Today Place Presents the next episodes of MAGENTAPES, we have taken this opportunity to interview one of the nicest people in the game. Gunes Özdogan from Uppsala, Sweden is the consummate professional and role model for many types of skaters. Kids like Axel Berggren & Oscar Säfström came up under his wing as much as he himself had good older skaters around him like Fred Gall & Pontus Alv. Magenta’s own Vivien Feil told me to ask Gunes about his philosophy on happiness and the types of books he reads. So we sat down and asked all that and more.
Interview by Roland Hoogwater.
Filming by Jesper Lindgren, Jacob Hansson, & Makke Bengtsson.
Hey Gunes, how are you? Thank you for doing this during your holiday.
No problem man, nice to meet you (takes a sip of his beer)!
So, I got sent some questions by people that are a part of your life. It seems like you have been quite the role model for many people. Including Uppsala youths like Axel Berggren and Oscar Säfström.
Man, it is so nice to see them do their thing, making it into the skate world from such a little town (Uppsala). It means a lot to our scene. I remember meeting them for the first time they have had to be like 9 and 10-years old. It is funny, I can clearly remember the first time I met Oscar. It was at the train station and he was trying to crooked grind this 4 stair rail but you could not grind it really, he was still trying though, and he was so tiny, I remember thinking like ‘Who the fuck is this?’. His board was really chunky so I told him to meet me the next day and I gave him a skateboard. He needed that board!
Straight from meeting him to homie flow that says a lot about you. Uppsala is also pretty good to skate.
It used to be bad but like 10 years ago they just started building spots. I like it because it is not that far from Stockholm as well.
So tell me a little bit about your part for MAGENTAPES.
I haven’t even seen the part (laughs). But I think most of it is by Jesper Lindgren, he filmed a lot and then I had the homies Jacob Hansson film a bit and Makke did as well. It is actually really hard to find a VX1000 filmer in Sweden let alone Uppsala, Jesper was nice though, and left his camera and fisheye with me so I could film. It was a bit of a freestyle thing making it but a lot of fun.
To take a step back in time you skated for Habitat for a long time and I know how hard it can be to switch shapes. So how are those shapes over at Magenta?
I want to say I haven’t had any problems with the shapes, I am super happy. I would like to say that in my old age I am less picky about those things but the truth is I need my stuff to be right. I actually don’t care too much about the tail, but I need a good nose.
I actually remember a story meeting Michał Juras and he broke his board and I gave him a Habitat board. He skates the nose as a tail actually and he was super hyped on the board I gave him. ‘Man this board has the best nose!’ (laughs).
Vivien (Feil) gave me some questions and he wanted to know what your philosophy is around staying so positive?
I actually get mad or frustrated all the time. I really have bad days, sometimes a week or even a month. But in the long run, you have to try and be a happy man.
People actually looked after me a lot when I was a kid, which caused me to see the importance of looking after others as well and that is something that makes you feel good.
There is actually one moment that sticks out in my mind. This was around 2008 in Barcelona, I lived there around that time and Brennan Conroy (Habitat filmer) came out to meet me for the first time. A couple of days later Fred Gall and Kerry Getz showed up, straight out of the New Jersey winter. You could tell Fred hadn’t skated in a while but he got a clip that day. And he was telling me ‘Fuck that feels so good, I am just gonna smile all day!’ and that just always stuck with me man, if I am not smiling on the outside I am smiling on the inside. I keep that quote in my mind.
The more you hear about Fred Gall the more interesting he gets.
Someone should write a book about him, he is just so raw, so skate, really down for the culture. He is always positive!
Vivien also asked what books you would suggest to our readers.
The Tao of the Wu by Rizza and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho maybe they are a bit cliche but they are really good.
I haven’t actually read those. Axel wanted to say thanks for all the /// shoes you hooked him up with. And wanted to know how many pairs of shoes you have given out through the years.
Yeah, when I was an adidas TM for the Nordic countries I hooked him up for a bit. He was sample size so it was easy.
