Perus Crew strongman had an interview in Kingpin issue 101 four months ago. Here it is in full, words and photos and all.
Portrait by Arto Ekman
Pirkka Pollari has been around and back again for a good decade. What started as a tight crew of friends skating together, first gradually got his name out there, made people take notice, then began opening doors of the industry corridors. After seven years and several video parts with Element, Pirkka is now a free agent. The original Perus crew has become a brand, some dudes have wandered off along the way, but the core remains the same. Pirkka’s person, his daily life and his whole existence has the heart of skateboarding scribbled all over it. The circle might be complete, he might be back to where he started—fiming, skating with friends, repping Perus—or it might be the start of a new chapter. But whatever the future throws at Pirkka there is one thing that you can be sure of. He’ll take it as it comes and give it all he’s got. One hundred percent.
Nosebonk grind in Stockholm's meat packing distrct. Photo: Deeli
You’ve sort of migrated to Barcelona lately?
Yeah kind of I guess. I came here in like November - December maybe, or even earlier I can’t remember now. Initially we were just supposed to film that Perus Embassy clip and hang out a bit, nothing else planned really. But then the shit happened with Element, they didn’t want to renew my contract, and at the same time I had the opportunity to work a bit at the [DC] Embassy. So I figured I’d hang out here for a bit, see how it goes.
Where have you been staying?
On and off at the DC place, then just recently I moved in with Alex and Josef. Their place is pretty close to Rambla, so it’s convenient and central.
Is this the first time you’ve sort of done a longer stint there?
Nah, well, I’ve done sort of three-month stretches before. Or I’ve floated between Barcelona and Malaga. It’s the usual in the winter, but then I always want to get back to Finland when the summer comes. I’ll probably stay here for another month or so and then head up north around April / May.
Cab shove it at the Mushroom pool in Helsinki. Photo: Deeli
You recently started working at the DC Embassy?
I started at the beginning of the year, yeah. Edu [Eduardo Muñoz], who usually works there, had this project he was filming in Dubai at the time, so I came to fill in for him. He’s filming this new skatepark they’re building there that’s like this weird art piece as well. Apparently, when you look at it from the side, its silhouette forms the word “Art" in Arabic. Pretty nuts. It looks insane, completely made up of these transitions and bumps to make up the word. I’m sure you can find a link to it, just type skatepark art dubai or something…after that Edu’s been editing the DC European video, so I’ve staid at the Embassy. I think they’re into what I’m doing, so it’s all good. I’ve been doing that stuff—filming and editing—long enough to know what I’m doing, so they don’t need to have anyone watching over my shoulder and I don’t need to ask them stuff like how did you do that cross fade again…[haha]
How did you end up in there?
It was kind of a joke really at first. Like I’d sort of heard or got the vibe that things might be coming to an end between me and Element, so I was saying to Thomas [Winkle] one night at his place something like: “Why don’t you get me a job there, it looks fucking easy what you’re doing!" And two days later I’m working there.
Frontside 5-0. Photo: Guillaume Anselin
Winkle is saying that this came at a perfect time, when just after that night he was asked who he’d like to work with. He said Pirkka without having to think twice: “You know, it’s cool to be on the streets, but the streets ain’t paying that much. Sometimes you need a job. And Perks is the man for this one."
So what’s your job description?
Usually it’s editing at the upstairs bit. And sometimes I’m filming, if Thomas [Winkle] or someone else can’t make it. Or I could be filming second angles. We need to do three clips a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so it’s pretty tight for time. But if there’s nothing else going on, I usually get to skate the park as well.
Is it your responsibility to make sure there’s enough clips coming out?
Well yeah, but I mean there’s Adrian making sure there’s a constant flow of teams and skaters coming in to film. We just do the filming and editing, not the organizing, you know. But then when I’m editing it, if there’s something missing, then obviously we need to make sure we get the extra bits we need, like if it means more filming or whatever. Plus we try to film individual random parts with people so if some team doesn’t get their clip done in time we’ve still got stuff to post.
Frontside pivot to fakie a stone's throw from home in Vantaa. Photo: Deeli
Are people going off usually when they come there to film?
You can pretty much tell who is and who isn’t. I mean it’s not the easiest park to skate, I’d say, so it can be difficult to come up with stuff straight off the bat. Everything is so fresh, like the edges on the ledges are fucking sharp so they’re slippery as hell. But if it’s hard, sometimes we’ll look at other people’s shit that they’ve filmed to give the new dudes ideas and then everyone usually comes up with stuff in the end.
Who’s ripped it the hardest while you’ve been there?
I would have to give this one to the Norweigian kids, Steffen and Herman. They definitely murdered it. Gotta give some props to Eniz and Barney aswell. Would be interesting to see Nyjah and Cole to drop in by the park someday and see what they got up their sleeves.
Backside nosegrind at Lauttasaari shopping center. Photo; Daniel Lorén
Sounds like a perfect job for you then.
I know how to do it, I get to skate and meet everyone who comes through, so yeah, I’d say it’s pretty sweet. I do my bit and keep my mouth shut, that’s about it.
What’s Winkle like to work with? Is he his usual cheerful self on the job?
Yeah, you don’t need to be shy down there. You can pretty much act like you’re on the street.
Tailslide flip out, Helsinki. Photo: Deeli
Do you work office hours or what?
