Tag: Unsigned Hype

Leon Charo-Tite is our next “Unsigned Hype” and he is from Freiburg/Germany and that part of his heritage can be an issue. Many have gotten stamped and sidelined as the “German Skater”. To our U.S. audience, that’s kind of like being stamped Canadian or Brazillian in the early 2000’s. Not all Germans suffered this fate obviously, Jan Kliewer, Michi Mackrodt, Sami Harithi to name a few have escaped this treatment. And let’s be fair it is a bullshit stamp. Leon is also Kenyan and once he found out that David Jakinda is also of Kenyan heritage he got very excited and asked if I could introduce him but Covid happened. Still, these kinds of things are important to Leon. Imagine a double part between the two of them! 2021, David were you at? Anyway, Felix Schubert and Leon did the work! while being the two most humble, relaxed, and kind people you could work with. I haven’t heard any bad words about the two of them ever and you know as well as I do that people love to hate (the comments after this will be the true judge of that statement). But through this process they remained hungry, hard working and with good results. You will be seeing a lot more from them after this moment. Mark my words.

All photos by Conny Mirbach.
Film & Edit by Felix Schubert.
Interview by Roland Hoogwater.

I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. First question, how are you guys feeling right now?

L: Great!

F: Nervous, I want to know what people think of the video.

Are you afraid that people won’t like the video?

L: I am pretty confident with the stuff we got and I am happy with the way the edit came together. At some point, I was thinking that people would think it was lame or that it wasn’t good enough. But I think it turned out pretty well.

F: I am happy too, but I am curious what the comments will be. 

I think it will be fine, you are young and coming into your prime. So, how did you guys get to know each other?

L: It was here in Berlin, a friend of mine from down south in Germany had moved up here and he introduced me to Felix. I think we skated that park in Moabit together. We clicked and started filming clips. That was in 2018.

F: Nope, that was 2019, you moved in January. 

L: We filmed that “Obstsalat” video in a few months, that happened fast.

F: I’m more introverted and usually need some time to open up to people but with Leon I clicked from the beginning. I had the feeling with Leon I just can talk about everything. That’s what makes working on projects with him so easy.

Leon, you moved here from the South of Germany close to Freiburg and the Swiss border. Berlin has its very own vibe, how was it to make that change?

L: It changed me a lot. Down there we have cool parks, cool spots and I went to Basel a lot. Basel is cool, the scene is great but things are a bit sleepy there at the same time. I wanted to move to Basel but it is really hard for German people to move down there. The Swiss want to keep the circle tight (laughs). I felt a bit stuck, and last minute I thought about Berlin, some of my friends had moved before me. So in the last 3 weeks of 2018, I managed to pack my stuff, rent a car, one way, and arrived in Berlin. It has been a bit over 1.5 years now and time in Berlin moves fast!

You established yourself fast as well.

L: Berlin just has a lot of people and a lot of the right people for me!

F: I guess your skating helped too. (laughs)

Are you from Berlin, Felix?

F: I moved up from Koblenz about 5 years ago to do my vocational training. I stuck to my friends at first but I found myself hanging out with a crew of people from the Freiburg area quite soon. People like Domi & Michi welcomed me in. 

Dominik is a ripper, I didn’t know that about him.

L: They are from Offenburg, the next city over. I know him from back in the day. Him and his little brother were the contest rippers. His little brother always won the kids division. Domi was exciting to watch, when it was contest season I always got excited like “Here comes that nice Back Smith on the hubba.”

You guys live together now, how did that happen?

F: It was kinda random, I had a friend living with me and he built a bunk bed in the hallway. So after Leon lost his flat, I told him he could move into our hallway (laughs). So after a while one of the rooms became available and he moved in there and that is our current status. 

L: It is at Frankfurter Allee really close to the famous stair that people skate. 

Did you ever kick people out or throw down eggs if the skaters didn’t want to leave?

L: (laughs) Not as much as the people living right above it. I also never skated the spot myself, I think I am too heavy to go up like that.

They kept that on the low for sure (laughs). Felix back to you when did you start filming?

F: Well, me and the hometown crew put the money together to buy a camera. Soon I noticed that I was filming better than they were and I wanted the footage to look good so I took on the role of filmer. We dropped a full length in 2016 after 4-years of filming (laughs). 

You can get hooked on filming and editing quite easily. And I think filming motivates people to do their best tricks and I like that. I think I became a filmer because I was interested in showing people that were better than me. I just felt like I wanted to show those peoples skating.

