Nassim Guammaz interview

Nassim. Ph. DVL

Sometimes life gets so intense, or busy, or just in general time flies by and before you know it you’re handed an interview of a guy whom you’ve known for over a decade and been on many trips and skate sessions together from the start, and you read he just moved to the same city as you and he hasn’t even called… It’s crazy how this works… I remember it took forever before it was tomorrow and now I blink my eyes and another year has passed. And I’m sure Nassim is feeling that too, although he’s only 23, he’s been around in our industry forever, but time moves quicker the older we get.
The both of us used to live in Rotterdam, or actually, Nassim lived a few metro stops away in Spijkenisse, but you get my drift. At that time the Rotterdam skateboard scene was pretty tight, and I’m sure it still is, but like Nassim I’m too lazy to go back there. But we used to go on daily skate missions in my infamous blue Volkswagen Transporter together, with some of the usual suspects in Rotterdam: Tim Zom, Ricardo Paterno, Sami El Hassani and whoever else jumped in when a spot was available. But as time went by Nassim became more recognised and started travelling, well probably even more than me — most likely a ton more by now. So our times together are not that frequent anymore and perhaps since I became a parent, I’m not even available as much as I used to when I’m in the Netherlands. Travelling is great, I mean absolutely amazing but when at home you have to make the most out of it, especially when you have a family to take care of. And while Nassim might not have one of his own, yet, he would always take care of his mom and sisters as long as I can remember. So every now and then we run into each other on another continent. Exactly a year ago today we ventured on a trip to Tokyo together for Element, and that might have been the last time we shot a photo. Time sure does fly… I’m slightly drifting away at the moment, but the point I’m trying to make here is: ‘Nassim, give me a fucking call and let’s go skate!’
Oh and another quick note: someone turn this guy pro please!
—Marcel Veldman

Interview by Benny Komala

Nassim: You recording?

Benny: Yeah.
I really hope you’re not going to ask stupid questions, Benny.

No, no, I won’t. I have thought this through carefully. I‘m not going to put you with your back against the wall.
Ha ha. I’ll probably do that all by myself, don’t worry.

Frontside smith stall, Rotterdam. Ph. DVL

How are you doing?
I’m doing good, how are you?

Pretty good. You’re on a trip right now, right? With whom?
With the Vans Europe guys: Victor (Pellegrin), Kris Vile, Polo (Paul Labadie), Davy (Van Laere), Paco, Nestor Suki, Albert Nyberg. And Pfannman is on the trip too, but he just went away for a couple of days; he’s coming back. Also Dustin Dollin is coming.

Davy is taking photos?
Yeah, Davy is taking photos, talking shit, complaining…

Did you know Davy was the first pro skateboarder from Belgium? That he was pro for Death Box?
Yeah, I know.

You’re filming for Vans over there?
Yes, we’re working on a Vans video. It’s coming out early next year, I think.

Backside 180 to fakie 50-50, Murcia, Spain. Ph. DVL

Do you still film for fun too? Or is it strictly business these days?
No man, it’s all about fun. It can’t be all about business. Fuck that.

When you’re home and you don’t really have to do anything, do you still call Sami (El Hassani) to go film, for example?
Yeah, definitely. It’s all about skating, eventually. I guess, when you go on these trips, it’s about business, but you just have to make sure you skate and get footage. Just get tricks. If you skate, everything is good. If you don’t skate then, yeah, you’re going to meet the business side.

Ha ha, yeah. Look at me, fuck. (Editor’s note: Benny is a long-time shop owner of Amsterdam’s Ben-G)

(Nassim laughs)

You’ve been travelling for a long time now. For the past few years, ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been travelling. How does that affect your life at home? Does the road feel like home? What is home to you?
That’s a very good question. I’ve been asking myself that question too. I guess it’s the road.

Yeah? You still like it? You’re not over it yet?
Nah. I can’t be over it. I don’t have a choice man; I have to love it. I love it.

