The beauty of skateboarding is that there are no set guidelines and that you have room for individual development. Everyone can do their own thing and do whatever they want. It’s a meeting place for free spirits – at least ideally. In reality, however, there are just as many codes of conducts, guidelines, and no-go’s as in other scenes or social groups. The range of what shit flies and what shit absolutely doesn’t fly is usually linked to seemingly arbitrary trends, but it nonetheless unfolds a strong normative effect. Wear the wrong outfit, do the wrong tricks, be interested in the wrong things apart from skating and you can quickly feel like nobody invited you to the party. Mika Germond, however, does not care about such a narrow-mindedness. Whether it’s the fact that he enjoys the despised competitive just as much as the highly regarded creative side of skateboarding, that he’s using his hands by doing a caveman in or a yank out, or even that he recently started learning jazz dance, his thought patterns are more open. All this helps to bring out his approach to skating from the masses of the mainstream.
I’m 27. I started skating when I was 11, but only when I moved to London in 2010 did I figure out that it’s good to skate every day, which I didn’t do before.
Because I failed my exam for my second year at university – I studied sports – and my parents didn’t want me to stay in Paris to find a random job. They told me to go to London, to learn English, and to gather some experience. I didn’t want to go, because I had a girlfriend in France, but now I’m super thankful.
When I say Paris, I mean the suburbs of Paris. I moved back there, but realized that traveling is a really good thing to do. I thought that I might go to another city for my master’s degree.
We grew up skateboarding together. We were taking pictures of each other and slowly we evolved, and it helps me a lot for sure. I think Tura [David Turakiewicz] gave me the first opportunity to be in a magazine and it was a picture Maxime took.
"In Lyon I’m always managing things and arranging the days skating because everyone else wants to go to Hôtel de Ville. It’s hard to get them away from that spot"
Sometimes he shows me some spot that made him think of me and then we go there and I try, but a lot of photos came about naturally, we never really plan anything.
Not in Lyon. In Lyon I’m always managing things and arranging the days skating because everyone else wants to go to Hôtel de Ville. It’s hard to get them away from that spot. I tried for years, but I understood that I have to go to different spots on my own with a photographer or a filmer. It will not be as fun as a session with your friends, but you’re more productive.
For me, there’s enough spots, but maybe that’s because of the way I want to skate. Because it’s mainly sketchy or shitty spots. I have like 200 pictures of spots I want to skate on my phone. When I’m showing around strangers in Lyon, I’ll always get out the list. But usually people decline because they don’t see that there’s a spot. I like figuring out ways to make something weird at a spot by doing the right trick on it. Exploring the city to find some treasures is the best.
That’s the thing I like. I think I’m not patient enough to skate ledges and manny pads. You have to practice and try all over again. If I have to give it one hundred tries, I’d want to make it a mission and not try to learn a certain trick. I don’t want to waste my time on that. It’s not the way I want to skate.
Back in my hometown I was doing a lot of grabs and hippie jumps. Back then, it wasn’t the trending trick so I stopped to skate like that and tried to do the tricks everybody else did. When I moved to Lyon, I kept on trying. After I got on Antiz, Juju [Julien Bachelier] told me, “Just skate the way you want to skate and people are gonna like you for who you are.” It took some time to understand that, but it’s pretty much what I do right now. It’s good for my brain, it’s good for my self-esteem.
But it’s different when you’re on a trip because you have to produce. You can’t be on a trip to Israel with Vans for ten days and not do a trick. But I like this kind of pressure.
Yeah. Fuck, I don’t want to see that sentence in the magazine, but I’m kind of the competition guy. I don’t want to do competitions with scores and runs, but I like the pressure that comes with being on a trip with limited time. You have to be good because otherwise the brand is gonna waste money and you’re gonna waste time.
Skateboarding is super good for that.
I did karate for 14 years.
Yeah, I stopped right after… Because I was this kid who changed his mind every day, my dad was like, “Okay, you can try everything but first stick to one please.” So I stuck to it till I got my black belt and then I was able to quit. It wasn’t that much fun even though I won some competitions and was trained by the coach of the national team. I stopped at 19. In the meantime, I did five years of rugby. I broke my ankles, I broke my head and got some scars. I stopped and then I tried pole vaulting. Did that from age 19 till I was 24. I did it during my studies and started to work in that field. I started to train some people, so nowadays I’m kind of a trainer in pole vaulting, I only have two hours of practice every week though. Recently I started dancing, I’m doing this jazz Charleston dance.
