Simon Isaksson Interview

Photography: Gerard Riera.

Sometimes you’ll catch Simon rolling around on his board, trying different foot positions, flexing the board while looking at what seems to be nothing, rolling up to the ledge, then all of a sudden his brain freezes mid-air and he rides straight into it without even trying to lift his front wheels… When I see this I always think to myself: Is Simon a bigger fraud than I am? Is he just lucky to land on the board sometimes or does he actually create his own luck?
While there are skaters that surprise you by missing a trick (Gustav Tønnesen), Simon surprises me with his trick bag, which is more like a box of chocolates: you never know what you are going to get. The difference to other skaters with unpredictable trick bags is that I’m sure Simon doesn’t know what’s coming next either.
When I first met Simon, it felt like meeting a sloth trapped inside a human’s body. It was mostly silence but there was also a delay in the dialogue, like a news correspondent waiting for the transmission. But I’m a slow man myself and it was nice to meet someone of the same race.
A month later we were filming in Barcelona for The Sour Solution. Simon worked at a call centre at the time but we never really talked about it because he told me it was just another McJob with twenty-somethings trying to find themselves in Neverland. He also told me that he’d usually end up talking with old people until they asked him if he wanted to sell them something because, the one and only Simon, would usually forget that he was supposed to sell stuff on the line.
 One day I met another friend at the Swedish call centre and asked him about Simon, since I couldn’t possibly imagine him being the salesman type, but after four months unbelievably Simon still had his job. He looked surprised and told me that Simon had been the best-selling employee in the history of that call centre.
One time we took the train out of Barcelona heading towards absolutely nothing and jumped off as soon as we saw a mountain. We made it to the top and looked out at one of the many ugly industrial villages found outside of big towns. The sun was setting and there was no wind, it felt like the perfect blue jeans commercial. I thought of how quiet it was and I missed my pre-Internet brain. Simon then turned to me and said, ‘you know what? I think these stones are the ones that snakes love.’
Turns out he wasn’t wrong, we had settled in a nest of snakes and just as we started to pay attention to them, they quadrupled. The jeans ad and Philosophy 101 was replaced in an instant with Simon stomping his feet and me throwing stones at the path leading to town. Of course, just then the sun disappeared, like the universe begging us to return to civilisation and pollution. Snakes in Spain are safe and are not going to eat you alive, but that doesn’t make them lovable creatures. After a bit of running and jumping we reached the road that led to the trains. It was a warm evening as we cruised through the industrial zones. I looked around and the ugly village had now turned into a nice memory.
Another time in Shanghai, after a long day of skating around plazas, we ended up in a westernised café and I watched Simon trying to order extra chicken for a Caesar salad in made-up Chinese. Ten minutes later a lady came to the table with no salad and a blueberry milkshake, which he drank with a smile and said, ‘you never know what you’re gonna get!

– Jonathan Lomar

5-0, Barcelona.

Hi Simon.
Hello Lomar.

Not sure how to start. Do you like dogs?

Nice. Is there something you really regret in life?
Nothing I know of yet more than I studied German for four years in school instead of Spanish because I heard it was easier.

Third language in school always felt a bit useless, like recycling plastics or registering to vote. Is there something skateboarding taught you in life?
Ha ha exactly, as long as we don’t get kids we can throw our plastics in the ocean and still be more eco friendly than some ‘Greta’ that takes her car to an environmental protest with her three kids I guess. Latety I’ve realised how amazing it is to grow up skateboarding. The everyday ‘John’ and ‘Maria’ will never understand it; no need to even try to explain. It’s easy to take for granted how incredible it is to have something to do all the time with your friends. We don’t have to plan dinner two weeks from now to meet them. Most likely three meals will accidentally happen together just going skateboarding. Skateboarding is not even about skateboarding. To actually skateboard is fun, but would be boring every day without everything it comes with.

Wallride, Barcelona.

I feel I’ve been on the other side where I get everything from skateboarding except the actual skating, mostly because I’m too lazy to learn new stuff but the photos, films and cruising for spots has been enough for me. I always liked how you meet weird people on the streets. Have you had any random encounters while skating?
Feels like that is all I do, ha ha, going around and trying to deal with random encounters in weird situations.