“Obstsalat” is actually the first video I fully did on my own. I guess I just kept filming stuff when I moved to Berlin, without having a project in mind, but when I got to know Michi, I was so stoked about his skating that I figured it’s about time to make my own videos with the guys I like to see skate.

People are at a higher level here. I remember going to one of the skateparks here and just looking around like?! It seems like every cities local hero is just ripping up the park. How did you deal with that coming here, Leon? 

L: What shocked me more than seeing some of the skaters that I had seen before in videos is the fact that their ripping looked so casual in real life. I remember going to Skatehalle for the first time and I felt like “What!! Is this a demo or something?”

So I adjusted and thought like “Ok this seems to be the level, let’s see if I can play. Not in a competitive way but I just wanted to see if I could hang. 

I definitely saw a “Before & After” effect. Because when we first met at the Kindle Banks I was impressed but after the 2019/2020 winter there was a difference.

F: There was, but even back when we filmed Obstsalat he would always get like one or two good clips each session.

L: I got better except for my wheelie skills, wheelies get me depressed. I want to do them but I don’t know how.

It seems like you just take it to bigger spots and transition more naturally. 

L: I don’t even skate transition for that long, I started 3 years ago and I just started learning transition faster than I did any other type of skating. I was into it because it is fast, you can grind long and you go high and because it came naturally to me I stuck with it.

That is kind of crazy because it really seems like you have that level of confidence that comes with growing up on transition. When we did that “Eat Your Veggies” you skated that ramp with ease.

L: That ramp is sketchy but I have this idea that helps me with transition skating. So, on higher ramps, I feel like the basic calculation of the quarter is kind of the same. So whether it is a high ramp or a small one you just need to figure out how to land in the middle of the transition and you can walk or slide out of a bail easily. Also, I look at cats and how they do things and try to emulate that (laughs). 

To be honest it kind of shocked me to hear that you have been skating transition for only 3 years and did an ender like that. Could you share a little bit about that process?

That day was crazy, we woke up had breakfast and we just said let’s go to Kreuzberg and we happened to pass the spot. We looked at each other and thought, why not go here. So I warmed up with those Frontside Oski’s, then did a stall on the top to drop in and after that, I wanted to Nose pick. But I landed in a Noseblunt a couple of times and I kind of started believing it might be possible. So I kept going, had a blackout moment and woke up rolling away from it like “What The Fuck”.

How many tries did it take total?

F: Maybe 20, that was before we even met up with the crew. We kept skating and got more clips that day.

L: I filmed that ollie up, Front board fakie line like right after. You can tell in my part I wear a lot of the same outfits because a lot of stuff happened in sequence.

What was the biggest challenge for this part?

L & F: THE MUSIC!

L: We tried everything, from funk, soul, whatever, and we would come home and try to edit it, and either it didn’t work or we got less psyched after we saw the results. Also, the trick selection was hard, we struggled a bit with that. 

F: I am happy that a lot of things got leftover and that will go forward to my next project.

Continuing, did you guys carefully select the spots you wanted to skate? Because some of these spots are not typical berlin spots.

F: I am just not interested in filming the same old spots, I am not interested in filming too many lines at Bänke. Berlin has so much to offer and looking for spots by bike is a big part of that experience. 

L: I remember Felix would come into my room really stoked saying that he had found a spot on google maps. We would then go there on the weekend and use the spot as a Geiger meter. On the way, we would find things and skate them. That was probably the most productive method for us, sometimes being too prepared and stuck on the idea of doing a certain trick at a certain spot can be detrimental to being productive. I feel if you keep an open mind you approach the spot differently and you often get a better result.

Who is the leader when it comes to picking directions.

L: It is a group thing but Felix knows a lot of spots.

F: And Leon can skate a lot of them so the combination really works.

Except, you never seemed to land at any wheelie pads.

L: (laughs) No he never brought me to any of those luckily.

F: He doesn’t like to try them and I don’t like capturing them on my vx.

What is your personal top 3 when it comes to things in this part.

  1. L: Halfcab down the stairs Wallie Frontside 180.
  2. L: Switch 270 Wallride over the coffin.
  3. L: A toss-up between the line with the Max Palmer Ollie and the Backside Noseblunt.
  1. F: The Ollie at Görlitzer park into the short bank. I like how it looks on tape.
  2. F: The Wallie transfer from stone to stone in Schöneberg. Also not the most common spot.
  3. F: The Ollie over the rail into the bank and dropdown into the next bank. 

