‘Balancing Act’ by Pekka Løvås
Ostensibly this is an article about the adidas crew in Oslo, brilliantly shot by Clément Le Gall, but in reality what you’re about to read is an interview with esteemed filmmaker Per ‘Pekka’ Løvås. Ever since Firetre, his first full-length, we’ve been huge fans, so we thought it was a fine time for the world to know a little more about this humble Norwegian. After a couple stints filming the adidas lads in Oslo this summer (for an upcoming edit dropping later this year) our pal Fredrik Perry coerced Pekka into answering a few questions. So if you’re interested in reading about Pekka’s favourite manual skater, how he got into filming, his secret Yo-yoing career, or how he became the best man at Tiago’s wedding, continue on.
Interview by Fredrik Perry
Photography by Clément Le Gall
Fredrik Perry: Fuck, marry, kill: manual, nosemanual, kickflip.
Pekka Løvås: Oh damn… (thinks long and hard). I’ve started doing a lot of kickflips lately; been trying to get them down good. Kickflips would have been a kill last year, but… I think I’ll marry manny, fuck kickflip and kill nosemanny. I feel like nosemanny is the least interesting of the four mannies.
I didn’t see that coming. I was uncertain if I should pick kickflip or no-comply, but then I heard that you were on the kickflip training these days.
Ha ha, yeah.
Interesting. What is a good manual about?
It’s about a tasteful combination of tricks. Finding out what’s tasteful, and what’s wack.
It’s also difficult to limit yourself. The better you get, the more over to the wack side you get, ‘cause you know you can do a heavy trick that would feel good to land, but it’s gonna look wack. A good example is Hjalte Halberg, he’s never done a manual that isn’t tasteful. At least on film. It’s crazy that he’s been able to refrain from it. He could probably do anything he wants, but he never does anything wack.
A nice little shoutout to Hjalte. So when does it go from being dope tech to becoming wack?
It’s hard to say. It varies from person to person. Something I think is dope, others may think is totally wack.
Are there certain tricks you think are illegal with manuals? For example, out of manuals?
Yes, there are. But a trick that’s illegal to do with a manual is usually a trick that’s illegal in itself. A double flip-out is illegal, but it’s illegal to do it in general. Unless you’re Dylan and do it over a picnic table. I struggle to see why you would ever do a kick- flip out of a manual. Or a tre flip out of a manual. But of course, there are exceptions to everything. Heelflip as well. Manny heelflip. Why would you do that?
Funny. I’ve never thought about that before. But it’s rare to see a straight manual kickflip.
It’s not that rare, but it’s a kid trick. It’s like the first ‘tech’ manny you learn. It would have to contain something that made it sick. Like the one Pappalardo does in Fully Flared where the coin falls out of his pocket. That was a pretty cool manny kickflip.
So how did manuals become your thing?
First of all the first skate video I got was Rodney vs Daewon Round 1; I got obsessed with the Daewon part in that video. And in my opinion, that period is peak Daewon, when he was the dopest version of himself. I watched it every day. I wasn’t driven to the skatepark that often by my parents and it was quite far to skate back and forth, so I skated a lot on the terrace. There wasn’t that much space or much to do, but there were lines of screws going across, so I started early on to see how far I could hold manuals, until I could do a quick push and do it all over the terrace. But I don’t know, I wasn’t that good at it. I just always thought it was cool. I always watched a lot of Daewon and thought it was crazy and looked cool when he did it.
Who is the dopest manny skater of all time?
Oooh… The one who looks the best when doing manuals is Gino. But he looks the best no matter what he does. And he’s not a manny skater in that sense.
I feel like Bobby De Keyzer always does really tasteful manuals. Hjalte, who I mentioned earlier. Cyrus Bennett. Nik Stain doesn’t do any tech manuals, but they always look really cool.
How are manuals related to filming? Because you have to be patient when you’re filming.
Yeah, I feel like they’re heavily linked. And there are a lot of filmers who are good at manuals… Filmmakers are usually quite nerdy, cautious people with a lot of patience. And I’m like that too. And I think that’s a good mix. You’re a bit nerdy, because it’s a bit nerdy to just skate a manual pad for hours. And also a little cautious, like you’re afraid to skate something too gnarly. So you choose the safest, most low-impact thing you can think of.
