We are very proud to be a part of the VUM journey, a journey that continues today with our third and maybe best offering from the collective. When we say the word collective we mean that this formed not out of a normal group of people that met through proximity but that these are all people from different parts of the world with similar states of mind that chose to be unified under the VUM banner. Last time we spoke to its filmer & editor Lea Francesca Meny but this time we opted to give some of the main characters of this video a chance to speak. Marine Bourdais from Paris, Pascale Numan out of Amsterdam, and Berlin’s own (via Afghanistan) Melika Nazari all get to talk about what VUM means to them. If you think “I’ll Be There In Five” means they are lazy characters, think again. Enjoy!

Text & Interviews by Roland Hoogwater.

Photos by Marine Bourdais.

Film & Edit by Lea Francesca Meny.

Hello Marine (Bourdais) what are you doing right now?

I am in school in Bordeaux right now, I am studying skate communication, I am trying to work in the skate industry after this. Actually, I am currently doing an apprenticeship at Nozbone in Paris.

That sounds kind of interesting, I wasn’t aware that such studies existed. Anyway, should we talk about VUM?

Yeah, I met Lea (Meny) a long time ago and she told me about her idea to make a skate video with queer and femme people. So, I was there from the start of VUM and we worked together on the project. Because of my knee injury last year, I wasn’t that present in front of the camera but I helped film and shoot pictures for the first VUM video.

So with you doing all that, what is it about VUM you enjoy the most?

The people, I enjoy the time we spend together, going all over Europe as a crew. My favorite place for this project was Berlin actually! I really enjoyed the vibes of the city and I like the spots there.

Berlin seems like a love/hate place. Did you guys only skate or did you also enjoy the nightlife?

We did party a bit, but not every day, we had a video to make (laughs).

Because of your knee injury, you had to take last year off. That means that this is basically your first section in a VUM video. Did that mean filming and shooting pictures took a backseat?

For this video, Lea was basically the main filmer, which was really cool. I just stuck to taking photos and skating.

VUM is as much a crew as it is a video project, what place does VUM take in your life?

After this project we are all really close friends, the diversity of the crew is exciting. Plus I am really glad about what we have been able to achieve. And I am hoping for a third video.

What are your two favorite clips in the video, one by yourself and one by another person in VUM?

For me personally, it is my Crooks Shove-it out but as far as other people go, I really enjoyed Emmy jumping the Kulturforum blocks, I love the whole clip with the guy wagging his feet. She is such a small woman, but no fear a real gangster (laughs)

“She is such a small woman, but no fear a real gangster”

Marine Bourdais

Hey Pascale (Numan), How are you and how did VUM enter your life?

Hey, well, Lea asked me via DM to go on a skate trip, that ended up being the first VUM tour. That one was to Rotterdam, Berlin, and CPH about two years back. It was great!

And over those two years, what has VUM come to mean to you?

VUM is a group of friends that are really dispersed throughout the world but manage to make time to hang out together. When we get together, it is chaotic, fun, and intense and after a trip, I have to regain my energy (laughs), but I really like it.

Who has the most energy?

Melika (laughs).

You have been there from the start, but how was it filming for this project? Was it different?

It was, if only for the fact that we filmed for about a year for this one. The last one was made during a 2-week trip. In between those two projects, Lea really stepped up her filming, her editing, and the overall presentation of VUM as a whole.

What was your favorite trip you went on for this video?

Lea and I went to NYC together and that was amazing. Getting tricks there was hard because you only had like 3 tries before you would get kicked out, but the vibe was great. In general, I love meeting new people on trips. I actually missed my first VUM trip to Valencia because I was recovering from top surgery, so I joined this project from the second trip on. Actually, I feel like top surgery really helped my skating.

Really, in what way?

It was like I had more energy, and felt better as a whole. I really felt like that had a positive influence on my skating. That whole process took a minute, so I also was just really hyped to get back to skating in general.

I saw you in Copenhagen shortly after and you were ripping!

That was a lot of fun!

Back to the video what is your favorite thing you have done for this video?

The Nose Wheelie Shove-It in Berlin.

“I feel like top surgery really helped my skating.”

Pascale Numan

And by another person?

Melli’s Shove-It down the stairs was so nice!

Totally different question, is VUM being run by female and queer persons an important fact for you?

Yes, it is! I hope it motivates others to go out there, skate more street, organize their own trips, and don’t worry about their level of skating when making videos. It should be about being together, having fun, making memories, and being able to look back on those good times.

You also had a presence in the new Vans video “Check Mate” how was it filming for that?

That was spontaneous, Tjerk Oosting and Hugo Snelooper just asked me to join them and that felt like a fun thing to do, so I did it.

