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Bertrand Soubrier – Still got love for the streets


There are some 40+ guys who will tell you that they “used to skate” and come up with stories from the good old days, when they get nostalgic at the bar after a beer too much. There are other 40+ guys that manage to still skate once or twice a week (winter weeks not counted…) with the goal to keep the bag of tricks like it is. And then there are 40+ guys like Bertrand Soubrier, the man behind the French wheels company Haze, who is out there skating every second day, constantly trying to improve, learning new tricks and filming videoparts – like the one he sent to us. Well, you know the old Lance Mountain quote: “Skateboarding doesn’t make you a skateboarder. Not being able to stop skateboarding makes you a skateboarder.” By this definition Bertrand definitely is a 100% skateboarder.

Where are you at the moment?

I’m at my mums house cause I’m selling my skateboard magazine collection. Yesterday I sold 53 Bigh Brother and Slap magazines. I recently sold 100 other magazines and 60 videos.

Why do you get rid of them?

I feel no affection to them anymore and I have a big videogame collection that needs much space. I got 35 consoles and around 3000 games.

"If you adapt your style of skating, I think you can skate as long as you can walk. Maybe just cruising then but it’s still fun"

What are your favorite games?

I’m into Japanese RPG’s like Final Fanatsy, Shin Megami Tensei or Dragon Quest, right now I’m on Baten Kaitos on Gamecube.

How much do retro games cost?

They can cost between 150 and 300 Euros for those I’m looking for to complete my collection.

And for how much can you sell the mags?

For the 53 yesterday I got 330 Euros.

Oh wow!

Yeah but that’s the price. Do you remember Element’s “Fine Artists”? You can find the video for 250 Euros on eBay. Some of the Big Brother mags are 50 Euros per issue and the cereal box one I found for 700 Euros! With selling my stuff I made 2000 Euros in ten days.

Bertrand Soubrier Bs slappy pop out Ivry

Slappy 5-0 | Photo: Clément Chouleur

I thought you’re so die hard into skateboarding that you couldn’t give away a treasure like this?

Well, I took the mags in my hands but didn’t feel any affect. Maybe it’s because for me skateboarding is something that you do. You go skate so I don’t need stuff at home.

How often do you go skating?

One day I skate, one day I chill. So every two days for 2-3 hours. Not so much.

Oh, to me that’s quite a lot. And nowadays when I go skating, the next day my body feels like shit.

You have to try the Terragun. It’s a revolution. You use it in the evening and the next day you feel nothing. And you have to get into a routine. If you skate every other day your body can adapt.

How did your skating change? Did you jump down big stuff when you were younger?

I did some tricks on smaller rails or stairs but nothing crazy. I skated a lot at Le Dome back in the days and there’s the doubleset that everybody jumped but I didn’t really do it. I was more into curbs and technical tricks.

So you didn’t have to change your skating too much.

Exactly. Do you remember Stephane Larance? We’re neighbours and he’s the godfather of my son, too. He was jumping down stuff all of his career and when I try to motivate him nowadays to skate some slappies, he says no, cause he doesn’t enjoy skating flat. He used to jump stairs and now he’s 49 and can’t do it anymore. But if you adapt your style of skating, I think you can skate as long as you can walk. Maybe just cruising then but it’s still fun.

Bertrand Soubrier Wallride to bluntslide Chatillon 2

Wallride to Bluntslide | Photo: Clément Chouleur

For years I’m worrying how it will be if at some point I won’t be able to skate anymore. How do you feel abou that?

I think you have to find another sport.

But there’s nothing like skateboarding.

Yeah, I know. But maybe you can start riding a bike? I don’t know. I don’t like to think about this. [laughing]

Yeah, you’re still out in the streets, filming parts during winter.

Because I love to go on missions. Learn new tricks, get them on video. A lot of times I go alone to the skatepark cause during the week my friends are at work.

It’s true, the older your crew gets, the harder it is to get a session organized.

Even the young guys are like: “Ah no, maybe later…”. And I think, “You’re 20 and already tired”. [lauging] But we film a lot with Haze, that are always good sessions.

