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Danny Sommerfeld

15:11 30th June 2009 by
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Danny Sommerfeld If you’ve seen Danny skate before, then you know what style is really about. What makes his style so unique is the fact that you can’t describe it, you can’t put your finger on why he is so stylish. Style, that’s the character of a skateboarder, expressed without words. Danny’s style shows a lot of his personality. Danny couldn’t possibly be a stuck-up person, putting on his pants with a pair of pliers—if he was, his nollieflips would look way different. Danny has this natural style, that, to bystanders, makes skateboarding look so easy. Just as if he never did anything else but skateboarding. Danny talks through his skateboarding—and that’s a language he’s absolutely fluent in.

Interview: Cpt. Cracker
Photos by Schader

Danny Sommerfeld
Nollie Nosegrind,
If you could change something about skateboarding, what would that be?
No matter how long you try, the making of the trick you try should be guaranteed.

Time to take a deep breath. You used to be an extreme inliner. What went wrong there?
I was young, 11 maybe, clueless, and always chasing the trend. When inliners came around, I started doing it with my Mum, recreational jogging-style, but at some point I removed the middle wheels to recklessly go shred the curb. At some point, that wasn’t cool anymore, so I had to get some extreme boots, to keep up with my friends. My inline buddies had some friends who rode skateboards, however, and we basically always went out together. And at some point, the skateboard was more and more appealing. It just looked better, and it was more practical, because we weren’t allowed to board a tram wearing inlines. I just wasn’t having it anymore, I didn’t want to carry shoes with me all the time. So I skated more and more, but I still rode those inlines as well. At some point a friend of mine told me I would have to decide what I wanted to be, skateboarder or inliner.

Couldn’t you be both?
I don’t know! I didn’t even ask. I just went: “Allright. I’ll skateboard. That’s less complicated.” That was my personal trend.

Danny Sommerfeld
Double set Ollie

Next one: you started out pushing mongo?
Yes. But when I started visiting the skatepark more often, the older guys told me: “Yo, you need to change your way, man. Can’t do it like that. You just can’t.” I was all: “Yeah, whatever, I dunno, I can’t do it any other way, how’s that supposed to work anyway?” They then told me to try and push long distances with the other foot. I did that, and now I can push normal both ways, which comes in pretty handy.

Now, you’ve been around for a while, and you’re a bit of a famous skateboarder as well, at least in Germany. Was there ever a point when you thought ‘fuck it all, I quit’?
Not really. Once maybe, after seeing a nasty slam on the telly, some skater breaking his arm on a curb. Almost made me think for a second. But I never thought: “Skateboarding is shit.”

How did you grow up?
It was the absolute opposite of what’s going on right now. Until five years ago, I had a pretty normal life with Mum and Dad. I went to school, there was always food on the table, me and my homies kicked trashcans and lanterns, and hung out at the playground. I skated and did my little inline-thing. And then my parents started arguing. At some point, me and my Mum moved out. I was 15, puberty in full bloom. I started smoking weed and thought: “You’re all just full of shit, I know better.” I never thought of the consequences this could have.

Danny Sommerfeld
Nollie Heelflip

So, the skateboarding community became your foster home?
You could put it like that, really. My friends were the most important thing to me. I just wanted to light up and chill. I argued with my Mum a lot, she didn’t cope too well with the break-up either. She caught me smoking my second joint, and she was so mad at me. Five minutes later, however, she came back and was all: “Roll one more!” I was like: “Aw, nah…”

Back when you were smoking weed, did you ever trade stuff from your sponsors for weed?
Of course I did. Mostly clothing. But just the stuff I didn’t like anyway, I took good care of that.

And why did you stop?
One of my main reasons was my drivers license. My father paid for it, and I didn’t want to risk it being gone the second I make it. That triggered it, pretty much. At the same time, I was depressed a lot, and it effected my skateboarding in a negative way. I was quick to throw temper tantrums. It just depends on what type you are, and how much you actually smoke—everyone reacts differently. I know guys that smoke five joints before hitting the first spot, and they kill it, but I also know guys that are paralyzed after just one toke. I guess the latter version is more popular. My main reason to stop was the way it dragged me down. For a while, I just smoked on the weekends. During that time I met my girlfriend, and if she would have smoked, I probably would’ve started smoking more again. But she doesn’t smoke weed at all, she doesn’t really like it, and if I have to set a priority between a girl and some drugs, I certainly go with the chick. So I figured ‘time to get my life in order’, and I just stopped. It worked out, and I’m really happy with it. I don’t want to start that again, because I’ve been there—and I don’t want to be there again.

Danny Sommerfeld
Switch Front Foot Impossible

You’re an apprentice at a skateboarding company, which means you can take a look behind the scenes. What did you find most surprising?
Realising that I’m actually able to get my ass off the couch. And how hard it is to sell really good clothing. I realised that you can’t just produce something you like—you have to deal with the “market” as well. Nevertheless, this means that good garments end up not being made, because no one cares about them, and six months later, all you hear is: “This rules, why didn’t you guys produce this?” Other than that you can’t really go wrong with skateboarding.

