On the day before Fat Thursday, we meet at Vladik’s new apartment, which he shares with a couple. They aren’t here at the moment and Vladik tells me that he had to get used to being alone again. “You get so used to the tour life and somebody being there all the time. So when I was home alone, I tried to call a bunch of people till I realized that this can’t be the only solution, but now everything is cool again. I have actually focused on doing nothing, just lying in bed and staring at the ceiling for half an hour. I realized that it’s pretty hard. Phone, Netflix, friends, going out, girlfriend – you don’t even know how hard it is to do nothing anymore.” The next day, there is no place for any meditative silence because the whole madness is about to begin. From 11:11 a.m. onwards, everybody is going buck wild. We – that’s Vladik, filmer Max Pack, and I – are heading to an outdoor rave party, where Jeremy Reinhard is DJing. Max is dressed up as a cowboy, I invested 11€ in a wig to be Andy Warhol, and Vladik…?
[skeptical] Is this an interview question?
I went as a fox last year and the year before as a wolf, and I think I have a passion for painting my face like animals.
We are all animals, right?
I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s kinda boring. [laughter]
Lots of beers but sometimes no friends because you get lost.
You meet other friends. When I lost everyone last time, I just went to the kiosk, got a drink, and went to the next-best apartment on Zülpicher Street [Carnival hot spot, editor’s note] that seemed inviting. I met hundreds of people whom I had never seen before, but we all enjoyed it. When I got out of there later on, my buddies were just passing by again.
Max Pack: Thousands, man. From brawls and people getting their teeth knocked out to people lying butt naked on the street or fucking in the bushes midday, I’ve seen it all. —— Vladik: Guys, we have to buy Club Mate... and Vodka.
"Usually, you wouldn’t take the train to go through Chinese villages for three weeks."
Shortly after that, it turned out that Vladik didn’t feel too comfortable with doing the interview while getting drunk at a party. He also had some other plans… So we skipped the idea pretty early on and just went our ways, which practically means we lost each other. I went to several parties but didn’t find him and I also didn’t see him on Friday. He was gone but in a safe environment, let’s put it like that. On Saturday, we had an appointment for tailoring pants because Vladik has really gotten into that lately. He learned how to do it by watching YouTube tutorials. The first one took him four days, then he started an internship at joaH kRaus, a designer from Cologne, and now he’s studying textile technology and product development. On this Saturday, he didn’t feel too well and things took way longer than expected, but in the end, he managed to finish it. We filmed the whole thing and will put a clip online, so you can watch that. However, to actually get a pair of Vladik’s pants is not that easy. “So far, I haven’t sold any. I’d announce it on Instagram if I would, but first, I will serve my friends. They have been waiting for some time.” When Vladik was finally released, carnival was knocking at the door again. Well, at least for me. Vladik was still chilling and so we didn’t manage to finish the interview this time. We did that two days later on the phone and just picked up somewhere where we left off.
I played tennis for five years when I was a kid in Belarus before I saw the first skateparks in Germany when I was 14.
Going to school, being with my relatives, my grandma that I went to Germany with, and all the little alleyways of Novopolotsk, the city I grew up in. It is a working-class city with about 100,000 inhabitants. They build it to supply the factory workers with housing.
I think the bottom line is that my mother wanted to create a better future for her child. She had already been living in Germany for two years when I came with my grandmother. So I stayed with my mother and my stepdad in Bielefeld till I got out of high school.
I went back half a year after I left to see all my friends, and that was the last time.
Right, I always got letters from there. My uncle advised me not to go back as long as I am still younger or going to school, but it was just a precaution. Probably, nothing would’ve happened. I just got used to not going back and now I have been living in Germany longer than I’d lived in Belarus.
It’s crazy when friends tell me, “I know this guy from kindergarten.” I only have friends from the high school years. The rest is pretty much cut off. It’s a bit strange, but that’s alright. If it were different, I couldn’t live the life I live right now.
"The last years were a rollercoaster. I have definitely worked on my personality."
I think, for the first trips, I didn’t even realize that I was now starting to travel. From a Belarusian perspective, everything seems so far away. Whenever someone went to Germany, it was something super special. It was kinda utopian when I started to travel. I remember a trip to Nizza where I was like, “Who would’ve thought that you’d ever go there?” When you get a little more support from your sponsors, you can pretty much plan your own trips, which is really cool. You can suddenly pick your own destinations, and it got even crazier with Patrik Wallner. Those were destinations that you normally wouldn’t visit. Usually, you wouldn’t take the train to go through Chinese villages for three weeks. Then we went to Ecuador and Madagascar – I couldn’t even imagine skating in a place like Madagascar –, or we went to India…
That was a Red Bull project by Gaston Francisco. He went to Bolivia years ago, slept in a house made from these blocks of salt, and came up with the idea of using them to build a skatepark.
