Hey Youness, everything alright?
I heard you were in a car accident recently with a couple of your friends. What happened?
Words: Bram De Cleen. Photos: Davy Van Laere.
My friend Steven was driving the car, my brother Fayssal was riding shotgun. My friend Blok (Kristof) was in the back on the right, I was in the middle and Koenraad was on the left. We were driving at around 90 km per hour when somebody overtook us quickly. And just when he gets back in front of us his car breaks down and we drive straight into the back of it. Fayssal, Steve and me were unharmed but Blok and Koenraad got a broken nose and broken eye socket between them. Blok’s scalp had opened from his eyebrow all the way to the back of his head. I thought I was going to see him die in front of my eyes – really fucked up. We had had a really good evening skating at Area 51 and then just five minutes from home that happened. Everything’ s alright with both the guys now, so we can’t really complain, I could’ve just as easily gone through the windshield. A blessing in disguise…Lucky escape! Now winter is kicking in here in Belgium, and you’re out there in sunny Los Angeles, alive and kicking. How are things?
I’m fine. Skating a lot, hope you’re good as well, aside from the shitty weather.I’m used to it. Where are you staying right now? What part of town?
I’ve been staying over at James Craigs’ in Fullerton for about two weeks now. That’s the first part of Orange County, about 40 minutes from downtown L.A.Are you planning on staying in L.A. permanently at some point?
I’ve thought about that already, but for the time being I’m just going to keep going back and forth. I can only stay three months at a time anyway.You’re sponsored by big brands now, getting ads and interviews in all the magazines, video parts left and right, flying all over the world and basically living the life of a professional skateboarder, is this what you dreamed of when you were younger?
Of course, from the moment I knew it was possible to live from skating that was all I ever wanted to reach in life!
Of course, everyone imagines it a bit differently than it really is. I thought that everyone here went skating everyday, from the morning until the evening because the weather is so good, but there’s quite a bit more to it than just skating. There are always some things that aren’t so nice, but that goes for every job or anything else in life.Is getting a pro board or shoe important to you? Have there been any talks about it or is that still distant future?
I guess that’s what every skater would want eventually. So, yeah, it’s definitely one of my goals. I can’t say anything about it really. It could happen next week, or next year… you never know. The board company you skate for decides when you go pro and then you’re pro for all the other companies you ride for as well.What was unexpected of you in the life you’re leading now? What’s something that people here in Belgium and Europe might not know about the life you’re living over there?
The pressure that is put on you. There are always high expectations to live up to but things usually seem to work out for the best if you just skate and have fun with it. Also, the more you travel to the States the more trouble they give you at customs, so that’s always quite a process to go through. Then you still have to figure out where you’re going to sleep, and find people that are motivated and skate a lot. Then again, during the week there’s not a lot of stuff to skate anyway, weekends are the best.I feel like you’ve had that pressure on you since way before you were skating in the U.S., even when you were still really young. Do you think you it comes from others or are you just being hard on yourself?
Most of it is probably just me. I do it without realising. Everybody can do almost every single thing right now, so it’s hard to come out with something new, which is what I want to do. I don’t think it’s bad to put yourself under a little bit of pressure to become better, or do something you wouldn’t normally dare to do.
The battle is always going to be there, but that actually motivates me to try new stuff. It actually gets a bit easier with time because you can estimate everything better.
When I go out and try to film every day for a week and I don’t like any of the spots or it’s just not working out, sometimes I get sick of it, but a day later I’m already skating again.Your brother Fayssal is skating really hard again, too. I saw a really good little edit you and him had together in Area 51skatepark in Eindhoven. What does he do in normal life?
He’s a roofer. He works five, sometimes six days out of seven, from 6 in the morning until 5 or 6 at night and he still plays football and skates after work or on his days off. I could never do that.Does he beat you in games of skate?
He used to always win but now it’s usually me!What tricks does he have on you?
Frontside flips, nollie double flips…I read an old interview of you from a local newspaper where you say you always try to save trick or two, and never show everything you’ve got at once. Do you have some stuff up your sleeve right now?
There’s a couple of tricks but it’s always hard finding the right spot to do them.