What makes a skateboarder stylish?
Skateboarding shouldn’t look like you’re training for it. For example, there’s skateboarders—the ones that care about their ranks when they enter a comp, usually—that look like they’re skating a park, when they’re skating street. Conteststyle. But there’s so many different styles in skateboarding, I can’t possibly pick one. Brent Atchley, I like watching him float through bowls, like I enjoy watching Kenny Anderson. It’s a matter of your personal taste, too. It just has to seem right, it shouldn’t look copied. A good skater’s skateboarding shows character.

Given the choice, what would your first pro model look like?
Clean. Maybe something from Fudge [L.A. based designer]. Not too colourful. The design shouldn’t be centered on the board, but it should exceed the corners a little bit. On the bottom, it’d just say “Hessenmob”, and “Daniel”. Should be something you can apply a nice stickerjob to.

Danny Sommerfeld
Ollie Shifty

When are you going to stop skateboarding?
Stop? Not. As long as I can walk, I can cruise. As a skateboarder, you always think you’re something special. Not as a person, but as a skater. Just the fact that a town, to us, isn’t just a town, but a bunch of skatespots, is remarkable. It follows you along, whereever you go, there’s skateboarding on your mind. You get off the bus with a clear mind, and suddenly there’s this perfect ledge with perfect ground. “Wicked! I need to tell my friends right now!” That’s skateboarding. Can’t really compare it with stuff like soccer. As a skateboarder, you are something special, you’re on your own terms, in your own world. There’s no rules. Without skateboarding, I’d probably still smoke way to much weed, getting nothing else done. Skateboarding is the one thing where I didn’t want to blow it. I don’t want to be the dude that’s being laughed at, like: “Look at him, he smoked one too many, and now he’s gone.” Without skateboarding, I’d be a pretty normal dude, so to speak.

Your girlfriend works as an au-pair in England for a year. How’s that working out?
Shitty, mostly. On the one hand it’s good, because I can skate a whole lot without having to feel like I don’t spend enough time with her. If I go out two days in a row, the third one is already critical. Telling her that there’s a photographer in town doesn’t do much either, really. Of course you want to be there, that’s hard on a relationship sometimes.

Danny Sommerfeld
Switch backside Flip

When worst comes to worst: super skate session or arguing with the girl—what’s your pick?
Okay, hey, I’ll be back tonight. It’s dark by then, so I can’t skate anyway. So I’m out until six. Which is nine. Then she’s pissed at me because I don’t call her, but I don’t have any credit on my celly, and I’ve been trying to come up with a good excuse for the last hours…

What’s a good excuse in this case?
“I didn’t make the trick.” (Laughs) “The trick took me so long” is a good one, too.

Does she understand?
I think she does. She can’t really comprehend it. I always try to explain to her that I’ll probably be missing the best session of my life as soon as I leave, but it doesn’t work. Well, problems of a skateboarder.

Danny Sommerfeld
Suski Back 180 Out

Second opinions:

“I’ve just really come to know him during the last year, but it feels like I already know his darkest sides; he farts underhand. He never has any money. His shoes are always too thick, they can’t be thin enough. The print on his shirt is always too large, so he wears them inside-out. Ever since he stopped smoking weed he’s been rolling these placebo joints—all tobacco, but they look like joints. These things give him what kicking the green to the curb took from him. The feeling of just quietly puffing away somewhere.” – Jascha Mursin, friend.

“When I think of Danny, I think of backside tailslides, and his style. The most beautiful style ever. Can’t train for a style like that, it’s just natural. When I saw Danny for the first time, six or seven years ago, he had the exact same style he has today. There are skaters that try to wreak this style, but Danny just has it. Loose, weightless—just Danny, you know? Also typical for Danny is his talking to himself while skating. He can be in mid-air, realising the trick won’t work out, and he’ll go: “Shit!” Or: “Oh, no!” This can be witnessed at every single session. He might land a trick super clean, but he’ll still shout “Ah, nah. Can do that one better.” That’s Danny. That accounts him pretty well.” – Freddy Gomoll, Hessenmob teammate

“Working with Danny is great, he integrates well on tours and no primadonna at all. He’s never the first in the car, nor the last to leave the spot. He doesn’t chase down photographers and filmers, actually, he doesn’t care about much anyway, really. He doesn’t need a lot of attention to be happy. He’s humble, but he has a strongly developed sense for aesthetics. A perfectly executed trick in his eyes counts more than a whole list of hard sketch. It’s got to be perfect, and if it doesn’t fit, then Danny has no problems whatsoever throwing his feet up on the couch, to wait for the next opportunity.” – Philipp Schmidt, Lakai Germany teammanager

Danny Sommerfeld
Lipslide

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