As Seb Mean of OG 2000 fittingly puts it: At first sight Geneva doesn't seem like a very attractive destination for skaters. However, by the use of cleverly produced refined lo-fi skate edits this Swiss crew is making heads turn towards the posh peace capital beneath the Jet d'Eau. Edits like last week's Mariah, which congenially features skate video oddities such as a subtle back story of Mariah Carey and an Arab princess, and riding on expensive sports cars – beneath the cover-up of raw street skating. With much more than your average local edit on display, we thought it'd be interesting to catch up with some of the people involved and hit up Seb Mean and Hugo Radi, some of the faces of OG 2000… the OG 2000 interview.
Hey Seb and Hugo, can you tell us a bit about Geneva and OG2000. What's the spirit, the dudes, the legends?
Seb: Geneva is a cool city to skate, there are tons of really good spots and you rarely get kicked out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get very much coverage in videos, so it isn’t really an attractive destination for skaters. They generally would much rather go to places like Lyon or Milan which are only a little more than an hour away from here.
It’s pretty hard to make a name in skateboarding living in Geneva, mostly because of the lack of coverage, but also because I feel like we’re stuck in between big countries such as France, Germany and Italy. What’s cool, is that it’s small, so we end up all knowing each other within the skateboard community. In fact Switzerland is a small country as well, so whenever something comes out I feel like the whole country is stoked on it. We’re always 10-15 homies skating together and you always have someone down to skate no matter which day of the week. Our crew is originally called “La Fine Équipe" (LFE) and Dax [David Goldsworthy] takes care of the videos which are all in HD. We’ve mostly all been skating together for over ten year and skateboarding is what brought us all together. O.G.2000 is kind of a “spin-off" from LFE. It's originally a skate video which came out in 2014. Guillaume [Berthet] had a VX2100 and would always bring it around and film stuff.
"You end up realizing that a lot more people than skateboarders use the streets in an “active" way… I mean in the end, we’re all in this together"
After awhile, him and Hugo [Radi], who studied film school, decided to put a full length video out. It got some pretty good echoes, so Gab [Zufferey] and Luc [Boimond] created an Instagram account where we’d post little skate edits from time to time. It is also a platform which enables us to post local stuff we like. You end up realizing that a lot more people than skateboarders use the streets in an “active" way. There’s a lot of good local rappers (Di-Meh, Rive Magenta, Makala and P!nk Flamingo, etc.) who are gently blowing up and we’re hyped on them as much as they’re hyped on us, so we use their music in our videos. I mean in the end, we’re all in this together.
Anyways, we didn’t really know what to expect from the whole thing, but people in Geneva and the rest of Switzerland were getting stoked. I decided to buy myself a VX1000 and to fully film the homies. From then on, we started making a bit of merch and released another full length last year, OGZOOO which Guillaume, Celian [Cordt-Moller] and I put together. It included people from all over Switzerland, including Zurich and Fribourg. We’re lucky enough that most of the people who skate in our videos are also really good at filming or editing so we all help each other out.
HUGO: O.G. is really a way of supporting each other, but also a way of narrating our city by creating something concrete out of it. The word “do" is really important for me. If someone has a sudden idea of doing something new, everyone is always keen on it. We all support each other. It’s not based on a vertical structure if you know what I mean. There are some people who are down for certain projects while others will be more implicated in another, but in the end we don’t care who it is, it doesn't really matter. The most important is simply to do stuff, it’s really a horizontal way of seeing things.
There is a lot of Paris in Mariah. Who is you guys main input?
SEB: Our good friend Balthazar [Wyss] is a photographer and he moved out there for 6 months with his girlfriend. He had a really nice crib in the city centre so it was too tempting to go visit him. It ended up being eight of us and we all slept together in one huge room. Guillaume even flew from Glasgow where he was studying to come meet up with us and Jason [Singer] the owner of our local skate shop 242 took a few days off just so he could come and skate with us.
"You can praise your football team, the Virgin Mary or whatever you want, we praise Mariah"
We were staying 5 minutes away from Place de République so we kind of got caught in the vortex there quite a bit. We were only there for four days, so we pretty much skated the classic Paris spots, but I feel like Celian did them justice. The bonus is that he almost always does everything first try.
How did the idea for the Mariah video come about?
SEB: The first OG 2000 video already included Mariah Carey in the intro and through out the video. You would have to ask Hugo or Guillaume why Mariah Carey and not someone else. I think they felt like we needed a female mascot as a role model. In OGZOOO, we chose Zinédine Zidane as our theme for the video, Luc has some sort of obsession with him and the whole France 98 football team. People were sort of complaining of the fact that Mariah wasn’t in our second video and wanted her back. I went to Toronto to study for a year and really got into filming. I was able to skate with the Vert Dogs crew and film stuff for their individual projects over there.
Guillaume kept on making dope little instagram edits, but an OG 2000 video was then kind of put on hold. When I got back last summer, we decided to go all in with Mariah and just give the people what they wanted. We even made some boards and t-shirts which Gab finances. I only filmed for the video once I got back and in total we shot the video within three months. We had a premiere planned at the end of October and waited until the last minute to put it together, it was a bit hectic. My roommate is a rap artist and he records music pretty much 24/7 in his room which he kind of transformed into a studio. We were able to record the voices of the princess and Mariah there over a night, which left us with three sleepless nights putting the whole thing together. In fact, the video wasn’t fully done until 15 minutes before the premiere. It was all pretty spontaneous.