Funnily enough, there is a lot of Barcelona in there and I remember that after seeing that footage calling you (Leon) and saying that I felt you could do better.

L: Pfffff, I was scared after you said that, I had an “Aaah I don’t know if I am good enough!” type of moment. At the same time, I did have some tricks to hold on to. I felt like some tricks had a good level and all I had to do was get slightly better than that and I felt that motivated me to get better day after day.

F: I was surprised. But I also felt that you said it to keep Leon motivated and not chill too much. Because we all know those tricks were good tricks. 

My goal with that was to get you to keep the same newfound confidence you had inside of the park and I wanted you to take that to the streets. I mean some of those Barcelona tricks are in the ender section of the video but I felt like all-round the possibilities were greater. 

F: It worked because most of the footage we got happened in the weeks after our Barcelona trip. We also had a lot of time because of the lockdown.

L: I think we never felt that we could sit and chill with the footy we had, I always felt like we should keep it going.

Even after you did the Backside Noseblunt and showed me the clip? my reaction was pretty reassuring.

F: (laughs) I remember you instantly took out your phone and texted Daniel (Pannemann). And he texted back “Damn @streetquarter on a street quarter.”

Looking back you tried some gnarly stuff in Barcelona too. You tried that big kink rail.

L: That was crazy, you had to gap over a 3 stair, into a flatbar, that changes into a 10 stair rail. 

F: You had it though!

L: Almost, I think if I could go back I would try it again. That could have been the ender. I know I can do it though!

Felix’s first full length video, Obstsalat.

Compared to “Obstsalat” you don’t have too many rail tricks in your part. This feels like a part where you shifted focus.

L: You think? Maybe that’s true but at the same time, there weren’t too many good rails around.

Instead of that you just did gnarly drop-ins instead. How many boards did that one under the Prinzenbrücke (bridge) take you?

L: It took like three tries and it didn’t cost a board. I thought I was going to eat shit though! That little slappy wedge at the bottom was scary but I was trying to be mentally prepared for it.

It was the same day as the DDR museum line where I broke the sign. The whole museum area was closed so we could skate some spots that are normally hard to hit. Did anyone ever hit you guys up after seeing something like that and wanted to get the information of the skater?

No, Not really, I received an e-mail once about our stickers being found somewhere but nothing came of it. Random question but what about the frontside flip over the rail? How did that happen?

L: That is in Potsdam, I went there and skated with Justin Sommer and Jose was there as well and we just tried to skate the rail. I tried to Backside Smith it and the rail kept catching my kingpin so I just tried to Reynolds it instead. I got lucky in the end and managed to roll away.

The other line with the Max Palmer Ollie was also in Potsdam but not on the same day.

F: You had learned the Max Palmer Ollie that day. And I made you do it twice because I didn’t like the filming on the first one.

L: I was like, NOOOO PLEASE! (laughs).

In a way, that line is important because it shows you something quite different from the rest of the footage.

L: It was to pay homage to one of my favorite skaters Max Palmer. That guy has it figured out.

I think your part feels a bit more Ishod, to be honest. Except for the fact that you don’t have any ledge lines.

L: I get that a lot. As far as the ledge lines go I will leave those to Pascal Moellaert.

What do you like to see in other people’s parts?

L: I think it is important to stay true to yourself. A lot of parts want to convince you of their quality by going gnarly but in my opinion that only really works if the skater feels like he wants to do it. Like Hyun’s part, you can tell that he skates the way he wants and likes to skate. Or even Shin Sanbongi’s /// part, a lot of people could do a lot of those tricks but you can see that they are true to themselves.

F: I like to see that the skater had ideas and thought about the way he wanted to skate for the part and what he wanted to skate.

L: And in a way, you can’t train street skating. The spot forces you to make choices or it allows you to create combinations that are almost exclusive to the spot.

Hello and welcome to our very first presentation of our newest three-part project “UNSIGNED HYPE” which is a title some of you might have heard before? It came from the famous THE SOURCE Hip Hop magazine and it was an item in which the focus was turned away from what was happening in the limelight of the culture and towards the up and coming talent, the future of hip hop. It featured rappers like DMX, Common & Biggie early sometimes before or sometimes when they had just signed to a major label. Anyway, long story short we wanted to do the same, keep our ears to the streets and show that we can spot some people that possess the skills to pay their bills (in the future). After we saw Oscars footage we had to reach out to Quartersnacks dot com because the vibes of the part seemed just right. So here it is our first co-promoted part of this new series that we hope will create some future mainstays. First to bat, Oscar Säfström.

