During my nine year tenure at one of the companies in skateboarding that besides footwear also produces a fine assortment
of sweatbands, football jerseys and golf gloves I was in the thankful position of meeting dozens of extremely talented young skateboarders. Only a few made such an impression as Nassim did. His constant joy and energy, his gratefulness as well as his clear and determined vision made him stand out from anyone his age.
To date I still remember the day we tried to convince him to jump ship and join the empire of great sportsmen. The attempt was useless. Back then Nassim already had a strong mind and knew where
he was going. I was gutted but deep inside I knew he was doing what was right for him. How ironic it is to now sit with this 20 year-old fellow Dutchman and discuss his whereabouts and future plans. Nassim is on a mission and I will bet every finger on each of my hands that he’s going to succeed in whatever he has on his mind. The following conversation hopefully explains to you why.
– Bjorn Wiersma
It’s been three years since your last interview for Kingpin. What has happened in the meantime?
I’ve just skated a lot and went on a bunch of filming missions. A couple of months ago I moved to my first own apartment and while settling I continued to travel a lot. I just got back from a month in the States. I did injure my hip severely so I had to do a lot of physiotherapy there.
It meant I didn’t get to skate a lot. Right now I am just working hard to get my hip better. It seems I’m rather stiff in my hips; it is something my physiotherapist told me today. So I need to get more flexible in my hips and legs to be able to skate longer and absorb more impact.
When you work on a video part or interview do you have a proper to-do list that you work against?
No, not at all. It’s more a feeling of how I stand on my board. I want to keep this feeling till I’m 35. That’s not gonna happen by itself. You need work on that. For me it all starts with the right mentality, but of course that all depends on the person. Everyone is different but for myself I’ve learned I need to have the right attitude and mentality. I need to feel comfortable with my board and myself. It means I’ll have more fun and when I have more fun I am able to get better so much easier.
But how do you deal with pressure from sponsors and competitions then?
I don’t think I even pay attention to it. It’s just whatever. My time is in my hands. I can only control what I’d like to do. People are always going to expect things from you. If these expectations from other people are going to dictate what you are doing, you may as well just stop. You should only focus on the expectations you have for yourself and you shouldn’t expect too much from yourself either. I never had the pressure to win a competition or anything. Sometimes I do realise it would be nice
to win and sometimes I may even realise I can win a comp. But I never really felt the urge that I had to win. You only put negative energy on yourself and it ultimately means you end up not having fun anymore. It’s all about having fun. If you end up not having fun anymore you may as well start doing something you do have fun with.
No pressure from your sponsors either? Not even from me? (laughing, Benny Komala from Ben-G, Nassim’s shop sponsor asks)
Haha, of course you get pressure but it is all about how you deal with it.
I actually have never bought a skateboard.
How do you see yourself within the current spectrum of nineties influenced creative skateboarding on the one end and stadium type competitive skateboarding such as Street League on the other end?
You know what it is? Even though I have tried both sides of skateboarding I see myself more as a creative, because the creative side of skateboarding makes me want to do more things. Skateboarding opens so many doors for me, in art, in music, in so many things.
Then there’s a sport side to skateboarding, the competition side of it. But it’s the side that I believe only helps you in getting better. Regardless as to whatever way you look at Street League, those are the best skateboarders, in principle. You don’t think so? (looks at Benny)
Benny Komala: No, no, no!!
In terms of consistency, in terms of difficulty of tricks, in terms of pressure – they are able to deal with that pressure, something nine out of ten skaters wouldn’t be able to do. You know what I mean? It is a completely different side that you learn to deal with. I would like to learn from both sides. Right now I feel I am more on the creative side. It is the side that fascinates me and it is what made me fall in love with skateboarding in the first place. But I would like to get to know the other side and see how far I can take that. If I ever get offered the chance, why wouldn’t I? I am not someone that gets misled by other people’s opinions. I’d rather go to these competitions myself, experience it and only then make a decision if I like it or not.
I am just curious how I deal with the pressure and if I am able to focus and be disciplined because it is something I don’t really know right now. I have never been to a Street League or a huge pro contest but hopefully, if time brings this, I’ll get the chance to see and experience this. Maybe I think it is great and maybe I don’t but at least it is something for me to find out then. It’s interesting to see how these skaters deal with it like: Ishod Wair, Dylan Rieder, Austyn Gillette…
And of course financially you get supported in a good way. They market your name, your face, whatever… it’s on TV so financially you benefit from it. So why wouldn’t you give it a shot if you would ever get the chance? I think every skater with a little bit of sense would grab the chance if it potentially would get offered. Unless you are aware you are too afraid or nervous to take part in these things. Like the skaters who do not want people to see them bail; the ones who are too afraid to show they cannot land a trick first try. I think a lot of skaters are scared of this.
On the other hand you also have a lot of skaters that simply don’t back this type of skateboarding and just want to keep it core, want to skate the streets and film a video part. The guys that are not interested in any money whatsoever, I completely respect that. These guys are often my favourite skaters anyway.
But I also think a lot of skaters might be too afraid of the sports side, the side that involves a lot of money. The side they believe is going to crush the cultural side of skateboarding. That’s never going to happen. I don’t believe that.
The cultural side of skateboarding will always stay alive. It is so authentic. There are more skateboarders who cannot skate competitions than there are who can. So that cultural side is by definition always going to be bigger.
In the documentary “Plank”, when you are only 15 years old, you already explain how determined you are to make a living out of skateboarding. Five years later and you actually already seem to be there. What’s next? Have you set yourself some goals for the next five years to come?