Backside 50-50 to backside 180 out, Limassol, Cyprus. Ph. DVL

What happened today?
Today… What happened today? Today Albert Nyberg did a crazy-ass trick, out of a wallie. That was pretty crazy. Some cop got super mad at us and just lost his shit. But it’s been pretty mellow, actually. We’re in Cyprus right now and it’s fucking sick out here. There are so many spots. Good spots everywhere.

What’s your dream crew to go travelling with? Let’s say you can do one more trip and you can choose anyone, for the last time. Who would you pick?
Fuck, last trip. OK to start off, I’ll take Tim Zom. I’ll take Evan Smith. I’ll take Doobie (Victor Pellegrin); I’ll pick him. I’ll take Pfannman. Who else? Fuck, there are too many people. My crew would be thirty deep.

It already sounds like a solid crew.
I don’t even know where I would go.

Yeah, where would you go?
Where would I go? Probably Athens or something.

Athens, really? I’ve never been there, but it must be good. It’s not too old?
It’s super cheap and it’s really fun. There are a lot of spots, good vibes.

180 nosegrind, Bilbao. Ph. Brian Gaberman

Alright. Let’s talk about skateboarding a little bit. Are you a skate nerd? Do you ever get into skate history and watch old footy, classic parts from, say, Matt Hensley and Jason Lee, Gonz? Do you ever go through that phase?
Uh, yeah. I’ve watched all those parts. I’m not sure if I watched Matt Hensley, but I’ve definitely watched a lot of old parts. But I’m not somebody who’s geeking out on all of that. I just watch it and think ‘Alright, those guys were doing their shit in those times.’

Who did you check out when you were younger? What was the first video that you saw that blew your mind and got you hyped to keep skating?
For me, in the beginning, it was Darkstar. (Laughs hysterically) Sounds crazy, I know.

Darkstar? Okay.
It was that. I started skating in 2004. So it was that video, the Darkstar video and Osiris’ Subject To Change.

(Victor Pellegrin comes in from the background)
Victor: Battallion! Gailea Momolu!

Yup, Gailea Momolu, yup. And then The DC Video, I was watching that one a lot. And then Habitat, Mosaic was one of them too. Those videos got me really hyped. During the winters in Holland I was watching those a lot.

Fakie heelflip, Limassol, Cyprus. Ph. DVL

Who were your favourite skaters back then and who are your favourite skaters right now? Is it different or do you still like the same guys?
You know what the thing is? The more people you meet, the more skaters you meet, it just broadens your skate vision. In the beginning, for me it was Anthony Van Engelen, and Josh Kalis, Gailea Momolu, Brian Wenning and Eric Koston too, for sure. Also Andrew Reynolds. I was watching This is Skateboarding a lot. Then I started watching the Zero videos a lot, too. Dying to Live, stuff like that. Geoff Rowley… Right now, one of my favourite skateboarders is Evan Smith, no doubt.

Yeah, how could he not be your favourite skater, right?
Yeah, no doubt. Evan Smith, Grant Taylor, Wes Kremer, um… Who else? There are so many good skateboarders.

Yeah, there are too many to mention. Do you check a lot of the new stuff? Like all the parts that come out? These days it’s too much. Do you check everything or do you just check Instagram and check it out on YouTube when you see something interesting?
I actually do check out the new parts that come out these days. Even though I feel like I’m still missing some things, I watch most of the stuff. I see a lot of stuff on Instagram too. But I feel like Instagram ruins a lot of things, because you see all the enders. When you go and watch the clip, at the end you’re like ‘Fuck, I already saw this.’
It ruins it for me, pretty much.

Frontside crooked grind, Vienna. Ph. DVL

That’s life, that’s 2017, right?
Yeah, I feel like a lot of people these days don’t even fucking bother to watch the video part. They watch it on Instagram, they see the tricks, and then they move on to the next thing.

But even on Instagram, you see the broad view of where skateboarding is these days. There’s so much variety in the types of skating. Even in street skating, you’ve got the quick feet skating, the body varial stuff, you’ve got gnarly tricks; you’ve got all sorts of skating. Does that affect you? Do you ever feel the urge to put a quick body varial in your lines just to keep up?
Hmmm… No.

(Laughs) You just skate the way you want to?

