If J Casanova came out with a new track today word around town, it would most likely be about Palace and Polar. They are the hot shit, the grass root revolution in skateboard brand sickness and they are everywhere. In May for instance, a heavy rollin’ posse of 20 manifested itself in Malmø, Sweden to tear shit up for ten days.
Kingpin sat down with the two brand’s spearheads, Lev Tanju and Pontus Alv, self acclaimed leaders of the new school, talking skateboarding, shits and showers, Scandis and sick collabos…
KP: Let’s start out super basic with you, Pontus and Lev, explain what we’re doing here and why.
Pontus: Okay, I’ll take it all the way back then… To make a long story short, Lev and I first met each other on this Emerica trip to the Balkans. Back then Lev was this hustler from London trying to get by. I think at the time Kingpin had sent him out as a writer to cover the tour…
Lev: But I got wasted the night before and missed my plane though, which had never happened to me before. So, I rang Oli Bürgen and he said the next flight would
be in two days. When I arrived they all had black eyes, he (Pontus) had a busted lip; went to a party in Split, Croatia and on the way home they got beaten up.
Pontus: Yeah, it happened the first night; me, Eric Antoine and Pipoz, this filmer from Switzerland, were walking home through this alley in this old part of Split. Then we just see these big dudes running at us. We just looked at each other, asking ourselves what the fuck they were running for. Then they came right up to me and, boom! Smacked me in the face and started kicking my ass. Fucking Eric Antoine just fucked-off like, “I got my Leica camera!” Pipoz took one or two punches, then he fucked off. So they left me there in the gutter and the dudes were just kicking me in the face and started really beating me up. So, after they kicked my ass, they were like, “Money!”
“Okay, here is 20 euros,” I replied, because really that was all I had on me. And that’s how our tour started.
Lev: I missed my plane, but if I hadn’t, I definitely would have been out there drinking with them, getting my ass kicked.
Pontus: Yeah, but to make a long story short: that’s how we met each other. We were hanging out there for two weeks, drinking beers, driving through the Balkans, and me and Lev just connected back then. We just sort of got our own thing going, made our own tour within the tour; had a “geil” time! So then the next memory I have was a Carhartt trip to London.
Lev: Where I hooked him up with my girlfriend’s friend…
Pontus: …Yeah, that girl that draws all the fucking owls…
Lev: Yeah, we were going to the pub and he was steaming! He took off his gold chain, gave it to her and was like: “We’re gonna be hanging out tonight!” (in a slight Swedish accent) Ha ha ha!
Pontus: Yeah, but to get back to the point: why we are doing this? The way my life was going back then, it was just hustling the skateboard sponsor game, trying to get by, and same with you, being in London. I remember you going from Slam to your house to pick up a board because some kid called you up (so you were) like, “Fuck dude, gotta go. Got some boards to sell!,” and you’d run down to Southbank to make like 50 quid or whatever. That was around the time all that Krooked shit came out. We talked about it and both really liked it. You even said you were interested in buying a camera and starting filming. And that’s how your whole thing slowly started. It was me and you being lost, slowly getting our shit together. Now we’re here with two brands, doing some gang-banging shit!
Lev: Basically, today we’re just doing a bigger scam, just instead of going to Southbank we’re selling twenty to someone else… ha ha.
KP: So now you’re reuniting your brainchilds from back then in this big tour to Malmø and Copenhagen? How has it been going?
Lev: Well, we met at Bright, got wasted and decided we should hang out more again. So the next step was to get the guys here and do this double team thing. I wouldn’t do it with anyone else either.
KP: Lev, what’s the special thing about Polar?
Lev: Most companies in Europe don’t have much meaning. And it’s good that he has his own visual way he wants to do shit, and I have mine. Even years ago, Pontus has always been someone that who if he doesn’t like what people are doing, he’ll say it’s shit. And I’m the same. That’s why I knew, nothing could go wrong, even though skaters are quite different. But what he does is different, it’s “geil”. His stuff is personal to him, just the same way mine is to me. And almost everyone else doesn’t do that, they make formulated videos, (make) copies.