More in the afternoon and evening. We usually get there between 1-3 pm and then we leave between 7-10 pm, depending on the session and whether people have landed their tricks.
Nosepick on Mäksy's transition, behind the DIY in Helsinki. Photo: Deeli
Do you enjoy the routine in brings in your life?
Definitely. I like cycling over there, clearing my mind on the way, then getting to work. It’s nice to have a daily schedule for change. It’s kind of good having to wake up at a certain time and keeping alert. You can’t just stay home if your flips aren’t coming out the way you want them that day. Of course there are days, if the sun is out and I’ve been skating flat at Macba in the morning, so it might feel like a drag having to go indoors and edit. Like if they call me when I’m just getting warmed up and starting to land tricks and they tell me to get there in twenty minutes, I’m like ah man…and I feel like saying I can’t go, not now! [Haha] But I always go. [Haha]
So what happened with Element?
I don’t know. I mean I was still down for Element, down to do stuff, but from some point on I didn’t seem to get invited on any of the trips any more. I think maybe it’s hard to see from their side that there’s just one mag in Finland for me to have coverage in, and with the salary I had it’s difficult for me to go on trips around the world to get stuff with other mags and that. If they weren’t into what I was doing or how I do stuff, I guess that was it then. It’s a shame it didn’t seem to count for much that I’ve been on the team for quite a long time. Like seven years. But then I guess a lot of the people over at Element have left and gone to other jobs, like Phil [Lalement] and Christian [Vankelst], who used to be involved with the team. I’m pretty bummed, cause I really enjoyed the whole thing, the travelling with the team and everything we did together. Another thing with coverage is that most of the stuff I’ve had in the Element videos for example has always been filmed on the trips with them. So if all of a sudden I don’t get the opportunity to go on the trips any longer, it makes it difficult to get coverage as well.
Frontside 180 beside the intensive care unit in Helsinki. Photo: Deeli
Sort of a vicious circle?
Maybe…or maybe I wasn’t being proactive enough to let them know about every fucking clip I’ve put out or photo I’ve shot. I tend to forget about it. And to me it feels weird that after so many years with them, I’d still need to prove myself all the time. But I mean they might see it differently, of course, maybe to them it seems like I’m not doing anything, if I’m not making noise about it. And since I rode for Element shoes as well, so when that stopped I wasn’t going on any shoe trips either. So I guess I wasn’t that visible for a while from their point of view. But it’s hard to see it like that from where I’m standing, because I’ve been skating every day, constantly filming stuff, putting out little clips and so on. Maybe it’s just been through the wrong channels or maybe they don’t know about it at Element or something. I sort of felt that if they’re interested in what I’m up to they’d come across most of that stuff on the net anyway without me having to send them links all the time. Maybe I was being too modest. Too Finnish! [haha]
Are you going to ride for Perus boards now?
I don’t know…maybe I should send myself a sponsor-me tape! No, but I don’t know if I’d feel right being on the team. [In the latest issue of kingpin, Pirkka actually has a Perus Skateboards ad, so guessing he's riding for the company now!]
Backside 180 switch front krook, Pirkka's welcome home ad in this month's Kingpin. Photo: Deeli
It just feels like if I’m not on anything else, I’m going to ride the boards anyway, so what difference does it make if my name is on the “official" list or not?
Well you could say that that’s the whole point of sponsorship that you use your name and your skating to promote the product.
Yeah I know what you mean, but it’s hard for me to make up my mind on what to think about it just yet. I think what I’ve been doing at the Embassy and all that has helped give the brand more visibility as well, the fact that we had those Perus Embassy clips, for example.
Front blunt, God knows where. Photo: Deeli
When you get back to Finland, are you going to look for a job or is Perus going to be the job?
We’ll see. I mean I’d love for Perus to be it, but it’s going to take a lot of work to make it that way. Then again it’s the kind of work you do on the street sometimes too, just being out there, getting the name out,filming the homies and so on, so im kinda working without knowing about it sometimes too. Who knows what the future brings though.
What about with DC, have you been involved with anything other than the Embassy with them?
No, not really. But that would be sick though to be a filmer on a trip sometime. It would be such a different thing compared to being the dude on the back seat drinking beer…I guess I’ve kind of been the daddy figure on some occasions with Perus, making sure things are more or less running smoothly. And I’ve been the guy with the car for so many years already, driving these homies from spot to spot, telling them to do something! [haha]
Back tail up and bomb the hill through the park. Photo: Deeli
Are you saying you could see yourself working as a filmer?
I do work as a filmer anyway, have done for a long time, so I guess what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t mind seeing myself getting paid for it for change. I suppose you wouldn’t think that, since I’ve never put my name on any of the Perus clips, but I mean I’ve been filming and editing that stuff with my friends for so long. And I love doing it. I love the travelling, I love the skating, I love the people. I want to keep doing it for as long as I can. Whether you want to call it filming or skating or whatever doesn’t really matter that much. To me it’s all the same thing, a complete package.
Meri comes on in the background: “Food’s ready Pirkka!" Ross McGouran is over for dinner. There’s roasted red peppers, sweet onions, some mushrooms; “Maybe some sick pasta dish if I’m lucky", Pirkka says. No doubt there will be wine. Another mellow night, staying in, hanging out. It’s a good life—no matter what you call it, no matter where you do it. As long as you just do it.
Pirkka's hood in Vantaa is blotted with spots like this that no one else knows about. Hometown hardflip. Photo: Deeli