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Daniel Ledermann Interview

Da Original


Regarding his tricks, it’s going downhill for Daniel Ledermann, straight down – down the biggest gaps. Which, on the other hand, got his career skyrocketed. But, you know, career sounds so planned, calculated, and determined – and that’s something he doesn’t like at all. If your life follows a straight line, you don’t have the time to get sidetracked into alleyways, backstreets, and hidden paths, but Dani definitely likes to take his time doing exactly that. Generally speaking, he needs freedom like the air to breath and that’s why he’s constantly traveling around and is about to move to Berlin soon, too. Especially because his home state Bavaria remains conservative and too restrictive towards all the people who deviate from the status quo or, in other words, don’t look like cover models of a catalogue for traditional Bavarian costumes but much rather like to pass around herbal refreshments. Despite being only half Bavarian by birth, his desire for freedom and his rejection of assimilation puts him right in the line of traditional Bavarian rebels. He has never adapted to anything nor tried to please anyone. That’s just the way he is – a true original.

Daniel Ledermann Kickflippreisinger

Kickflip | Preisinger

You just came back from the adidas apartment in Barcelona. How was it?

People came and went. Silas Baxter-Neal was there for two nights. Paddy [Patrick Zentgraf], Kaio [Kai Hillebrand], Jost [Arens], Lem [Villemin], and Oehmi [Philipp Oehmige] were there. Also Daniel Spängs, Martin Sandberg, Gustav Tonnesen, Hermann Stene – he’s the sickest. You can’t imagine how he skates rails, what kind of gaps he jumps down!

Well, you’re pretty good at gaps, too.

For the backside bigspin in here, I did a backside 180 first and Hermann did an ollie. When I did the backside bigspin after five tries, Herman busted out a backside 360 back to back. One week later, he gets the new Thrasher Mag and sees that Nassim Guammaz already did it. But it was still epic, we only stayed at the double set for ten minutes.

"My clothes always stayed extra large, never wore high-waters, never followed any trend."

Is it true that skating a gap is pretty much the same to you as skating flatground?

It’s always the same trick, you just go faster. When I’m riding up to something, I always think: “That’s the one!” I try to be this focused on every try. Usually, I roll my ankle more easily on some ledge tricks rather than on skating gaps. You’re just in the zone and can’t think about anything else. Either you bail and manage to roll over or you keep on riding and have the best feeling in the world.

How did you get on adidas in the first place? 

Because of the Boost the Bar contest in Berlin. Esel [Simon Schöllhorn from SHRN] told Torsten Frank to pay attention to me and Torsten likes my style. He always calls me “Da Original”. I’ve never changed, always stayed the same, my clothes always stayed extra large, never wore high-waters, never followed any trend.

When you hit the streets with Torsten for the first time, you did the 360 flip down the double set in Stuttgart right away.

Torsten invited me to Stuttgart and I told him that I want to fly down that thing for sure. You can only do it at eight in the morning though. I tried it like 15 times when we went for the first time, but it didn’t work. My body felt like I had just gotten into a brawl. The second time, it started raining right when we went there. On the third day, a beer trailer blocked the landing because of some city fair. We kept on checking the live stream of the Schlossplatz [big square in Stuttgart where the double set is located, editor’s note] to see if it’s still there. After some time, we went anyways and the trailer was still there. But right when we wanted to leave, some guy came up to us and said: “You want to jump down there, right? I’ll drive off now.” I was so happy, did a backside 180 on the first try, then backside flip after five, and tre flip afterwards.

You made a big impression on your team manager right there and already moved up now.

I signed a new contract two days ago. Now I have a travel budget and some cash to make a living.

Daniel Ledermann Boardslidezwei Adj Wiesbadengentsch

Boardslide | Gentsch

The travel budget has already been strained by missing a bunch of flights this year.

[laughs] Yeaaaa, that happened. I was in Berlin for the Bright Awards and Justin [Sommer] and I were already drinking Vodka-Orange before the party. At the awards, one of my friends found the place where they stored the alcohol opened up, and so we had Jägermeister and beer for free. I drank Jäger like water and, at one point, I just started heading to Michel’s [Funke] place without telling anyone. I kicked in the door and crashed on the floor till 5 a.m. Then I woke up because some guy with a mop was cleaning the floor. I knocked on the door and Michel told me what happened the night before. But when I wanted to pack everything together, I fell asleep again because I just couldn’t take it. The flight to Barca left at 11 a.m. and I woke up at 3 p.m. with the worst hangover. The first thing I did was to call Torsten and he booked a flight for the next day at 1 p.m. I didn’t want to go out again, but Michel convinced me that staying at home in Berlin during Bright would just suck. So we went to some Reebok party. I actually was completely sober in a club for the first time. We still stayed till 4 a.m. When we got back, I charged my phone and set the alarm, but I didn’t plug it in right, so it went dead and the alarm didn’t go off. I woke up 11:30 a.m. grabbed all my stuff as fast as I could and headed to the airport. When I got in line for the check-in, I realized that I had to check in my luggage at another counter, so I had to get in line all over again. I had to run to the gate and the door closed right in front of my nose. I just screamed and punched the door and there was some guy with a mop again telling me: “You missed that one.” Because I didn’t want to call Torsten again, I hit up Leo [Preisinger, Favorite Skateboard Co.’s TM, editor’s note] to book me a new flight for the next morning, which I paid myself. I got that one though.

