How was your first contact with fingerboarding?
Around 1998 my dad bought a fingerboard to my brother and when i saw it i immediately fell in love with it. I was already skateboarding at the time and i remember being really impressed to how similar it was to an actual skateboard. Back then, there was absolutely no information regarding fingerboard, no pictures, no videos, nothing, there was no google, no youtube, i really had no idea how to do tricks with that, so the goal was to somehow reproduce skateboard tricks the most realistic possible way. For instance, it took me about a year or so to realize you could kickflip just like skateboarding, poping the ollie then kicking the flip. Before that, i remember doing some sort of "pressure flips" thinking that was the only way to kickflip.
What made you create a fingerboard brand? Talk to us a bit about Evolve Fingerboards.
I started making decks around 2002 and Evolve itself started in 2003. The major objective was to actually trade those decks for other fingerboard parts such as trucks. We have to understand here that around 2000 we had the first fingerboard boom, where Techdecks were highly popular all over the world. In 2001, things starded to go dowhill, to the point where we simply couldn't find Techdecks anywhere, to find replaceable parts for your fingerboard was a struggle. I remember that back then i use to break a lot of trucks, a LOOOOT of trucks, and simply couldn't find parts to replace them. Eventually we could find some cheap ass China stuff, and trust me, i couldn't be happier because at least i was able to keep fingerboarding.
So there comes Evolve. At that time there was already a very small online "scene", mostly around Techdeck and RZF forums. So what i use to do is send some decks to people and they would send me trucks back. Eventually things started to go well, there were a few other deck companies back then too, we all started selling them and here i am until nowadays. It's worth mentioning that way too many things happened before we actually had deck companies. First there were graphics companies, these were the very first "companies" we had on fingerboarding, then bushings and grip, and then way later deck companies. During this time, people started to film, take pictures and create small teams, which later evolved to what we have now. Seems silly these days, but back then, having a graphic company sponsor, or any sponsor at all was a big deal, filming and editing full lenghts with people from all over the world was mind blowing.
About Evolve more specifically, other then getting replaceable parts, my objective was to bring something a bit different from what we wad at that time. Most decks use to have no concave at all and very low kicks. I came up with deep concave and higher kicks, decks laquered and all that jazz. It was no revolution by any means, but i always wanted to give people another choice. I think somehow i succeeded. Later on, other decks companies appeared eventually, bringging new stuff, new shapes, that's the way to go i think, pushing limits. Right now, in 2017, Evolve is going through a major rebuild. I'm trying to get a new shape that pleases me, i don't really care for what others are doing or which shape is the most popular at the moment. First of it all, i make decks for myself, and if other people like then, that would be great. I won't ever sell a deck that i wouldn't use, just because that specific shape is what sells the most at the moment.
What is for you “the perfect deck”?
The perfect deck is the one you feel more confortable with. Just that.
There's no perfection, no rule to follow in fingerboarding. That's what i like the most about our little "scene", everyone is free to do whatever they want. We have no compromise with big companies, no one from outside is dropping money on us to tell us what to do. Heck, if i want to creat a deck with concave in nose and tail, i could simply do it. Same for everyone out there. So perfection, at least on my point of view, is what pleases you the most, simply as that.
"The perfect deck is the one you feel more confortable with"
How do you feel that fingerboarding has evolved until nowadays?
Even though our "scene" is still rather small, we went through so much during all these years. Just so you can imagine, back when i filmed my first full lenght parts, which use to be 4 minutes long or more, i use to use those old digital photo cameras such as sony cybershot haha, some of you might remember that, and those allowed you to film 30 seconds at the most until the memory card was full. So you imagine filming a full lenght part that way. That pretty much tells you how much we evolved until now. Having a wooden deck was a dream man, having real life contests were simply unreal. Got to give credits to germans in that regard. They were the ones that showed us all that meetings, events and contests were possible. In my mind, we had a few "turning points" in fingerboard history, moments when things drastically changed. We had the first forums, the very first companies, woodden decks, real life events, among others. Real events is when things started to change for real. We got to meet people we use to talk by internet only, stablish real friendships you know. I think that moment paved the way to what we see nowadays. Of course, we still have a lot of room for improvement, but it's absolutely fantastic seeing how things are these days. People doing some epic videos with absurd edits, parks being build with absolute realism, companies selling all over the world, it's mad crazy bro.
