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International Solidarity with Pass~Port


London, Brussels, Paris, and then Copenhagen: for three weeks, the Pass~Port team was recently on the road in Europe. Apparently, that was enough time to miss each other. Despite all our efforts, we didn’t manage to meet in person. I ended up connecting with Trent Evans, the guy who founded the company almost ten years ago in Brisbane, a few days later by cell phone while we were on different sides of the world. A lot has happened since the launch of Pass~Port: moving to Sydney, various video projects, some collaborations, own shop, etc. What connects all these different things is the vibe behind them. You can tell that they take the things they do 100% seriously without ever really being serious. It’s like having a deep talk with your homie at the bar, only to end up talking trash and playing pool after a couple of pints anyway. You don’t have to overthink everything, you can also just have fun, hopefully sometime soon and with friends – no matter whether it’s in Europe or Australia.

I somehow think that the first association a lot of people have with Pass~Port is Callum Paul as the Bubble Boy. How do you feel about that?

I think he doesn’t associate himself with bubbling anymore. As soon as people started catching on, he wasn’t interested anymore. He was even on the news over here for doing that. People were trying to contact me for statements because he went a little bit rogue. I know that Jason Dill doesn’t like Callum or the board because he ripped it out of Supreme many years ago.

Was there a specific reason?

He lived in Melbourne, I think, for six or twelve months at some point and I’m sure Callum kinda tortured him. That was enough for him to demand everything from Pass~Port to come out of the store. The distribution at the time called us up and told us that they are gonna take all our stuff out because Dill wasn’t into Callum, not into the Bubble-Boy board. I thought it was pretty funny. Lost a little bit of faith in the industry maybe.

Interesting. I only met him once and he was the nicest guy.

Yeah, he’s a nice guy, for sure. See what happens next time.

I always wanted to ask you about this wavy line in between the two sections of the word. Why is it there?

I think the correct term for it is “tilde”, but I guess, to me, I didn’t really wanna historically associate the word with what people think the word “passport” means. I was trying to break it apart, so you can have more fun with the words.

"We got our own little weird techniques we use to sort of bring it back to… it’s not analogue but some sort of DIY way about it."

Why did you choose the name in the beginning though?

I actually don’t really remember. Ten or twelve years ago, I was meant to start a zine that was called that. It was just gonna be about skateboarding, art, and all things my friends and I are into. I guess I just didn’t end up doing the zine and started doing the company instead. I don’t really remember exactly why that word even popped into my mind.

Somewhere, I read that Pass~Port takes inspiration from Australian heritage. How would you describe that heritage?

I think it’s just my everyday surroundings, from going out in the night to the trees. It’s just being around the signs, the places, and the people. I’m trying to take these things on and repurposing them in a way.

Is there anything especially Australian about Pass~Port?

The majority of the company is simply based here. We got some guys from other parts of the world who ride for us, but I guess we’re just engulfed in this sort of zone and this style of skateboarding. It’s not purposeful, but rather, just how we go about it. We’re just stuck on this big fucking island.

Callum frontnose bw

Callum Paul – Frontside Noseslide

I recently found out that there are only 25 million people living in Australia. What does that mean for the skate scene to have such a big country with such a small population?

It’s pretty interesting. Definitely, most people live on the east coast. It is kinda weird. There’s really only four major cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. Within each city, there’s a bunch of different crews, but after all, everyone knows each other in certain scenes within skateboarding. It is cool, but it is that spread out. We were lucky enough to go up to the Northern Territory for the Carhartt clip. It is a pretty much an untapped area of Australia that hasn’t been skated that much.

You mentioned the team riders from outside of Australia already and you’re doing Euro trips – was it always important for you to not only focus on Australia?

Definitely, we always had the idea to have team riders outside of Australia, especially in Europe. We definitely want to have some connection over there. Not because we want to grow and expand or anything, we just want cool people to hang out with and to create different things with people from all over the world.

"We just want cool people to hang out with and to create different things with people from all over the world."

I’m not interested in numbers, but how are the sales if you compare Australia to the rest of the world?

