He was once crowned the Gypsy King… He opened Europa the first Cliché video with a part mixing tech skating, manuals mastery and no fear for large obstacles either. Before that, he was that young kid from the suburbs of Paris that was friendly with everybody, despite hiding behind a false grumpy persona, and whose reputation kept growing as his motivation was endless. Time has passed and Vincent is now facing some changes in his life. No, he’s not leaving Barcelona, which he’s been calling home for years now, and, no, he’s not putting his board back in the closet. Far from that, as you’ll see in the next pages…
No, he is just facing a major sponsor change, and like everything else in life, Vincent takes it as the solid man he is. At the end of the day, with that sense of humour, nothing can be that bad, right? We still called him to make sure he was fine…
Fakie tre ph: Chami
Do you hear me?
Yes, how are you doing, Benjamin?
Like on a sunny day spent in front of my laptop…
Well, I’m having a rainy day spent in front of my laptop!
The eternal sun of Barcelona legend gets a blow!
Yes, oh, wow, I just received my last Cliché boards!
You want to speak about that, now?
As you want, I don’t mind. Do your journalism work and ask me questions, Mr. Deberdt!
Well, I wanted to start with your Barcelona life, actually. How long have you lived there now?
Four and a half years.
Frontside bluntslide fakie ph: Chami
Compare your routine from when you moved there, to now…
Wow… Well, when I arrived, it was a bit more party mode, really! I think I did like everybody else arriving here. I was moving from one place to another, sometimes renting a room, sometimes staying at someone’s… that went on for three, four months and then I settled down in the apartment of Paul Shier, Kenny Reed and Kenny Hughes. Then, we were partying a lot, that’s for sure! But I was fully skating, also. I was coming from two or three very depressing winters in Paris, I don’t know if you remember? So, since, all I had to do was skate, I thought: “why not move somewhere with better weather?” And I won’t have to explain how Barcelona is the Mecca of skateboarding, right? So that was my routine, then: skating, going out, skating, Manolo, parties, skating the next day… that was it. Now, I’m more settled down. I go out a lot less.
Don’t you think a lot of people move to Barca to skate and just vanish there?
Maybe… I can’t think of any, right there… But I do see a lot of people coming here to study and totally losing it. Maybe some skaters, also, get taken out by the party tidal wave! It’s so easy, that’s for sure. You can get stuck in there. That city is not meant for some people! I know some people that could not live here! [laughter]
Tailslide ph: Rodent
But you’ve found a balance?
Yeah, I’m good. I did my share of partying, though. But, it’s all right, I’m feeling good… Well, now, I’m at a stage where I’m not too sure about what’s going to happen, but I’m good here.
So, what happened with Cliché, then?
What happened is that Thibaud and I got fired. But, it’s been a long story. For my part, it started with being kept out of Cliché. I had some words with Al [Boglio, Cliché TM] a while ago, and after that, for the last two years, you’ve seen it, I never got one ad. And it’s not that I wasn’t skating, I would just get denied. Many of the tricks in this interview I shot for ads, for example. And when you’ve been part of something from the beginning, and you’re not being pushed to the front, you disappear from the brand, you just sink. The exact terms would be “slow death”. That’s how it happened. As for Thibaud, I don’t want to speak for him…
Were you not supposed to work for Cliché?
I was proposed that when they told me it was finished… of course, I’m not interested at all! [laughter] I have no desire of having to deal again with that atmosphere.
So, for you, the page is turned…
Yes. And from now on, no hard feelings!
So, where do you stand now?
Sponsor wise? I must say I’m in between two chairs, I’m not too sure, yet. We’ll see… I’m fully thinking, it hasn’t changed anything in my skating. Then, we’ll see how things turn out. As I always say, it’s all about the relationship you have with people. I’m discussing things with people. Some things I got offered surprised me! Between you and me, the skate market in Europe being what it is, there are not that many companies out there, so that’s more or less what’s there. But, now I’m still in a haze.
Backside tailslide bs flip out ph:Rodent
How long have you been pro, now?
Seven years, I think.
Apart from riding for Nike, I know you also work for them, right?
Yes, it must be one year, now. But it’s less than part- time. I am being a rep’ for the shops in South of France, so I tour them for two weeks, every three months. It’s a good compromise, that allows me to go back in France and see people I appreciate there, and I have loads of time to skate. Plus it’s keeping me in the working world.