It is definitely not a piece of cake. The air is super thin, almost 4,000 meters above sea level. Just endless white salt. The sun reflects on that white ground and is pretty heavy anyways because you’re higher, and you can imagine the ground as really rough asphalt.
If you’re Jaakko Ojanen, you just use regular ones, but everyone else used soft cruiser wheels.
No, but I took two other railroad trips. One was from Shanghai all the way to Kashgar, which is in the far west of China, and the other time, we went through a part of Kazakhstan with Patrik. We went from Almaty to Astana and stopped by the Aral Sea, which basically isn’t a lake anymore because it dried out. Many of the shipwrecks have been removed by the locals, who sold the scrap metal.
You see so many different landscapes. At times, we rode the train for two nights. It was pretty funny though. We just played cards the whole time, drank beers, and ate, but you could just as well spend hours gazing out of the window because the landscape is so different.
I would like to see Australia. Many people talk very enthusiastically about it. I’d like to see the woods and the lakes in Canada and I also want to see some things in Africa.
For skating, I have different destinations. You don’t have to travel far to skate.
It depends, but you’ll have differing experiences when you go skating with a couple of friends or travel the whole country by yourself. Of course, you can try to mix it up by arriving a couple of days earlier or leaving later, but I haven’t managed to combine both of those successfully.
"We are all animals, right?"
I don’t think that would be my primary goal. I think I would leave that to chance. I usually have a feeling for a place or a city.
I wouldn’t say that, although I really enjoy the culture and the city itself. I don’t miss anything actually. I have lots of fun.
No, the last years were a rollercoaster. I have definitely worked on my personality. That sounds a little bit weird, but I worked on feeling well by getting to know myself because I thought that there’s more to discover and that I totally neglected some things. I came across some readings that eventually made me contemplate my own personality.
Maybe to not be as much of a perfectionist. I have figured out that it is better to just take me as I am and not always try to outdo myself. You have to learn to cope with victories and defeats. When you mess something up, it shouldn’t bring you down, because you know what you can do better next time. That has to be detached from your personality. You have to reflect on things like that in a healthy way.
Yeah, but I had some quiet phases as well. The breakup pretty much caused the personal questioning. So I took a few months for myself in which I was pretty much isolated and reflected on some issues. That was a very defining time for me in a positive way because I got a lot of good impulses from the books and started to progress. Then I was a little dumb because of some… drinking accidents.
Nah, I’d rather not.
You just dreamed about that.
Sure, I think about it a lot, but basically, we all get older. I just try to feel the way I feel, independent of my age or any expectations. I don’t want to live by any set parameters. There’s nothing you should or shouldn’t do according to a certain age. Everyone has individual phases in life in which they do whatever others have done earlier or whatever. Everyone leads a distinct life, everyone has a different rhythm. There are different times for different things.
I think what Denny does is really amazing and he did everything just the right way, but I never had that drive. I liked the way it was in Europe and just thought whatever happens, happens. The injury I had a few years ago was maybe kind of a setback, however, because I was pretty much on crutches from age 23 to 24.
"Then I was a little dumb because of some… drinking accidents."
My taste just changed. I think it’s sick to skate spots very fast and my preferences have changed from height to length of the gaps. I think it’s way more pleasant to watch someone at a weird angle going really fast to skate a certain spot – and what you like to see is pretty much what you’d like to see yourself doing.
The goal is to establish the board company next to the shop and not as a part of it and to treat the team like that as well. In the past, both things have gotten mixed up. Yannick [Schall] is not the Titus TM anymore – Ludi [Dennis Ludwig] is doing it now –, and this whole change process needed something like a reboot as well.
Ludi has a different approach and different energy. He lives in Barcelona, for example, and this will probably mean that it will expand to a broader European area. At least, that’s how I understood it. Maybe we will have a couple of new riders.
I had a feeling for the kind of music I wanted to have for that part and I asked Janosch [Pugnaghi] at first because he’s pretty well versed when it comes to music. I knew that I wanted to have a certain kind of style and he said, “Viktor is producing music, why don’t you just do it with him?” I contacted him, he was down straight away, and this is what we came up with. For the new part, I heard a song, contacted the artist, and he gave me the okay as well.
For sure, I discard some tricks that don’t match the image I have in mind even though they were sometimes pretty hard. I would rather have fewer tricks that all match and go along well. Quality over quantity, fast and powerful skating, good body tension, that’s what I like. It doesn’t need to be flip in flip out all the time. Sometimes simple things at a nice spot can be enough. Just go fast, make it look good.
No, I don’t know. I’m not the one to judge.
Sick shit. Crazy, but no, there’s no line – but I like women and I’m happy when they like me.
I will sign up to get my license today. I’m renting out a small studio with a friend here in Cologne where we can work and collect ideas and experiment. Just skating a lot, going on trips. I’m just starting to plan the near future. I’m excited.