Australia is by far our biggest market when it comes to selling things, but Europe is pretty strong, for sure – Japan as well and the USA too. I don’t know if it just translates better to the people in Europe or if it’s just the quality of our distributors, but we feel a lot of love from London, France, and Germany. It definitely scatters.

In Germany, you’re working with Sprouters Distribution, right?

Yep, he’s a very enthusiastic man.

It’s named after an Australian slang word, right?

I think someone coined the term in Brisbane, but I guess it describes a gorgeous girl with potential.

Squish 5050 final

Jack O'Grady – Backside 50-50

Squish wallride ollie final

Jack O'Grady – Wallride Ollie out

You were already talking about the Carhartt collaboration. How did that happen and what was it all about?

It just came about through Josh [Pall] and Matlock [Bennett-Jones] riding for the company. It was a matter of having the same directions and ethics. It just made sense to do something together, and when we approached them to go to the outback, it seemed like a perfect fit. It wasn’t about getting minutes and minutes of skateboarding footage, it was about the whole experience. It was a trip I wanted to do for the last five or six years and it seemed like a perfect match to get them on board. It has been incredible.

You’ve always wanted to skate the Northern Territory?

It has been on my mind for ages. We just had to figure out how to go about it, and when I approached Joseph [Biais], he was all about it. I sort of did warn him that we might go out there and might not find anything besides red bushes and little towns. So they took a big chance on even being involved in the first place. That’s what got me really excited. We just went out there and tried to skate anything and everything we can but also hang out with the indigenous communities. We were hanging out with locals. It was really special. I think we got pretty lucky in the end that it made enough sense to go skateboarding in one of the most rural areas of the world it seems.

"I’d be tired of doing the same old shit every season."

To me, the Pass~Port edits always have this special Super 8 feeling. At one point, you switched from VX to HD but managed to keep that look.

We definitely wanted to stick with VX, but since we are in Australia, we were sending a lot of our cameras back to Japan to get them fixed. It literally got to a point where I was like, “I’m so fucking sick of doing this.” It was sad to let the VX go, but keeping that Super 8, 16 mm film look was the biggest thing for us when we switched. The animations we do are all stop motion. We got our own little weird techniques we use to sort of bring it back to… it’s not analogue but some sort of DIY way about it. I hate programs like After Effects. We wanted to keep it as simple as we could on that side, so we could get experimental in other ways.

Squish kickflip river2 working 2

Jack O'Grady – Kickflip

What I also like about the videos is the music. I also saw that you sell tapes you did with a guy called Roman Nails on your web shop, and you did the Jenkem mixtape. How important is music for the company?

To me, discovering a new spot or a new board is the same as music where you discover a new band or a new song. The mixtape thing originally came from the Jenkem mixtape. That guy approached me after it came out. So we just collaborated on choosing the bands and he made the mix. That whole thing was made completely analogue by him recording every track onto a tape – and we still talk weekly about music that could work with a video. It’s cool to have someone who’s not really from a skateboard background that I can talk to in order to figure out what could be cool. We had a launch in Melbourne and three bands from the tape actually played at the show – we made a bunch of merch. It was cool to do something different. Some of the average skaters showed up and some were a little bit weirded out about it, but then some of them loved it. I was just curious to get everyone in a room. It was a bit of an experiment in a way, but I enjoyed it a lot. I’d be tired of doing the same old shit every season.

"To me, discovering a new spot or a new board is the same as music where you discover a new band or a new song."

I like that approach to do things that are out of the ordinary.

Exactly, I think that’s the main reason of doing the brand, especially after the past few years. The brand is doing pretty well, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about being progressive and experimental in all different forms of skateboarding: graphics, music, and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s what we are trying to do with everything we bring out now. There’s still gonna be some element that surprises. We will always try to have something in the shop that people won’t expect.

The graphics are already versatile. Who’s doing them?

I’m still doing some stuff and there’s a handful of people who are involved. There’s Marcus Dixon, one of the craziest and most talented illustrators ever, and we are collaborating with photographers and a few other artists from other parts of the world as well.

Josh Pall – Ollie

Josh ollie river working nutural 2

Josh Pall – Ollie