No, alone. My sister and mother used to dance so I went to a lot of shows and I always liked to see people dance and I wanted to try.
"I won some karate competitions and was trained by the coach of the national team."
It’s expressing yourself. I’m not that poetic, but I think some poetic people can speak about skateboarding the way others speak about dancing.
No, that’s what I didn’t like about it. It was kata. Just a combination of movements in the air, a choreography. The competitions were about that. I was good, but it was not as enjoyable.
I never did it. But I like the contact. Maybe you can compare it to skateboarding too. I don’t care if I fall hard. I like the physical engagement your body has with your surroundings.
I think it helped when it comes to falling because you learn how to use your body, how to avoid pain.
Not really. I wanted to become an engineer or an architect but then I realized that it’s going to take five to six years… So I moved to sports because I thought it would be easy, but then I failed my second year. That was a big turning point in my life. Before, I had no problem passing anything, but my first failure changed that mindset forever. I started thinking more about why I want to do things ever since. After that, I focused on my studies way more.
I teach people how to feel good in their own body and how to learn to accept it.
During the week, I have between 15 to 20 hours of work but it almost doubles when you add the time I spend in the car. I usually go to some house to teach one hour of personal training. But I also work with kids on tracks and fields, and I train a kid in tennis. This part of my job is the only aspect related to competition because I’m training him for winning. I’m his physiotherapist, not like his tennis coach.
When I was competing in pole vaulting I was practicing four days a week. Lifting weight, running, and technical jumping. I was seven kilos heavier. I stopped because I wasn’t into it anymore. I’ve lost the seven kilos of muscles. It was way too much before.
It was too much. I didn’t feel like that at the moment, but I realize the difference right now. I was training my legs a lot before because I was running and jumping but recently I’ve started to get sore more often and I’m wondering whether it’s because I’m not doing it anymore or because I’m getting older. I feel lighter than before, but I feel like I have less power.
Or a hippie jump. [laughs] But yeah, it changed the way I skate, I guess.
I’m still putting a lot of effort in trying to eat fruits, stretching, and sleeping regularly. So if I’m already doing some good stuff for my body, I might as well keep on drinking. You can’t delete all the pleasure in life. I don’t have the motivation to cancel everything. I’m not a big drinker but I like to buy a beer after the session, I like to go to festivals to do some bullshit.
Because I don’t want to show them.
No, it’s all from different friends. My family is very against tattoos. I still wanted to do it, I wanted to do something wrong. The first one was the penny cruiser, then I got the Italian coffee machine, then the beer, and I would like to get some pistachio.
It’s super easy. They all look like mad, super sketchy boys, but after all they are kinda all vegetarian and like cooking. But, of course, they like drinking a lot of beer as well. It’s family. We always have a good time, have some beer, sit at the bonfire, sleep outside.
With the help of Mika from Wall Street Skateshop. I was like, “Hey, whenever you hear anything about a board sponsor, hit me up.” Two days later, he told me to go to Juju’s office and meet him.
Yeah, that was easy. And the trips are super easy as well. Everything is super fun. There is no pressure.
I don’t want to just skate around. I like to skate and produce. It might be about the competition thing again, but it helps me to progress. Projects help me grow. I like to be productive to see what I do. I also really like having a picture printed in a magazine. I think it’s my main goal. It’s great to see something that you did on paper. The process of going to the spot, performing the trick, taking the picture, waiting for the response of the magazine. It’s rewarding. Some people like to take videos and put them on Instagram. I don’t know how to do it. Some people are just talented and they are super good with it but I prefer to stick to print.
Well, I did a part with them. It was the first real crew I met in Lyon when I came here.
For me… It’s a strange thing. I was new in Lyon and I thought these guys would be good for me. It wasn’t like, “I have to be with these guys to be accepted in the scene,” but they were my age and pretty good skaters so I hung out with them. Slowly during the missions and filming and partying I started figuring out that they aren’t the kind of dudes that I wanted to hang out with.
Yeah, that’s the fact that annoyed me a bit. I wouldn’t even call it making fun of each other. It’s more like spitting on each other. Maybe they were joking, but it didn’t feel right. I still like a lot of the people from that crew, but I’m happy for not having to see others that often. I can’t say I was really part of the crew. I just did the video with them, partied with them. I didn’t want to change in order to be with the hype people. The crew is a bit scattered nowadays. A bunch of them went to Paris. And they are older now.