Hugo Boserup Interview

Backside smith grind, Glendale, California. Ph. Ben Colen

It was never really the plan for this Hugo interview to sit alongside all these stories of older European pros moving to California to ‘make it’ (it snuck into this issue at the last minute), but in retrospect it would definitely have been a missed opportunity if it didn’t. For starters it made us realise that we couldn’t really think of any other young sponsored skaters from Europe – as in of Hugo’s generation – to have moved to the States in the last few years, which in itself is already kind of interesting in this context. But the main thing is the stark contrast between his experience of it and theirs. It’s almost comical: he’s 22, moved to LA to be with this amazing surfer he’s fallen in love with (as opposed to it being the only way he’d stand a chance of having career in skateboarding), immediately settled down into living what sounds like the dreamiest of ‘American Dreams’, and is about to become a dad. A far cry from all the fucked up, precarious situations Chany, Benny and co. found themselves in when they decided to try their luck out west.

Interview by Arthur Derrien

Hugo! Where to even begin… It’s been so long!
Yeah… How do you want to do this? Can we just have a conversation?

Well first off that does not look like Copenhagen… Why don’t you tell me how the hell you’ve ended up in LA!
It’s only because I met Frankie (Harrer)… We met here close to two years ago. It started off with a lot of going back and forth between LA and Copenhagen; I guess we were trying to figure out where it could actually work for us to be together. Since she’s a surfer she can’t really live in Copenhagen, as there isn’t really any surfing to do there… But also a lot of the places that are really good for surfing are often a bit too remote for skating. So we decided that we’d try here.
I only got my proper visa at the end of 2020, but I was spending a lot of time here even before then.

Ride-on backside tailslide, Los Angeles. Ph. Kris Burkhardt

So for how long are you allowed to stay now?
Five years. I got this like Athlete/Sports visa… I got super lucky too because it’s the only one that Trump didn’t ban when he locked down all the travel at the beginning of the pandemic.
And I guess it also made sense because my friend Logan (Lara) who I love to skate with and film with also lives here so I can still be productive!

So is Frankie an actual professional surfer then?

Forgive my ignorance here, but how does it work? Like does she have to go out every day to try to get clips and stuff?
Yeah, it’s exactly the same as everyone around you that skates for a living. You have a main sponsor that pays you and you go out and do stuff for them basically… There’s a bunch of different scenes at a bunch of different beaches, some spots will have one person on the beach filming a few different surfers, some will have their own filmer and they’ll try to look for places where only they’ll surf or whatever, but it’s exactly the same as skating. You just hunt beaches with waves like you would spots and try to get clips there.

Ah man living with someone that knows what it feels like to stack would be so good ha ha. The days when you get home and you’ve both got something you’re hyped on must be amazing…
Yeah! Because it’s honestly exactly the same.

Also I guess both of you having similar jobs with the same kind of flexibility is also pretty ideal for the little girl you guys have on the way!
Yeah we’ve spoken a lot about that. We’re very lucky to be in positions where it’s not too hard to take the time off we need for it. And then once we’re going to have to start going on trips again we’re hoping we can negotiate for her to have to bring a babysitter so I can go on all her trips ha ha.

Ph. Ben Colen

Ah mate that would be so sick! ‘Cause you surf a lot as well now right?
Yeah she got me into it and it’s soooo fun. It’s weird because you think it’s like skating in the sense that you have that balance when it comes to moving on a board like that, and maybe turning a bit, but for everything else you’re just completely clueless. It was really hard for me to learn but now we can go and surf together and it’s really fun.

Have you been getting her on skating?
Yeah during lockdown we’d go to parking lots and I’d try to teach her to slappy grind. Sometimes she’d fall so we’d chill on it a bit… But she’s super good at cruising and stuff! You can tell being a good surfer helps in the way you’re already good at thinking fast with your body movements and stuff… If that makes sense.

Ah man it would be the sickest thing ever if she got proper into it and she’d go on your trips to skate some of the spots/babysit too. Need to get that in your next contracts…
Yeah it would be such a life hack.

Ride-on 50-50, Los Angeles. Ph. Ben Colen

Did you get any good advice from any other young dads with ‘skate careers’ that you know?
Not at all actually ha ha. I’ve been chatting to Hjalte (Halberg) a bit but mainly just about how excited we are… I guess when Brass (Nick Boserio) had his kid I was really interested and asked some questions though. I think he managed to agree with his sponsors that he wouldn’t go on any trips for the first three months until he was more settled in, which I think will be the same for me but even after that I don’t really want to be going on any long trips, but one week ones could work…

Yeah and you can get a lot done in a week.
Obviously there’s a lot of uncertainty around almost everything at the moment but are there any advantages to taking this big step now?
Well it’s good because everything’s kind of at a stand still so we’re not required to go anywhere. So I’ve been able to be at home lots helping as much as I can if Frankie’s not been feeling well or just with anything really.

Yeah and I guess lockdown is kinda the ultimate test for any couple. If you can get through months and months of being together all day every day that’s a pretty good sign.
Yeah I mean we haven’t spent a day apart for a whole year so I feel like we’ve got this ha ha.

