Flying The Coop Octavio Barrera Effect
By Sem Intro By David Ramos
Whenever I talk to Octavio I think of him as my age, as though i have been skating with him for many years, or as someone I met in the contests back in the day. I always forget he is 11 years younger than me, at just 19 he’s a very mature person; you can speak with him about anything. I can assure you that I was nothing like him when I was his age, and I haven’t met anyone who is either. Had I seen all he’s seen at such a young age, I would probably have my brain full of birds singing. One thing’s for sure: he has seen more horizons than all the sailors on his island; many more. He’s also learned to enjoy the ride - he has masterized it. What a CV.. with all he’s done so far.. His easy, flowing, ability and jaw dropping progression has been there, since the first day. The little bastard is going to make us old farts retire, once and for all. On second thoughts, he probably did it years ago.
Did the snowstorm catch you when you were in Barcelona? No, but the cold spell before that did, it killed me!
I guess the climate in the islands is the best to initiate something like skateboarding. How did you start? Well, it all began through my cousin, Francis Barrera*. He hung out with my father and told him to ‘take him to the skatepark’, that’s how it all started. My father took me there at night and my cousin gave me advice. So yeah, thanks to my father and my cousin...
What kind of advice? How to drop in the ramps, the rules to skate in the park, like who was going first, respect the turns and all that. But after a while he saw everyone was snaking me so he started pushing me to be quicker...I can see him pushing you, Francis’ motivation always made everyone around feel like grabbing a board and skate like crazy. You are 19 years old now, when did that happen? I stepped on a board for the first time to properly skate, not just sit down and do down hills, when I was 10.
Albin (David Ramos) says when he watches you skate he can’t help to see what he saw in Francis back in the day. Do you think skateboarding could follow any kind of genetic pattern, or is just a learning process? I guess there must be something there. I’ve learned watching him skate, but it could also be in our blood. The rest you have to develop yourself. I agree with Albin, but not in the way you skate, but in the attitude towards skating.
How’s Francis doing? He’s doing good, he walks by the park from time to time, sometimes grabs a random board, does some epic flights and disappears for a while. Whenever he steps on a board he gets back that crazy motivation, as if he never stopped skating.
You didn’t get the ramp appeal so much, you took the streets instead... True, but I think it’s got more to do with the time I grew up in. If I was his age I’d probably skate more ramps as well.
Last time I saw you in Las Palmas you and your local friends had a downhill session at 9 or 10 at night. Do you guys do that often? Looked like it was something very established. We do it as much as we can. We were in Tenerife last Sunday, we went to spend the day up in a mountain and we decided to go down skating to the ferry. It’s like 12Km. of downhill, and a car of friends was following us all the way. Then we realised cops were following our friend’s car as well. They stopped us and asked for IDs etc., saying we were going straight to jail. Finally I think he was only bullshitting us. At least I hope he was, because he told us the ticket would be from 400-1500€...
Didn’t they take the boards for their sons/cousins/grandsons? Well, whilst we were talking we sneaked the boards into the trunk and concealed them until the cops’ hype calmed down; telling them we would miss the ferry back to Las Palmas. That’s how we escaped. We have been doing downhill’s forever but fully organized and planned since a year ago.
There is a real appeal on skating a downhill for every skater. Do you think it has something to do with leaving all the tricks and pressures behind and just enjoy the ride? Fuck, it’s heavy adrenalin! You go down on fire until the hill ends, then you stop and look at the rest of people, “everyone made it safe? Perfect! Now let’s go party".
How’s partying on the island as a local? Same as any other place.. I used to go out a lot before but I’m chilling a bit now... We are doing other stuff to avoid so much partying: camping out, barbecues... Doing the same stuff over and over is boring and makes you go crazy.
You mean drugs, alcohol, both, or maybe Spanish techno? I’m sure you were into techno when you were little... (Laughs) No, it’s just not good for the body. And no, I didn’t listen to techno! I used to listen any kind of stuff: hip hop, pop, rock - anything but techno. My favourite band was Queen...
Queen? (Laughs) Yeah, and still is! It comes from my parents, they used to listen to it a lot.I heard you DJ a lot now, do you play Queen…? Not really. I’m just a restless-ass, that’s how it all started. My friend has a bar we used to go out to (SHOT) and, since I didn’t like the music too much, I asked him to let me play some sets. He gave thumbs up so that’s how it started. I don’t mix the music, just make the selection.