All photos by Jacob Hansson.
Film & Edit by Jacob Hansson.
Interview by Roland Hoogwater.

Recording now, so, don’t say anything that can incriminate you guys.So what’s up? How is Malmö, Sweden?

O: Working mayne, got a job in a restaurant making that Pasta. After I finished Bryggeriet (Malmö’s famous skate school), I didn’t want to go back home to Uppsala, Sweden. 

All the homies me and Jacob grew up with skating moved out here to go to Bryggeriet. So there isn’t much left besides some of those spots you see in the video.

Oscar Säfström.

Which spots are those?

J: The spot where Oscar did the Tre Flip and the 50-50, the line with the Switch Crook to regs and the Frontside Blunt pop out…Basically, all the stuff where you can tell it is summer. 

You are both from Uppsala so when did you meet?

J: 2012 I think, when Oscar was 12 years old. I was 15 and we met at the local skate ramp.

O: Actually, I am from a little country town called Almunge outside of the city…But yeah, we met in Uppsala at the skatepark. Günes Özdogan is our hometown hero.

So Jacob you are a bit older than Oscar but you started skating around the same time right?

J: 2008 I got my first setup.

O: 2007 for me, I was 8 years old. But I started going into the city at 11. Me and Axel Berggren are from the same town and we grew up together and ended up both skating. We started skating a little quarterpipe in our schoolyard and ended up trying to build more shit.

Started at 8, how did you get into skating at that age?

O: I started fingerboarding first (laughs), I got gifted some tech decks for Christmas. So when I got some money for my birthday, I went to the skate shop to buy a new set plus some obstacles. I bought that stuff, stood in front of the shop for a minute… went back in, and traded it for a skateboard instead. It was a Pirate skateboard (local Swedish brand), with some black film trucks. My brother got jealous so he got one as well. He got a Bam board with some Destructo trucks with a dope blood-splatter pattern on it. I was jealous of those back in the day.

I guess back then Bam could sell anything to kids. How soon until you did your first kickflip? Were you flipping the first week?

O: Not at all, it took like 2 years (laughs), and then I learned heelflips first but I thought I had learned kickflips. So, I was all stoked trying to show it to Axel and I did a heelflip and he just looked away. When I finally did get kickflips down I just put 1 square meter of wood down on our gravel driveway so I practiced my kickflips there and on one of the tries, I popped a kickflip right in my face and bled all over the place (laughs). A week after that I finally landed my first kickflip.

You grew up skating with Axel, was that competitive? Who did the kickflip first? 

O: We did, we met in daycare, and started hanging out then. We go way back. He currently lives in Malmö too and it is nice to have someone like so close to you. But coming back to the kickflip, I did it first, in 2009-2010. Axel didn’t start flipping his board until 2013 (laughs).

J: There are like 5-6 skaters from Uppsala in Malmö right now so making friends was easy (laughs). 

Switch Noseslide on a tall Hubba.

And how did you end up skating Jacob?

J: My best friend introduced me to it when I was 12. He showed me an ollie and I was like DAMN! I have to try this. It probably wasn’t even that good of an ollie looking back on it but just getting the board in the air was magical. 

O: I remember something similar, someone was ollieing this gap at my school, now looking back on it, it was such a stanky ollie but back then it was special. I also remember Jacob was in this crew called the pineapple crew and I always wanted to be a member of that. Instead, we started our own crew called the tomato crew. We had to stay with food (laughs).

So at what age did you pick up a camera?

J: I have always had a camera with me but in the beginning, I just pointed it at the skaters but around 2015-2016 Oscar, Axel & Josef Norgren all became so good at skating that I felt I had to document what was going down. I bought a VX and made Nolletåtta my first full-length in which Oscar had a part.

Uppsala looks pretty different from other Swedish cities can you describe the vibe there?

J: from a filmers perspective some of the spots in the city look cool but they are rougher compared to Malmö or Stockholm.

O: in 2014 the city built this little plaza and that place was fun they built some ledges in front of one of the hotels and we waxed up the ledges and fucked that place up. People got annoyed but they couldn’t do anything because my auntie was working at the hotel being a boss (laughs).

Besides that Günes helped the city build skateparks and obviously, he knew what we needed so he helped the scene a lot.

