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Jonas Heß Interview – Between No-Brainers and Headache

Casual, playful and with a healthy degree of spontaneity. That’s just how Jonas Heß is using his wooden board and, therefore, he can be associated with a new generation of innovative German skaters who are breathing new life into our latitudes and don’t hesitate to get wild on some new trick combinations. Finding himself in between the spotlight and the ingenuous shadow that it casts, he is kind of in search for himself and also trying to figure out his role in the (skateboarding-) world. You can’t see that by just looking at his skateboarding skills, since, regarding those, he is self confident and finds, thanks to his talent and ambition, opportunities that we only know from the world wide web. Also, unusual for the generation Y is that the 20-year-old is really reserved when it comes to his public presence and just recently joined some of the many social media networks. A mixture between juvenile innocence and healthy self-reflection. Maybe a little bit shy though. His friend and photographer Hendrik Herzmann and the calm young gun share a bunch of things and, therefore, are a perfect match for this interview.

Hi Jonas, I have met you about two years ago and back then you were just a shy little boy. What has happened for you ever since?

[laughs] Yeah, back then you were a photographer, too, and now your ambushing me with this interview. At that time I was still going to school for one more year and after that I did a voluntary year of social service at a school for children with behavioral problems. I actually just did it to get my degree because I needed a practical part for my advanced technical certificate. I was just checking out some stuff I was able to do and picked that one. I have been in the same class the whole year and helped the kids or calmed them down when they were freaking out. But I think all this social year stuff doesn’t really matter to most people… But it felt good to get away from home and really be able to take care of oneself for sure.

Jonas Heß – Smithgrind


And what are you doing now?

I’m actually doing nothing but skating and taking a break from the serious side of life. I have been filming a lot lately and there will be a small welcome clip for Converse. But besides that I’m not filming for anything special at the time. At the beginning of the year “Uludag2k14” came out and that was my last part. I also went to Berlin, Budapest and after that to Warsaw.

The “Uludag2k14“ video got a lot of attention even though it was a small local video... How did that make you guys feel?

We didn’t expect the attention at all. That it all went so well, that it even made it onto the RIDE Channel, made us really happy.

I realized that on the photo missions we had together… it was mostly only the two of us. What’s the reason for that?

I don’t really like going on missions in big groups. I’m not that productive then, I think. I don’t really like to skate in front of so many other people. If, for example, Jan [Hoffmann] or Julian [Ruhe] are down it’s easy, but if there are more, I start to feel uncomfortable. It then feels like I’m wasting their time and I can’t really focus on skating.

Jonas Heß – Nosegrind Tailgrab

Nosegrind Tailgrab

After the part at the beginning of the year everything kind of happened really quick and suddenly you were on the Converse One Star World Tour. Tell us something about that!

Yeah, I got on Converse really quick and then suddenly I was skating a demo with all the American pros at the One Star World Tour. I’ve never done that before, but it was really fun! I hung out with them for three days, we were in Cologne and took the bus from there to Berlin. First you think that all those guys are crazy dudes, but they are actually normal skaters like you and me. I got along with everyone really well and we had some good vibes. Everyone was happy when the tour was over and everything worked out right. They were on the road for two weeks, skated a new demo every day and Berlin was the last stop. Every- one was happy. I was supposed to skate the demo but I could’ve just chilled and nobody would’ve hated me for it. I wasn’t really shitting my pants either, but it was really strange at the beginning. However, it was really cool just to have the opportunity to hang out with those guys and skate.

And then you were on Instagram all the sudden. Why?

Yeah, the internet and so on… Sage [Elsesser] said to me: “Yo bro, text me on Instagram.“ And then I just downloaded the app to hit him up. But then you start using it anyways, if you already have it. I wasn’t really against that platform, I just thought it was kind of silly. That was the reason I deleted it some time ago. It’s too personal for me and some people give away a little too much of themselves. I think you just shouldn’t see some of the stuff that’s on there. When I’m back on now, I find it kind of weird to look at all that stuff. I like it to see photos of my friends, but it creeps me out that you can dig into the privacy of random people like that. I think it’s really good for brands to have things like that. They use it as a marketing tool. It’s the cheapest advertising you can get.

When I think about skateboarding too much, it’s not good for me and it makes me crazy.

I heard that you are also making some music and now you got a lot of spare time for that. What music do you make and when is your album coming?