"Back in the days I used to smoke a lot and a while ago Bud skateshop from France told me that when they received the boxes they could smell the weed cause I smoked while packing them."

How did it start with Haze?

Back in the days I was pro for a wheel company called Tikal and the guy who owned it also had another company and he wanted to grow this one bigger but didn’t want to get a loan. So he decided to close down Tikal. Vincent Bressol and me wanted to buy the name to continue the brand but the guy said no. Back then there was also Lordz and Square wheels but both went out of business so there was no wheels company in France and I wanted to start a company to keep on working in the skate industry. So Tao and I put 2k each in and bought some wheels to start Travel wheels. Two years after we split up and then I started Haze alone. Again two years after I started Screwheads and Pulsar.

I would’ve no clue how to start a wheels company. Who do you ask? Do you have to get moulds done? How do you start?

It was simple, we just asked Alibaba, tested some samples and then gave it a go. And a friend of mine was doing the graphics. Somebody asked me: “Did you make a businessplan before you started”. And I was like: “What’s a business plan?” I just had a heart/love plan!

I mean you don’t really expect a business plan from a company called Haze. [laughing]

Back in the days I used to smoke a lot and a while ago Bud skateshop from France told me that when they received the boxes then they could smell the weed cause I smoked while packing them. But I stopped smoking ten years ago.

Why you started Screwhead and Pulsar?

Skateshops liked the wheels but prefered to order from bigger brands where they could get wheels, trucks, bearings etc. So it was smart to grow like this, plus I can hook up more people like that.

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Feeble to Fakie | Photo: Charley Pascal

How did the product develop? Did you change something on the wheels?

I tried different shapes, different hardness and so on. With Oscar Candon we wanted to do a special shape at some point but just got to the sample.

What is the perfect wheel for you?

The shape is more important than everything. Because I’m oldschool, I prefer the slim shape and hard wheels.

Do you do Haze as a full time job?

In France you can get around 400 Euros per month when you get 25 years old if you don’t have job or a job that pays and I did this for some years because at the beginning I was not able to pay myself. And now it’s good, I can live of it and care for my family. Last year with Covid it was crazy. It was kinda like three times more than normal sales. Everything was sold out. Shops from Jerusalem or Kazachstan or India were writing me mails cause I still had wheels. I felt like the only guy in town who got weed in summer time. [laughing] In May lockdown in France ended and within three weeks I made five times more than in my best month so far. But right now it’s getting down cause all the shops are full of stock. And the prices for wheels at the factory now have increased up to 30%, it’s crazy. Luckily I ordered a lot before the prices rised.

You said a shop from Kazachstan was calling you. I saw that you get sold in a shop on Tahiti. So Haze is all over the planet?

I think I sell in 25 countries. I few months ago I got distributions in Japan and Brazil, I’m really happy with this, specially Japan because of the videogames! Can’t wait to make a tour there.

You have Bastien Salabanzi and Michi Mackrodt on the team. How do you pick your riders?

Most of them are friends for a long time so it’s easy.

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Stéphane Garnier aka Koolfunc’88

And who is drawing the designs for the wheels?

It’s my friend Stéphane Garnier aka Koolfunc’88 who is coming from graffiti. He’d love to do boards cause it’s hard to design something with a hole in the middle.

Plus a lot of people turn the graphics to the inside.

When we started we had graphics on both sides but people told me that they prefer to put the graphic on the inside. The graphic designer was like: “Well, I made a good graphic and nobody cares…”.

Do you have a bestseller?

It’s the Prime Cut model. It’s inspired by a Schmitt-Stix graphic and I make it for 6-7 years now.

And final question: What is planned next at Haze?

Right now we’re filming on a video and I spoke with some new guys for the team. We also wanted to celebrate our 10th anniversary last year at Nozbone, which couldn’t happen because of Covid, but maybe we can do it this year.

Bebzoulaye s crooked 1

Switch Crooked | Photo: Stéphane Gauvry