Simo Mäkelä – Full interview from Kingpin issue 82
Words and photography by Deeli
“I have a girlfriend and I don’t do shit.” This is Simo’s humble description of his daily existence at 23. Uttered with a face splitting grin, it appears more telling about his stoked on life persona than the reality of his daily routine. It’s also a brief update on his situation since the Slept On we did some three years ago, when he was young and single, doing his national service. True, he does have a girlfriend. He’s also a committed and busy man on a skateboard. He knows this of course. It’s just putting to words a common misconception regarding skateboarding: doing something fun equals doing nothing. And that’s what Simo does, whether skating, rinsing the web for tunes, or loitering about. He’s a fulltime funhaver.
What makes your day a good one?
Hmm. It would definitely involve skating at the Pupple park.
Can you give a short introduction to the place for those unfamiliar with it?
It’s right by the sea and all the obstacles are pretty small. I think the highest thing there is like armpit height. Some benches. Small shit. It’s always pretty windy there. You can swim in the sea and in fact they’re just doing this new beach right next to it. Looks like it’ll have a load of new spots as well, pretty perfect hubba that might end up having a rail on top of it, a big five, a big three and a rail. Might turn out pretty good once it’s done.
You live right next to it, don’t you?
Like maybe one minute away. My friend Lurkki lives right there too.
Is that park a vortex where you get stuck for days?
Maybe it was in the beginning, but not any more for me really. I’ve spent enough time there, I know when it’s time to go. It’s also a good place to end the day with some beers.
Suppose it’s been a nice summer to chill on the grass by the monument of the eternal flame next to it.
Except that that flame’s gone out. My friend Rönkkö kicked a football into the flire and shut it down last autumn. It hasn’t gone on since. So much for the eternal flame.
Any other small things that make your day?
Yeah well, just skating around really, looking for stuff, filming something if I’m lucky. I don’t have a car and I rarely buy a ticket, so it’s mostly just pushing about.
You have a bike though?
Yeah, but I just gave it to Lurkki, so he could get around, because he broke his leg.
Does that make you stay downtown, or do you make the effort to get out further away?
Helsinki is pretty easy to get around, so I don’t know, I guess I move about a fair bit.
Sounds pretty free form. You have any routines that tie your life together?
No. It’s more like one day at a time.
You still go to that pizzeria every other day for lunch?
Barbarossa? Yeah I go there a lot. It’s 5 euros for pizza, which is pretty good for Finland. Sometimes I’ve gone there, ordered a pizza, and the guy takes me outside and he’s like: “I’m going to give you another pizza for free. I couldn’t say that in there, but since you always come here, I’m going to give you a second pizza.” And they’ve sold me pizza for credit as well, if sometimes I’ve tried to pay with my card but my bank’s been empty.
You know how they were saying recently in the news that if a pizzeria offers a pizza in Finland for less than six euros, they’re most likely evading taxes.
Yeah it probably is like that. Some sort of scam. They tried to put the price up to six euros actually, but it didn’t seem to work, the place was always empty. So all of a sudden it was a fiver again. It does say on the sign that it’s supposedly like the special offer of the day, but it’s up all day every day. The sign’s all faded.
Your girlfriend goes to the university, right? So evidently she has to have some structure to her life. Does that ever cause clashes, living together?
No, why would it?
When you don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, you tend to stay up longer and get up later.
I don’t know, somehow I think I manage to see her a lot though.
She does these girls’ theme parties at your house sort of regularly, right? You ever get invited?
Never! I have to stay out. [haha] I don’t have a clue what goes on in there.
You have a fair idea of what goes on in Thomas Winkle’s place, however?
In Barcelona? It’s pretty spontaneous. There’s usually quite a lot of people, some staying, some hanging out. It’s not a huge place, it’s got like three bed rooms, a front room and a kitchen. And a huge balcony.
How many people actually live there?
Let’s see, there’s Milan, then there’s Winkle and the two people he shares his room with, and then the third room is usually always rented out to someone. I think it’s often like eight people in total, living and visiting. But I guess you could fit more people in. I’ve usually just slept on the floor in the front room. Or if it’s nice out, you can sleep on the balcony. It can get difficult to sleep in the front room, when people show up after the bars shut and have an after party there.
What’s the story with the hats he’s got? You’re wearing one in your portrait.
I think he got them in like a dollar shop in Miami. He found this dead stock of these original corduroy baseball hats, shit load of them, so he just put some cash down and now he’s hustling them in Barcelona, I guess. Loads of skaters have them down there.
Does he sponsor a bunch of people with them?
I guess, in a way…he gave me some and told me to get photos wearing them. Unfortunately I don’t think I have any in this interview, apart from the portrait maybe. [haha]
Sick hats though. Is that what pays his rent?
I don’t know what pays his rent to be honest with you. He gets by.
Is it a bit like Paul Ahero and Sean James’s house here in Helsinki?