Jacob’s first full-length.

Did Günes Özdogan influence you guys?

O: He held it down. 2012 we saw him skating some spots so we skated together for a moment and he liked my skating so he started giving me some old adidas shoes and some old boards from an early age. 

J: Günes motivates you a lot, he is always getting stuff done and that was a good role model for us. Just to see him doing his thing. 

Oscar, was that the first moment you felt like skating could be a thing?

O: Nah…That came later when I moved to Malmö to go to school. I met so many real skaters, and people in skating. So, when I started at Bryggeriet that was when I felt skating started to treat me well. 

You didn’t feel intimidated? Everyone can skate at that school.

O: That actually motivated me a lot and helped me get better. To meet all those skaters you saw on IG. Axel was there too, we always did a lot of things together.

J: He is a session skater. The more the session gets going the more stoked he will get to land tricks.

O: That suited me because I could do my work in the shadows because he would stand in the spotlight. I don’t even look at other skaters that much anymore my crew gives me energy.

How was it seeing Axel get on Nike SB and feature in the last Fri.day video:

It was weird when I saw him in Tokyo with Koston and all those guys. Unreal. 

The first time we saw you was in Malmoe Tape how did that project happen?

J: That was our first summer in Malmö, we were always 10 deep at a spot. That was good for me because I managed to film tricks at every spot. Maybe some of the skaters needed a little more alone time but we tried to do that too.

O: We mostly rolled with a really big crew though.

On to this part, how was it filming for this project?

O: I had a really bad period with filming for this one, it goes up and down a lot. Sometimes I get a lot in a short time but I go through droughts. But it is what it is.

J: We did get some really good tricks at the end of some of those battles. Like the switch crooks down the rail. We spent a whole weekend at that rail (laughs)

O: That is like the favorite thing I got for this part. The rail kept bending when I jumped on, I couldn’t land it. So a homie saw that and figured out a way to stabilize the rail using another board and that helped me make it. That spot sucks though, people screaming at you from the windows and I am just there going crazy trying this trick. 

There was a moment there when you felt that things weren’t happening in Malmö and the trip to Gothenburg and Uppsala seemed to give you some fresh energy.

J: That was also because we started to feel the deadline closing in and that pressure really helped us getting stuff done. 

O: It worked! Plus the spots aren’t as well known to others but to us, they were our local spots.

True! What about the vibe of the part? Did you have a plan going in?

O: Yeah, I had this vision of just cruising doing flat ground trick and then a ledge or curb would appear and I would skate that. But we just don’t have those kinda plaza’s, we still tried to make it work though. 

Sad Grab Frontside 180? Some old head might be fuming with anger reading that trick name right now.

I still think the part has that feel, a little eastern exposure-ish.

O: That is what we tried but the flip tricks weren’t always there (laughs). I still hope people like the part.

What about the song? 50 Cent is not an obvious choice (anymore).

O: I really like to edit, so, to find the right song I tried so many songs I even went into my country bag to find a track but in the end, this song just felt right.

What about the others in this project? I heard you have been talking to Pascal Moelaert a bit.

O: I really like his part, he has everything I want for my part. One of those ledge tech lines in Madrid. But it is also nice look wise to have it all in Sweden. 

Another thing that happened is that you got on Vans (flow).

O: Yeah, Tom (Botwid) who does Poetic Collective and works for Vans just asked me one day at Swampen Plaza and I was down to try some. After I found the Rowan’s I was down that is like the perfect skate shoe. Later on I went to his office and we talked a lot about some projects for 2020 but COVID 19 happened. So I am stuck here but I have shoes so I’m good (laughs).  

Jacob, you also started shooting photos more and more. Are you trying to take Nils Svensson’s job?

J: It has been fun, you have to really look at spots in a different way. It is fun to try something new. You are not as confident on a spot. With filming you can get away with pointing the camera but when it comes to photography you have to get the angle and the timing right. It has changed my long lens filming as well. I focus more on the composition now when documenting tricks.

O:The only thing is that I have to do the trick twice now (laughs). “Yo, can you do it again? I wanna shoot it.”

Hopefully, this project didn’t ruin your friendship and you will be working together again.

J: I think we will be all good, we have been doing this for a while now so keep an eye out for us in 2021.

O: I have been filming with Sean C and Tao as well a bit but me and Jacob will be doing stuff in the future for sure.

Let’s see it then, thanks for you time guys.   

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