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Walking side by side with Nassim Guammaz

Although it’s only 9 a.m. in Long Beach, Nassim Guammaz appears to be well rested when he looks into the camera of his phone. His hair and beard that he has grown might give him a disheveled look, but his mind is already focused. He’s been in California for three weeks now – first in San Francisco and now here – in order to finish filming for his part in the upcoming Element video. But somehow, we quickly abandoned talking about that because Nassim has a lot of other interesting things to say right now.

Soloskatemagazin Nassim1

Frontside Boardslide to Fakie

You’re filming your Element part with Jon Minor – how is it going?

It’s so good. I learn so much stuff every day. I grew up with all the videos he made. Working with him is truly a blessing.

Will it be your pro video part or something?

I’m not thinking about that. I’m just going out there having fun and doing my best, trying to make it work. Whatever comes after that, we will see.

You seem like someone who has a certain plan about what he wants to achieve in his life or career. Is it like that or are you really just going out, having fun?

No, it’s definitely planning. I have learned that I’m somebody who needs a reason, a goal, a purpose – for everything in life. It is something I wasn’t that aware of in my earlier 20s. I think it was part of the process of growing up. I was looking outside to see what is expected of me. I wasn’t really too sure about where things were gonna go, but at the same time, I didn’t realize that I had all the power within me to choose wherever I want to go and whatever I want to do, that it’s all possible. It’s funny that you say that I seem like that because I just got super conscious of that. That I am somebody who needs a plan. But at the same time, it’s very important to have the right people around you.

What are your goals in life outside of skateboarding?

You know how they say that if you want to help or change the world, you gotta start from within? You start with yourself. And that’s what I’m doing right now. But if you ask me for my plan or what I really want to do, I’d say that I want to help others in any way possible. Even just talking to some people or rather listening to their stories, their experiences, and what they have to say. Because I feel like in the time we live in people don’t care about others. It’s every man for themselves and in the end, they’re gonna find out that they can’t do this by themselves. We are all together in this. That’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to start with my family and my friends and then continue. Just help and listen, see what they are going through. People should care more, people should help each other more. People should show more solidarity. I think we as human beings have to get back to that. We’re a little bit lost.

"People should care more, people should help each other more. People should show more solidarity."

It sounds like you’re going through a period of change. What happened?

I quit smoking. Then I stopped drinking as well and I stopped smoking weed too. I gave up all of that and started to feel better, healthier. I started to feel good again, to have more control of my thoughts and my mind. I was pretty much getting back to my true senses. I figured out that I had some things inside of me that I had to deal with. And the way I chose to deal with them was by eliminating all the toxics I was putting into my body. So quickly after that, I stopped eating meat too. And then stopped dairy as well. And here we are now, four months later.

What was the starting point of all that change?

I had a pretty rough time the last couple of years from 2015 on. Now, I look back at it and it was pretty tough, but at the same time, I gained so much wisdom from those experiences that I wouldn’t change anything. I was going through a lot of unnecessary suffering and I was done with that. I was sick of it.

What kind of suffering?

Just emotionally, inside of me. It is very personal. Actually, I have never really expressed this to anyone but maybe three people. But I think it’s the right thing to say, to share. I think it’s something that could inspire other people.

And then you decided to get healthy. No alcohol, no drugs, no meat…

I wasn’t feeling good on the inside, so I had to do something about it which I wasn’t doing before. The only action that made sense to me was to stop putting toxics into my body because I felt like all these things are only making it worse. I was always feeling anxious and overthinking stuff. Depressing things. They were not cool and I felt like I’m not here for this. You know what I mean? It was not my purpose in this life to be miserable all the time, to feel bad and insecure. Deep inside, I felt that I’m worth way more than that. So I decided to do something about it.

"It was not my purpose in this life to be miserable all the time, to feel bad and insecure."


Frontside Hurricane

And you feel better now?

Yeah, I’m super happy. Best decision I’ve made in my life because, otherwise, it was just gonna go more downhill. It was a negative spiral I was in.

You’re talking about the time you stayed in Amsterdam?

Honestly, the whole time I was in Amsterdam, I was just partying. I did the extreme opposite of what I’m doing now. I went to Amsterdam while going through some heavy emotional things that I did not know how to deal with as an adult. And there were so many things playing into it. I was being super destructive and then I decided to move to Amsterdam. And when I was there, I just would not skate at all and just party all the time and get in all different kind of things. I was getting into some things that were pretty sketchy. But at the same time, I feel like everything happened for a reason. I went through that, then I did some drugs where I started hallucinating and in these hallucinations I got the call to move back to Rotterdam. So I moved back to Rotterdam in the beginning of January. And when I did that, it was pretty much the time where I decided to stop living such a toxic life and to face my issues.

