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Daniel Meier – Commander Things

The name Daniel Meier is not an international household name in skateboarding. Maybe Penny Commander rings a bell, but in general Daniel has never really been in the spotlight - despite obvious skills. Being voted the winner of a PJ Ladd line contest by PJ himself and qualifying for the American finals at a manny contest hosted by Red Bull says something. But Daniel never wanted to put pressure on himself but rather wanted to live his skateboarding freely according to his own taste. So it never really worked out with the big sponsordeals, but he prefers to skate at his local spots on his own anyway (even if the Penny supermarket parking lot has been torn down in the meantime) and prefers the golden VX era over today's HD releases (besides this new part). Daniel plays skateboarding by his own rules and has built a world that he likes and that suits him. We give you a little insight with this interview and his new part.

Photos: Sebastian Adam

You live in Leipzig, what's the scene like there and who do you skate with?

I've lived here since 2014 and the scene is mixed. There are many cliques and crews that all more or less do their thing. But if you just look at the Leipzig Go Skateboarding Day clips of the last few years, you quickly realize that everyone here can also function as one family. In late summer 2019, for example, we had an event called "Destroy Like Roy" in the city. Similar to the concept of Thrasher KOTR, the whole city was besieged by skaters from all corners of central Germany for a weekend. Nothing but good vibes. The DIY spot culture in Leipzig can also be seen and especially in recent months you can feel a lot of fresh air. The new generation is motivated. I also see more and more girls and women skating on the streets. I'm glad to see that so many people are getting into skating.

"They offered to take me on team trips and to shoot photos for mags. That may all sound quite harmless and actually tempting. But for me, in my world, it was too restrictive."

You had the Penny Commander parts where you ride at the local penny market. In your 2013 Lockdown Welcome Part you only ride in a small rural skatepark, where you use the miniramp as a manny pad (and completely kill it). What is important to you when choosing a spot and what do you like about such spots?

I grew up in Staßfurt, a small town near Magdeburg. Among other things, there was this infamous Penny parking lot there. I've been riding it since I started skating (2003). I think that explains why I'm not too picky when it comes to skate spots. You just skate mediocre surface and curbs for years and have become friends with it at some point. That's why I don't make a difference, whether it's a village mini-ramp or Stalin Plaza. Both make me happy. But of course I have my preferences when it comes to obstacles. I love ledges and manny pads. Here in Leipzig, I like the Moritzbastei the most. The spot has a kind of plaza feeling and definitely has its rough edges. That makes it very interesting for me. There are steps, curbs and a lot of flat. And there is a lot of traffic at any time of day. Apart from the obstacles, it's important to me that the environment is right and the vibes are chill. I like spots where I feel unobserved and I can do my thing. I also like to go skating alone sometimes, it helps me to be undisturbed. Internationally, I would have loved to spend a month in Lovepark. Preferably in the early millennium era. But the dream is now unfortunately burst.

Back to the lockdown part. The rock to fakie at the end looks like you actually never rode the miniramp like a mini. How about the transition skills?

I feel uncomfortable on slopes. That doesn't just include handrails and hubbas, but also transitions and quarters. Banks still work, they're more predictable. [laughs] That's why it never appealed to me to ride mini-ramps. I already ask myself from time to time how I'm going to survive my skate retirement later on, without a mini-ramp.

You mentioned the millennium era. I think you've watched "Fully Flared" or "Wonderful, Horrible, Life" a few times. What do you like about the skating in it and what current stuff do you watch?

Yeah, I've watched those a few times. But my absolute favorite video from that era is and remains "Yeah Right". I'm still a huge fan of that era. I'm very nostalgic when it comes to skate videos. From 1998 to 2005, I think there were so many great videos made during that period. Those were just different times back then, pre-youtube, pre-social media. The vibe was different. You could take your time, everything was more decelerated. The Americans were a mystery for us Europeans. Beautiful skating and aesthetics stood for themselves. That's what makes this video still seem timeless. I'm moved anew every time I watch the Death In Vegas montage in "Yeah Right". It almost feels like time travel. Thankfully, a lot of people are feeling more drawn to those vibes again today. Big pants, fat beats, rattling bunches of keys. Currently, I'm really into watching indie videos. Diego Meek and Daniel Dent come to mind as creative minds. Sabotage's stuff is very good for me. And the current Helas "Fellas" video gave me a lot. But I'm getting good at HD videos now too. The Godspeed video was a feast for the eyes and ears.

Sw Heelflip 01 Foto By Sebastian Adam

Switch Heelflip

You once won the PJ Ladd Line Contest and were personally selected by PJ as the winner. What was that like and what did you win?

That was of course an indescribable thing. I never thought I would have any chance internationally. Just thinking about the guys from the US. After the victory I had my, as they say, "15 minutes of fame". Again, I would like to thank Thomas Lübke, who fought with me and filmed this line. Without him this would never have come about. The prize distribution then unfortunately developed into a small disaster, which then finally ended with a happy end. A package with among other things 12 PJ Boards was promised. At that time, only six of them reached me, until three years ago, when I tried to inform PJ Ladd personally. And lo and behold, two weeks after I contacted him via Instagram, a package with six Plan B boards was already waiting on my doorstep. The sender was PJ himself. A cool guy!

You won the Manny Mania, but I don't think you took the trip to the USA. What was that like?