What type of music you play? Indie, pop, rock, electro… POP.
Ok, since you are here, can you recommend me some music? Well, lately I’ve been really into "Bishop Allen" and "Standstill" - which are catalan - also “Bye Bye Bicycle". But if you need hype to go out and skate I recommend “Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen...
I saw it coming… (Laughs) It seriously motivates me so much, but I think the main reason I like Queen is because it brings back so many good memories. I remember my first tour, where I met Albin and Croyde Mirandon (photographer) for the first time, I had my mini-disc all filled with Queen songs. They kept laughing at me the whole trip, the bastards. We were talking about it the other day, good times.
Since I first met you, you seem to have been travelling a lot, since day one, how did you get your sponsors? Did you make a sponsor-me video or something like that? No, I didn’t look for it. My first sponsor was Zona Boardshop (Orlando Acosta’s shop) and then I went to visit my father to Madrid, he used to live there. Borja Santiago saw me skate in Colón and told me I should skate for Dak-Tak. Then Oscar and Nines called me to go to a contest in Malaga, which I won, with that money I bought a ticket to go to a DC contest in Zaragoza and when I went back to the island, Nomad called to sponsor me. By then I had become really good friends with Miguelito (Sanchez) from Chiclana so I told them I would only join the team if they picked up Miguelito too, so they did (laughs). After that I got into Alai and here I am.
You also skated for Tony Hawk’s brand right? I think I saw an ad of you in US mags. Yep, that came after I got on Dak-Tak, they gave me clothing through the shop, and one day they asked me to go to this contest in Hossegor. I went there with my Father, Oscar, Nines and Dani Monzón. It was a “get into the big team" contest - really weird... So they got me in and stood me there for 4 years, before kicking us all like dirty water.
Like that? Well, they sent us a letter saying budget was broke and the brand was over. I think they did it because they were scared we’d sue them, more than as a pleasantry to the riders, like if they did that to a football player they’d go straight to jail..How is growing up in Las Palmas? Do you feel isolated in a way? We grow up with a lot of Bananas and first-class Gofio (local toasted cereals – Ed.)... (laughs). Growing up here is good, although you need to leave the island from time to time, to avoid feeling trapped. Anyways, beach, sun and women make it easier to get by. It isn’t that small either, it’s like a big city; there are cities in Spain where you feel much more isolated.
Do you feel Spanish at all? Or you are Spanish because that’s what it says on your ID? First of all I feel Canary yellow, and I’m proud of it; then, since we belong to Spain, Spanish. Got nothing against it.
The Canary Islands are located beside the African coast. Have you ever go to skate mission to Morocco or surroundings? Nope, never been there. In truth, the Islands are closer to Morocco than Spain, but I never planned to go there before, until recently with Albin and Adrian (Morales).
Besides this interview, what are you up to skate wise? I’m still filming for the new Alai video: “Alaikids", I think it will come out by the time this interview comes out. Then I have trips in May with RVCA and C1RCA to Berlin and Bilbao. I also need to go back to Barcelona to get the last footage before the premier, but you know, it all depends on how things go.
You are moving to Barcelona soon to study Uni there, why Interior Design? (Laughs) Since I was little I’ve been quite a maniac of putting everything in its right place, to put everything in order. I like things with elegance and madness at the same time.
That’s how I’d define your way of skating, Octavio. One last thing, would you ever grow up that horrible moustache you had last time we met in Las Palmas? (Laughs) Maybe...
Octavio skates for ALAI skateboards, RVCA Europe, C1RCA Europe, Dak-Tak, Moskova and Plátano Producciones.
*Side Note. Francis Barrera (Octavio’s older cousin) is one of the best skateboarders Spain has ever had. I guess not many people reading this issue would know about him, but he has been very well known in Spain since the 80s/90s. He has been out of the skate circles for many, many years now, but if you are ever in Las Palmas you might be lucky enough to see him walk by the skatepark, grab someone’s board and have the most intense session you’ve seen in a long time. He will just make you sit down and watch him with a silly face, until he finishes his session and happily walks away. -David Ramos.
Check Octavios brand new video part, now online here.