Do you ever become impatient on manuals?
Yes, I go completely crazy.
You freak out?
Yes. I don’t think I ever not freak out when I try manuals.
What happens when you freak out? Is it internal or is it both?
It’s a bit of both. I don’t know, it’s all over the place. It’s both internal and swearing and freaking out. I’ve tried to make a rule that I usually stick to, and that is that I’m not allowed to freak out if I haven’t done the trick before. Because why should you get mad if you can’t do something you’ve never done before?
If I’m trying a trick, get it, and then I ask if someone can film it, and then I spend an hour not getting it, then I completely freak out.
I like that rule. I might have to try that one.
Yes, but there are some grey areas. Let’s say I’ve never done a backside 180 fakie manual half cab flip. I’ve done the 180 fakie manny, and I’ve done the fakie manny half cab flip. Then it might be okay to freak out, because you’re not able to combine two things you’ve done before. But if it’s a completely new trick, like if I tried switch 360 flip nosemanual, then I’m not allowed to lose my mind. Because it’s so far- fetched that it’s stupid to get mad. You should expect it to take time.
What about filming? Do you get impatient?
Yes, I do. But it varies. Because if I film something that’s cool, then I can be more patient than the person skating. But if I film something that I’m not really feeling, then I can be quite impatient. Sometimes I feel like I want to see the trick go down more than the skater himself. And then it might be me who has to convince the skater to continue. But there are a lot of tricks where I don’t feel like it’s worth the time we spend, and then I get impatient. And I’m notorious for being slow to pick up the camera.
Yes, I’ve actually heard that.
Yes. People have to be close before I start filming. And it varies from person to person, some hate it, some think it’s completely chill. But it’s just a thing for me, I can’t start filming before I have faith that it will go down. The skater has to show me that this is going to work, and as soon as I see that he’s gonna do it, I’ll start filming. And I feel like I’ve almost never missed it.
Yes, but are you not afraid of missing something, like funny lifestyle shit or a nasty slam?
No, not really. I find lifestyle stuff to be quite hard to film personally. I wish I was better at it, but filming a random crazy guy who talks to himself, that’s never been my thing. I usually just care about the trick, and that’s that. But then I often come home and think, maybe I should film that crazy dude who talks to himself, that could be a bit funny, but I just… I don’t know, maybe I’m a bit too well-mannered to film random people I don’t have any business with.
Oh you mean other people on the street?
Yes, or just random shit. If we get kicked out, I always just put the camera down. I think it’s a bit weird to film random people, even if you can get some gold out of it.
But if it’s a psychotic spot, then you film everything? Like if it’s dangerous… Things can happen.
Yes, they can. I just take it as it comes. If we’re at a big stairset and the skater asks, can you film me ollie it first, and then I run up and do the trick – I’m not harsh about that. But if it’s a rail that I know the skater has to roll up and jump on 150 times before he tries, I might as well have a coffee and support him instead of standing with the camera, when I know that I have to stand there and film and delete clips for an hour and a half.
How did you get into filming?
We made skate videos when we were kids. Everyone just took turns filming, but I was one of the few that cared about getting stuff filmed properly. I was usually the one editing the videos too, so I had a bigger role than the rest, I guess. But I was never good at filming, and then I started working for Playboard (Norwegian mag RIP). I got them to buy me a VX, because they were keen on more video content. So we bought the old VX from Magnus Bordewick, which was a win-win, because Playboard didn’t know how much it would cost, so I think Magz got a good price and I got a VX. So I filmed a bit here and there, made some park edits and stuff, but I still wasn’t trying to do anything good. I just wanted to make it, I didn’t think about the angles and stuff. When I quit Playboard I just took the camera with me, hoping no one would ask for it.
And then I already had some footage with a couple of boys from when I was filming for Playboard, they wanted me to make some parts. There was a time when online parts really popped off, where you could get a lot of views on a part. Now there are new ones every day. I filmed with Marcus (Shaw), Hermann (Stene) and Magz. I was supposed to make parts with them, but Playboard started to suck and I quit. So I had some footage, and started thinking… No offence, but I thought Norwegian skate movies at the time were pretty bad.