"Got to give credits to germans in that regard. They were the ones that showed us all"
What do you think about the brazilian fingerboard community?
It is still growing for sure, we have a very tight community and get along very well. Last year, if i remember correctly, there was around 5 big events and several other small meetups. You have to understand that Brazil has a huge territory, so to get from place to place is not exactly easy. Just so you know for example, to go from my state to the state above, that's an 6-7 hours drive by car. We usually have to go by plane to certain events. I have absolutely no doubt we could have way more events if the travels weren't so long. But we are doing quite alright, we have a good understanding with the skateboard comunity, most of us actually sell our stuff at skateshops. We got guys able to build sick parks for events such as Adriano Chazan from Chazan Ramps and Kona from Ok Ramps, we got some top notch companies such as WOW and Nanoboards among others, so yeah, things are going well, but obviously, there's always room for improvement.
I actually have a dream that is to somehow integrate the whole south american continent. I know they have companies in Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru, among others, and they also host small events around there, but my dream is to make a real life event in any of these countries where we could all get together, that would be sick. We have the language barrier problem, every country in South America speaks spanish, except Brazil, we speak portuguese., so there's that also.
I would like to see some of you european fellows here eventually too. It's not like you're going to get murdered as soon as you leave the plane ahahah this is not a hell hole, it's actually fairly nice.
"It's not like you're going to get murdered as soon as you leave the plane"
Have you ever been in Portugal? If so what differences do you see between Portugal and Brazil?
I've been there last year, to Porto. We're actually going again this year, after a week in Berlin. Dude, Porto was fantastic in every possible way. First of it all, we stayed at the corner of Pateo, there was Henrique Matos, Lucas Bellaguarda and myself. The first thing we noticied is how much that part of the city was similar to our hometown. For those who don't know, Brazil was colonized by Portugal, so i did expect we would have some things in common, but it was incredible, we just felt like home and i'm not even joking. Then we got to meet Matosinhos with Philippe from Yellowood. He actually drove us all around Porto first to get to know the place, then we went to Matosinhos itself. It is fairly different from here, that was my impression at least. But also an incredible place. It was super easy to go from place to place by train, easier than in Germany in my opinion. Maybe the language makes the difference, since we also speak portuguese. We had a blast there, did some skating at Casa da Música, got some amazing food at Tasquinha do Polonia, did some sightseeing, it was all great. But i have to say, one of my favorite things ever during that trip to Porto was the Francesinha. There's a restaurant in front of Pateo where i use to eat every single day, everytime ordering the Francesinha. I still miss that ahaha
Being more specific, even though there are similarities between Portugal and Brazil, mostly regarding architecture styles, languace and certain habits, there are also major diferences. Porto was really easy to move from place to place by train, in Brazil we mostly rely on cars, since there aren't many train lines. I have to say though that the transit in Porto seems a bit harder than here, mostly because the streets there seems rather narrow compared to here. Most people we met there were very kind, not talking about fingerboarders, but random people, and that just felt like here. There was a time we were heading back to our apartment by train, and the ticket machine, which was supposed to take Euro bills, wasn't, it was only taking coins and we were out of them. So we were like "what are we going to do?", we thought about exchanging 5 or 10 Euros for coins, but there was no store around where we could do that, so there was a old lady around us, she saw we were in trouble, then she offered to change our bill for coins. Tha was super kind from her and that was pretty much the overall feeling i was left regarding the portuguese people, humble, kind and always willing to help.
What do you think of Fingerboarding, internationally?
There are up and down moments, but overall i think it's growing man. Day after day we see more companies, more videos and more new people starting. I think it's absolutely necessary to have strong companies in every country to develop local fingerboarding, and these locals are the ones who eventualy are going to start their own companies, travel to other coutries for events and therefore keep pushing fingerboard forward. The best thing about traveling to events is meet people from all over the world, and that is only possible due to the work companies do locally. Not only companies, but fingerboard media websites, such as yours, Fingerboardtv, among others, you guys are extremely important as a source of information. It's not exactly easy to follow every fingerboarder, every company or every event that is happening, so you guys do that job to show everyone what's going around. You also push fingerboard by doing that.