You never think ‘Maybe I should flip out of some shit’? Do you feel pressure to keep up with the evolution or are you like me, thinking: ‘That looks gross, who cares?’ and move on.
Honestly, I think these days people are just trying to get famous on Instagram and get hooked up that way. Because all these companies are only caring about the views you get on Instagram and whoever gets the most likes. So kids these days, they know they just have to…

(Victor Pellegrin chimes in again)
Victor: Hey, follow Doobie, man. Just follow Doobie.

Hey, just let me do this real quick, and then I’m free to go.
So, yeah, I don’t really feel like I have to… I don’t know, man, I just skate. I skate and try to have a good time and I’m living my life. I try not to be bothered by what other people are doing. I don’t know if that’s the answer that you’re looking for.

Frontside nosegrind, Rotterdam. Ph. DVL

I was just wondering if you get inspired by seeing certain stuff or…
It’s more about the parts that inspire me; it’s not about all the new stuff. If something speaks to me, I would try to do that but I just think of what I can do. If someone’s doing something crazy, like Shane O’Neill, or sex change stuff, I don’t know, whatever. If I don’t relate to it I don’t feel like I have to do it or try to be like them. I just try to do me, you know?

Okay, cool. I was wondering: did you make it to the Dutch Olympic team? Were you selected?
No, no.

Would you go if you were selected?

Why not?
It doesn’t feel natural.

No? I mean, there’s different ways to look at it. It’s the Olympics — you could make your momma proud, right?
My mom is already proud.

Yeah, I know, but still… So you wouldn’t go if you were selected?
Pffft. I don’t know man. Fuck. I don’t know. If there’s was a chance where they’d be like ‘Okay, you can go to Japan and skate in the Olympics’, I would probably go. I’m not going to do all of the extra stuff though.

Backside lipslide to fakie, Vienna. Ph. DVL

Yeah, good for you… I would do it too, man. Why not, right? I’m for the Olympics; fuck it.
I don’t think you’re really sure about that.

No, but, I can imagine… If you were selected and you could go, why would you not go? Fuck it, it’s just another contest, basically.
I would go, I would go.

Okay. You just made the move from Rotterdam to Amsterdam. How do you like it so far?
Fuck, man. Amsterdam is crazy. Amsterdam is fucking crazy.

Why did you move over here?
Because I just felt like I needed a change. But, um… I kind of feel like moving back to Rotterdam because all of my friends are out there, but I don’t know. I just feel more at home there. I just party too much in Amsterdam, and only skate on trips. I’ve been there for two months and I don’t know man. It’s too much.

Aw, that’s what I told you, man.
I know.(Laughs) You were right. You were so right.

Who are you skating with in Amsterdam?
Ha ha. Nobody’s fucking skating! Nobody. I mean, some guys are skating, but I don’t really have a connection with those guys, so I’m just out there partying, waiting for the next trip to come up.

Nobody skates that much in Amsterdam, that ’s what I’ve been trying to tell you, not to move over so you would still fucking skate.
Yeah, but, to be really honest, the last two months, since I moved out there, I’ve only been home for three weeks. I’ve just been on trips the whole time.

You haven’t been trying to get footage on all the famous Amsterdam spots yet?

How different is your daily routine compared to the one you had in Rotterdam, where you used to live? Is it very different?
Ooh. Kind of, yeah.

Do you miss your old crew? Who was your old crew in Rotterdam?
All of the Bombaklats guys. Sami, and Tim… Ali, all of those guys. They’re all in Rotterdam and they’re skating a lot. I’m in a group chat with them on WhatsApp and I always see that they’re going out skating and I’m in Amsterdam, you know… and I’m like: ‘Fuck!’

Hungover… Ha ha ha.
And I’m too fucking lazy to go to Rotterdam, it doesn’t even make sense, I just moved here and I’m going back to Rotterdam? What am I doing?