Of course, that was also a highlight for me. I knew that manuals were my strength, but I would never have expected to win the German final. Unfortunately, I had never taken a plane trip before. I suffered from a strong fear of flying. And since I was unfortunately not allowed to take a companion of my choice with me, I didn't feel up to the challenge at the time. I flew for the first time five years later and have never had any problems with flying since.

Were you considering trying it in the U.S. at that point?

I can still remember how pissed off my dad was at the time that I passed up this opportunity. It could well have been that I would have felt even more pushed there and would have gotten everything out of myself. If I remember correctly, Youness Amrani - who eventually won the World Finals - was able to use the Manny Mania Contest to attract a lot of attention from the Americans. But I was very quickly satisfied with my decision not to participate. Because I always wanted and still want to preserve my freedom when skating. And that would have possibly gone down the drain in America under such circumstances. So I have not regretted my decision. Only as a skate tourist I would like to travel there for three or four weeks and have a closer look at the beautiful schoolyards. And once do a manual at Pier 7, that would also be a dream.

"I came to the conclusion that I never want to be told by anyone how and where to skate."

I found a Trap clip of you. Are you on Trap or how long were you on?

It started quite early back then. In the spring of 2008, an email came flying into my inbox out of the blue. The sender was Richie Löffler. I think he had seen a few videos on my YouTube channel. Then, for the time being, a few flow packages arrived at my house. I was mega happy, of course. That was my first time getting boards for free. That went on for about a year. Then we kind of lost track of each other. Until 2010, when my victory at the Manny Mania in Berlin attracted more attention again. Richie approached me again and offered to get me on the team. During the following year I was listed as an amateur on the Trap team page for a short time, was always welcome in the Trap team booth in Hamburg and could stock up in the warehouse. Cool times. In the spring of 2012, however, it became too serious for me. They offered to take me on team trips and to shoot photos for mags. That may all sound quite harmless and actually tempting. But for me, in my world, it was too restrictive. So since 2012, I've been more or less sponsorless happy. Until Etnies got in touch last year. Richie had then later contacted me via Instagram and kindly offered me a few decks for free. So it was a purely family thing with no obligations. I have a flow deal with Etnies since last summer.

Sw Bs 180 02 Foto by Sebastian Adam

Switch Backside 180

How did the new part come about?

Actually, I've been filming for two larger VX parts for several years now. These are two projects of my heart. One is the long-term project "Listen to Lé Strasbourg" (we've been filming for this video since 2009) by and with the crew I founded back then together with homies from my hometown. And then there would be a homie video from my new home in Leipzig. The HD format hasn't quite convinced me yet. A well-filmed VX video simply flashes me much more in most cases. The vibes are different. That alone stems from the fact that this skate sound is captured so uniquely by the VX. In any case, I've been on film missions with Christopher (Schübel) for a few years now. He's a great skate buddy who always motivates and encourages you to try new things and go on trips. With him you don't stand still but develop further. Since Christopher mostly needs HD footage for his parts, I left the VX at home. I was also super happy when I saw that a clip I filmed with him became his part-ender in the Downright video. It often happened that after we got a clip of Christopher, I still had the desire to perform a trick for the cam. So I have accumulated some HD clips over the last years. Our filming missions became more and more intensive and the trips led us to some skate capitals in Europe: Milan, Prague, Barcelona. Sometime during the last year I got the idea to just cut all the HD stuff together and publish it. So sometime at the end of summer last year I decided to step on the gas again and this time collect HD footage specifically and with ideas in mind.

Christopher and you both have incredible tech skills and sometimes one would have liked to see more of you. But from what you've said so far, skateboarding has always been more of a side story for you, right?

Thanks for the flowers. I've had touch points with sponsors, flow deals and contests here and there in the first ten years I've been skating. During this series of experiences I came to the conclusion that I never want to be told by anyone how and where to skate. I always remembered what a great feeling of freedom it was when I first stood on this board as a teenager. And I just don't want to let that feeling be taken away from me. That's why I became a skater, that's why I want to stay one. Because of the freedom. And of course, I don't want to accuse anyone here of any kind of deprivation of freedom. I have always felt very well taken care of, with all the people who have supported me over the years. But in your head it changes something when you get free stuff. The own conscience tells you to deliver for what you’ve got.

"There is still, even years after the reunification, an imbalance between East and West in the scene."

The song in the new part is called "Underdog." Do you see yourself in the role of the underdog or is that even one you like to be in?

I see myself more in the role of the underdog and also feel quite comfortable in this skin. I think that's generally one of those things here in East Germany. If you want to make it in the German scene, you have to move to the West or to Berlin. Otherwise, as an East German skater, it will be more difficult to draw attention to yourself. There is still, even years after the reunification, an imbalance between East and West in the scene. I even count a skater like Christopher Schübel among the underdogs. The boy is so blatantly talented and stylish on the board, but since he's a child of the East and humble, it took a Mike Carroll and Rick Howard to personally spot him at the Bänke spot and give him the sponsorship deal he's deserved for years.

You skate a Lidl parking lot in the new part. What happened to Penny?

Unfortunately, the legendary Penny parking lot has been gone for several years. It had to give way to a construction project. Unfortunately, I also have to realize that the scene in my hometown has virtually died out. There is no longer a place to go, no main spot. The skate parks are now all rocked down.

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