Florentin Marfaing interview

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Text: David Luther
Photos: Gaston Francisco

Good to go?
Fire away.

Where are you right now?
I’m in Barca, we’re in some shop or bar, getting sandwiches. It’s all good, I just need to get a lighter, and then I’m out of here and we can talk. Actually, let’s go.

When I heard about this interview, I thought: “Oh, haven’t seen him in a while!”
Oh-kay…

On second thought though, that’s bullshit of course—there seems to be a constant flow of footage of you, and this interview means you’ve been busy as well…
Yeah, more or less (laughs).

In the last three years, where did you not go?
Where did I not go? Let’s see…Africa. Croatia, Bulgaria, I didn’t go there. Thailand. Australia, I didn’t go there. There are actually quite a few destinations I did not go to, but not because I didn’t want to—it just wasn’t meant to happen, I guess. I went on a bunch of really good trips, Brazil for example. I went back and forth to the States a few times, and we visited China quite a bit. We were supposed to go to Australia, but that one was cancelled.

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SWITCH 180 POLEJAM

Around 150 years ago, we did an interview in Münster. I think it was even before Seek came up. Back then you told me that you didn’t want to go to the States yet, because your skateboarding wasn’t up to par with your potential, you had only reached “80%” by then.
Sure, I remember that, and I’ve worked a lot since then. I didn’t know anything about the States at that time, really, I thought what everyone thought: that’s the way out. But then I got to know the States and the business a little better, and I found out that the US is fun to visit, like, for a month or something, but it’s not the ideal place to live. It’s good for skateboarding, but for a “normal” life…Nah. It’s not as cozy as Europe, you know? When I got on Santa Cruz, I asked them whether I had to move to the States, and they said it wasn’t necessary. They actually prefer me representing them in Europe, which is simply cool. I’m their connection in northern Europe.

So, where’s your percentage now?
That’s hard to tell. I’m getting older, so maybe there are a little less stairs and handrails involved. Well, not really. I need a little bit of everything. I’d say I’m still, or again, at around 80%. Which is actually quite a lot, I mean, do you ever really reach 100%? That’s the question here, no?

True. You live in Barcelona now?
Yep. It’s been almost a year now.

Does the “new” law enforcement bother you in any way? How bad is it?
It hasn’t changed that much, really. There’s just some days where you shouldn’t skate single spots. Or when there’s a national holiday, or a concert has been organized in town—hey, it’s just common sense. When the city’s crowded or a little respect is due, you can still skate somewhere else, and there’s no need to risk confrontations with the law. Also, if you avoid the crowded spots everyone goes to, like Fondo, you minimize your chance of getting a ticket. Everybody goes there, and the fact that the people living there are fed up with the hordes of skateboarders sessioning there every day doesn’t surprise me at all. Admittedly, skateboarding is pretty noisy.

Is Barca still infested?
Infested??

There used to be all these skatecamp kiddies from all over the place, overrunning Barca’s spots every summer…
It’s gotten better. It wasn’t that bad this year. I’m in Barca every summer, at least for two weeks or a month, and there were remarkably less people around this year—compared to the last few years. Less American teams as well. Right now, Lakai is here, and a few teams that I don’t even know. There’s always Brazilians coming through, but apart from that, there weren’t that many visitors this year, I think. I don’t know why that is.

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NOLLIE IN

Who are you skating with?
Whoever is around! With Labresse, or with Luy-Pa, who’s my roommate. I hang out with Thomas a lot, an American filmer who works with Josh [Kalis]. Louisa [Menke] once in a while…But I’ll skate with whoever is there, really. Whoever wants to session. I don’t limit myself to skating with a certain crew, you know?

That’d be stupid. I was aiming at folks you see on a daily basis anyway.
Yeah, that’d be Thomas, Louisa, Labresse, Luy-Pa, the locals at MACBA and Para-lel, the Brazilians that hang out there. Lee Smith, he should be in this list. William [Pham], too. Who else? Kim, from Norway. He’s always there and super cool. Skates really good, too.

Are there any projects you’re working on right now? Videos and the like?
I’m working on a video part, yes, but I don’t know where this will go to, yet. Might be 411, might be whatever. We’ll see who’ll want that, there are no real plans yet. This interview for Kingpin is done, maybe I’ll shoot another one or two in 2007, but as I said: no real plans. It’s pretty much business as usual right now (laughs).

Since you’ve lived in Germany for quite some time: how often do you go back there, how strong is that bond?
I go back every once in a while, I still have a little crib in Mühlheim an der Ruhr. All my paperwork is there. I like going back there, Mühlheim is nice. I’ve got a lot of homies there, I know all the people in the neighbourhood. When I’m on the road a lot it definitely helps coming back to Mühlheim for a week or so, to just relax.

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SWITCH POP SHOVE OVER THE RAIL

Phone switched off and all that?
Certainly. That’s one of my special moves (laughs).

Getting a hold of you is not exactly easy.
I believe you. But it depends, too—there are days where I just don’t want to be bothered. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I want to be for myself. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, I’ll vanish for a week. And hey, there’s always the internet. There’s always a way to contact me.

There wasn’t in the last four days. What happens in a week without the phone?
Take a walk with the girl, have some ice cream, go to the beach or the movies—holiday, pretty much. Spend some time with the girl, I’m on the road a lot, so that’s mandatory. Party at night, or maybe I go and see a show. Not every night, but I like to go out every now and then. There’s no spectacular answer to be found in this question.

Last show you went to?
Beastie Boys in Barcelona. Great, great show. I’ve never been much of a Beastie Boys fan, but the performance was off the hook. Great show.

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SWITCH BACKSIDE HEELFLIP

Really? Some hater saw them in Switzerland and told me they seemed to be bored on stage.
Seriously? Nah, Barca was crazy, everyone was losing their marbles there.

When it comes to professional skateboarding in Europe, the income gap is a pretty wide…
Yeah, it’s not that easy to get along. I can’t complain though. I can put a little money aside, and I can make a living. No riches, but it works. It certainly depends on the sponsors you have, and mine are just really good people. For example, I’ve been with Vans forever, and I’m still super comfortable there. But what did you want, anyway? Numbers?

Nah. None of my business. I was just curious whether you are actually able to put some money aside, to build some savings, or whether the question “what am I gonna do when this is over” poses as a threat.
Well, yes, I can put some aside, but it’s not much. I got my first money from skateboarding in 1998, and the wages have definitely increased since then—also, more people in Europe are able to make a living from skateboarding today, than back then—but if you really want to make some money, you have to have a pro shoe, or something comparable. If you really want to be able to build a cushion, or something you can work with when your career in professional skateboarding is over…And that’s my dream right there, that’s one of my goals. Having a shoe from Vans, that would be insane. I’d be so stoked. I’ve got a pretty good idea of it already as well, but I have to go to the States and talk to them about it, and that’s not that easy. Maybe, with a few more interviews and video parts in my bag, some day. We’ll see. It depends on Vans as well, if they’re feeling it or not. Would be nice. A classical street shoe for Europe, good to shred, good to chill in. But it’s still a dream, you know? Gotta have dreams to stay on your toes.

Florentin skates for Santa Cruz, Vans, Hurley, Satori wheels, Venture trucks, Zeropolis skateshop

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