I have a band and maybe we will manage to record an album some day. A good friend and I are a dynamic rap duo. We make hip-hop, rap and “Volks- musik” (Editors note: really terrible German folk music) [laughs]. That’s actually more of a joke and just happened by accident. We just did it once and didn’t think about it at all. I don’t want to say the name of the band because everybody could google it. We don’t want to become famous. [laughs]

Are you scared that this will fall back on you?

Well, I just don’t want to bring it in connection with skateboarding. I doubt that this will harm my work life some day. My name is not on there or anything. If any- one will type in my name on Youtube, there will be no video of that band. That would be really bad. That’s why there are aliases.

Jonas Heß – NoComply

No Comply

Okay, then we won’t tell the name…

Yeah, who really wants to listen to it, has to earn it [laughs]. But if you want to talk about music: I bought the “The Sweet Escape” Album from Gwen Stefani three days ago. Really rad album! [laughs]

So you privately listen to shitty music quite a lot…

What’s shitty music supposed to mean? I only listen to true megahits [laughs]. I just like to listen to some trashy things sometimes. It always depends on the mood too. I dare to doubt that it’s high quality music, but you kind of like it anyways. I think almost every song has its eligibility. I mean you’re listening to Juicy J. [laughs]

Jan [Hoffmann], Julian [Ruhe] and you are pretty close. Together you are kind of treated as a new generation of German skaters. What are you doing differently?

We got lucky I think. We just want to skate. And we don’t really do anything different I think. That’s maybe just because we’re present. You don’t think of yourself that you are becoming the next German star. Some things just happen without yourself having any influence on it. I just always skated without having certain intentions. At the end things never turn out the way you expected – my grandma always said that.


Backside Smithgrind

But when it comes to your guys’ skating you are pretty modern. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I think at the moment the inspiration is in skating itself. When I think about skateboarding too much, it’s not good for me and it makes me crazy. At the moment I barely watch skatevideos. I was watching almost everything that came out for some time, but now I just don’t feel like watching those clips, I can’t really give you a reason for that either. But maybe that’s because Jan, Julian and I like the same kind of videos and because of that our skating is alike…

That’s strange because you, with your 20 years, are right in that clip-generation. Where else do you get your motivation from?

I just go out and skate. If I want to film a line, for example, I just think of the best stuff I could do. Time after time you will develop your own taste and you just stick to that. Lately I try to learn new tricks a lot, I think that’s exciting and I’m happy when it works. Or I try to make the tricks that I already can do look better. I think it’s just in the nature of every skater that you want to get better. You have plenty of options for that.

I don’t cook very often, but if I cook, it rumbles!

You just told me that you lived in Kassel – Where are you living right now?

I just moved back to the countryside to live with my parents again in their house close to Fulda. I don’t know what’s gonna hap- pen after that, but it might be that I move to Berlin some day. I have been there a lot and it feels kind of like home already. I’m kind of scared to lose myself or get lost in Berlin though. The danger of just skat- ing or partying is pretty high. But first, I want to get my driver’s license; nothing more is planned for now. Just ask me, if I like to cook for example…

Jonas, do you like to cook?

Yes, a lot actually. I don’t cook very often, but if I cook, it rumbles [laughs].

Jonas Heß – Boardslide


But back to the topic: You were in Warsaw… What was going on there?

Yeah, I went there for nine days with Danny [Sommerfeld], Daniel [Pannemann], Jonathan [Peters] and Roland [Hoogwater]. The city is really cool and we were really productive. The spots are not as rough as they are in the rest of Poland though. There are good spots in Warsaw, really good spots. There was nothing really shitty there, even though I like those crappy spots. Of course, if we really tried to find stuff like that, we probably would’ve found something. I mean it’s a European metropolis, there is a lot of new stuff there. It was a really good tour, because we all got along really well and Danny fought the bad vibes instantly with his boombox [laughs]. Jonathan is working on the edit at the moment. I can’t tell you when and where it will come out though.

I don’t think I have any open questions left. Do you still have something you want to talk about?

Where did you buy that button-up Henne? [laughs] And before I forget: my favorite skaters are Antwuan Dixon, Wade DesArmo, Frank Gerwer and Hendrik Herzmann.

Jonas Heß – 5050 Up

50-50 Up