"Geneva is an oddly paradoxal city"
HUGO: I think that the lurid and superficial image of Mariah Carey is to be considered as a reversal of matters, it’s quite feminist in a certain way. I think it’s good to look for spirituality where you don’t necessarily expect it. You can praise your football team, the Virgin Mary or whatever you want, we praise Mariah.
It's been a while since people have used a substory for skate edits. Mariah Carey and the princess story to us felt like the Vaporwave/Trap 2017 version of Animal Chin.
SEB: Yeah, Hugo has already directed two short films which regularly play in festivals so he already had the whole substory planned out. Originally it was supposed to be for the OGZOOO, but he was in his last year of film school and wasn’t really able to help us out. He however was really keen for the MARIAH video, so him and I went out a couple of nights last summer and filmed this huge fair that happens every year called “Les Fêtes de Genève". There’s a bunch of rides and concerts every night and it attracts a bunch of wealthy people from the Middle East.
I had my VX and he used my capture cam and we’d both split up and filmed whatever we considered interesting for the plot, which would revolve around a Middle-Eastern princess who discovers the “dark side" of Geneva, rather than the “rich, clean, luxurious" side it is generally associated to. We integrated Mariah as the fairy godmother who guides her through her journey. Hugo wrote the dialogues as a single conversation which we then spread out through out the video. We really wanted to show summers in Geneva from a young foreign lady’s perspective, but in a fairytale kind of way.
"We don’t have a Lambo, but we’re fortunate enough to have all grown up together"
HUGO: Geneva is an oddly paradoxal city. It’s rather small compared to European capital cities, but it’s definitely very international, as much politically as economically or socially. There’s the United Nations here and a bunch of embassies. There is a rather official and transparent image given to our city, and its luxurious side attracts a lot of wealthy tourists during the summer. It gets really warm and we have a beautiful lake which you can swim in. The fair is all along the lake and it really offers everything these people could want, when in fact almost no locals go. These rich people, mostly from the Western world or from the Middle East, end up doing exactly the same thing: buying the most ridiculous expensive things. The middle of August is the climax of modern capitalism: you can find a golden Lamborghini posting up in certain places in the city. If you walk along the lakeside, you’ll often see these young boys or girls having the time of their lives on all these crazy rides. But when you look closer, you sense a form of loneliness without them actually being alone: after they are finished their merry-go-round, a man with a headset goes an pays for them. And that’s when you ask yourself: “What is going through her mind"? We don’t have a Lambo, but we’re fortunate enough to have all grown up together. It’s tough growing up and building your own identity when you’re 12-16 years old. Not everyone finds their path immediately, some people take awhile while others get lost. That’s what the princess is to us.
We therefore came up with the narrative idea of putting together two women from two different generations and two different parts of the world. The Middle-East meets the Western World where two girls talk to each other. We really wanted to capture Geneva in its most raw form to illustrate the dialogues as the female voices would incorporate any of the faces we shot. We exclusively shot these young women from the Middle East, while captivating the summer atmosphere along the lake.
"The ollie on the Mercedes was done first try, I think but the second one, on the Ferrari, took a few tries…"
We wanted the dialogue to stay quite naïve by making it a bit cheesy but keeping it sincere nevertheless.
Geneva is pretty posh in some parts… a lot of the skating I see come from there has quite a gangster vibe. Are you purposely aiming to balance stuff out?
SEB: It is indeed often described as a pretty posh place. However, I think as skateboarders we are one large community and we can understand each other no matter where you are. I think the gangster vibe over here was like 10 years ago over but kind of disappeared. There isn’t really any kind of trend over here, but I feel like in Zurich they are definitely way more gangster than us. Gangsterism wasn’t the main theme of the video, but was rather to be taken literally. In fact we kind of went against that image of gangsters who denigrate women and chose to only use female artists for the soundtrack. There are quite a few people who come to our premieres who don’t skate, so we wanted this video to not only speak to the skateboard community, but to all types of different people. After the premiere, it seemed like a lot of people who aren’t into skateboarding ended up enjoying it as well.
HUGO: It all depends in which street you find yourself in. If you leave the lakeside and simply go a few streets more into the city, you arrive in “les Pâquis 1201" district, where you’ll find dealers, pimps and prostitutes. The place is most definitely animated but just in a different way. It’s all a question of what street you’re on. Unfortunately, some dudes, even in skateboarding, look up to that common image of gangsters who use the image of women as objects. We’re not into that kind of stuff at all. Gay thugs do exist man, sometimes they’re french kissing and sometimes they’re carjacking. Do yourself a favour and accept others as they are. Feelings are important,
Is finding flashy cars to ride on a thing over there? Pretty punk move!
SEB: People could think from MARIAH that it’s a common thing, but no not really. I think we are the first ones to do that sort of thing in Geneva, but hopefully not the last. The ollie on the Mercedes was done first try, I think but the second one, on the Ferrari, took a few tries. We would try it, and then just run around the block and come back and try it until he got it.
"Lambo: the hood is super soft and enjoyable on your four wheels. Aston Martins are pretty fun to skate on as well…"
HUGO: The first car to be rode on was the Ferrari. It was there and we were there. It was unthinkable not to try it.
Anyone ever get into serious trouble about it?
SEB: We got lucky to not get into any trouble.
HUGO: In any case, I think we all knew how to react if anything was to happen.
Best car to cruise over?
SEB: Definitely the Lambo. The hood is super soft and enjoyable on your four wheels. Aston Martins are pretty fun to skate on as well. Haha.
You all heard it! Thanks very much guys.