Tom Belot Interview

Wallie, Marseille.

Tom is a kid of almost 22 years now, who with the build of a rugby player likes to jump onto hubbas of the same amount of stairs as his age. Tom’s selflessness, curiosity and zest for life are what constantly remind you he’s there. Tom’s a lad who’ll fall three stories off a balcony at a party, and somehow be on a Vans trip skating his arse off the following month. Tom’s also the kind of guy who’ll fire up a concert venue, t-shirt wrapped around his head balaclava style, looking like he’s ready to pounce on you from behind the decks. Tom is a ball of energy capable of driving from Paris to Bratislava for work at four in the morning, without taking any breaks. Tom’s a young man you sometimes need on the session just so you can sit back and watch him express himself on his skateboard, even if sometimes it makes you feel like you’re too old for this shit. Tom’s the mate you miss when he’s not there. 

Words by Kemisse Zouikri.

Photos by Clem Le Gall.

How did you find yourself getting mixed up with the TROIS CCD lot?
Tom Belot: It was early 2021, at a period in my life where I was going through a lot of ups and downs. Or mainly just downs… I’d just broken up with my ex and because of Covid my father was forced to close his business here in Fontainebleau, for which I also worked. I had a few months of not really skating very much… And on top of all this, the Volcom TM had a chat with me where he made me understand that it would be good for me to find myself a crew, rather than kind of doing my thing on my own, as it’s what ‘does well’ at the moment. Something I guess deep down I knew was true but felt extremely weird said like that… I didn’t exactly want to beg my way into some random crew just because that’s what’s trendy at a certain point in time.
Then right off the back of all this my friend Max (Yaïche, aka Shredit Max) invited me to Paris to get my mind off things, because that evening it was the birthday of an old friend I hadn’t seen in a really long time: Alix Malnati.

Noseblunt, Bordeaux.

What happened that night?
I was sleeping at Max’s, who in the end couldn’t be bothered to go to Alix’s party, but I decided to go anyway to see her! When I rocked up outside hers the first thing that struck me was how loud it was. I could just hear loads of laughing, and unknown voices, but as I drew closer my attention focused on something else: the overbearing smell of weed that was emanating from her apartment. And as soon as I was in, I knew exactly where I was. There was the entire Smoking Club (crew from Paris) and most of the TROIS CCD crew. Alix introduced me to Jimmy (Cholley) straight away and I spent the whole evening chatting to him about our outlooks on life and kinda just skateboarding in general. He obviously turned out to be the brains behind TROIS CCD but I had no idea at the time, as he’s usually the one holding the camera so you never see him in the videos. Anyway, long story short, by the end of the night Jim was inviting me to come to Barca the following day to film for what would become Vino Jefe.

Backside 50-50, Nantes.

Did you really hit the road the next day with all these guys you’d only met 24 hours before?
Well not exactly, because the day after that party I’d already planned to go to Biarritz for some French Skateboarding Federation training thing, but the whole time I was there all I could think about was what Jim had mentioned. Plus I wasn’t enjoying that stuff at all anymore… It was fun when Tim Debauché, Hugo Westrelin and Noah Mahieu were doing it as we’re all mates, but I was the last one to quit… Four days in I decided to ditch what I was doing and get a car share to Barca. It was a 12-hour drive glued to someone who was constantly falling asleep on my shoulder, with zero legroom and religious songs blasted the whole way ha ha. And all that to arrive in an AirBnB full of zombies that had just woken up after a heavy night… You can imagine how a young me felt: I WAS SO HYPED!

I heard you’ve got TROIS CCD tattooed on your toenails.
Well yeah… I got a bit carried away with the excitement of all this. Jimmy had invited a friend called Lily who had a stick and poke kit, and after losing a bet I got her name as well as TROIS CCD tattooed on my toes. Although I should probably point out that Jimmy had told me ‘Lily’ was going to be the name of the next video, which of course turned out to be nonsense.

Ride-on 50-50 to 5-0, Geneva.

What happened when you all got back to Paris from this trip?
Well after the Barcelona trip Amélien (Foures) actually drove us to Bordeaux where we filmed for a few more days. And right off the back of that Jimmy invited me to join them on their next trip, and two weeks later I was off to Portugal with them.

Portugal, as in the never-ending trip?
Yeah, well I guess most of us booked one-way tickets. We arrived right at the end of their lockdown, which obviously led to some problems with the local police, like the time I got slapped up by that officer that was two metres high by two metres wide, but it didn’t prevent us from making good progress on the project. And if anything, I’d say it’s kinda when a lot of us grew closer, plus I got to meet the rest of the gang. It’s also out there that I started to really feel this thing of being part of a crew and the whole energy that comes with that. I was surrounded by friends, we skated what we wanted, when we wanted, without any kind of pressure to produce anything for a brand or having to worry about any kind of failure…
We stayed in Porto for two weeks, then did Lisbon for seven days, five of which got rained out, but that didn’t get in the way of Reuben (Planque) doing that big backside 50-50 that got the Hockey fans all riled up ha ha. Then we went back to Porto for a week, this time just four of us: Jim, you, Josh (Marques) and me.