Nosegrind ph: Rodent
You felt like you wanted something else than just worry about where to skate every morning?
Exactly! I’ll tell you why: because when you’ve been skating for more than 15 years, you do lose a bit of motivation. And I have a lot of energy, so when they asked me, I thought that was a good alternative. It’s also a good break from Barcelona once in a while, and that’s pretty good, too.
How would you describe your life in Barca these days?
A typical day: I’m going to try to wake up early. If I have things to do for Nike, I work in the morning. It’s not like I’m super active, either, hey? It’s more of a balance. And then, I’m skating with all the people I meet. Compared to when I arrived here, I’m a lot more integrated. I learned Spanish, and I skate with a lot of locals. Just speaking the language makes it so much easier. Then, I’ll probably skate the classics, Macba, Paral-el, I’m not complicated! And recently, we all started skating the mini in the Hey! Ho! shop, with Luy-Pa [Sin] and Raph [Brunis]. Raph is the mini ramp surfer! And apart from that, we all play poker, like 90% of people this year… do you play?
No, no fixed gear and no poker for me!
[laughter] All right!
Switch ollie ph:Rodent
Do you play online, or just with friends?
I used to play online, but now I’m chilling on it, because when you play too much, you lose your references! That’s not good. But we play at night, with friends. We’re stealing each other’s money! [laughter] Nah, it’s all in good spirit.
Explain me what interests you in poker…
It reminds me of skating, in the sense that you can never stop learning. There are no limits! There are so many things that matter… A bit like in skating, if the ledge doesn’t grind, or is too waxed, or if the ground is shit… you have to adapt, and it’s vast!
Between videos and people in town, who’s been motivating you recently?
First of all, I’m feeling free, I don’t feel like I have anything to account for, and that’s good for your mindset! Apart from that, the latest videos… The Lakai one brought so much and it’s a type of skating I appreciate. That and all the Frenchies here are motivated, so we’re all skating!
I imagine the return to tech of the Lakai video speaks to you!
Yep, the tech side, but also the fact that you don’t have to skate rails, that you can do a better video without going bigger. In the state of skateboarding now, it’s very refreshing.
You always mixed tech skating and bigger spots, where was that coming from?
I don’t know, we were watching Frankie Hill’s parts, then, and it was all gaps and rails!
Fakie five-o 360 shove it out ph: Rodent
Were you already skating then? How old were you?
I couldn’t tell you. Since I’m 23 now, I must have been 6 years old, right? [laughter]
You really think I’m an idiot?
Not at all! [laughter]
I hear you shuffling cards, have you ever cheated at poker?
[laughter] I can’t answer that question, or everybody is going to be on my back! [laughter] No, I never cheated at poker, because when you play some money with friends, you don’t do that! A bit of respect!
Did you ever cheat at S.K.A.T.E, then?
So many times! [laughter]
What’s the best way to do so?
If you don’t know how to do the trick switch, just ride the nose of your board, acting a bit sketchy like when you’re in switch and do it normal! That only works with people that don’t know you so well. That, or scream when the guy is about to pop: “Watch out!”. Boom, he bails!
Fakie five-o ph: Chami
I was just thinking that in between you, Luy-Pa, Stéphane [Larance], Franck [Barratiero], there is this whole generation of Parisians that still kill it. What’s the secret?
Passion! If, at our age, we can skate like that, it’s got nothing to do with sponsors, it’s because we’re loving it, simple as that!
What’s you first memory of seeing skating?
Back to theFuture… And the first time I saw someone ollie some stairs was at the Trocadéro [old Parisian spot, facing the Eiffel Tower]. I was so little, my parents took me there for a crepe, and I saw this guy riding towards the stairs, I was thinking: “he’s going to kill himself!” and he jumped the steps, I was blown away! I didn’t understand, I was asking my parents, but they couldn’t explain it to me! After that, I was haunting them for a board. It took a while, as they didn’t have that much money. But I ended up getting a second hand board, and I started like that.
Was there a moment when you thought, “that’s it, I’m a skater!”?
I never thought about it like that… From the first moment I got that first board, it was on. First friends, first ollie, first steps, all of this was skateboarding!
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