Being more specific about international fingerboard, as far as i can see, most companies are refining their products to an excellence level. At a certain point, the goal was to have a 100% non-techdeck setup. Now, we are literally seeing mini skateboards. New videos come out everyday, most of them with some crazy ass tech tricks, which was unthinkable years ago. We got some people at the FFI group on facebook which we never heard of before, they come out of nowhere with some unbelievable videos, great edits, that to me is a prove that no matter what, fingerboard is not dying, on the other hand, it is growing. Sure, me might see less people at certain events, but that's natural, we are going to have periods of time where things seems to calm down a little, other times things are going to be bombing, but looking at the whole picture, i still see fingerboard growing eveywhere, i have absolutely no doubt.
"I think it's absolutely necessary to have strong companies in every country to develop local fingerboarding..."
Which event left you the strongest impression in Brazil? And abroad?
Ohhhh man, i can't talk about brazilian events withouht mentioning our KOF (King of Fingerboard). That was actaully the very first real life event we had over here, and this year, in 2017, we are celebrating it's 10th anniversary. In the first one, there was like 5 or 6 people. In the last couple years, we managed to fill 3 hostels nearby the event, so you can imagine how much people were there. It's super sick because it happens in a major skate hostel in Brazil, the Hi Adventure. There are many big names skaters that came from that place, such as Pedro barros. Every time we are there, not only we can see great fingerboarding, but also amazing skateboard action. That place is blessed, trust me on that, everyone should visit it at least once, so what better time to do it than during one of our events uhm?? You guys are all invited.
Overseas, there has to be BATH in Germany. It was the first one i went to, been there for the past 4 years, unfortunately there will be no BATH this year, but we are going to Germany anyways. BATH was super sick, meeting people from all over the world, partying hard ahhah i really have no words to describe, what happens in Berlin, stays in Berlin.
Who are you favorite riders? And why?
My all time favorite is Winkler, no doubt. The guy has been doing this forever and when you actually get the chance to see him in action, it's awesome man, super flow, super stylish, great guy. TKY is another one, what an amazing dude, great fingerboarder, great human being. I have a deep admiration for Martin Illsley too, from UK. I think he doesn't fingerboard anymore, but he was a great influence to me, especially regarding his fast style to do tricks. Over here, there are many that i admire, Henrique Matos was probably the very first guy i've seen being really consistent with his tricks, Lucas Bellaguarda, the guy is a phenomenon, just like Petr Ptácek, Petr is icredible, seeing them in action is mind blowing really. There are many other i could name that in a way or another had an influence over myself, such as Phils Savage, Ju Radiu, Hakam, Rodrigo Rossi. It's kind of unfair to single out individuals because there are so many great fingerboarders out there, it's impossible to name them all, but at least on my book, if you do things right, aiming to make fingerboard grow in the first place, you are on my list.
"My all time favorite is Winkler, no doubt."
What do you think of the international scene nowadays? Particularly the fact that there are 20000 “Instagram” brands – is that positive for the scene?
It's complicated to answer that because i'm not a heavy Instagram user, but at least the ones that i follow, they do a pretty nice job. Even back to the foruns age, there were always lots of companies, many of them actually never did a thing, so i know where you coming from with that question. I think the main issue here is to separated those who actually help, from those who just want more subscribers, or to make a quick buck. You can tell who's there to do something and who's not. It's important to support companies that are just starting, they need time to grow and perfect their products, but at the same time it's difficult to separate them from those subscribe hunters and money greed fellows.
I will never forget the consistency of the Brazilians in BATH. How come brazilian fingerboarders are so consistent? Is there a Brazilian competitive gene?
Don't really know, i think the top riders here are on par with the top riders worldwide for sure, the only real diference is that you guys only see us in person once or twice a year, so that might give you that impression. It's different from skateboard in that regard. Brazilian skaters are used to skate in crappy spots, bad streets, all that jazz... it's only natural that when they have the chance to skate in perfect spots like in such places of Europe, they are going to perform better. In fingerboarding i don't see that much difference, we all pretty much fingerboard in the same obstacles, usually the same surface you know. Also there's fact that it's really expensive for us to go to Europe, so in realyty, those guys who participate in contests over there are usually some of the best we have here, it's not like all of us brazilians are amazing fingerboarders, is just that you only see the best of the best we got.
