Steve Forstner, Julien Bachelier (Juju), Julian Dykmans and Hugo Liard by Ralph Lloyd-Davis.
All photos courtesy of Loic Benoit.
When I first met the Antiz crew six years ago, you could tell their motivation was being drawn from the roots of our beloved culture. Here was a small group of up and coming European skaters trying to get things done by themselves, on their own terms and in their own time. All the riders were friends and kept in contact as much as possible, using the apartment in Lyon as a base and bureau for the company build from.
With an image that didn’t fit the mould, Antiz gathered support and it wasn’t long before a video – Antizipated – was released to critical acclaim. The company could no longer live as a happy-go-lucky entity, but the boys couldn’t jump the gun either, so an office was found and various team members took turns to hold the fort and demonstrate responsibility in promoting their dream.
The guys at Antiz have to split their time between sponsors that send them off to contests and demos, 9-5 jobs in skateshops, school studies, and deadlines with magazines and other various media projects- but all this helps the team work harder and keep in touch with their main focus: skateboarders.
Antiz have just released their second video, Z-Movie for free and it packs a punch that is sure to get people interested. I caught up with Hugo Liard, Julian Dykmans, Julien Bachelier (Juju) and Steve Forstner as they toured their way through Europe drinking beers and getting their skate on in the process. Antiz are still down to earth, still having fun and still killing it on their boards.
How has the Euro-premier tour been so far?
Steve: (Laughs) Oh, it’s been pretty rough. No, it’s been a lot of fun, but I don’t know why last night I had too many beers in Tours (France) and… I don’t even know why! I threw my jacket and shoes in the river. I’m not too stoked because my passport was in my jacket, so who knows how I’m going to get across the borders now? (Laughs)
Are you happy with how Z-Movie turned out?
Juju: Sure! Polo (Paul Labadie, Antiz filmer) did a great job! We’ve been working with Polo since before Antiz started and he always comes through. It’s good to see that we’re all on the same wavelength when it comes to ideas and joking around.
Steve: Yeah, sure! Polo did a good job.
The video is free and even has “Burn this DVD” written on the jacket- Was this intentional?
Julian: We have it posted up on Youtube, Google, Limewire and all those sites because over the 2 years that it took to make, we saw the video industry crashing big time. By putting the video out for free, we cut our losses.
Juju: We had the possibility to get Z-Movie distributed through magazines, but that wasn’t going to work because firstly, you had to find the magazines, and then the issue would only be out for a month which was too small a window to operate through.
Was the storyline involving film skits Paul’s idea?
Steve: Well we talked about things, but we they had to be possible to do without the use of crazy scenery or anything.
But did Paul know which films he wanted to parody, or did each rider bring a personal choice to the table?
Steve: We all talked with Paul asking, “What would you like? What about this scene..?” All that stuff. For my skit, the Big Lebowski, it was actually Julian (Dykmans)’s girlfriend’s idea. My initial idea was to use something from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas because that’s basically my favourite movie. But it was so hard to choose a scene; we went with the Big Lebowski instead.
Juju: Me and Polo are both big Tarantino fans and I was in my Reservoir Dogs phase, so it was cool to be able to pay homage to one of our inspirations. Polo managed to capture each of our amazing talents as actors- not an easy task! (laughs)
Do you think you can take Hollywood on now?
Julian: Oh sure! (laughs) I’ve got a lot of confidence in my acting skills now.
Hugo: Did you notice how little I spoke? (Laughs) You can tell I hate my accent! We were all such amateurs, but Julian (Dykmans) was the only one who actually thought he could do better on the next take! (laughs)
How long did it take to make Z-Movie, from start to finish?
Steve: Paul edited it super fast actually, because we only just got back from a tour in the States, in Oregon, and he got to work. Paul spent about two weeks just getting everything together, starting to edit and ask people what they wanted in their parts. We took one last trip to Barcelona, and then Paul worked on it for 3 weeks or a month, editing all day and night- vampire style.
Did you guys go out of your way to get as many new spots in it, or was it just chance?
Steve: When you go on tour you always find some crazy stuff. When we go to Barcelona, Julian (Dykmans) lives there so we try not to go to all the famous spots because we’d rather find new stuff to skate.