Speaking of weird situations, what was your last meal?
I just had homemade pancakes for breakfast with maple syrup and berries. But I will be eating out from now on since we’re going to Alicante for a week tomorrow. I want to leave the house with an empty fridge so you don’t get back to it and there is a new ecosystem in there with some new dangerous species.

I had a cockroach invasion once – the unsexy version of an ecosystem. What will you do in Alicante?
Team building. Going with Oscar, Gustav, Tyler and Nisse to get to know each other, ha ha.

Backside tailside, Barcelona.

Sounds unhealthy and fun. Where do you see yourself at the moment, if your life would be a timeline from A to B?
My life is a loop, B to B. I guess it will end at some point and hopefully C will exist by then so I don’t have to slam back to A, but it’s nothing I can think about now so I’m just going to enjoy the ride and try not to get too dizzy.

Maybe you’ll find a bigger loop to send you straight to C. Where do you see yourself in the Euro pro afterlife?
I have no idea; it would be great if I accidentally got a passion for something else one day. I always liked filming a lot and coming up with fun ideas. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the complete opposite would happen. Maybe I will become a shaman in the Amazon or something.

You as a shaman in the Amazon sounds like a passion coming from an accident. If you weren’t a skateboarder, what would you do?
I don’t know, whatever people that don’t skateboard do? Eat things and go to the gym?

How many non-skating friends do you have?
Ha ha depends on what friends mean; I don’t think anyone that’s not family or has had nothing to do with skateboarding in their life would call me unless they wanted something.

Kickfip, Barcelona.

So what’s a good friend to you? I think every year I get less friendships based on people wanting something and that’s pretty nice actually.
I guess someone who doesn’t care too much or too little, someone that wants to hang out not because of all the Euro pro money or sex. But I have enough good friends already; I don’t have time for more unless I cut a meal or something.

You can have a food friend that you only eat meals with.
And double the dishes? I don’t think so.

What type of skateboarder would you like to be if you could start all over again?
I wouldn’t change a thing. Being able to fly on vert ramps must feel amazing but maybe they look at what I do and think that must be amazing, but probably not ha ha. What interests me the most is looking for spots and coming up with ideas. I like to skate different things and different materials, make different sounds, etc. Just skating a skatepark every day wouldn’t keep me entertained even though that can be extremely fun.

Wallie shuvit, Barcelona.

I’m still waiting for the first Richie Jackson-ish mega ramp part. Imagine performing the EA Skate glitch trick: throw away the board and then attach something to it so you can bring it back mid-air. Although a mega ramp slam probably equals 99% death. Where, when and how would you like to see yourself die?
Ha ha maybe a gender-neutral insta trap mega ramp skater will probably appear soon. Oh there’s so many ways I want to die, too bad it’s a once in a lifetime thing, maybe twice if you are lucky. I heard people die through an orgasm or eating too much good food. But I don’t want it to happen in a big city and hopefully not soon.

I read about an Irish woman who died in 2008 after voluntarily having sex with a dog. Life is a gift full of surprises. If an apocalypse occurred in 2020 and you could only watch one skateboard part for the rest of the year, what part would that be?
What kind of apocalypse are we talking? If an earthquake appears I would probably watch Gustav’s crack part you made. Otherwise I would probably enjoy the apocalypse instead.

The scenario with an Internet blackout and big waves and weird weather and crazy people, maybe robots, but then America saves everything and by 2021 everything’s back to normal.
Nothing would be normal after that, especially after we release the apocalypse part in 2021.

Hippie jump, San Cugat.

If there was one thing you could change in this world, what would that be?
Would be nice if the Internet disappeared forever for everyone.

Yes I blame Internet for making me dumb. What’s a book that everyone should read?
Yes I miss when people from different places were different. Now you kind of know exactly what you can say and what most people are going to say before they say it. Maybe people should read my biography but you haven’t started it yet.

Ride-on 50-50 kickflip into the bank, Terrassa.