What year are we talking about now?
2014-15 ish. There were a couple of Norwegian skate videos that were pretty dope, like Oslo 5 and Gnav. But I felt like I could make something better. That I could film better, and that I could film more in Oslo, or in Norway. Better spots, better filming, and better music. I thought, I’ll just make one video that’s the best movie that’s ever been released in Norway. Because I felt like I could, and that it would be dumb not to do it, when I already had some footage.
I filmed for two years, I didn’t work, and I have no idea how I got the money to even live. A lot of noodles.
But I was out all day, every day. At the time, I think my… How do I say this? The stoke and the drive I had, spread to a lot of people. So it was like people just started to take a break from school and work, and a lot of us were out every day, and just grinding so hard.
When it started to get done, both Marcus and I became single at about the same time. Probably because we were out until midnight every night filming. So we moved in together, and when we got an apartment in the middle of town, it was really on. We had a good crib, like the ultimate skate apartment where people could just stay on our couch for the weekend or whatever. Magz got an apartment right around the corner. The setup was so good, so it became even easier to just film. After two years, the video came out, and I was stoked, the boys were stoked. At the time I’d made what I felt was the best Norwegian skate video, but I didn’t think anyone else would care. But then it dropped… We had the premiere, and I said on stage, ‘Thanks for coming, this is the first and last movie I’m making. I hope you like it.’ And after that, there was suddenly a lot of buzz around it. Thrasher wanted to post a couple of parts, and skate shops in the US and England hit me up for DVDs. I sent them 20 DVDs each, and they were sold out in a week or something. They were like, ‘we need more.’
So damn cool.
Yes, so it was clear that people liked the stuff. But still, even though all that happened, I felt this was it. But then doors started opening… Karsten (Kleppan) saw the video (I think he was on a heavy Chronicles tour or something), and he was so stoked on it and said that he wanted to film a part when he came back. I was like, ‘that would be cool’ thinking it might not happen… Because at that time, I still hadn’t earned a single penny… And then I got in touch with Nike, who were ready to pay me what I thought at that time was a lot of money to make a Karsten part. So it was like, shit, cool. And the rest of the guys were just as hungry, if not more, because things were also starting to happen for them, like getting on adidas Europe and so on. Everyone just wanted to keep going. So I made one more video that I filmed in one year, and then the Karsto and Janno part. And then I thought again, like, that’s enough. Now I’ve made two videos and a part, an exciting project for Nike. I got a regular job and was totally ready to chill and film a little on the weekends maybe. Then one day at work I got a call from the guy that ran adidas Europe at the time, and they were like, are you keen to go to Barcelona and film for us for two months? We are keen to start working with you.
What video had you just dropped then? Tigerstaden?
Yeah that was Tigerstaden.
That’s awesome. And now we’re here today. You’re still working as a skate filmmaker. Are you done with the VX?
No, I wouldn’t say that. But I think the industry is done with the VX. I’d love to film more VX.
What’s next for skate filming?
It’s hard to say… Things move extremely slowly. We’re still filming on really old, outdated
cameras. I think there will be a prolonged period with HPX and Xtreme fisheyes, as long as it’s possible to get a hold of them.
What happens when the Xtreme fisheye is extinct?
Eh… I don’t know… I don’t feel like that next camera has come yet.
If a kid or an adult is going to get into skate filming, what would you recommend? They’re not getting a hold of an Xtreme are they.
Then you have to buy a GH5 and a Canon 8-15 fisheye. And then buy an HPX and film long lens with that. It’s a cheaper solution, but you still have to spend, I don’t know, 3000 euros for the two cameras and the fisheye.
At least. And you need a handle and this and that…
Yes. So it’s a bit expensive to get into it now. It was a bit easier when the VX cost 400 euros and the fisheye 500. And that was it.
You’re a skate nerd. And many say that you’re the biggest one. Skating is obviously a passion, but I feel it also has a lot to do with your personality. Do you get obsessed with things? In general?
