in Lyon, which they agreed to pay for. Only instead of getting them to pay rent on this small apartment in the centre of Lyon we decided to get a loan, buy the place and basically get them to pay the mortgage on it. We’d just send them an invoice every month… And it so happens that the month they decided to pull the plug on Cliché was the exact month we finished repaying that loan, ha ha.

Backside lipslide at La Kantera, Algorta, 1997. Ph. Mike O’Meally

I love how Cliché allowed you to go on so many incredible trips, launch so many of your mates’ careers, be involved in so many creative projects, and as if all that wasn’t enough the month it all ended you got a sick flat three minutes away from you favourite bar! Winning at life.
And we all got to live from our passion for so many years… But I kind of hate thinking about the past and what could have been done better. I believe in the future and there’s so much great stuff going on in skateboarding right now that that’s what I want to focus on. Like you guys did something about skateboarding being in the Olympics: obviously
that’s not really my thing but I love that skateboarding now spans from the Olympics to slappies and that everyone can find something in skateboarding they’ll be into.
And even me, with my ageing body, I’ve always managed to stay excited about skateboarding. I’m always going to love skateboarding and I’m going to do it for as long as I possibly can. I had periods where I skated big stuff, a period where I skated transition and now I’m into slappies! I still feel like I’m learning new tricks.

What’s funny is that out of the ten years or more that I’ve known you it feels like now is one of the periods where you’ve been skating the most… Even though your body’s been taking some serious beatings.
I guess there was a whole year between the end of Cliché and the beginning of Film and sure I broke my hand or whatever but I was so happy to have all this time that I really got into the rhythm of skating a lot again. When you do a sport regularly you hurt yourself, that’s normal, but if you spend your life waiting around for your body to be 100% you’re going to regret it. Make the most it while you can. I’m 45 and that’s what I’m doing.

I know! I love it! Tell us about these trips to LA you’ve been going on with Benoit Gonsolin and stuff…
In skating through Instagram you end up making connections with people your age, who are on the same page as you, into the same things… One day Benoit and I just decided to cross the Atlantic and meet them in a supermarket car park at 8am to do some slappies, ha ha. And they’d trip out because we’d go to all these spots they’d never hit, go to SF which they’d never done…

I bet they were shocked by your motivation! And what’s funny is that you’ll probably be 100% at all times for another ten years, ha ha.
Of course! I’m going to make the most of it for as long as my body holds.

Plus you’ve built the bowl in the garden and you keep extending ‘your’ slappy spot (Venice Lyon)…
Yeah I mean you need to give yourself the means to keep going for a long as possible. Skateboarding is fun but you can be serious about your fun! You know the last slappy vacation to LA? I didn’t drink for a month before that or when I was out there because I wanted to skate every day and feel as good as I possibly could on my board.
It’s the thing with working in the skate industry it’s easy to think it’s all fun and games but you need to be serious about some stuff to give yourself the means to do what you want to do.

Can you tell us about Bonjour, the board brand you guys almost launched when Cliché ended?
When it ended everyone on the team was like ‘start something new!’ The spirit was still there; only to do things properly we wanted to pay salaries… And we were trying to match offers…

…on Lucas.
Yeah which was pretty difficult to match. Not impossible with loans and stuff, but these were big amounts.

So that’s why you didn’t do it?
No, it’s also because making a new board brand is cool, everyone is doing it right now, but you’re only new for six months and then what? We wanted to play the game properly by paying our pros, taking out ads in magazines and everything I spoke about earlier but when you’re competing with a multitude of smaller brands who aren’t, it sucks. We knew what the market was like and decided against it in the end.

It was going to be Max (Géronzi), JB (Gillet), Lucas (Puig) and Flo (Mirtain) right? How far along were you with all this when you decided to drop the idea?
We had the graphics, the suppliers, we’d spoken to distributors who were willing to back us, all we needed to do was ‘press the button’ and we didn’t.

So it’ll probably never happen now?
No probably not…

What’s your favourite thing about working in skateboarding?
Probably that you find yourself meeting and working with all kinds of people on all sorts of things. I love how varied it is… One day you’re working with people from the music industry, the next you’re putting on an event, the next you feel like you’re running a youth club, after that you find yourself pretending to be a real businessman when dealing with certain people from the industry – all whilst being surrounded by your friends.

Layback frontside, Saint-Étienne, 2018. Ph. Nikwen

What made you decide to start a truck company?
Because it’s been the same three or four truck companies on the market since forever… Nobody really ever gets paid for riding for them, even if you get a colourway or something, and I guess I want to build something with a team, go on tours, make videos… And to be honest it’s also that I love this industry. I love how passionate we all are, I love meeting and chatting to everyone involved in skating, that’s just how it is…

These days it’s trucks, before it was boards… I feel like what matters the most for you is to be able to keep doing cool stuff! Good luck with your new truck company and thanks for taking the time to do this!