Skateboarding brings people together, there is no doubt about that whatsoever, and sometimes it brings just the right people together – as in the case of Erik J Pettersson from Trollhättan, Sweden and Javier Sarmiento from Vitoria, Spain. They could have been just regular skaters rolling around all thier lives without ever meeting. Instead these unique talents made it out of their small villages to become amongst the most respected skaters out there. Being a really humble and mellow person, Javi lets his skating speak for itself and that has made him a well-known name all over the skate world. Erik on his side has always kept it more low-key taking his time to perfect his skating and in the end reaching appreciation like few others with the parts he has put out. Now that Sweet Skateboards and Sk8mafia got together to do the video #Stee it was no question that one of the parts had to be shared between the two of them. They skate together pretty much everyday and when they’re not skating they hang out, playing or listening to Flamenco and drinking nicely poured beers at the local bar. People who skate together a lot sometimes unknowingly rob style and tricks of each other, making them skate and look similar. This is definitely not the case with Erik and Javi. Whilst Erik leans towards the more creative, always looking for new ideas, angles and spots, Javi keeps it technical but solid – not bothering to much about spots nor anything. The mix of their skating makes them a perfect match for a video part that no one will be disappointed by. – Björn Holmenäs
Erik: Okay, let’s start this by asking, when did you start skating? I think we never talked about it.
Javi: I count it since I learned to ollie, and that must have been around ‘88, ‘89. I was nine.
Erik: You count it since then, but you skated before?
Javi: Yeah, I started rolling on a board when I was 4. My uncle Txus went to walk the dog at night and I joined him with my board. Then I started dropping from ledges – I remember I broke a truck once. Once I learned to ollie I bought a board.
J: So, Erik, you’ve been in Spain for a long time already.
E: I’ve lived here for more than 10 years now. I came without planning it, when my friend Björn proposed that I come to Barcelona and study Spanish. He said it was full of spots. It was 2002, I think.
J: What about the money, did you have to save to come?
Javi, frontside flip (ph: Alegria).
E: No, in Sweden we can get a loan from the government to study abroad, so that’s exactly what we did. I would leave the bad weather behind and would be able to skate smooth ground and perfect benches.
J: Is that what made you stay and live here?
E: Whilst learning Spanish (and Catalan, which he speaks fluently – Ed.) I slowly got used to the culture here, the way of living, the good weather, and the fact I can always skate around.
and one thing leads to the next… always skating when I could. Now, thanks to my sponsors, I can keep on doing what I always wanted to: skate. And Barcelona seems to be the right place for that.
E: And what about you, why are you living in Barcelona and not, let’s say, USA or your home town Vitoria? Since you could live wherever you wanted…
Erik, 360 flip to fakie (Ph: Ferrero).
J: I basically don’t live in Vitoria because of the weather. I love my city, but it rains a lot during the winter. Besides that I have a lot of good friends in Barcelona, and there is a lot of people involved in skateboarding; that makes things easier for me.
E: How was growing up in Vitoria?
J: The best. It’s a mellow city, almost like a town where you get to meet pretty much everyone from all the neighbourhoods.
J: Do you miss your home town at all?
E: Well, I miss my family and my friends who live there; we don’t get to see each others too often. My nephew is almost 3 years old, and every time I go for a visit I can’t believe how fast he’s growing. Part of me would like to be there with them, every day, but you can’t have it all in this life. I usually go there 2 or 3 times a year.
J: Alright, now I would like to know about you and Sweet, how long have you been pro for them? How did it all start?
Erik, crusty channel gap ollie (ph: Riera)
E: I think it was 2006 or 2007. Sweet is a brand from Trollhättan, my home town, and always helped me with product and all that. I remember I didn’t want to put my name on a board, but one day I said, “Fuck it! Just do it!”, trying to say YES instead of NO, because they were offering me something…
J: Why you didn’t want to put your name on a board?
E: I don’t know. Somehow my brain still blocks out the words when I see my name on a board, it pretends there’s no name on the board. It’s weird, I know. I see it, but at the same time I don’t see it. My brain just deletes that information, so I am not “pro”… (laughs) Really, I never thought I would be in magazines and stuff.
E: Is there anything about skateboarding you don’t like?
Erik, blindside flip (ph: Riera).
J: The part I don’t like is being treated bad for the sole reason of having a skateboard with me. It’s happened to me in bars, restaurants, shops. If all those snobs and cops would realise that when they kick kids out of the plazas they go to smoke joints, drink beers or get into worse stuff, they wouldn’t look at it that way.
E: I know you’re really into music, so I’d like to ask you a bit about that. How did you got into it?
J: I think everybody is into music one way or another, it’s part of all of us.
E: But, were you into music when you were little or did it come when you grew up.
J: I liked to sing when I was little, and played the piano without really knowing how to play it. When I was older I got more into guitar, but above all I like to listen. The other day I spoke to a friend of my grandfather and he told me I used to sing all the time when I was little. Maybe that’s where it comes from.
E: Do you know the name of the seventh chord in sharp C key?
J: I don’t think they use sharp C key, do you mean tone?
E: I mean Tone.
J: Flamenco’s seventh degree on sharp C key?
Erik, crooked grind (ph: Riera).
J: It’s minor B.
E: That was hard, wasn’t it?
J: I heard once you made a woman cry by playing a song of Paco (De Lucía), how did it go? What did you feel?
E: Haha, you got me there. She only dropped one or two tears because the music got to her heart. Nothing superficial. She understands dancing and art in general, and she really liked it. Same as me, I couldn’t live without listening or making music, it means my life to me, just like skating. I always have rhythms or melodies in my head.
E: Right, so the Sk8mafia X Sweet collab video, STEE, is going to come out in no time. What can you tell us about the project?
J: I know there will be good tricks, that’s for sure. Europe and US mixed, doubles parts. Same family, different countries.
E: I have another one for you: you’ve seen a lot of stages in skateboarding through the past years, what do you think about the current one?
Javi, backside flip (Ph: Sem).
J: Thinking about all I’ve seen, I’d say this is a good time for skateboarding. There’s more diversity than before, and it takes different directions and forms, where you can do what you want. That’s about it I guess, freedom.
E: Last question: what do you like about skateboarding?
J: That moment, when you see or do a trick you like, where time seems to stop.
J: What do you like about skateboarding?
E: [it] Depends. There is something I’ve always loved, when you get to a spot and the spot tells you what trick to do. Those are tricks you can’t do anywhere else. But often the stone tells you to do something, and you don’t dare to try. That’s a shame.
Erik skates for Sweet, junkyard.com, NikeSB & WeSC.
Javier skates for Volcom, Supra, Nixon, Sk8mafia, Mosaic,Diamond Supply & Stance.