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Bs Smith

That’s great and it’s great that you share your experiences.

Yeah, I want to help people, you know? I want to help people who are in situations like that. And I want to be there for them and let them know that it’s not the end of the world. You’re a human being, you can get out of it. You have so much power inside of you and so many people don’t know it. And in this society we are living in, they don’t teach you about it. I feel truly blessed that I got this enlightenment and can be the compass of my life. I can be the captain of my life. There will always be things you can’t control, but why worry about them if you can’t control them?

The best thing we can do is to be good to each other and make the world better within our own surrounding.

Exactly. It starts within and then you start with one person. Or you even go outside and say good morning to everybody. You don’t need to be a superhero. Start being nice to yourself first. Then you see the benefit of being nice. I think a lot of these moral principles are getting lost in these times. And then people ask themselves, “Why am I hurt? Why am I feeling so bad?” They are all experiencing these bad things and they feel like they must be cursed or something. It’s not that. It’s just you misunderstanding some things in life. Life will keep on giving you all these experiences of pain until you learn. It’s like when you’re skateboarding. You’re gonna keep on getting shinners if you don’t learn from what you’re doing wrong. The way you react is what counts. Of course, it hurts, but you can either be like, “It’s all good,” or you can use that to go down and let it ruin your day.

I was driving in traffic lately and some guy was honking at me for no reason and I could’ve been like, “Fuck you, man!” But I was just smiling my way. It’s his problem not mine. Keep your stress to yourself.

Smile because people like that need to see a smile. The poor guy is stressed, probably just got off work, his wife is already calling, stressing him out. You can’t blame him and if you’re gonna feed his stress, it’s just gonna be more and more and you’re gonna be another person who’s adding to that energy in the world. You know what they say about how a smart person doesn’t go down to argue with a lower opinion. You stay up and don’t even judge. That’s the most important thing. A wise man is smart and he doesn’t judge, because he knows that we are all the same. We are all going through the same things from different perspectives.

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Frontside Nosegrind

"I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim, I’m all of that. I’m everything because I believe there’s a higher power."

Do you believe in karma?

Yeah, definitely.

What has religion to do with the change you’re going through?

Last year, I was getting into Islam a bit more. I was looking for answers. And the people around me were supporters of Islam and they were giving me advice. I was trying to figure out what works for me and what not. I had no idea last year. Right now, I have gained so much wisdom from those experiences… My religion is love. You know, all religions come from the same thing, the same source. They just got brought up in different times and places. But they are all the same thing. Religion is just pretty much the subculture of the true culture which is life. We all come from the same thing. It’s one thing, it’s the universe. And all these religions have their cultures intertwined with the way they perceive life through their prophets. But they are all the same: Jesus, Mohammed, they all went and lived alone for some time and meditated. And they all got the same message. The same message as the Egyptians got. In Africa, they knew this 6000 years ago.

So you’re not a Muslim?

I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim, I’m all of that. I’m everything because I believe there’s a higher power. Because I’m experiencing the higher power in myself, I know that I’m part of it. You are too. We’re just perspectives of it. We just all got this life to fulfill our purpose. We’re just manifestations of the universe. It’s endless. You can’t even give it a number of years. Time is not even a thing, it’s life. You know how extraordinary this is, how we are talking with all our senses. This body is working unconsciously. It means that there’s more than we know. How is our heart beating? How is everything working together? If you look at nature, all these animals, all these manifestations of nature, it’s created by a source. I don’t want to say a god, it’s not a person, it’s not a man, it’s not a human being, no way, it’s energy, a source. If you look at the ecosystem of the world, it’s incredible. There has to be an intelligent source that knows more than we know. Don’t you think?

I’m an atheist. What is God to you?

The idea that there’s somebody who made all of this for a reason and I think that nature just found its way. But I believe that there’s some kind of energy behind it. That’s for sure. You know what the thing is? The truth is out there. You can find all the answers for these questions. And I’m definitely doing my research. There are so many readings about the true history. There is so much history they don’t teach you in school. Or no, I don’t even want to say that because people are gonna be like, “Oh yeah, you’re a conspiracy theorist,” or whatever. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m just doing my research. I’m just reading more than the history books.

What books are you reading?

Right now, The Meaning of Hotep: A Nubian Guide. It’s about the first civilizations in Africa. And I’m also reading George Orwell’s 1984. But I don’t want to get too deep into that. Let’s stick to skateboarding.

In interviews, I always try not to talk about skateboarding as much as I can. I prefer to get more personal. On Insta, you posted some stuff about Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley. Do they inspire you?