Hugo: A lot of the time we’d roll into town and stumble upon a spot and be like, “Whoa! Look it’s that rail, or that bank” And we’d just break out and session the thing. We didn’t go to places on purpose, or with definite ideas of what had to be done. We just skated. Obviously, in Barcelona, you can’t help it if you end up at a well known spot, and that always makes it easier, but we’re down to skate anything. One rider might want to skate a ditch or something, so we all go there and see what it’s like, maybe film a trick, maybe not.
Do you guys get to travel together a lot?
Juju: We try and hit the road every couple of months or something. Not all the countries we visited were through Antiz trips though. Sometimes it was on another sponsor’s trip, or just with a couple of friends. We went to the Canary Islands, Dubai, all over Spain… It was good.
Do you ever feel pressured at spots?
Steve: Nah, it’s mellow. We just want to skate, you know. Like some days, one of us will be hyped to film something so we’ll tag along, go cruising, and if the feeling is right then maybe we’ll film a trick too. Skating together is good.
What was the best place you visited whilst filming for this video?
Steve: Ah! The best place has to be Oregon (USA). All those concrete parks… Orcas Island is the best park ever. We were just out on that island, camping and skating. Good times!
Hugo: Oregon! I mean, you’ve seen all the parks that are popping up in Europe nowadays, but over there it’s something else. They have a park in every town almost!
Juju: Any travelling is good. Italy was pretty good, but I have to agree with the others and say Oregon.
Are there enough skaters for all those parks?
Julian: You have to realise that skateboarding is huge in the States. It spans several generations; you’ve got parents skating, young women using their boards like it’s some new age tool for stretching and stuff. It looks strange at first, but when that girl drops into a bowl or something, she kills it! (laughs)
How many of you were there on that trip? You were quite a lot weren’t you..?
Steve: The first week there was 13 of us or something, with Fred (Demard, editor of Freestyler Magazine (RIP)), Benny (Gonselin, Lyon WallStreet skateshop owner), and in the end we were down to 9 or something like that.
Not everybody made it then?
Steve: (Laughs) Some people got lost and others had to leave after the first week.
What was the worst place you went?
Steve: Man! When we were in the States, we arrived in Lincoln City and it was raining like crazy. It was raining so much, and so heavily. It was dark so we couldn’t see where to put the tents, all the tents were leaking… We rolled out of the tents all wet and tried to take cover at the skatepark under the cradle. The concrete was so cold that everyone felt sick the next day.
So you guys were camping the whole way? There was no big budget behind that trip?
Steve: Well, we were camping most nights, but every third night or something we’d get one Motel 6 room so that we could charge the cameras, take a shower and stuff. The rooms were for 4 people, but all 10 of us would cram in there. There was only enough room to bring in the camera bags, everybody would be sleeping on the floor, so if you got up in the middle of the night to piss it was mission like, “Oh! Sorry. Oh, sorry again… Coming through!”(Laughs)
Juju: After that first cold night, we went round the back of super markets and nicked a load of cardboard to sleep on because it insulated really well from the cold. Ah! We had some funny experiences on that trip. (laughs) When you plant your tent in the middle of the night, and get woken up real early the next day to find yourself camping out in the middle of busy building site, it’s pretty funny! (laughs)
You didn’t get in any trouble with the law?
Juju: No. We only got busted once- in a skatepark! Sam (Partaix) was skating in his boxer shorts because it was really hot that day, but the police didn’t approve. I guess we were looking for trouble, and we found it!
The way you guys support one another without taking the easy route or chasing money, are you trying to point out the fact that something might be wrong with the current trends in skateboarding, or the industry?
Hugo: We are stoked to find skaters that think like us and don’t just expect everything to be handed to them on a silver plate. Too many people are happy to be fed sterilised product, whilst we’re trying to offer something that they might actually enjoy. Just because you don’t have all the major sponsors doesn’t mean you can’t travel, meet new people and have fun.
Julian: We are not pushing an image of skateboarding like it’s some sort of sport with trained athletes competing for fame and fortune. We just want to promote skateboarding as a culture and something with which you can have a lot of fun.
