Eniz Fazliov Interview

Backside lipslide, Rosolini, Sicily. Ph. Sam Clark

Before I left for Copenhagen last week a couple friends asked what I was going there for. ‘To cover the CPH Open and interview Eniz,’ I said.
‘Interview who?’ they asked…
‘Eniz Fazliov,’ I replied with their facial expressions still displaying a look of bewilderment. ‘The guy who front blunted Le Dome in Paris,’ I finally said.
‘Ohhhhh… That guy!’
Much to my surprise not everyone knows Eniz by name, but they do know his skating – and having known Eniz for quite a while now I think he’s OK with that. He’s not the kind of guy to constantly shout about himself on social media, he doesn’t wear a gimmicky hat, he doesn’t have a well-known catchy nickname… He just loves to skate and he’s pretty fucking good at it. He’s a true skate rat through and through. One morning before the daily CPH Open shenanigans started we grabbed Eniz for a quick chat about becoming a dad, his near death experience in Scotland, his new shoe sponsor and more.

Interview by Will Harmon

First of all congratulations on becoming a father!
Eniz Fazliov: Thank you!

Must have been quite an adjustment… How’s it all been going?
Yeah pretty good man; I’m stoked. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Everything has been going perfect. My girlfriend and I are just learning every day; we both didn’t know anything about babies, like even how to hold them. But once you have it, it’s there and it comes naturally. It’s kinda tough sometimes because you can’t leave the house whenever you want, but you just have to plan a little bit. But everything has been going good and I’m super-happy. I can’t explain the feeling…

I know you’re quite the skate rat, did you not skate for a while when your daughter was born?
Of course when she was born I didn’t skate for like a week after that. I can’t stay for too long without skating though, ha ha. My girlfriend understands though; it’s all good.

Ph. Sam Clark

So you were just in the Ukraine and now you’re in Copenhagen. Have things gone back to how they used to before you were a dad or is it different now?
I mean nothing really has changed except when I’m at home. When I’m on trips it’s the same (as it was). Of course I call my lady every day and check in, but when I’m on trips I do what I have to do.

So do you feel like you have a bigger sense of responsibility now in your pro skateboard career?
Not really to be honest. I’m at the age now… I don’t want to say I’ve done everything, but I’ve done some stuff so I’m not as stressed to film another part… I’m just doing my thing.

You’ve already done all the hard work.
Yeah I guess kind of, but I still try as hard as I can and I still can’t go three days without skating. I’m a father but I still need to go and skate some every day.

Are there a lot of skate dads in Helsinki?
Yeah more and more of course… But maybe not as many that like to skate as much as me.

Ollie, Kotka, Finland. Ph. Sam Clark

And have you spoken to them about advice? Or to Dallas (Rockvam)?
I’ve spoken a little to Dallas, but you know Dallas is Dallas, ha ha. It’s a long story… But I spoke to Hjalte (Halberg) last night. I don’t know if it’s ok to say this (Editor’s note: it is, I checked!), but he’s going be a father. He sounded kind of stressed about it but I reassured him it’s gonna be alright. I told him if things are good at home then you’re gonna be doing good in skating as well.

So do you feel like you want to travel less now for skating?
I don’t know… I feel like I don’t want to go on trips that don’t make sense. Like if I wasn’t doing this interview here in Copenhagen maybe I wouldn’t have done this trip. It’s not like a trip where I’ll be stacking clips and whatnot. It’s fun to see everyone and drink beers, but I need trips now to be really worth it if that makes sense? I actually found a sick spot an hour ago though, so need to go and shoot it!

Nosegrind pop-out, Barcelona. Ph. Fabien Ponsero

Have you thought about what you’ll do after pro skating?
Sometimes I do and sometimes not. I like to build stuff and put stuff together… I can’t sit down in front of a computer all day.

You said once you like building skateparks right?
Yeah this was in the past, but I’m talking about painting houses and fixing them… I like this kind of stuff. I really like to use my hands… I can’t just send emails all day, ha ha. I’m really bad at it; everyone knows it!