Ollie, Los Angeles. Ph. Ben Colen

You mentioned Logan earlier and being productive and stuff… You guys aren’t a part of 917 anymore though right? What happened there with the whole mass exodus thing?
Okay so 917 was always cool because it was a brand where there was never really any pressure and it kind of floated itself. Like nothing was ever really organised or anything like that, it was kind of just our drive that made it work. And throughout the whole thing Alex (Olson) wasn’t so involved in the skating side of it, he was mainly focused on making the graphics and that kind of stuff but then it being so loose meant that sometimes it would lead to people butting heads about the direction of graphics or doing trips or whatever, so in the end not that much stuff would actually happen. It just felt like things that shouldn’t be difficult would always somehow be really difficult. And it wasn’t just Alex, like there was also other stuff with other management…

So obviously Aidan (Mackey) left quite a while ago, but then when Vincent (Touzery) quit and then Nik (Stain) quit that was really painful. I was really sad but I understood you know, they wanted to be more active, it was an opportunity to make more money… This was probably just over a year ago and when it happened we all knew it was bad but I guess we were like ‘it’s okay, let’s try to make it work; we can still make this sick!’ Only after that Cyrus (Bennett) did that Slap interview and I guess on all of the questions about 917 he just didn’t really have any answers – which I completely understand because there was no 917 thread or anything like we weren’t even talking that much, it just somehow just about worked. Plus he was trying to do all these graphics and him and Alex weren’t really getting along…

So did him doing the Slap interview kind of trigger him deciding to leave?
I think so yeah. I know he’d felt like that for a long time but he’d never had to speak about it publicly and doing so kind of made him realise… So he called Logan and had to be like, ‘dude I’m over it, I quit’. Me and Logan were together when this happened and we were both like, ‘dude don’t do it! We’re gonna make it work!’ But then we thought about it and knew he was probably right… We were all holding our careers back in what we could do; it felt like we all had more potential than this. Like we’d never do trips! We’d just film wherever we were basically and that’s it. Tao (Tor Ström) and so many people helped out so much with footage… So Cyrus was going to quit and then Max (Palmer) was going to quit… And I was a bit like, ‘I don’t wanna be left behind!’ ha ha. It was all a bit crazy.

So is Alex still doing it?
I think so but I’m not too sure; I think he’s just surfing a lot. He seems fine with it being like this…

What just without a team?
Yeah I guess… So now we’re all just skating random boards until we figure what’s going to happen.

Frontside air to tail smack, Los Angeles. Ph. Aaron Loreth

Well being in LA closer to all those guys will probably help with whatever comes next.
Yeah and most of the industry is still here…

I love that Aaron (Loreth) ended up shooting a photo for this… The photographer line-up for the interview is so sick. Ben Colen who’s arguably one of the greatest skate photographers of all time, Kris (Burkhardt) whose stuff is only just starting to really get out there but is obviously super talented, and then yeah Aaron who I had no idea even shot skate photos.
Yeah! Aaron’s super into film photography, like he takes all these really cool nature stills, but he definitely wouldn’t describe himself as a skate photographer. And that’s probably why I found the process of shooting this photo so fun I think. It’s a cool thing to do with a friend like that, we were really like, ‘uh, so how do we get the transition in, and the trick… And the fence? Hmm here from the side? From here?’ Really trying to work it out together. I’m glad you guys liked it!

Yeah I love it. I remember when Sam (Ashley) saw it he was like, ‘it’s kind of weird, but in a good way. It looks like something from Thrasher in 1982 or something.’
Ha ha yeah that’s kind of what we thought.

Can you describe what a regular day looks like for you with your new life in LA?
I’ve got a feeling it’s pretty different from when you were working building skateparks in Copenhagen through the winter…
I wake up and I put on sunscreen. Then if there’s waves we go surfing in the morning, probably get burnt despite the sunscreen being water resistant, then eat something, more sweat/sport resistant sunscreen, then drive somewhere to meet people to skate and get burnt some more ha ha. Then do it all over again the next day.

I was gonna say, you are looking pretty pink ha ha!
And then when I was working on building the skateparks… I haven’t actually thought about that in a long time ha ha, it was actually so gnarly. It would be: wake up at five, have a coffee, get ready… It can be dark ‘til about eight in winter in Denmark so you sometimes work at least two hours before the sun even comes up. You prepare all the wooden frames, prepare the rebar steel that goes into the concrete… If it’s a day where you actually pour the concrete – or rather two days because sometimes it takes two days for it to dry because it’s so cold… So you have to work on it all day, then once the sun goes down the concrete is so slow at drying that you need to give it a pass with all the tools, then I guess you get to relax for an hour or two in your shed, then you go out and give it another pass, back to the shed and repeat until midnight maybe, then you let it chill until five or something then you get up and hit it again. It’s a harsh routine…

Ph. Ben Colen

It sounds like pretty good training for when the baby arrives.
Ha ha yeah my inner clock’s been prepared.

Ah well it was lovely to catch up! You seem very happy out there.
Yeah I’m definitely the happiest I’ve been right now… And also the most motivated I’ve been in a long time, which is a really good feeling. You know how with skating sometimes you go through phases? Like when I started surfing I became so obsessed with it that I basically didn’t skate for two months. But now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, and feel good about everything, I actually really want to go filming, progress and learn new things again.