Yeah, what happened to the Workshop was really sad, but in the end, it turned out that the new team has some damn good riders as well, and one of them is Yaje Popson. We thought about doing an interview with him for a while now but somehow didn’t manage to reach out. Then this March, all of a sudden, Instagram showed me that he was in Berlin. So I wrote him a message and it turned out that he was just a ten-minute push away at the Bänke. I came over, and he told me that he was on a spontaneous trip to Europe because of a girl in Gothenburg. We hung out a bit before he went on to shoot some photos but planned to meet again in the evening. He hit me up after skating, saying that he was in a temporary art space that he visits regularly in New York. I didn’t really get what it was when he was telling me about it on the phone but was blown away when I got there. It was a huge open space with free food, free drinks, and a free jazz band flown in from NYC specifically for the occasion. There was also all the stuff you needed for doing artworks, and you could just hang there, create stuff, and have a good time – which we had. Messing around with colors, drinking, chatting about life and whatnot. We shared a lot of thoughts, but after spending just a few hours together, it would be presumptuous to say that I really know this Brazilian-born, whose skateboarding career nearly ended early because of problems with his knees. All I can say is that he’s a very thoughtful and colorful character and definitely one of a kind, and he really likes art. After we drove back, he jumped out of the Uber to find some spots for graffiti to continue painting through the night.
It’s Spencer Sweeney.
Just this week, and then maybe they’ll do Paris in October. He had a show here, so that’s why they are here.
I use all kinds of things, mostly acrylics, but the magic is in the mistakes, the unplanned.
Maybe I haven’t found my style yet and that’s why I’m trying all kinds to see what’s comfortable. Providing the environment for nature to work itself, finding the patterns in nature, that’s my favorite – letting God do his thing.
I don’t find much difference between the words. I don’t follow one thing, but I believe there’s a truth in many. There’s all kinds of cultures and they all have their own way of seeing the infinite. Whatever works for you.
I just came to a point in my life where I realized that there was something powerful flowing through us. It’s greater than what we think we are if we don’t get caught up in our individuality. There’s much more than what we are conditioned to believe. The patterns in nature are the same things that are flowing through our veins. Look at this perfect body, this structure, I didn’t create this. Getting to know that which created us is more of what’s been going on. A lot of injury, a lot of loss, in general, life suffering that pushes us closer to God, closer to ourselves. Suffering is grace, it helps us to understand life. A comfortable life may sound good, but it’s a blessing that it isn’t because the hard times are what teach us.
I think I was lacking core strength, not only physical. I had to get to my core, get to know who I am. That is symbolic for all aspects of your being. Mental, physical, spiritual, healing is all-encompassing. So as I was, you know, getting to the core of my physical therapy, I was also getting to the core of my emotional therapy and even beyond the predicament…
My injury taught me that, my heartbreak taught me that – life in general, good times, bad times. Love and pain are all the same.
I think that’s beautiful – skateboarding as an adaptation.
"The magic is in the mistakes, the unplanned."
That’s a good point. I think it made me a little more flowing. Even though skateboarding is pretty intense and it gets aggressive, you can’t force things. When you force it, you hurt yourself. So I find myself really receiving more often than… It has definitely made me more subtle and more sensitive to my body. I skate smarter. I can really feel my limitations nowadays and have learned how to fall better because I had to relearn how to walk. My body was so accustomed to skating that I ended up crooked. I had to realign everything, my posture and even my step.
I was away from skating for about three years, and for that whole time I had the opportunity to focus on myself to see what was wrong because I couldn’t skate anymore. That was my favorite thing in life. I had to relook at everything and observe and I could recognize that not only my body was crooked but also my mentality, my thoughts. That was because my thoughts and my movement were one, they were attached. I had to realign even my thinking.
That’s when meditation comes in. Yoga is not only the physical aspect of stretching, but it is originally to prepare the mind. Skateboarding is so related because it’s such a precision, it’s such a focus. Meditation can only help.
"Suffering is grace."
It’s an intimacy with your skateboard. It’s the same kind of intimacy you develop with your breath, with yourself, just sitting in silence. You know how many people can sit in silence for ten minutes? It’s a great way to just get through to your problems and develop your mind, to just sit with your thoughts that you are usually running away from. I catch myself doing the same thing, running away even through skateboarding, but that’s one thing I humbly admit. Why did we get into it in the first place? Because we need it.
Sometimes I feel so neurotic on my skateboard, trying for hours, stressing out.
Yeah, that’s why skaters are cool because we’re facing all of it, slamming, getting back up. I think it’s a blessing and a curse because we learn to be tough about it, discipline ourselves, we learn to fight for it, for what we love.
Switch Backside Smith Grind
Because we are naturally activists. Skateboarding is somewhat of a protest. That’s why we get into it. That is the future. This symbiosis of man and machine, to boldly put it. I don’t know how to put it… Play by the rules to break the rules. That’s the next step. That’s the hard pill to swallow. We have more power than we think.
That’s hard to believe, right? I do know that we have a third eye and that just needs a quiet awakening, nurturing, breathing.
It’s your connection to it all. I’m still developing mine, but I notice that, if you sit for long enough, that thing will start pulsing. Just ask it, anything you want. That’s your connection to the universe, but that might be too much…
"Just sit with your thoughts that you are usually running away from."
That was my favorite part about going pro, making graphics. Nowadays, I’m working for Joe Castrucci. Lately, I have been super happy to collaborate with some of my favorite artists and favorite musicians. That’s been really pushing me. We’re doing a board graphic with Burial, this sick dark house DJ from London, who is my favorite. We’re doing a ten-year anniversary for his album and we’re putting his album cover on an Alien board. It’s a sick collaboration. I want to skate to his music and put it to some black and white footage. That’s my project for now, and I love the personal projects. It’s what drives me.
Yeah, that’s something that I laugh about sometimes because I never thought I would be into electronic music. It got to a point where you want to seek something outside of your comfort zone, and as I said, this symbiosis is happening.
I grew up telling myself that I will never skate handrails. So I have been liberating myself from this and jumping on them since I’ve been back. I love rails.
Maybe it was a fear of getting hurt, but it is liberating. I used to really separate handrail skating, like it was something different, but it is not. It’s the same precision as jumping on a ledge.
I want this part to be just back alleys. Small little East-Coast-looking spots. You know, the spots that no one really skates, the one-trick spots. There’s this thing when it’s almost more about the spot than it is about the trick. Where it never really translates. It’s always much harder for the looks, but the VX looks perfect. Maybe it’s just this era of skateboarding, but it has a very metropolis feel.