I would make up a lot about you, especially spice it up with some of the thousand preconceptions we have about people from the north of Sweden.
Then I would put you into some ‘fish out of water’-scenario, like, ‘Simon in the Big Apple’ and how you learn everything about traffic lights and Segways.
Yeah I remember when you seriously asked me if people from the north of Sweden put their naked newborns out overnight so they get immune to mosquito bites because that was something you had heard.

Ha ha I remember. That is pretty soft compared to the ‘50s when the institution of Uppsala and Stockholm measured the heads of northern Sami people and claimed they had smaller brains.
I never thought I would have to say size doesn’t matter until now.

Water ride no-comply flip, Granollers.

How come you started skateboarding?
I started skateboarding because some older kids had one when I was like five or something so I really wanted one for Christmas. I was skateboarding by myself in the yard, ‘dirt biking’ and a lot of other sports for a while and one day when I was around 11 I was biking and met Amandus and his brother Sondre (Mortensen) skateboarding outside the hockey arena. The next time I came back with my skateboard and there it began; we have skateboarded ever since.

Is there any place on earth that you would define as home to you?
Not yet, my wardrobe is in Barcelona for now and I have no reason to move it.

Tell me a bit about your hometown. Not the wardrobe one.
I’m from a small city in the north of Sweden by the Arctic Cirlce, where we put all our newborns out naked overnight to get them immune to mosquito bites.

Switch 5-0, Barcelona.

Do you feel your Instagram account is a good representation of your day-to-day life as a Euro pro?
I have no idea what my Instagram account is representing ha ha. I have been a little tired of seeing Instagram destroy a lot of things I liked about skateboarding and changing people’s behaviour. It’s so acceptable now to show off, brag and promote yourself. I don’t want to go into details, but now I have accepted that it is how it is and it will be around so I have to see it as a fun toy to create ideas and experiment more than a burden to the world. Even if that’s not the truth, ha ha, it’s weird how something so pointless and powerful at the same time exists. A platform so fake that a lie is not even a lie ha ha. I love it.

I feel like I watch skate clips on Insta almost as a hiccup reflex and then time just disappears and nothing happens. Weirdest influencer deal you ever got through your Jesus alter ego?
I don’t really get a lot of weird deals, one guy sent a drone video of his big weed farm in California and ‘Want to sponsor you bro’ed me… Also once a film crew in Malaysia were looking for a skateboarder that ‘can do a full loop’. Doing loops stoned on command with a weed sponsor might be a retirement plan, but right now I’m doing fine as it is.

Does weed save lives?
I heard it does. I don’t understand how though; if I take a puff I forget how to breathe and might actually think I’m Jesus himself.

Ollie, Barcelona.

A skateboard trend that you miss?
I never noticed any skateboard trends until recently.

If there was one thing that you could say to everyone around the globe, what would that be?
Don’t study German in school if Spanish is a choice.

How come I’m the only one in the group who learned Spanish?
You were the first out of the ten of us manic-depressed guys to panic, then here I’m coming in slowly but safely… Meanwhile the rest of the guys are mastering Ping-Pong and dancing.

Yeah I’m happy that one only needs to experience a quarter-life crisis once in a lifetime. What would be a perfect country?
Maybe a tropical country by the water with a lot of snow in the winters. Would be nice to see some tropical animals with some winter fur, fluffy flamingos.

Water ride, Barcelona.

Would be really cool to snowboard through tropical trees dodging fluffy flamingos and polar monkeys. What type of dad would you be?
A really good one I think, I would tell my kid to study Spanish instead of German in school so they can live a life without regrets.

A great guru and dad in other words. Any advice to a young aspiring skateboarder?
Just enjoy it and do it as long as it’s fun and makes you feel content. Don’t try to ‘make it’ in skateboarding. ‘Making it’ doesn’t really exist ha ha. Don’t think you’re cooler than anyone; being good at skateboarding tricks is kind of nerdy if you think about it.

Backside lipslide, Barcelona.

Is there anything more to say about you? Or should we just stop this interview?
I’m pretty sure that’s everything about me, maybe you could ask me to thank someone so I can thank everyone over at Nike SB at least for hanging in there for so long and Gerard for taking all the photos and of course Björn and the Sour guys for dealing with me.

Anyone you would like to thank?
Virgil Abloh for the Prada collaboration.

Ballride, Barcelona.