Did you lead the MACBA lifestyle in Barca all over again?

Not right after Berlin, because I could still skate. I went to bed early to be ready for the filming missions. Then I went back home and from there to Madrid. I missed another flight because the train to the airport had to stop because of personal damage and the replacement train didn’t arrive for an hour. The railway company didn’t want to refund the flight and neither did the airline. Legally, the insurance of the dead guy would’ve been in charge of refunding the costs. Just stupid. Then I waited at the airport for 15 hours and got on the next flight. When I arrived in Madrid, I rolled my ankle at the first spot, which is why I have to wear a splint today. But when I left Madrid for Barca, everyone was there. Joscha [Aicher], Michel, the whole Marijuth gang and then it was the real MACBA life. Getting weed at the coffee shop, one liter bottles of San Miguel, chilling every night.

"If you want to be in the Olympics, you have to stop smoking weed."

I heard that you could get on the German Olympic team, but that you’d have to sign an anti-drug declaration form.

I’m still not sure about the Olympics. All the people that wanted to be in it already signed the paper and I still have five days to decide. If you want to be in it, you have to stop smoking weed. [in the meantime, Dani signed the paper. We don’t have any infos about the rest…, editor’s note] I’m still in conflict with myself because it’s a bit complicated. There will be a German team whose members are set at first, but it will be re-evaluated every year, which means that I’d have to stop smoking, skate contests, and then I’d have the chance to be on the team, but it’s not certain at all. When I’d be on the team for sure, I’d stop, but I don’t want to stop for nothing, you know. My skating evolved because of smoking, that’s where the chill style comes from. Man, by now I’ve been smoking for half of my life.

If you sign, it would mean that you’d have to go through drug screenings regularly.

Exactly, they just do them spontaneously. They want to know everything. Where my local park is, where I usually hang out, which skateshop I go to, where I live, where my mom lives, what my “working hours” on the board are, and where I mostly skate, so they can find me anywhere. Cellphone number, house telephone – they’d probably like to implant some computer chips.

Would you at least get financial benefits from it?

Nah, I don’t think so. We’d have the opportunity to get physiotherapists and good doctors and go to the Olympic gym. But only in the “set”-team and I’m only in the “maybe”-team. If they want me to quit smoking, I at least want to be in the real team for sure.

Bs Bigspin Piressmall

Bigspin | Pires

So, if you were in it for sure, quitting would be worth it?

Sure, I think it would be a sick experience to be in the Olympics. I’d close one door by quitting and five new ones would open up, including the physiotherapy and everything.

Can’t you also participate for the Philippines?

Dude, you’re right! That’s a good idea. Well, but the doping problem would stay the same.

But you’d probably be on the team for sure.

Right, but I don’t know whether they even take part. The Austrians, for example, don’t have anything set up so far. 

Regarding smoking, you are also sponsored by a head shop called Hanfstube [Hemp parlor]?

Yes, so to speak. They have all kinds of hemp products, but it all started with cuttings. The dude always gives me seeds and cuttings, in case I can manage to bring them across the border. He’s a really nice guy and we always hit him up and admire his plants when we are in Innsbruck. That’s how it started, it felt like hanging out at a skateshop. This way, our friendship grew and now he wants to put out a collab video with the Marijuth crew.

"My skating evolved because of smoking, that’s where the chill style comes from."

What do your parents say about you being so open about blazing?

My mom understands, she just says I have to watch out because it would be unnecessary to spend a weekend in jail. My dad thinks that my performance is weaker because of it, but I think it stays the same. He just doesn’t dig that there’s weed in his house and it would be really disrespectful to smoke in front of him.

Your dad, on the other hand, knows a lot about hops because he brews beer.

He has saved everything in his mind. There’s no recipe written down. We brewed 500 liters yesterday. I’m the assistant and do the handiwork – stirring the malt, cleaning the kettles.

What do you brew?

Light and dark organic beer, it’s called Häpfen Bräu.

Your dad told me that you had a lot of freedom in your teens because your parents, who had split up and lived separately, didn’t communicate properly. Did you consciously take advantage of that?

For sure, I was a real rascal. I knew exactly that they’d say no if their eleven-year-old son asked them whether he can go to a contest in Prague for the weekend. So I told my mom that I will stay at a friend’s place for two days and told my dad the same about another friend. In truth, I stayed in Prague the whole time and even blazed back then.

Daniel Ledermann Fakie 360 Flippreisinger

Fakie 360 Flip | Preisinger

After all, you didn’t have an apprenticeship. You probably didn’t want to either, right?

I stopped doing homework when I was in third grade, had a shop sponsor in fifth grade, and realized that I can get stuff for free. I always liked to go 100 km to Munich by train. I got home at 11 p.m. and got in a lot of trouble. I always lied about being in Munich because I knew they wouldn’t have allowed me to go. And I kept on ditching homework, but my teacher kind of understood that skating is my thing and that that’s what I’m good at.