Ha ha. So the other big happening since your last interview in Free is that you’ve quit Emerica. Can you talk us through this decision?
We were on a Frank trip in Milan and Jacopo (Carozzi) just asked me: ‘Hey what’s up with Emerica?’ And I’d never really heard that before from anybody. He was just asking, but there really wasn’t much happening with Emerica for me. I wasn’t going to leave but for a second I got really scared when he asked me that. I heard they were getting a couple new guys on the team at Nike SB because Daan (van der Linden) got on and after that I heard they might want to get a couple other dudes. Jacopo just asked me ‘what’s up with Emerica?’ when we were on a trip.

Backside 50-50, Helsinki. Ph. Sam Clark

Do you think someone at Nike SB asked Jacopo to ask you this?
I don’t know about that. Maybe it was a trick to get me thinking about it? I mean I’ve been friends with Jacopo for a long time so when he asked me I was honest and told him that Jon Miner the team manager had left, in Europe they didn’t have a team manager, there was just two riders, no trips, all this kind of stuff. So I was like, ‘fuck man I’ve been riding for this company half of my life and nothing has really changed.’ So I told Jacopo ‘yeah, if they (Nike SB) want to send me a message or something I’m open to discussing things.’ So they did and said, ‘we can do this and that and you don’t have to change anything. Just do whatever you like to do, no pressure.’ They were like, ‘we aren’t asking you to do anything; we just want you to ride for our shoes.’ I still ride for Volcom so the deal is just from the ankles down. I’m hyped. It’s a three-year contract.

Sounds good.
I was really surprised because I’m 31 now and I got this when I was 30 and I was already really looking for jobs. I had already sent some messages about jobs…

And did you know you were going to be a dad yet when this all went down?
No. After the offer I talked it over with my girlfriend and she said I should do it. I also asked Percy Dean and his wife Claire, who were my good friends who used to work for Emerica, and they said I should just go for it. Things weren’t going the right way (with Emerica), Jerry Hsu had left, Brandon Westgate left, you could tell… You could tell things were not going to go any further than this for me. So when I got this offer at this age I was like, ‘fuck man I have to do this’ and right when I signed the contract like a month after my girlfriend tells me she’s pregnant. It went pretty perfect in the end. I felt bad for leaving Rob (Maatman) alone, but I had to do this… My family wasn’t doing well back then either; I had to help my brother and my mom.

Has it been much different for you riding for Nike SB now instead of Emerica?
Not much different except I can hook up my whole family and my friends get shoes as well. The skating hasn’t changed at all because they told me I could do whatever I want.

Gap to nosegrind, Helsinki. Ph. Justus Hirvi

Samu (Karvonen) told me you almost died on your first Nike SB trip.
Yeah man, we were on this UK trip and it started in Scotland, Glasgow I believe… This was my first trip for Nike SB… So yeah I dunno what happened, I had a really early flight from Helsinki, it’s a 2-hour time difference so I had to wake up at 4am for my 6am flight, which means two in the morning in Glasgow. So I eat all this crap food and I think I puked on the flight. So anyways I flew to Scotland, I didn’t really eat well all day or have much sleep and then we skated all day. I just felt like crap, kinda like just the way you feel when you have to take a really early flight. So the end of that first day we went to dinner, some Indian place, the food was fucking amazing, but then I couldn’t even finish it. Even my pint!

That is weird for you!
Yeah I was like, ‘I can’t finish my beer, I can’t finish my food… What the fuck is going on?’ I felt super weird. So the next day I woke up and went to the toilet and I shit black. So I thought, ‘this is weird, but maybe it’s because I had some crappy food the day before and then I hadn’t had much sleep. But I’m not complaining because it’s my first Nike trip.’ That morning I was really feeling bad, I was sick, but it was raining out, so we went to the skate shop to hang out. I couldn’t really eat, I was just trying stuff then going to the toilet and black stuff would come out. ‘What the fuck is this?’ but I didn’t want to complain; I thought it was just going to go away.