Do you think that there is room for fingerboarding to grow even more? If so, how? Public Fingerboard Parks?
Definitely. We have a lot of room for improvement in every possible aspect. We went through a lot during all these years and we have done great so far. Just remember how was the fingerboard "scene" 10 years ago and how it is now. But there's still plenty to do. Public parks would definitely be great, we have some already worldwide, including some over here in Brazil, but the more the better. We also need more solid companies. Im in favor of the idea that companies are the foundation of a strong "scene". Without companies to hosts events and support fingerboarders, our community can still grow, but it's going to take alot longer to achieve what we want. So there, more reliable companies are always needed.
Second point are events. We certainly could have more, both local and worldwide. That's the best way to instigate young people to start fingerboarding "seriously". In contest and meetups, they have the chance to see people they usually only see on videos, and believe it or not, that is important to them, to be able to talk to you, to show their skills to you. And there comes my third point, which might be odd, but i trully believe in this idea. We need idols, icons. We need great fingerboarders to inspire youngsters to be like them. To push on contests to win. To create more and better videos, to develop their own styles, to go crazy on new tricks. If that could happen, it would be like a constant cycle, like a wheel spinning, you inspire 10, 20, 30 new people, out of those if 3 or 4 follow your path, giving time to time, they would motivate others and so on. That would be the perfect scenario, and yeah, i know it's hard, almost utopic, but not impossible.
Do you believe there should be “associations” of fingerboarders worldwide? No brands – just associated riders paying a quota for spaces to hang out with ramps.
Its depends of what kind of association whe are talking about. If it's association like a legal body to speak for a group of people, then these are actually necessary, if you for instance, bring a public park project to your local mayor. It's all bureaucracy. They might talk to you, but chances of having your project accepted are much higher if you represent an association. We discussed the possibility of create a brazilian FB association some years ago, but it didn't happen. Most likely, it wasn't the moment for that. The plan was to establish a calendar of events, with fixed dates for the major contests, so everyone could organize themselves better to participate in most of them. Again, as i mentioned before, we have the long travels problem here, so a fixed calendar would benefit us all. Also, we would like to establish some sort of ranking. The idea here was not show who's at the top and who's not, but better organize our events. Usually, contests here are divided by 3 categories, beginner, amateur and pro. Obviously, prizes are divided into these three categories. The problem is, for instance, there's a person who entered a past event into the pro category, then in the next event, if we have lots of people running in pro, that exact same person might opt to run in amateur instead, to have a better chance to get some prizes. We don't want that to happen, so then we thought about establishing a ranking sistem. If This or that person ever participated in a "pro" event, he/she could never join another event as an amateur.
What i mean by all of that is that an association can be useful if done right, but it's complicated since pretty much none of us have past experiences in that regard.
Then there's another kind of association which would be more like a club or something like that. Sounds like a good idea, if you have a decent number of local fingerboarders who are willing to let's say rent a place and dedicate that space for fingerboard only, i don't see why not. A place where you could chill with your friends, with lots of spots, listen to some music, have a few beers and all of that, i'd gladly pay a monthly fee for that, no doubt. Obviously, i wouldn't mind to let some other people to go there every once in awhile, even if they don't contribute. If they can help, great, if they can't, whatever, maybe next time they can.
Has instagram killed youtube?
I don't think so, Youtube is still higly popular, maybe not as much as it used to be. Instagram right now seems like it is where most people are these days, but i still watch quite a few videos on youtube, and if im honest, i watch more YT videos than Instagram's. But maybe that's just me, i mentioned above, i'm not a heavy instagram user, so i'm probably wrong.
Did Facebook kill forums?
Yeaaaah it definitely did. I think it's a disgrace. Back at forums age, we all use to be pretty much at the same places, if we wanted to check something, we knew where to go. With Facebook, we've been divided into several diferent groups. Each country have it's own group, we somehow lost that "international community" feeling. Of course, there's always something positive out of it. I think we got more connected to local fingerboarders, local events attract more people than before, but still, at least in my point of view, we used to be better served with forums. Hence why we started the FFI group there, to try to bring everyone together again. I've seen people saying "i won't give up on instagram for a facebook group". Fair enough. But there's a diference between Instagram and facebook that bothers me. Instagram seems to be much more individualistic, its all about what you are doing and that's it, facebook, even with all it's problems, seems to be more reliable when it's about sharing ideas.