Pontus: I totally agree. The main thing with Palace is that from day one you had and idea and a vision – a direction: this is what I’m about, this is what my boys–my team–are about. You stick with that, you don’t change that direction just to make more sales. I really like that, it feels true; it’s honest.
KP: Nice. Enough ass-licking now, though. Pontus, what sucks about Palace?
Lev: Ha ha ha… nothing, we’re the best!
Pontus: Fuck, I don’t know. It’s “geil”, it’s gang-banging shit!
KP: Come on, he (Lev) just said, you always speak you’re mind!
Pontus: I just love it. Love the product, love the graphical direction… I don’t know, maybe the guys don’t do the dishes that well, that’s about it. It’s alright though, 20 people at my house: of course it gets a little stressful for me and my lady at times. But that’s a skate tour, isn’t it? Skaters are dirty and that’s the way it’s always going to be.
KP: What would you guys say the amount of personal space each team rider had to himself in the week of our stay in your flat would have been?
Pontus: Two square metres max.
Lev: Not a lot, yeah. About two square metres each. It was the Thai prison! It got pretty gnarly a few nights. A lot of farting!
Pontus: A lot of shit particles in the air.
KP: Bear in mind: one toilet with built in shower! Who was the quickest to shower, who took the longest shits?
Lev: Lucien took quite a few long showers. He just laid back in it, Jamaican style: “Yah man, me want showa! Wanna shuv me long feet in there…” (in Jamaican accent). No, it wasn’t too bad. In and out quick, respectful, you know. Rory went to the park one morning to take a shit. That was pretty good. I think he wanted to be surrounded by nature…
KP: Lev, how much of the apartment’s 78m2 do you think your massive VHS cameras took up?
Lev: We probably could have fit four extra people in if we would have used regular cameras. But one of them I used as a pillow, so that didn’t count!
KP: There also was a lot of pushing going on, right? How many kilometres do you guys think we pushed per day?
Pontus: It wasn’t that bad! Go to New York, that’s some bullshit right there!
Lev: Plus the spots in Malmø are literally seconds apart.
KP (to the rest of the crew): Any other voices? Speak up now or remain silent forevermore.
Olly: I think we pushed a lot! We pushed a shitload! I got fifty millimetres mate…
Lev: Yeah, maybe it’s because I had them giant wheels on.
KP: And Pontus was on the fucking bike all day…
Olly: On a bike or a cruiser board: ok, on 50’s: no!
Pontus: But to get to the point, I think it was cool we did a tour without cars. I mean of course first we were talking about getting vans…
Lev: …But we didn’t need that. It’s much better to just skate around from spot to spot and find even more shit in between, rather than all of us cramming into a car… Plus
we couldn’t afford vans anyway! It’s much better to save the money, everyone wins.
Pontus: Plus we were trying to get Lev fit. He’s been in New York, is fat as fuck. We tried to sweat off some pounds there.
Lev: It’s all a cover-up for a little health trip.
KP: That’s why you’ve been sporting them tracksuits 24/7, right? What’s
the best place we’ve visited? Malmö or Copenhagen? Or London?
Lev: I like Malmö. I like relaxing and just knowing where all the spots are. Just having the park by your house (TBS) right there.
KP: Chewy, what’s your take on this?
Lev: He’s not here!
KP: Damn. What would he say?
Lev: Copenhagen, of course – only because of the weed though. But the spots (there) are banging too. They’re both good for different things. I like Malmø because of “geil” spots. Here (Copenhagen) it’s like the city, whereas Malmø feels like a village with sick spots. Only the booze thing – the 3.5% beers – was a bit annoying…
KP: But what about the case of vodka?
Lev: Yeah, it was good. The first night, the thing at Steppeside, was fucking great! The welcome party…
KP: What was that anyway?
Pontus: In Sweden it’s a pretty traditional thing to get fucked on that day, Valborg, the May eve, the Walpurgis Night or whatever. It’s the reception of spring, you make a massive fire, stare at it and just get wasted.
Lev: Jumped over the fire too…
Pontus: …Yeah, that’s pretty much the only trick you did this trip! But it was a really good night. And what day is today? Sunday? It’s exactly one week, feels like a month.
Lev: Long days, man!