What about the future of VUM, will there be a third video?

There have been talks about trips, so, if those happen there will be a new video. I might chill a bit in Amsterdam with my friends at home first, but after I am rested, I am sure I will be ready to go back on the road!

Varial Flip by Melika on one of Lea Meny’s favorite spots in the video.

Yo-Yo Melika Nazari, are you ready for your close-up?

Yeah, Let’s go!

Give me your details.

Why? You have known me for years (laughs). Ok, well I am from Afghanistan, I am 18 years old, and I have been living in Berlin for 6 years. My Sponsors are Nike SB, Element, Skatedeluxe & Kiosq. Actually, Kiosq is new, they asked me a few weeks ago, happy to join them.

Alright (laughs), now that we have the most basic interview question in the book out of the way, what does VUM mean to you?

VUM to me is family, we are all friends and everybody has their own individual history but we get along very well together. We have good times but we are also there for each other when it comes to problems.

How did VUM enter your life?

Through Lea, we often skated together and she knew people from all over. In the end, she connected all the dots and made it into VUM.

Back to this video, you told me you liked Paris a lot.

Yeah, well actually, I went like 4 years ago on a family trip and I thought Paris was really boring but this time, with my friends it was great! We got into a lot of shit!

I know you like to party, did you go out in Paris a lot?

Truth be told, we went to Paris two times. On the first trip, we skated every day and we didn’t party because we wanted to be as productive as possible. But on the second trip, when we came to premiere our video, we had different plans (laughs). The plan was to party a lot, that didn’t quite happen though.

Why not, the video was done right.

Not quite, I had made a promise to myself to Kickflip the Le Dome double set. On the first trip, I had a hurt knee, so I could not even try, I was too scared to get injured again. So, on the first day of the second trip, right before the premiere, we went to the spot and I threw myself down the set for about three hours. I could not do it, I was so sad, I couldn’t even talk anymore, I was really disappointed in myself, so I hid in a corner and cried for a bit. Everyone came over after I calmed down and they told me, “At least you got to try it this time!”.

Then, we had to go get ready for the premiere. We had some drinks and ended up going out until like 5 in the morning(laughs). I woke up around 11, and told everyone “Get up, I want to try the trick again!”, people were bummed (laughs). I got excited but Marine was like “Before you go skate we need to clean my apartment, no skating before that.” So we ended up cleaning for two hours and went to the spot. On the way there, I noticed I lost one glove, this was when winter started and it was super cold. I needed that glove! So, we went back to the apartment found the glove, and got to the spot with around an hour of light left.

I think I warmed up for 15 minutes, bailing Kickflips on flat and all that! Lea came up to me and said “You need to start trying now if you want to have a chance to land it before dark.” By god, I am not lying, I landed it in 7 tries! I could not believe it, I was so incredibly happy and Marine shouted “Let’s go party!” We ended up going to a restaurant, and everyone was so dead that we went home after, straight to bed (laughs).

And like groundhog day, the next morning Marine woke us all up and wanted to try her Noseslide Shove-It around the curved ledge. I almost couldn’t walk but I needed to be there for her because she was there for me. She ended up getting it, we ate something real quick and had to go to the airport. So in the end, we didn’t get to have the Paris party time we had planned, we skated every day (laughs).

“I threw myself down the set for three hours but could not do it. I was so sad, I couldn’t even talk anymore…”

Melika Nazari

That means at the first premiere in Paris, the Kickflip wasn’t in your part?

No, that was why I was so incredibly sad, I felt like my section needed that trick! I am so proud of it, I have Kickflipped higher sets but never this far and that was such a challenge.

So, safe to say that trick is amongst your favorites, but what is your favorite clip by someone else?

I wasn’t there myself, but there is this clip from New York where Pink (Chisala) does a back 50-50 down this small kinked ledge and Nollie Flips after… So clean!

What are your plans after this video drops?

Well… VUM has a tour planned, I wish I could go, but I can’t because I got invited on my first Element trip to the Canarian Islands. Super excited about that, it will be my first trip that is without my friends so we will see what happens (laughs).

Damn, that is great news, I hope you have a great time. Lastly, anything more to add?

Yes, I want to thank Lea, what she did was amazing, we had a lot of fun during the making of the video but I want to talk about how serious she was about making this video. In the end, she locked herself in her room to finish the project, and to me that is crazy because it is all for the love. And it is important to show how hard she worked on all sides of this project to make it happen.

Alright, thank you Melli, we hope to see more of you soon!

A strong section of VUM’s, Left to Right: Mobina, Emmy, Meli, Lea, and Katie.