50-50 transter, Montpellier.

So basically you ended up staying out there for a month when initially the idea was kinda two weeks…
Because of what I mentioned earlier I wasn’t working at that point, so all I wanted to do was make the most of my free time by skating. And I felt so motivated, like in such a pure way, from being around all these friends I felt so compatible with, skating solely because I was really enjoying it… It was like I’d somehow forgotten and then rediscovered that feeling or something.
On top of all that my sponsors were seeing timelines of what I was getting on these trips and brands got hyped on the project and decided to support it, unlocking more budget so we could stay longer and keep chipping away at it.

Smithgrind, Nantes.

What was the vibe when you finally did come back to France?
As our last week in Porto was coming to an end you invited me to stay with you in Toulon when we got back! So just a couple of days later I was back on the road, continuing this never-ending trip, this time going back and forth between Marseille, Hyeres and Cannes. For a whole month we skated and filmed around hills all over the coast of the Mediterranean. There’s about 10 minutes of footage on a computer ready to come out once we figure out exactly what we want out of the project…
The week we had in Marseille was pretty intense though, I only had one set of clothes for seven days, and the day I finally did decide to buy t-shirts I accidentally bought five extra small V-necks by accident ha ha. That week Alix was also on a trip in Marseille with some of the other girls that skate for Vans, so I linked up with them and Sam Partaix offered for me to stay at the AirBnB with them, which is where I met Romain Batard with who I’ve been travelling every month this year for the Vans France video he’s been filming, and where I shot my first photo to be published in Free with Clém Le Gall.

Ollie in, Lausanne.

Was it your first time doing anything with Vans?
I’d actually worked on this documentary style thing about French DIYs with Guillaume Périmony and Luc Mazieres, which is where I met Sam and Clém, but Marseille was my first time actually going street skating with them and stuff. And I think the timing worked out well because those guys had just seen the timelines from the TROIS CCD trip, so all that meant that they then trusted me enough to be a part of this Vans France video I mentioned.

Would you say you formed real connections with the TROIS CCD lot then?
Yeah I mean I’ve been glued to them ever since that Portugal trip. Even after my time in the South of France I went to Paris to finish my Vino Jefe part, and after I went straight back to Cannes to link with you and the boys… We’d spend our days on the pontoon, bombing hills after sunsets at the observatory… Often ending our nights sipping free drinks in the worst nightclubs in Cannes surrounded by horrible influencers ha ha. It kind of made no sense but yeah, that gives you an idea of my summer.
It’s funny because it’s only later on that I realised that it’s sort of thanks to TROIS CCD that I’ve started to get more opportunities with the brands that I skate for, and that I was able to make sense of what that Volcom guy was trying to tell me. It’s not because it was trendy that he wanted me to get out there and work on stuff with a crew (which is how I’d interpreted it), it’s because that’s the reason we should all be skateboarding. It should be all about going skating with your friends, going on trips with them, meeting new people and letting life take you in directions you wouldn’t have expected! Discovering different cultures, hyping up the people around you, partying and to bomb hills! It’s this purity that people see and feel when they watch videos like Untitled, The Homies videos, or Tristan Warren’s edits… It’s personally what makes me want to skateboard forever, and it’s something I maybe would have never felt if it wasn’t for the TROIS CCD crew. So thanks to all my friends.

Kickflip, Geneva.

What’s been going on for you this year?
This February I went to SF with Max! We filmed a part in about two weeks, which should be out in September. Thanks to that trip and thanks to Guillaume Nozieres I met Zach Chamberlin and some of the Loophole Wheels guys, who since then have been sending me wheels. Victor Campillo, who I’d met the previous year in Marseille, was there too with Macéo Moreau and that whole crew… So yeah, basically I got to hang out with tons of amazing people on the other side of the world in a mental city full of hill bombs and engineers, lol.

Which leads us to the Loophole x TROIS CCD collab in the works…
Yeah! I’ll be in a vid featuring the whole crew in Paris coming out later this year, which you and Jimmy will be editing. We’re currently talking about submitting graphics to them too, so hopefully this will turn into something bigger, maybe with another trip to SF and one day even a wheel!

What have you got lined up for the next few months?
There’s a few more Vans trips coming up to finish the project I mentioned, this Loophole thing, maybe try to put some clothing out with TROIS CCD… We’re also working on an accessory that’s essential for any street skater, one that’ll help make spots more skateable and that fits in a camera bag… I’ll leave it at that.
And then outside of that my unemployment benefits recently dried up so unfortunately for me I’ve had to find a job, but I’ve been working for this events company that pays me per job (s/o Brunet Tentes), and thanks to them I’ve been able to save up for a trip to Bali with my girlfriend!

5-0, Marseille.

Any last words?
I’d just like to thank all the people I love, but also all the readers of this magazine and anyone else who supports me and gives me the strength to keep doing what I’m doing and feel good on my skateboard.
Never forget why we do this, and keep doing it for the best reason there is: because you enjoy it.

Nosegrind, Lyon.