Sean Paul’s place? Well…yeah, kind of. It’s Paul’s childhood home, that place. He used to live there when he was a kid. Then his mom got a job in Seinäjoki I think, where Arto’s from, and he had to move there with her. Plus he had some shit going on, so he had to maybe stay in like a juvenile home or something, I’m not really too sure. But then when he was old enough, he moved back, and now he’s home again. And then it’s Sean, the guy that runs Perus Skateboards.
Since Paul skates for Perus and Sean runs it, is it like the Perus house, basically?
I suppose. There’s always a bunch of friends hanging out there. I was there last night, again. I live on the same street, so it’s pretty easy. But yeah, it is a bit like the Perus office as well, I guess, like the other flat we used to live in was, where there was product always there and that. And there’s often people staying. Ginger Tommy from England’s been staying there this summer, Dallas [Rockvam] just left, I think Taylor and Wes from Sk8 Mafia staid there when they got here few days ago.
Perus used to be just a crew, and then they started making…
How was that transition, from a group of friends to a company?
Pretty sudden. I don’t think it changed things at all, though. If anything, I think it’s sick that the guys that maybe didn’t get boards from anywhere at the time now have their own boards.
You don’t see any problem with riding for another company and repping the crew now that they make boards as well?
I’m on the wheel team, so I don’t see a problem, really. The wheel team is Eniz [Fazliov], Tuukka [Korhonen], Marius [Syvänen], Pirkka [Pollari], me and I think maybe that’s it. [Dallas Rockvam, Madars Apse and Foppa Forsberg have been added on since. -ed]
You want to tell us what the Perus dudes have been up to lately?
I guess there’ll be a video out soon. Well maybe not just yet, but it’ll be out at some point. [haha] They just did some sort of an appearance at the opening of the new park in Stockholm, I forget which one. I didn’t go, cause I just got back from there the day before, from this Nike SB caravan trip. And then we did this trip to Estonia a while ago. We were supposed to have a demo, I think, but then the locals just took us to spots and we skated them with them. It was pretty insane.
What a God-forsaken trip that must have been, I bet.
Estonia? Or the party boat to Sweden, you mean? Possibly. There were 14 dudes there. It was Eniz’s birthday on the way back on the boat. They stormed the sauna. They all said it was the best park they’ve ever visited though.
Where in Stockholm is that?
I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I don’t think any of those guys would know either, if you asked them.
It was also the weekend of Flow Festival, kind of a big thing, if you live in Helsinki. Certainly better than the disco on the boat to Stockholm.
I sneaked in there, to Flow. Crawled through the sewer. And two days later I’m sitting in the tram and they have those new screens in the trams with news and ads and stuff, and there’s a story on there about people crawling through the sewer to get to that festival.
How big was the sewer?
I’m going to say…maybe as long as this room, like 5 meters long? And about one meter in diameter. And in the end it sort of turns upwards. The exit is perfectly located in the far corner of the festival area, so you’re pretty safe when you pop out on the other side.
You always seemed to know a lot about music. How come?
Do I? I’m not sure that I know so much. I listen to a lot of music, all kinds of music.
But how do you constantly find new shit?
I find it on Spotify.
On Spotify you have to type in what you want to hear, so you already have to know the band or the tune.
Yeah, right? I don’t know, maybe I already heard from somewhere about some band or tune and then I’ll check them out on Spotify, see if they’re any good.
So if you hear something good, do you usually ask someone what it is?
Sure. Or someone will just ask me if I’ve heard such and such and then I’ll check them out later.
So here’s what I don’t get. Whatever I ask you, you never remember. You don’t remember what you did last night, or the week before, or what you’re supposed to do next month. So how do you remember all this music?
I don’t know an answer to that. Maybe it’s just easy to remember music?
You have a laptop?
No. My girlfriend has one.
Not any more. One…no actually two got stolen. I lost one. One I might still have somewhere, but I haven’t seen it since we moved house.
And you’ve got the free version of Spotify?
So your whole music collection is just in your head? Or on your Spotify playlists?
Both, I guess. It’s in my head, but I have to type it in Spotify of course to listen to it. But I don’t really need the playlists, I mean if I want to hear something I’ll know what I want to hear, I don’t need a playlist for that. But it is pretty crazy to go on trips sometimes, when I don’t have any music with me. I have to take charge of someone’s computer on that trip.
Are you interested in deejaying at all? Other than laptops at after parties…
Nah, everyone’s a dj now, right?
Is that good or bad, you think?
It would be great if everyone played good music! But it can go either way. It can be really annoying too. It’s pretty easy to dj these days, but you still need to know what you’re playing.
Coming back to skating what’s up with Alien Workshop?
It’s really good, pretty chill for now. I’m really stoked to be part of it.
Is it like a Euro team you’re on or what? Eniz is on it too, what’s your, uhm…
…job description? Yeah I suppose you could call it a European team. At the moment we just get the boards, skate them, do our thing. As for myself, I’m basically just happy to be skating Alien boards, it’s such a sick company. At the moment it’s still in the early stages, so we’ll see what happens later.