Juju: We’re just a small company with a passion for skateboarding. But when you cross the line between just skateboarding and actually stepping into the business side of this industry, it gets a lot darker. We sell skateboards, but it could be tires or bananas, either way at the end of the day it’s all about shifting units, targets and making money. It’s sad to say that but it’s true, and when you see three big companies running the entire operation- and I say three just to simplify the facts- we end up in a Big Brother Orwellian state where everything is controlled and people no longer have a choice.
Where do you think skateboarding is heading? Where are the new places people will try and skate?
Steve: I don’t know really..? It looks like the things that are really blowing up are all these crazy spots people are building to skate. Especially in the States where they build all these crazy parks- they’re massive. Some of these street-style transition parks are even better than street spots sometimes!
Hugo: It looks like it’s turning into a sport! I mean, open a magazine and all you see nowadays are these ads showing Team X or Team Y with their beefed up riders, not even skating, but lined up like it’s the playoffs or something. (laughs) Back in the day, you saw a team and they had a skinny dude, a short dude, a fat dude… Today skateboarding teams are ‘cookie cutter’ to say the least.
How’s life changed for you since the last video, Antizipated, came out?
Steve: Not much. I live with my girlfriend now, instead of the skate house. Basically, we’re trying to take care of Antiz more, and everyone tries to work and help out. Instead of skating everyday, some people have to stay at the office in case the phone rings. (Laughs) Except for that, it’s been pretty mellow.
I saw you guys arrive in a car; it wasn’t the team van..?
Juju: Oh! We haven’t got a jaguar yet, but it’s a Rover, so we’re at that intermediate stage (Laughs). For me personally, I moved to Lyon from Paris to be closer to the others and get more done. Antiz started out of the skatehouse and now we rent a little office downstairs.
Is the Antiz skatehouse still up and running?
Steve: Well, Hugo (Liard) still lives at the old apartment with his girlfriend, but its way different. Antoine (Bellini, Lovebite pro and Cliché webmaster) lives there with his girlfriend, so that’s 2 couples, and one other guy…
So, since the women moved in, everything has changed?
Steve: (Laughs) Of course! It’s not as ghetto as it used to be.
Tell me a bit about the new guys on the team: Sam Partaix and Tom Derichs?
Julian: Sam Partaix is a young kid from Tours, in France who met the team when he passed through Lyon one time to shoot a photo or something. He’s only 19 years old, but he’s rad and skates everything.
Juju: He came down to Lyon with a friend of ours, Bertrand Trichet the photographer, and I joined them from Paris. Went skating together and by the end of the weekend Sam was heading home with a few photos and a couple of boards under his arm.
Steve: He’s a little machine with so much energy, skating every day all day.
Hugo: The kid takes care of himself, and runs a skateshop in his hometown called Skatepistols.
What about Tom?
Steve: Tom was introduced through Julian (Dykmans) via some Carhartt tours they went on together. He’s from Germany. Julian told us about him, so we watched his footage and we thought it was rad. We met him and then we decided to put him on.
It’s always the same; like when Sam came to Lyon, everyone skates with the new guy and then we all decide together to put them on the team or not. We want to make sure that if they come on tour with us, they don’t have an attitude or problems with anyone. Young kids nowadays expect sponsors and money, because they get it shoved up their ass and brainwashed by the media anyways…
Julian: We needed someone on the team with competent nollie and switch skills, so Tom was perfect! (laughs)
You guys have got the Yama team in the video. How did that come about? Who are they for those who don’t know?
Steve: Ah! In the first place, Yama are my good friends from Austria, Muki (Rustig) and Chris (Pfanner), David (Martelleur) from Belgium, and all those guys. They are really good friends and they have a company with the same sort of spirit as Antiz. We had so much footage from them for the Friends part, but that was getting so long already, so we decided to just make a Yama part. Antiz has done tours with them and they are cool.
Talking to you personally, I know that Zero got in contact with you, Steve. Do you want to talk about that?
Steve: Oh, I just talked to Jaime (Thomas) on the phone the other day.
Was he still asking you to ride for him?