New guy on the team; you didn’t want to be a burden.
So that second day it rained all day and we were supposed to have a session and then it dried up somehow so I was like, ‘oh shit I’m gonna have to skate.’ So I went and did my first tre flip on the flatground and as soon as I land I almost black out. I got so dizzy and went to Colin (Kennedy) and told him, ‘I really don’t feel well. I just don’t feel right.’ So I went to the van for like two hours and I was shaking and shit. Then everybody came back to the van and were like, ‘hey how are you doing? We heard you’re feeling sick?’ I’m never sick, so I told them ‘yeah I don’t feel right.’ So that night they all went to dinner after the session but I decided not to eat and just go to the hotel. Still I had not told anyone I had been shitting this black stuff. So I was sharing a room that night with Reece Leung from Vague, they had gone out and I went to sleep then I woke up in the middle of the night when he’d already came back. I had been feeling really bad for the past few hours always going to the toilet and shitting black and then the last time I went to the toilet I really had to puke and shit at the same time… So I did that and then blacked out.

Frontside boardslide, Helsinki. Ph. Justus Hirvi

Oh fuck…
Yeah in the middle of the floor. Then I woke up and I was laying there for ten minutes unable to get up like, ‘what the fuck just happened?’ I don’t know I was in shock. And then my life just went through my eyes. I was just thinking stupid stuff, ‘was I dying?’ There was shit on the ceiling…

Please tell me you finally said something to Reece or someone at this point…
No it was four in the morning! So I get up finally and look in the mirror and I’m all white and my eyes are black, the pupils were black. Yeah so for some reason, I don’t know why, I’m in my underwear and there’s shit everywhere so I just clean the whole toilet, took a shower and went back to bed – because I thought Colin had went out too and I didn’t want to wake him up at four in the morning. So the next morning I woke up and Reece was like, ‘hey are you alright? I heard you doing something in the toilet…’ I told him, ‘no I’m not alright; call Colin now!’ So Colin came over, I told him the story and he called an ambulance right then. But there were no ambulances or there was a wait or something so they drove me to the hospital and they took me in straight away and I was in there for six days.

Six days!
Yeah the whole rest of the trip in the hospital.

There was blood everywhere. They told me I lost 40% of my blood. I don’t know how long I was doing this as I blacked out right away. I just remember closing the bathroom door, sitting down and then the next thing I remember is just waking up on the floor.

Frontside noseslide, Grand Hotel Lido, Sicily. Ph. Sam Clark

It could have been five minutes or two hours… And Reece was just asleep right?
Yeah. They pumped like three litres of blood into me…

And then what did they finally say it was there at the hospital?
There were two cuts in my stomach; it’s called an ulcer.

And did they know how this happened?
They told me it happens when you have a lot of stress, you don’t eat well, you don’t sleep well, if you smoke and drink and all of this together… But it doesn’t come in one day it builds up. And they asked me if my life changed, and it kinda did you know… The whole Nike thing and my girlfriend getting pregnant…

Your first Nike trip…
Thinking back on it now I was in another world at that time. I got two clips on that trip and I don’t even remember. I don’t know how… It was all blurry. After that I didn’t skate for three weeks.

Backside 50-50 gap out, Helsinki. Ph. Justus Hirvi

So what did the doctors say?
They put these clips on my cuts and told me if I started to bleed anymore then go back to the hospital.

It was just all those changes in your life, the lack of sleep, etc.
They told me to get good sleep. They said it usually happens when people can’t sleep then you cough up blood… Maybe for me it was that one day travelling and being awake for 24 hours.

And was your girlfriend pretty worried through all this?
She was pretty mellow about it. Colin was texting her all the time and calling her. She knew that I was in a good place; imagine if this happened in Mallorca or some island with no proper hospital? Glasgow had a good hospital and the whole thing didn’t cost me one euro.

And this was last year pretty much at this time.

That is a gnarly story…
Hey I’m still here!

(We clink glasses: ‘cheers!’)