Yes, absolutely. I’m very obsessive.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Besides skating, it’s vintage T-shirts.
Yes. It’s funny, because we’re of course talking about vintage T-shirts.
But what’s the deal?
I’ve always been a collector. Both my brother and I have been collectors all our lives. Not hoarders, though. I’ve always been keen on having a really good collection of everything I like. But I want it to be as small and incredible as possible. I have a crazy collection of skate videos. But it’s not like I have every single video, but I almost have all the skate videos I’m keen on having. I probably have a hundred or whatever. Maybe more. I have a lot, but I don’t need the Pig Wood video, you know. I want everything to be quality. But when I collect skate videos, it’s fun for a while, but in the end, what do you do with them? I have 30 on display in the apartment, and I have a hundred that are just laying in the basement. Same thing with skate decks. It’s fun to collect, and it’s cool when you get what you really want. But my girlfriend doesn’t want 20 boards hanging around in the apartment, and neither do I. I don’t know why it took so long, I’m not exactly into fashion, but I’ve always been fond of clothes. I like to collect, and I like music and skating. It’s something you can use, compared to a video I’ll just put it in a duffel bag in the basement. If I get a new shirt, I can flex with it and use it.
Would you say you’re a fashionista?
Yes… I don’t know. I’d say I’m very interested in dressing well, and I like clothes, but…
You’re a skate fashionista, right?
You’re a street-smart skate fashionista.
Not educated. It’s from the streets. I don’t really care about fashion in general. You have to care about fashion to be a fashionista. I’m not watching runway shows of a designer, but I’ve always been very fond of clothes.
What makes a good vintage shirt? What makes you want to buy it?
I have to have a connection to it. It has to be a band I like, or a skate brand or a graphic I like. That’s basically it. It has to be from the right time. The t-shirt has to be from when the album came out, or the skate t-shirt has to be from the year. It has to be original. Anyone reading this who is sitting on some old band or skate t-shirts hit me up!
I remember when I was in the States and found a Hook Ups t-shirt, I asked you what was up with it and you said it was the wrong year, that it was a 1999, and that it was too much money for a ‘99.
Yeah, Hook Ups became wack after a while. It was awesome in the beginning, but then it became too centred around the ‘sexy’ anime stuff. And I don’t think that’s the Hook Ups era that’s cool.
So what era is the good Hook Ups era?
Early to mid-90s. Like the first few years.
Ha ha, love this, you pull up an interview in a skate mag and this is what you get. This is the important knowledge we’re here to bestow upon people.
Best dressed skater?
Oh… That’s a tough one. I think I’ll say Pedro Biagio just because of the pants.
What’s your least favourite skate fashion trend right now?
There’s a lot.
I saw your Walking on Sunshine part. I think I took a screenshot. I can’t exactly remember what it was, but it was a V-neck t-shirt. I thought, what can I find that Pekka wouldn’t wear today.
I have a lot of those moments. I tried the preppy look for a while, but it didn’t work. There have been so many bad eras. I don’t know what the worst is, but I have skated in some purple tight jeans, a tie-dye t-shirt and a hairband. It doesn’t look good, but it was probably cool at the time.
Old Abbe Nyberg vibes.
I think I went for a Shane Cross thing. It didn’t look good, but I felt fresh. That’s the most important thing.
Gabriel Bjørsvik said in his interview that you’ve had a lot to say about how he skates. Tricks, but also fashion. That you told him what to wear… Or not to wear. Do you just tell people what they should do, out of the blue?
Maybe not directly, but I think if someone shows up in a really ugly sweater, I’ll probably hint to that not being a good idea. But there are a few occasions where I’ve said to boys, like, I’ll film this line, but you have to drop that jacket or whatever.
Ha ha, that’s really good. But are you strict? During the session?
A bit. If it’s necessary. Skate filming is a lot of psychology, so if it’s necessary… I do what needs to be done to get the clip. So if I have to be mean and say, ‘You’re not committing to it, so I don’t want to film anymore’, I’ll do it.
So reverse psychology?
Yes, I always try to get the clip. I don’t want to say that I’m a shitty person usually, but there are times when I feel that if I just act a little over it and get strict, then the skater ends up trying a bit harder or gets a bit more gnarly or whatever.