Steve: No, he wasn’t asking that much anymore. For me, it’s like I ride for Antiz and I don’t look at it like a company or a sponsor. We, the Antiz team, we are like a family, and I’m definitely not going to quit it for a handful of dollars.
But how did Zero get in contact with you in the first place?
Steve: That guy, Seth Curtis from England, who does the whole Zero Europe deal emailed me, and then Jaime (Thomas) called to try and persuade me, but I turned him down.
Does it ever worry you guys, that after all this time together; a big company comes along and tries to take one of your riders away?
Hugo: On the one side, you’re pretty amazed to see someone like Jaime Thomas take an interest in one of your friends. He’s trying to launch Zero Europe much like many other American companies because they want a piece of the pie too.
When we heard that Steve had said, “No”, we were all shocked, but super stoked too to see that kind of loyalty. Nobody tried to persuade him otherwise, especially when you look at the fact that riding a deck is your only means to make money, we told Steve he was free to do what he felt best. When he decided to stick with Antiz that gave us all even more motivation to continue what we’re doing!
Julian: The American market is stagnating, so to keep things fresh, they look abroad to us in Europe. You see European companies gathering support which turns the market and America has seen that. The Americans have realised that they need to support what’s going on abroad, but this new Euro phase is their way of keeping control of the market.
Juju: We all really respect Steve’s choice and thank him. Obviously we’ll never be able to offer any of our rider’s massive pay-checks, but what we can offer is our heart and good fun.
So where are you heading now?
Steve: Eindhoven tomorrow, Amsterdam, then Germany…
Hugo: We just want to try and help our riders and keep supporting them to the best of our abilities.
Juju: Keep growing and support our riders. That would be best!
Does Antiz get involved in other areas of skateboarding? I saw you guys were going to put out a new board featuring the BRUSK (Belgian benevolent skateboard activist association) slogan and logo…
Juju: BRUSK is from Brussels, but it’s also connected through Julian (Dykmans) because his older brother, Ian, is a key member of the group. I’m part of a similar organisation in Chelles (France) called Cosanostra, and these organisations are what help skateboarding stay alive. They aren’t money led lucrative groups; they are just a vocation to help the culture and passion that drives all of us- skateboarding.
If we could mention any of these organisations then it’s a like a nod of approval and thanks in regards to what they have and are doing for skateboarding as a whole. When we use the BRUSK logo on one of our new boards, it isn’t to make a profit off their back, but more of a gesture sympathizing with the movement, and hopefully raise awareness for the cause. These groups are the basis for our movement, much more competent than any company could try and be.
Here are some quick fire questions: Which of the following 3 skaters would you find most suitable to ride for Antiz, and why – Rob Dyrdek, Scott Bourne or Sean Sheffey?
Steve: (laughs) Sean Sheffey, just because he’s crazy! I guess we could take Scott too.
Juju: Oh! Just for the fun of it I’d say Rob Dyrdek, but I think Sean would be quite a character too! (laughs)
Ok, if you had a movie made about the team, which of the following 3 comes closest to the true thing- Clockwork Orange, Ghostbusters or Wiseguys?
Steve: I’d say Clockwork Orange because I’m down for ultra-violence. (laughs)
Juju: Ghostbusters! The others are far too serious! (laughs)
Did you guys send any copies of Z-Movie to the Stanley Kubrick estate, or Quentin Tarantino?
Steve: (laughs) No!
If you had all skate a spot together, would you pick a ledge spot, a rail spot or a backyard ramp?
Steve: It would have to be the backyard ramp. Nothing beats that!
And what would be the favourite era for the team- the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s?
Steve: I’d have to say the 80’s because we’ve been joking about that period quite a lot recently. Hugo’s motto is “Shredding! It was all the rage back in the 80’s!” (laughs)
And finally, what is your favourite movie?
Steve: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is number one. Best quotes ever! (laughs)
Juju: I really dig Brazil by Terry Gilliam. That’s my favourite movie, otherwise, Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth.
Hugo: (Laughs) Cannibal Holocaust! There a few of them but they’re all wicked!
Julian: Please don’t let your kids watch Cannibal Holocaust- you’ll have nightmares! (laughs)