Frontside 5-0 grind, Rotterdam. Ph. DVL

You lived in Rotterdam for a long time; you grew up there. So why do you skate for me, for an Amsterdam store and not a Rotterdam store?
Because the store I skated for in Rotterdam… I’ve been skating for Ben-G for seven years, now. The store that I rode for in Rotterdam sucked, the owner sucked, so… I didn’t have a shop sponsor for a while, for a year or something, and I remember you telling me that if I ever wanted to skate for Ben-G I should just hit you up. I remember very well, one day I was in the metro, heading back home to Rotterdam, and I was like ‘I should ride for Ben-G because Tim rides for Ben-G and Benny seems like a cool guy and Ben-G is a cool shop.’

That’s when I called you and you said: ‘Let’s do it!’

You said you’ve been partying a lot, so are you more of a bar type of dude or do you go rave around the clubs and dance?
Dude, if I go out, I go dance.

Yeah? You’re a clubber? You go to De School, Social Club, all of that shit?
Uhh, yup. With my flatmate Chris… He introduced me to all of that stuff in Amsterdam and it’s no fucking good.

It’s not good for your skateboarding?
No, it’s no good.

Do you try to balance skateboarding and partying or do you just go with the flow and see what happens?
That’s the hardest thing to do.

Finding a balance? Yeah, it is. But do you try? Are you like ‘I’m not drinking this week’, do you work out, or anything to improve your skateboarding?
I haven’t lately, but I try.

Let’s talk about music. What gets you pumped these days?
What gets me pumped? Um… Fela Kuti.

Fela Kuti? What is that? Some African shit?

Do you listen to that while you’re skating? Or you’re not a headphone skater?
I don’t really skate with headphones that much but I listen to it in my free time. I listen to a lot of rock and roll. I listen to a lot of rap.

When you go out, you go to hip-hop parties or you’re more into house music and stuff like that? Techno?

Overcrooks, Vienna. Ph. DVL

So, I have a few questions from the guys from Free that I have to ask you. So, uh, one is: ‘What prompted your new-found interest in religion?’

See, now it’s getting deep, but I’m going to ask you anyway.
All right, good question. Life man. Just life, and I guess my roots.

Of course.
Where I come from, you know. Where I come from just called me… I’ve been confronted by it a lot of times in my life and yeah, fuck man… Fuck this shit.

Is it more from your mom’s side, from your family’s side?
From my mom’s side, from my family’s side, from my relatives, from my friends… I make friends that are very religious, you know, and I start thinking about it…

And you’re getting older, getting more mature about it, I guess?
Yeah, yeah. It’s something that I’m still figuring out, you know what I mean? I don’t fucking know, man. It’s life, man.

It’s true, though. There’s something out there, I know for sure. I don’t believe in a certain god, but I know there’s something out there. So even if it’s God, or Allah, or whatever, or Buddha… I understand you. It’s something to think about, definitely.
It’s the thing that we talked about before. It’s the balance. When you find that balance, then you have those answers… Do you know what I mean? When you’re in that balance for a period of time, then you know what it is. But it’s finding that balance, and it’s different for everybody. There are people that have the balance and they’re like ‘I don’t give a fuck about religion, and I don’t care about it.’ But I think religion comes from that balance that you find. People have found that balance and they’ve based their philosophy on… That balance. They believe it comes from something else. I believe we come from something else, we come from something bigger than us. Who are we? We’re just human beings… There’s more to this, I feel like the body that we live in is just temporary, we all know that. Because things fade. For instance now, with skating, we have the power and the ability to skate, to party, to do everything we can do because we’re young. But those things fade. But what always remains is you inside of your body.

Boardslide to fakie, Vienna. Ph. DVL

I totally get you, I’m forty-one years old now, skating is not something I can do on a daily basis, and neither is partying, so there’s a certain balance you need to find at some point in your life, I totally agree on that. That was a good answer Nassim.
How do you see yourself when you get older? Do you want to stay in the skateboarding business or do you have any other interests already? Do you have any clue?

Fuck, I have no clue, Benny. I have to disappoint you; I’ve got no clue. I’ve got to figure it out man. I’m just trying to keep skating — just keep skating and enjoying life. And then after that I’ll figure it out. Hopefully just stay in skateboarding and be around skateboarders so I can keep having fun.