Not exactly, not as in precisely five years from now I want to be there and there. Although in my mind I do have an idea where I want to be. Each time you reach a milestone you need to move further. You need to expand the passion, dream further. The sky is the limit. And if something has to come it’ll come on its own. And fuck
it if it doesn’t happen. Because what if things don’t happen in the next five years from now? Well, that’s also fine; I’ll find something different. But once you have a vision I believe you are automatically pulled towards that. As long as you keep in mind what you really want to do. That costs a lot of work, time and passion and you really need to stay sharp. And it is only going to get tougher the further you get.
Compared to a lot of other guys of your generation you seem to have an unusually sharp and strong sense where you want to take this. Any idea where this comes from?
I don’t know. Probably from when I was very young I’ve already had this. Ever since I was eleven I always said I wanted to be a professional skateboarder. It was never meant to be any boasting. When I was ten or eleven I started watching videos and I still remember I saw the DC video. It’s when I realised: “damn, this is possible!”. I realised how big skateboarding was and I saw skateboarders actually making money. My father always told me I was never ever going to make any career from skateboarding. ‘You can’t do anything with skateboarding. You can’t go big.’ I always believed it was possible. How amazing would it be if I could make it happen? It’s something I always remembered. If you really want to do something you can do it. You need to always remember yourself you can do it. And just work hard. And it’s not as if you need to constantly tell everyone about this. No, you just need to know yourself. Just skate and have fun.
How does an 11 year-old kid in of all places Spijkenisse end up with the DC video and a skateboard in general? A Moroccan in Spijkenisse on a skateboard doesn’t seem to be the most common thing?
Haha, yes. Actually right behind where I lived was a large skatepark that I could see from the playground I always played. However I wasn’t allowed to go there. One Saturday though, I believe it was 2001, for some reason the Dutch Championships were happening out there. It was a huge event with a lot of people and every one of my playground friends were going. So I went to my father and said to him: “I really have to go there, everyone is there!”. I put on my inline skates and went there. As of that day I was allowed to go to the park so I went there every single day on my inline skates. I tried that for a couple of months until I started hanging with the skate dudes over there. I didn’t have my own board though. So I took off the inline skates and started coming without them because I noticed nobody was actually inline skating. I realised: “why the fuck am I actually inline skating? I am a loser!”. The first couple of months I simply borrowed skateboards from people that were sitting down for a bit. I did that for such a long time until everyone got so annoyed by it that they gave me a skateboard. I got all different parts from everyone. I still remember my front truck was much lower than my back truck, haha. So that’s how it started. I actually have never bought a skateboard.
Never? You went straight into sponsorship after that.
Benny Komala: What was the point when you realised you were getting much better than the guys you grew up skating with?
I never really thought that way. On Wednesdays my father always took me to Skateland (the indoor park in Rotterdam) after swimming classes. I went there a lot and saw a lot of good guys out there.
At one point I met Rudy Broers who invited me through MSN to skate with him and the Dutch Adio team. We went all the way down south to Heerlen and it must have been the best day of my life. It was the first time meeting Tim (Zom) and I really laughed myself to death. From that day I realised I had to skate with these two dudes to get better. Since that day I got hooked up and I am still hugely thankful for that. Since that day I became part of the crew. So from then on each weekend I was picked up by Sander (van der Sluis) and we went skating. Those days were so sick. And that’s when I started getting better than my boys in Spijkenisse.
What’s up with your crew “Bombaklats”? How did that come about?
Whenever I came back from travelling I went out skating with those guys. My friend Ali always used the word ”bombaklats” for anything so that’s where it came from. Two of the Rotterdam filmers Sneep and Sami decided to make a film together, which ultimately led into two crews coming together. Tim Zom and myself always skated with Sami so we had our crew of skateboarders while Sneep had his crew as well so this all came together. Last summer we released our video and that’s how it pretty much happened.
How come you decided to get an apartment in Spijkenisse?
Rotterdam is cool but….
Benny Komala: I wouldn’t wanna live there either, hahaha. Joke!
Nassim: I travel a lot so I just wanted a place where I could relax. I found a super chill apartment for a super chill price, which allows me to actually be able to do this right now. After travelling so much this year I noticed that when I got back to my family home it felt less like really coming home because you simply outgrow it at one point. So I figured I really needed my own place where I could get back to after being gone. The past three years I was just travelling and I would only come back for one week, two weeks etc… Me and my mom and three sisters live in a pretty small flat where my sisters all had to share one bedroom. My one sister studies at the university so she really needs a place for herself. Last summer I gave her my room because I was never home anyway. I’m now ten minutes away from my mom so she’s psyched and I’m five minutes from the metro so I’m in Rotterdam with ease. I am used to travelling anyway so it’s no big deal.
Are there any specific projects you are working on right now?
Element US is working on a video right now. We have been given three years and they have given me the opportunity to film a part for this. Volcom is working on a skate only video which is planned to come out next year. I am working with Vans on a few projects. April 9th I am going on a trip as well as in May. I’m trying to go to the States before and right after summer, September till
November are my favourite months there. In summer I prefer to be here because Europe is so nice in summer. Regardless I’m going to try to shoot and be as productive as possible.
What are your current plans for the future?
I’m going to work on my hip and body in general. I’ve just finished filming some tricks for the Rotterdam Scene edit for Kingpin. I am just going to film a lot for all my sponsors.
This KP interview, how did this get together?
In all honesty I have no clue what photos they have. The last few months were so chaotic. I just skated and didn’t really think of what was going to happen. That’s why I am so happy with my own flat right now so I can better organise things. I just went on all these trips, went skating and just decided to see what was going to happen. That’s why I actually have no idea of what is going to be in there. It’s going to be a surprise.
Any thanks, shout outs….
My sisters, family, friends, girlfriend, sponsors…. Shit, I am really going to forget someone, let’s just skip this question!