Anyways, forums are still better, fingerboard wise, but what can we do right? We have to adapt.
Do you think fingerboarding can ever become mainstream?
I think so, yeah. Maybe not in 10, 20 years, but way ahead. Just look at skateboarding. It took decades to reach this point of popularity. Back at the beginning, i imagine they would make the same question themselves. I don't even know if skateboard can be considered "mainstream", but certainly it is way more popular than when i started in the mid 90's. I believe the same thing can happen to fingerboard, but certainly we won't be here to enjoy, maybe our sons, greatsons will...
How do you see the role of Blackriver in the international scene? Any suggestion for BRR?
They are absolutely necessary, not just as another company, but as an "instituion" of fingerboarding. This goes back to that idea i mentioned before of having idols, or icons, which is the case here. BRR is a fingerboard icon. They not only promote fingerboard, they inspire people. Obvioulsy, as any other company, they need to make profit to survive, nothing wrong with that. The thing is, they give back to the community, look at how many contests they support each year, how many new people start fingerboarding thanks to their store, how many jobs they create, how many small business can keep going by reselling their stuff, among other things. Then again, the most important aspect here is how they motivate people to fingerboard. You know for sure people who have a dream to go to Germany to meet them, get to know the store or go to Fast Fingers. Sometimes not just a dream but a life goal. Someone who reads this might think "ohh that's just silly". Maybe for you bro, but believe me, there are LOTS of people out there who can only dream of getting to know BRR and everything that comes with it. Heck, i did quite a few years of german to be able to speak the very basics there. Look at this man, somehow, BRR made me go back to school, that's crazy. That's just one example, now you imagine this worldwide. That's why i believe we must have "more BRRs", people and companies strong enough to influence the rest in a positive manner.
BRR must be preserved at all costs by each and everyone of us. The only suggestion i can give them is never quit. Never give up. I know times are hard, it's a struggle for everyone and for them is no different, but man, fingerboard needs you BRR fellows, for real. Obvioulsy, if you ever close doors, that won't kill fingerboarding, but it is most certainly going to make things alot harder for all of us.
"BRR must be preserved at all costs by each and everyone of us."
Do you think that the future of fingerboarding should contemplate “Guerilla ramps” – building concrete spots in public places?
Guerrilla ramps are just another way to keep fingerboarding. People are doing that more frequently now and i think it's great, honestly, but deep down it's just another way to fingerboard. People will keep fingerboarding inside their houses, at contests, at meetups, outside....it's all about having fun, some people have more fun fingerboarding outside, others inside, there's no diference really. Building outside spots are indeed exciting and the good thing about them is that other people might use them aswell.
What do you think of Fingerboarding magazine?
Absolutely necessary. Every fingerboard media plays a major role in the scene by sharing info of what's happening all over the world. Also, having sections such as tutorials and reviews are a major help for those who are just starting. I tell you this, sometimes you might question yourself, like pretty much all of us do eventually, if "is it worth the time and effort i put into this?". It is man, no matter what, you have a positive influence over people, and that alone is a big contribution, never give up.
The most important thing to understand, at least for me, is that there's no right or wrong both in fingerboard and skateboard. It's not wrong to use a techdeck, it's not wrong to run a contest using grip. The only thing that matters is what makes you happy. There's no formula to film a video and neither products should all look like this or that. We need different things, if everybody start doing and making the same things, can you imagine how boring this would be? Just do whatever makes you happy and don't pay attention to what others might think about you. Treat other just like you'd like to be treated, regardless if they are new or not. These are simple things we all could do. It's all about respecting each others choices.
If you run a business, do things right man, you got payed, you send the product right away. If you bought something, be patient, don't email the company owner 1000 times asking about your order. You're a top fingerboarder? Treat well those who are just starting, you've been there once too. You're new to the game? Respect those who came before you, you might know things, but there's always room for more knowledge. It's just that really, it's all about respect each other and have fun with what pleases you.
Interview by Gil Dias & Nelson Sousa
Interview by Gil Dias & Nelson Sousa