Pontus: Basically, we put two days in each day. We’ve just been going around my neighbourhood pretty much. Malmø is also really good because you can focus – there is no one around, no one on the street, it’s empty.
KP: So what you’re saying is, you didn’t like the spots we skated here (CPH) as much? Are you saying they’re no good?
Lev: It’s a different good we’re facing here. Copenhagen’s plazas are amazing, but sometimes I prefer the smaller, random, shitty spots though. The ones you can’t have a game of SKATE on. Today, in half a mile area, we found almost too much to skate today. It was pretty much the best stuff I’ve ever seen. It’s Barcelona style. But I don’t always like that on footage: too much distraction. Like at TBS for example, you know what it’s about, nothing is taking your focus.
KP: If you built a spot like that in London, where would you chose?
Lev: Probably near an off-license, ha ha. I don’t know, somewhere in South London, near our house. – we wouldn’t be able to do it, obviously. That’s the beauty of it: you have to be in not such a bustling city to make something like that and be able to skate whenever you want.
KP: So if Pontus’ trademark shit at TBS was wallrides, what would be the shit at Palace’s spot?
Lev: I don’t know? Rizlas and fucking ashtrays maybe? It would be a bar that you could skate… a bar out of concrete: Frontside grind the bar and get a pint! But I guess, we’d just never do it – it’s only a hundred pounds to fly to Copenhagen, so we don’t have to think about it! (laughter)
KP: Back to all the pushing we’ve done. Pontus, do you think you got in shape?
Pontus: No, I was just on the bike!
KP: How many kilos is the perfect Pontus Alv-shape?
Pontus: Ahh… if I’m in perfect fit shape I’d say 85, that’s banging. That’s when chicks are turning their neck and be like, “damn!”
KP: How many kebabs away from that state are you right now?
Pontus: In kebabs? I’m fucking miles away! But I’m not really aiming for that anymore. I kind of gave up, not in a sad way though. I’m just too busy doing all this shit. That’s the problem: you start a skateboard brand and then you just get fat! You get so fucking busy stuck in front of the computer all day – emails and graphics and deadlines and bullshit and nightmares and all you want to do is: “Give me some fucking candy!”
KP: Are you saying you’ll also be spotted wearing a track suit on the next tour?
Pontus: Yeah maybe, a Converse one.
KP: Who’s MVP of the tour so far?
Pontus: Well, Hjalte is always banging, but all of them. David has been killing it, Jerome, Jacke, everyone… but it’s not about that. I want to see each dude leaving the tour with a big smile and some good memories. The most important thing is the “geil” time!
KP: Has “geil” been the term most used on this trip?
Pontus: That also started on that Balkan trip. It is from Jo Lorenz – no offence, he’s got some “geil” tricks! – but he was geiling around in a German accent for two weeks. And we were geiling with him back then.
KP: Are we going to see a follow up trip to this? A return visit to London?
Pontus: Yeah, we want to come. Jerome is there and we’re going to bring some of the guys in.
Olly: My bedroom is pretty big, we can easily fit twenty people in there!
Lev: Ha, yeah… You can’t really skate anywhere with that many people in London. Something is going to happen though.
Pontus: Yeah, we haven’t really been kicked out once on this trip. It’s something I’ve gotten so used to. It’s not even a factor out here. Then, once I go to other cities like London, I realise: “What the fuck!” You got to count, like ok, you’ve got ten minutes to make this trick…
Lev: There are not that many spots to chill (at) in London either. Nowhere to skate and sit on the grass and watch the others.
KP: Palace had the Umbro collabo; Pontus, what’s up your sleeve?
Pontus: The Palace collabo!
KP: Come on, where is the Polar “Snus” or the Ikea collabo?!
Lev: Polar x Palace is going to be strong as fuck!
Pontus: Line is coming up, and you’ll be on the phone begging for the stuff, but you won’t be getting any, ha ha!
KP: So what’s the conclusion to all of this?
Lev: This tour was how skating should be, it’s what everyone used to do back in the day.
Pontus: Be geil! Polar – Palace, Palace – Polar… two sides of skateboarding, two groups together doing their thing – geiling! Two groups of friends getting together and it becomes one, naturally, just because we’re all based on the same beliefs.