I’ve heard that Hermann can get a bit of tough love.
Yes, he’s gotten a bit of tough love. And it’s worked.
Ha ha, yeah. Maybe you just have to give him even more tough love, so he can go pro.
Yes, maybe. But Hermann is also a guy who… I know that he can handle it. We’ve been friends all our lives. I feel like I can be a bit extra like that with him, maybe. When we were younger we would diss him for everything all the time, but we do it so he can understand what’s dope. So he’s been dissed a lot, but he’s never been bummed out on it. I think now he thanks us for being strict, but we were definitely joking about his outfits and his late flips. Everything that’s wack, he’s been called out for. Now he’s doper than he’s ever been. I think everyone can agree on that.
You’ve been very important for the skate scene in Norway. Janno said that he gives you a lot of credit for how he skates. He could want to do a fakie 5-0 tre flip, but you said that he should only do a fakie 5-0, to do it speedy and dope. Kudos to that. People need to hear sometimes that they can chill a bit, and that that’s dope.
I usually have it in my head. I don’t have anything written down, but I know about all the spots in this city. I’m always on the lookout. I feel like I’m always able to find something new. I skate around the city every day, so I see a lot of spots. Sometimes you can skate past something 200 times, and then one day you’re like, oh shit, you could do this and that here.
So when adidas came to Oslo, were you stoked to show them all the spots?
Yes, I love it.
You get to show people what you’ve found.
Yes, or when they’re on tour, we mostly go to the basic stuff. We don’t go out into the industrial area, because there are eight people trying to film. You can’t go to a cellar door far out in the woods. But maybe the best thing I know is to show people our spots. It gives me a lot of joy, and I’ve done a lot of that this summer. It’s funny, if a skater comes to Oslo with screenshots on his phone he wants to go to, then I’m like, ‘this is going to be fun’. Because he’s thinking that this is going to be chill, and the spots he’s showing me are just awful to skate. It gives me a lot of joy just to tell people what’s been done before at our jacked spots. There are a lot of spots, but the threshold to get an NBD at a well-known spot in Oslo is high. It’s so difficult to compete with what’s already been done on most spots, and then even if a new spot comes up, it usually just takes a week for someone to murder it.
How’s your Yo-yo career going?
Oh! It’s not going so well career-wise, but I’m still doing it.
You are? Like at home in the hallway?
Yes. I still Yo-yo a bit every day. But there’s no real progression anymore. It’s a bit like taking a little break where you don’t think, you just fidget with something.
A bit like when I jerk off?
Ha ha ha, yeah.
Is it true that you had a pro model Yo-yo?
No, I didn’t, but I had a couple of colourways.
Yeah, but isn’t that the same? A colourway Yo-yo is a pro model surely. That’s fucking sick.
I was supposed to have a pro model, but I think it was during that time when I started fading and didn’t do it so much. It would have been fun if I had a pro model to look back on, but it ended with the colourways.
But at what point does it become a pro model? Say a skater gets a truck. When is it a pro model and when is it a colourway? Or a shoe, for that matter.
A truck doesn’t work, because I don’t think anyone has a pro model truck. I just feel like they do
colourways. But shoes, it’s the same. If a skater gets a colour on a Superstar, he hasn’t got a pro model. He’s got a colourway. If he’s designing his own, it’s a pro model. It’s the same in the Yo-yo game.
I heard you had a Yo-yo trading card though.
We need to get a picture of it and put it in the interview. That’s totally OG.
Ha ha, I think we’ll skip that…
You’re not embarrassed of it, are you?
No, not really. But it’s not like… I don’t feel like it’s got anything to do with skating.
Everything has something to do with skating. And human character.
Ha ha. I’m not embarrassed by it, but it’s not something I do in front of people. I feel like it’s such a weird, flashy thing. It’s like if I played the guitar, I would have just done it at home. I wouldn’t have taken my guitar to the pre-party and played for the boys.
I would have been shocked if you pulled up to the party with a guitar. I found a video on YouTube where you do tricks with the Yo-yo at the town hall and in Frogner park. Is it a thing in the Yo-yo scene to get clips at skate spots?
