Aged 24, Vivien may seem to be a youngster like you see in all of our issues. Neither worse, nor better, however he has something special which makes him the impressive skateboarder he has become. The determination he hides behind his good nature is real and does not only apply to a couple of stunts on a board. How else do you explain the fact that he has managed to keep his ‘rising star’ status while being successful in his university studies?
We all have the same stories yet every person can tell them in a different way.
Although the stories always start with the discovery of a rolling board, they sometimes forget the very person who one day, was presented with this easy option: to skateboard. A little, a lot, too much, once in a while… After all it depends on life and mostly on the person concerned. If Vivien Feil has managed to become the rider he is today, it is mainly because of his first experiences on a board, but it also has a great deal to do with the kid he was at the time…
“In Astrapi [a very popular magazine for pre-teens in France -Ed] [laughs] there was a photo of a guy who was passing boards, and a page explaining the tic-tac and the ollie with a drawn sequence! I said to myself: ‘There are no bindings, what’s going on?!’ Before that, I had been given a supermarket board, the kind that doesn’t roll so I wasn’t actually skateboarding… I saw the sequence, took my board, went in front of my house, tried to land an ollie for ten minutes and then I said to myself: “those Astrapi blokes are on crack, this is impossible!’ [Laughs].
It could all have ended there, but Vivien ended up seeing his first ollies “for real” when he arrived at high-school. But the defining moment was when:
“I was renovating my mother’s bathroom in her flat, we were tearing down the old wallpaper and from there I could see the display window of Radical skateshop showing the Real video ‘Non Fiction’ . That’s where I saw this guy ollie a bum! I was gawking. [laughs] So I bought my first real board from Vincent Bohn [a Strasbourg legend –Ed] at Radical. I was 16-years-old so I started skateboarding quite late.”
Just like all people his age Vivien could have followed the ‘logical’ path, in other words, try to learn as much as possible about his newly found addiction. But no.
“When I started, I was really stubborn. I started riding in my neighbourhood with a buddy who gave up after just one month while I was doing nothing but skateboarding. All I did was go to school and ride. Later on I discovered a skatepark, not far from my place, but I didn’t go there that much. It took me a long time to understand that there were magazines and all. I always skateboarded alone, in my driveway. When I discovered the magazines, the shops, the videos, I said to myself: ‘Well no, I’m not going to look at any magazine, I won’t go to a shop and I won’t go riding with people because I’d rather learn stuff by myself!’ I thought I would end up copying the way people placed their feet and moved. I was so stoked when I learned how to make my first flip on my own; I had discovered the secret all by myself! Inevitably, after a while I gave in and I went to the modern art museum spot in Strasbourg where everyone was hanging out. I realized that by myself in my own driveway things were way more complicated! [laughs]”
Now that Vivien was part of the skateboarding scene, all he had to do was to practise his list of learned tricks (he kept notes on the position of his feet on the board to make sure he wouldn’t forget them!) and go to school. The only thing is that he didn’t really choose the most fitting area of study for his practice of delinquency on wheels.
“I go to business school, Sup de Co Reims. Before that I went to a preparatory college for two years, after high-school. My big brother studied there too; I would just skateboard and follow his lead [laughs]. That way I didn’t have to think too much about the whole thing. There was way more work but usually I got home, did my homework and then went out riding until one AM. From the classroom I could see the roofs outside that were shaped like waves, every single day I would think about the tricks that I could do there while some teacher was speaking in the background [laughs]. I did that for two years, forty hours a week!
After that I took a few entrance exams because that’s what came next but I didn’t think I would be accepted anywhere. Often I skipped gym class to go skateboarding so I didn’t have the best academic record. Eventually I was accepted into a bunch of schools, Reims was one of the best, and since it was halfway between Strasbourg and Paris I chose that option. From there it was a whole new world! Up to this point everything was very easy and structured, but all of a sudden you realise you’re heading towards something. Studying is interesting, but you end up in an environment with people that are too obsessed with earning money. You have guys coming to class in Audi TTs who tell you that life is tough for them because they just fell in love with a Hustler stripper![Laughs]
So Vivien went through this phase where there seemed to be way too many options for him to be able to make a decision.
“I didn’t know anyone to skateboard with, there weren’t many spots, I felt out of place and I failed my first year. I thought it was too expensive to fail so since then I have become more serious about it. At the same time, I started to be sponsored by Morgan [V7 Distribution and Emerica –Ed] and Samir [Krim, who has been helping him for a long time via Minutia and then Krooked and Spitfire] and I was struggling to recreate my world. Until then I had skateboarded alone a most of the time. Strangely sponsors started to contact me at a time when I wasn’t riding. I finished tied for first at this sponsor-me contest organised by Sugar, with a guy from Bordeaux who since then has also attended a preparatory college and stopped skating [laughs!] I had no idea what people expected from me. When I failed my first year, I realised that I had tried to be somebody else, I thought I was just going to attend the classes and then go riding. That’s what I had done until then. I started skateboarding a lot with the locals and making round-trips to Paris to ride with Soy, Samir, etc…
Since then, Vivien has become a Parisian. He took over Arjun’s room, Soy’s brother (currently on a world tour), and is working on his final thesis. He should be finishing all his exams in December…
“In my school, the average student who finishes their studies in December looks for an internship which they are going to be exploited in and hope that they will be offered a permanent position at the end. Or they immediately start looking for a job… I majored in Marketing so we’ll see what happens… that’s in three months, still a long time from now [laughs]! I am going to try to combine an internship with skateboarding. I will do my best to get some coverage in the skateboard media, then I will see what happens. – I will pretend that nothing is going to happen, so it will happen. After that, if I could earn a living by riding it would be fantastic!”
These days he is filming a bit more for Static 3 and he also intends to take part in a project with Mark Nickels’s, his American friend who now lives in Berlin and is working on a video with Lennie Burmeister, Jan Kliewer, Soy Panday, and others.
Characterized by his pop, Vivien’s style has been very much influenced by Reese Forbes and Sean Mullendore in his early years. Today he reckons his influences come from various sources.
” Mark Gonzales, Bobby Puleo, Ricky Oyola, Pontus, Jani Peltonnen, Dave Cado, Jan Kliewer, and even Soy! Dennis Busenitz. I like Bobby’s approach, he thinks a lot but at the other end of the spectrum I like Mark Gonzales’s total spontaneity. It says a lot about someone’s personality. Its polished but ultimately interesting. But then it’s also a good thing that people can ride rails and bowls because they feel like it.”
So if you ever bump into Vivien and that he is not on his board, maybe he will be in the middle of a visit to a museum or absorbed in a book, his other great addiction…. Unless Soy is trying to convince him that he is wrong about the debate of the moment….
“Thanks to Samir. I would also like to thank my family and especially my parents and my brothers (thanks for the photos Jean!), Nathalie, Soy and Arjun, Benjamin from Kingpin, Samir and Laurent from Lambda, Darin at Deluxe; Frank, Marielle and everyone from Lapa. Julien for Adidas, Florian for Bud Skateshop, Mathieu at Revival, Ruedi Matter and Oli Buergin, all those who have helped me, supported me or housed me, all those who I have skateboarded with, all the positive people that I’ve met. To all of you, thanks!”