They inspire me a lot. What I like about Muhammad Ali is his courage, his power, and the way he used it. I think there are lesser and lesser people like him. Same with Bob Marley. He was pretty much a reflection of life, of the universe. Just listen to his music. The way he has spread love and peace to people is amazing. He brought people together through music. And they inspire me to be the best I can, so that I can bring people together, make them happy, and show them that they shouldn’t fight each other. Why are we so worried about all these things that have no meaning? We shouldn’t focus on all these pop stars, rappers, whatsoever. We shouldn’t idolize anybody, we should idolize ourselves. We should follow ourselves. And be together. We’re all the same. A pop star isn’t better than you are. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. You’re all you need. Same thing in skateboarding: nobody is gonna skate the same. Everybody is gonna have a different kickflip. Don’t try to be anybody else. Embrace yourself.

Has this way of thinking changed your skateboarding as well?

It has made it a thousand times more fun. And when you’re having fun, you’re doing good. That’s what skateboarding is all about. That’s what life is all about. You gotta have a good time.

"A pop star isn’t better than you are. Don’t compare yourself to anyone."

You moved back to Rotterdam, right?

I got my own place in my hometown Spijkenisse, where I was born, it’s right next to Rotterdam. I’m loving it more than ever. It’s super quiet. It’s peaceful. I have my own space. Very important.

You grew up with your mother and your sister. What did you learn by being surrounded by women?

I guess expressing myself in the right way. Because women are really good at this. I guess some women are not. I don’t know. I don’t want to say anything wrong man. Don’t ask me any questions about women. It’s like walking on thin ice. [laughs] No, but I definitely learned more when I moved out and went to live on my own and realized how many things were taken care of by my mom which I pretty much took for granted. Like, you come home, there’s food, your clothes are clean. Then I went to live by myself and was like, “I don’t want to do all this.” I was young and neglecting, it was stupid. Until the time has come when I realized that I had no choice. I had to start doing this stuff. But once I started that, it can actually be fun. You stitch your day together by doing things, taking care of stuff. And I like it way better when everything is nice and clean. It’s peaceful.

If I have a mess around me, I have a mess in my head. But isn’t it hard to do when you’re on the road?

Yeah, but I always take home with me in a sense. I gotta make sure that I got my space. I got a place where I can breathe, where I can be comfortable, where I can be myself, where I am not in the way of anybody else. And then, when I have my own space, I take care of my thing.

When you’re in your own space, do you also pray?

I pray the whole day through. I’m setting out good intentions. Like when you and I said we were gonna call each other, I set my good intention that this is gonna be a good conversation and that it’s gonna be right. That’s a prayer. It’s the same with everything. When I go skate, I set out a good intention. To me, that’s a prayer. At the basis of everything. We’re gonna keep it fun, we’re gonna keep it respectful, we’re gonna enjoy. To me, that’s a prayer. Last year, I was praying five times a day for some time in the month of Ramadan. Right now, I’m doing my own thing and just enjoy this journey and learn from it.

Did you do the whole procedure during Ramadan?

Last year, I didn’t. I couldn’t, you know? But this year, I would love to do it.

In the end, I want to talk to you about your Instagram account. You deleted a lot of your posts and unfollowed a lot of people. Is that part of the process of getting rid of stuff that is not good for you?

Yeah, some people might take it personal, but it’s nothing personal at all. I wish it would be less, but I’m looking down on my phone a lot. And I can’t be distracted all the time, I have to protect myself.

So you’re just channeling the sources of information by yourself?

Yeah, and again, I know a lot of people take it personally, but it isn’t. You got my phone number, you can call me and we can talk, you can send me a message. It’s no problem. Just keep it real. We’re not following anybody, we’re walking together. We are walking side by side. We should all walk side by side. All these people following all these other people who are exactly like them and they’re, like, idolizing them and looking at them as if they’re different. No, you’re the same. No disrespect to anybody. Of course, I’m a big fan of so many people and a lot of things, but you never choose somebody else over yourself. That’s when you become a follower. When you’re just following people all the time, you’re not truly focused on your own purpose. That’s why I want to help people to make them realize their true value. In school, they don’t teach that. Helping each other, empowering each other. Everyone’s for themselves. Kids really start to believe they’re dumb just because they get bad grades, which is not true at all.

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Nollie Heel

Putting people in categories and wanting them to work the same way everybody does…

And then later on in time, when we get out of school and get into this world in this western society that we live in, we find out that it’s basically the same as it was in school – but way worse. Everyone’s just out there for themselves.

But there’s also good people.

Sure, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good people. But there’s bad influences, bad energies. But I’m not gonna blame anybody, I’m here to help.