So you never had other plans besides skating?

Just to be free, to do whatever comes to your mind. My parents kept on asking about apprenticeships and so on, but I realized that my dad always has work for me to do in his tavern. I never could’ve managed to get done with an apprenticeship. I couldn’t pull it through. Just to write applications, in which you supposedly explain who you are – how is anyone going to be able to tell how you will act in the next three years judging from a short text?

Is it freedom that you need or do you just not want to be stressed out?

It’s freedom. It has been like this since kindergarten. When everyone sat down in a circle to draw or tinker, I was always doing something else. I’ve always been like this. Roaming around is the only option.

"I stopped doing homework when I was in third grade."

Your dad also used to be on the road as a freedom-loving professional musician.

Yes, and like father, like son. Since he has a passion for beer, he went to a lot of parties for sure back then. That probably went over into my blood. I can never stay at the same place for too long. Five days at home are too boring, I have to go to another city to skate, see new things, experience new things.

That would explain why your dad is so sympathetic and why he supports you. Is he also giving you advice on your contracts?

No, he just looked at them and is happy about. But I have to take care of health insurance and stuff like that myself soon and we talked about that. In my opinion, the skate industry should pay your insurance before it starts giving you money. Almost everyone has health insurance here, but there are Ams in America who are $25,000 in debt because they broke their foot once.

Despite everything, you’ll leave him to move to Berlin soon.

I really plan to and Torsten will try to make it possible. Because of the new contract, I’ll get some allowances and they’ll probably bear the costs for a place to stay as well, but we’re still working that out. Maybe I’ll already be living in Berlin by spring though.

Daniel Ledermann Bs180 Hofheim Cmykgentsch

Backside 180 | Gentsch

You used to spend the winters on the Philippines, where your mother is from. Do you still go there?

I’ve seen snow for the first time when I was eight because we always went to the Philippines when it got cold. We even had a German teacher with us. The last time I went was two years ago and I stayed for eight months. Before that, I didn’t visit for eleven years.

Is it true that you pretty much became the best-known skater on the Philippines when you went on your last trip there?

I was there and they had this series of contests, and I went to every stop and won every contest, including the finals.

Are you the Filipino champion now?

Yea, so to speak. It’s called North vs. South and the south won because of me. That’s how everyone heard about me. Around that time, I went to film with this one guy and ended up having three tricks in one of his clips, which a lot of people saw. Now, I’m some kind of superstar on the Philippines.

They weren’t pissed because some German won all their contests?

Nah, they were so happy. Zero bad vibes on the Philippine side.

And now they even sell Favorite boards there.

When I got back, they already sent out the first requests. One of them collected money and used Money Transfer to get it to Germany. Tö [Thomas Friedl] sends them boards for less because they don’t have as much money.

"At Street League, I was pushed to the wall by plainclothes policemen because I wanted to smoke a joint."

One last thing: Joscha told me about some brawl you had with the police.

That went down at the ISPO one year ago. You could get free beer everywhere, so the party was already heated. Then they closed down and kicked out a mob of 60 fucked-up skaters. The police was already standing at the exit but for some other reason. Someone from the mob just started screaming: “ACAB! Fuck cops!” and stuff like this. The dude got tackled by the police and pushed on the ground and I filmed the whole thing. One policewoman didn’t dig it and slapped the phone out of my hand. The screen broke and I wanted to get her name to file a complaint, but she kept on ignoring me. The securities started to push us out and then there was another car with four cops. I told them that one of their colleagues broke my phone and that I want to press charges. But they didn’t even look at me. So I started to film again. Then another cop wanted to take the phone away from me, but I didn’t let him. Then he pushed me to the ground and three guys held me down with their knees in my back and on my shoulders. I couldn’t move and barely got enough air. They held me like this for ten minutes. Joscha and Mario [Ungerer] and all the other guys kept on yelling at them and finally another homie tackled the cops and got me out of there. But they got me again and took me to the station for alcohol testing and to take photos. After all, they filed charges for assault because the woman who had her knee in my face had a sore neck after being tackled. I had grazes everywhere, bruises on my shoulder and my neck… They supplied a “free” lawyer, which ended up costing 800 Euros because I supposedly lost the case. The judge told me: “You should’ve smoked more and drank less.” I got 24 hours of social service.

What did your alcohol level look like?

I think it was like 1.5, but I still knew what was happening. At Street League, I was also pushed to the wall by plainclothes policemen because I wanted to smoke a joint where the smoking area was. I realized that they might be cops and tossed the joint, but they saw it and grabbed me and pushed me against the wall, yelling: “Where is it?!” I gave them the joint and they filed a complaint. Back at the stands, I rolled another one on the note they gave me. They dropped all charges anyway.

Do you want to thank someone?

Joscha, Mario, [David] Piening, for always being brothers. Leo, Torsten, Tö, Esel, Robinson [Kuhlmann], Oli [Merkelbach], adidas, Solo, and all the photographers.

Ledermann Cab Flip Wiesbaden0001

Caballerial Kickflip | Gentsch