Ha ha, no, but you want it to look good. So you go to a nice backdrop.
Okay, you’re in front of the Grand Canyon. What trick are you doing?
I don’t know. It’s a bit different with Yo-yos. You create your own tricks kind of. It’s not like you’re doing a kickflip manual. It’s hard to explain, but it’s different from skating.
Okay, so there’s no 900?
No, there’s probably an equivalent to a 900 but that’s not what I do. I’ve always liked to be creative. I’ve always tried to find something that I’ve never seen before. That’s why I became known in the Yo-yo game. I had a few years where I did a lot of creative tricks that no one had done before.
So you’re sort of the Daewon of Yo-yo?
Ha ha, probably more like Rodney. I think it’s because I didn’t have a community. Maybe it was like Mullen when he was in his barn in Florida and invented the kickflip and shit. I didn’t have a lot of guidelines. I didn’t know what was cool and what wasn’t. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so I just did stuff. People were like, ‘wow, I’ve never seen that.’
How the hell did you become Tiago Lemos’ best man?
Ha ha. Tiago was in Oslo during X-Games 2018 or something like that. And I was – and still am – Tiago Lemos’ biggest fan. He’s the only one I cared about at that X-Games. So I went around and took photos of spots I knew he’d like in Oslo. I sent him a DM and said, ‘I know you probably don’t have time when you’re here, but if you want to go out and film something one day I think you’ll like these spots.’ I sent him maybe five spots. A long and nice message, and then I got ghosted. I think he saw the message and just didn’t answer me. But then he met his wife, Hanna. And then maybe a year later I was just out on the town one night and Hanna asked if I was the one filming Magnus Bordewick? And I said, yeah.. ‘Yes, because Tiago is coming soon. He digs the parts you’ve done with Magnus.’ she said. I just thought, shit, I didn’t believe it. I thought it sounded a bit too crazy. I’m a bit like, ‘hit me up when he gets here’, but still completely in denial. And then maybe half a year later I’m watching a movie with my girl, and this random number calls on my phone. I pick up: ‘Yo, it’s Tiago.’ And then I’m sure one of the boys is pranking me. Because I’ve told everyone, oh shit, Tiago is coming to Oslo etc. I just answer in a way that’s not gonna be funny if someone is messing with me, but if it’s actually Tiago, I can’t be a complete douche either.
He says we should go skating tomorrow, I just say, yes, sure, hehe. And then I get a message from Hanna, his wife, who says that Tiago wants to meet up. And then it became awkward because he was kind of led by his lady to the place we were supposed to meet. And I was like, yes, hey, hey.
Ha ha, like a playdate.
Yes, a playdate vibe. Or it felt like I had won a competition where you were allowed to hang out with your favourite skater for the day.
Ha ha, like a backstage meet-and-greet.
Ha ha, yeah, and I’m shy enough as it is, and I was supposed to meet my favourite skater for the first time. But then we hit it off really quickly and became very good friends. And then we’ve been really good friends since. We’ve been on a lot of trips together, he likes to film with me, and I like to film with him. I’m probably his best friend in Norway, so it was probably pretty easy for him to have me be the best man. And that’s something I’m going to take with me to the grave. I can ride that wave for a long time.
Legendary. I don’t remember who I heard it from, probably a thousand people. I was like, eh, what?
I had to hold a speech at his wedding, so awkward, but fun.
‘Yeah, Tiago, ever since I saw your switch back tail, I just knew it. You’re my dawg you know.’
Ha ha, something like that. I have to say that Tiago has… The fact that he’s come here, not only has been good for me and my career, making it possible for me to keep doing this for much longer than I thought… But he’s almost at the point where if I’m not involved he doesn’t want to go on trips, which I really, really appreciate. Also, the skate scene in Oslo had become a bit stale at a certain point, and myself included. I just didn’t have that much stoke anymore… And then Tiago comes and sparks up the whole city, and I get a lot more stoked about skating. And everyone suddenly wants to come session, because The God is with us. So without even trying, he’s done so much for the skate scene here. And so much for me. So I have to give him a big ‘thank you’ for that.