When I told my mom this story she couldn’t believe it. ‘You’re not going on trips anymore!’ Literally there was blood, shit and pieces of meat on the ceiling, on the mirror, everywhere. My mouth was filled with blood… I didn’t know what to do so I just started cleaning.

Ollie to wallride, Catania, Sicily. Ph. Sam Clark

You were delirious. Ok let’s change the subject…
Yes please!

What skateboarders do you look up to?
I don’t know it’s hard to get hyped on the people you don’t know. But I really liked Brandon Westgate, even before I met him. And then after I met him I was like, ‘wow! Fuck man, he’s so sick!’

You liked him even more.
Yeah because some people you might like their skating but then you meet them…

Yeah sometimes you wish you didn’t meet them…
Yeah exactly. Because sometimes it’s like, ‘Fuck, I wish I never met this guy; I really like his skating…’

Do you think with social media now we know too much about certain skaters?
Yeah we talked about this the other day… We went to some spot and some guy was like, ‘Hey can I put this on the gram?’ I did something and I was like, ‘please no,’ and I explained to him why. When I was a kid I really liked the fact that nobody knows where I’ve been. When I watched the Sorry video, I didn’t know Arto (Saari) went to this Miami hubba and I didn’t know he went to this place. Now I watch a guy do a switch heel on Instagram and then he has a switch backside flip there in his part…

It takes away the mystique.
Yeah and I don’t want to say this but I don’t like to post so much. Stories are kind of nice because it’s just one day, it’s quick and everybody is gonna forget it.

Yeah so if you post the warm up trick everyone knows you’ve gone there and it’s like, ‘OK what’s he gonna do there for his video part?’
Yeah and if you do have a trick there in your video part I think it’s pretty lame.

It takes away from it.
It takes away from it a lot actually. I have a couple tricks in my new part that I’m kinda bummed that I have showed them.

The Free x Nike part coming out with this interview?
Yeah. So there are a couple things that somebody has an Insta story of me at that spot.

But most of it will be a surprise.
Yeah, but like I said, I just don’t like to expose stuff.

I respect that. You’ve had so many video parts, is there one that’s your favourite? Or one you worked the hardest for?
I don’t know, I was working at the time on so many different parts: a Frank part, an SLP part and some other ones. But I think the last two SLP videos… I think those are the ones I really worked hard on. But now because I’m older I have to work more. When I was younger I didn’t think about it and I would have ten minutes of footage just sitting there. Now if I had ten minutes of footage I would be chilling!

In your last interview we did together you talk about how you’re originally from Macedonia. Have you been there at all recently?
I went there half a year a go, but I didn’t have my board. I went to see my brother. He got sent out of the country a couple years ago.

He got sent out of Finland?
Yeah just for doing some crimes and shit.

Oh really is he alright?
He’s alright, but that was one of the reasons I started riding for Nike – like I said before to help out my family. My brother has his own house over there and everything, he doesn’t need much, so I send him like €300 a month. My mom has a house there too; it’s like 20 minutes from the capital city.

OK so I talked to Dallas before this interview and he wanted me to ask you this question: ‘Now that Frank has seemingly reached its demise (out of business for real!), do you have any ideas on what board company you’d like to go to next?
I’m gonna be honest, I do kind of have an idea but I don’t. The idea that I have is that I want to ride for the company that I know the people from. I want them to want me. I don’t want to ride for a company that I don’t know anyone on. I still have Frank boards and Dallas said he can send me some boards, also I ride for a skate shop so I can get boards, but it’s not about that, I want to ride for a company that wants me and it’s people I know.

Manual to boardslide, Barcelona. Ph. Fabien Ponsero

You must have gotten a lot of offers over the years, is there any brand you kind of wish you would have said yes to?
Yeah, and going back to the previous question there’s one company that asked me and I said ‘no’ and I kinda somehow, I don’t know if I should say this here, but I’m trying to get on.

Well the kids can do their homework to figure this out…
Well I probably am not even going to get on! But it would make sense because I like the company and I’ve known these guys for a long time. I can’t say it, because if I say it, it’s never going to happen!

I’m sure it will. Thanks Eniz!
Thank you guys!