But yeah, I gave out a lot! I can’t tell but more than 200 pairs of shoes out of my private stash, maybe more, I don’t know man. On the sponsored side as a TM even more. When I give I just give I don’t think about it, man (laughs).
That is like a pyramid of shoes! He also told me to ask you about the Skank shop.
(Laughs) it wasn’t always a skank shop, the guy working there turned it into a skank shop. It started kinda good but it turned into this reggae vibe. It is a pretty funny thing, it seemed like it was around for a long time but it might have lasted a year or something.
Time is relative right! So, you had a part in Pontus Alv’s ‘In Search Of The Miraculous’ was there ever a question that you would ride for Polar?
Yeah, I was on the initial Polar team, I was just still so strongly connected to Habitat at that time, in the end, I went back.
I met Pontus way before the filming of that video actually. We clicked, I just really love skating with that dude man! I spent so much time at his house in Malmö skating shitty Malmö spots. He was always a role model to me, he was one of the only ones from Sweden that made it to the states. So I would always try to impress him by doing shit he couldn’t do and he would do stuff I couldn’t do (laughs). That was cool.
If you know Pontus, you know he is straightforward with you, and I like that, you can be straightforward back! He had such a drive as well and even now he would trigger me at a spot, his energy is special. We would motivate each other, if I would see a spot where he could Noseblunt or something I would say ‘Ah, Noseblunt would be easy here.’ (laughs). I always had a lot of fun with him.
‘You don’t want to see Dennis Busenitz skate in China right? You want to see him rip the streets of SF. You have to rep your home turf!’Pontus Alv.
Sounds like we need a Polar guest model for you man.
He should consider that (laughs). I love him, and I owe him so much, even before Polar he really showed me how you could skate your hometown spots. He broke it down for me like ‘You don’t want to see Dennis Busenitz skate in China right? You want to see him rip the streets of SF. You have to rep your home turf!’ Really serious but there is a lot of truth in that. He gave me a new view on skating.
Seems like the things that make you a good OG for your scene has been molded by people like Pontus and Fred Gall.
Yeah, they changed me, before that some people thought I was from Spain (laughs). They saw me in local Spanish videos. The truth is that your hometown is what really defines you as a skateboarder.
Roots so to say, talking about that what about your Turkish heritage.
There are Istanbul clips in my part. I started to go there a lot more like 4 years ago. The cities are so big and they have so many spots. It means a lot for me to skate there and the local people are so hyped to see me out there. It is so fun for me. I was born in Sweden but I will always be connected to Turkey.
We had a video from Istanbul a while ago and you can really see the scene is growing out there!
By Kadir (Kucuk) right? I saw that. I remember going there (Istanbul) in 2010 with Kenny Reed, Patrick Wallner, and Kirill Korobkov, I think. There were like 3 skaters out there on the main plaza back then. Now they have a scene and people are skating well! One thing that sucks for them is that it is hard to get boards when you live there. Importing to Turkey is not easy.
Coming back to the OG thing, you are also an OG of the Scandi Man bun style.
There is a Rasta saying ‘The strength is in the hair’, I took it off a long time ago but recently I was thinking of growing my hair back out again. So maybe you will see it soonish (laughs).
When I actually think of a man bun I think of Gabriel Rodriguez skating picnic tables in LA. There is something OG about it because it takes a lot of patience to let it grow like that. anyway, the strength is in the hair!
A lot of people have phases of being interested in skating, how do you keep it interesting for yourself.
I think as long as I can think of new things to do it will always be interesting to me. And that comes down to skating being a way of living. Even when you are in a town that has shitty spots there is a charm in skating those. In the end, it is just such an obsession for me, I am like 85% skateboarding. I like to battle and there are battles out there everywhere.
I love that, thank you for your time Gunes, we hope that you will keep putting stuff out for a long time.
Thank you, it was a nice chat. And let me close off by giving a major shoutout to Raul Navarro for always taking care of me, he is really my brother, my mentor, and the funniest and best guy ever. He influenced me on and off the board for real.
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