The usual introductions start with the moment when you first met the guy to be interviewed. In this specific case I have to say, that I am not quite sure where I met Johannes the first time, but I am sure about the fact that as soon as I got to know him a little I hated him instantly. Never would I ever hang out with that guy. Life can teach you tough lessons and the one that I was taught when it comes to Jo Zenk is, that you should never judge someone on first sight.
He may seem weird from time to time, but without a doubt I can say, that he became one of the best friends you could ask for. Till today we’ve experienced stuff together, that I was quite sure I would never experience and I am glad that I can call him one of my favourite guys to hang out with. He is one of the most loyal and honest guys in this industry for sure and skatingwise he is unbelievably unpredictable, dedicated, ballsy and just a pleasure to watch. His parkskills are flawless and the size of his balls seems enormous when you see him skating street. I always say that I am quite sure he can do anything he wants on his way too old pair of Remz. Experience him once and you’ll either hate him or you’ll love him, but believe me, don’t judge him too fast. –Maik Lojewski
Johannes, thanks for taking some time for Be-Mag. Let’s start with the basics. Age? When did you start blading? What are your sponsors? Where is home for you?
Hey Olli, I prefer to keep it with the shortform “Jo”. I’m 22 years old, got into our kind of blading around 2001 and my sponsor is Remz. I am currently living in Münster but I’m not really considering it as “home” since I spend a lot of my free time in other cities. Since I moved away from Karlsruhe 3 years ago I can’t really call any place home. Home is where my heart is and so my home is wherever my bros are.
This year you ended up in the second place AM at the world’s biggest rolling contest, the Winterclash. I know you worked hard in the past to get there. So, what did you feel that day? How did you experience this achievement?
Of course it felt great to get such a response. It was also a big acknowledgment for me. Not only because I consistently try to improve my blading and try to get better, but also because the system of this year’s Winterclash greatly supported my way of blading. It felt great to achieve something just by doing the thing that I love. I honestly can say everything I did during the contest I would have also done during a small session with my bros. I didn’t really expect to get that far but I tried to have as much fun as possible. I couldn’t ask for more and I will definitely never forget that day. Thanks Jojo for making it possible!
I’ve been skating with you for years now. When you go out blading you never do the same trick, you always come up with something new and do each trick until you lace it perfectly. Overall, you are very ambitious when it comes to blading. Where does this strong ambition come from originally?
Honestly, I don’t know. I have never been a fan of doing things halfhearted when I think they are important. I think this is the strongest in blading because it was the first thing I completely fell in love with. You could probably also name it an obsession because blading gradually became the most important thing in my life. That’s why I always try to improve myself and try to do everything as perfect as possible. I will probably never be completely satisfied with a section. I always find something to improve. Honestly, I still have a long way to go. But it’s not like I’m always thinking about that while skating, the fun with my bros is still on top of the list.
Do you take school and your future career as seriously as blading? When it comes to these kind of things do you show the same level of ambition?
Not at all. I do care about my career as far as necessary. Because even I am smart enough to realize that blading won’t pay my bills and someday I won’t be able to skate anymore and other things eventually may become more important. I did my Abitur (academic high school diploma) a few years ago and since then I did a few social things like civil service and such. The masterplan is to study next winter but I’m always thinking about how that will affect the amount of time I can spend on wheels.
I knew you would say this. Dedicated to blading. But tell me, what do you do for a living currently??
At the moment? Nothing. I just quit my last voluntary job in a psychiatry for kids to have more time during the summer for touring. I planned on doing a couple of temporary jobs and I already managed to get a one at Vapiano, an italian restaurant. I would have worked there making the food but I just cut my finger crashing into a friend during a contest last week. I hope I can start working at the restaurant next week when the stitches are removed.
Working in a psychiatry for kids - that must be a completely different world from your daily life.
Fuck Yeah, it was kind of the opposite to what I’m doing on the weekends! I had a few conversations with my Bro Maik Lojewski about this. He also works with socially disadvantaged people and we figured out that maybe our jobs which require a high social conciousness make us act totally opposite on the weekends… party- and bladingwise. Most of the time we just do what we love, flip out and do crazy shit. People who only see me on weekends often think I’m totally wasted.
In what way was this job helpful for your life in general?
I discovered my interest in social work, which was the main reason I now signed up for studying it. Before that I tried to prepare for studies in design. I hope they’ll accept my application. Wish me luck! Nothing is sure yet…
I know you skate with a strong crew. Who do you skate with most of the time and who inspires you the most?
I blade with Patrick Smith most of the time I spend here in Münster and I spend almost every weekend with Maik Lojewski, Juri Pelaev and Daniel Gourski. I guess I can’t pick one person that inspires me the most because they all blade in a complete different way, both trick- and stylewise. I think that’s a really good thing because the more different things you see the better you can create your own thing. Maybe Patrick is the most impressive because he just turned 30 this year and still is one of the most badass dudes in Germany. I don’t know that much people still doing truespin grinds on steep handrails. Look out for his new section which is about to drop.
Looking at it globally, which blader impresses you the most currently?
If I had to name one single blader who impresses me the most if would be Haffey. For everything he did. You can always see how much effort he puts in everything he makes and how much ambition he put into blading all these years. But there are plenty of others who impress me a lot, not only Broskow, Bolino & co. There are lots of others I always want to see in new edits. I love a lot of different ways of blading and I’m very open minded to style and clothing as long as it looks natural.
I’ve heard lots of crazy stories when you go out partying with your blade crew. What’s the most crazy or shocking thing you’ve done lately?
Too much stories (laughs). And none of them I would discuss in an online invterview 😉 Anyways, if you guys want to party, join one of the next ones we do. Everything is published on Facebook.
Back in the day you started skating vert. There was a time when you did both – vert and street – on the same level. Now it seems like vert isn’t that important anymore. What happened?
I don’t think it’s a matter of personal preference. I still enjoy blading vert and ramps in general, but I guess the circumstances kind of make it more difficult for me to blade both. I don’t have a good vert near my place and most of my best friends in blading don’t skate vert at all. So it is more influenced by the people I blade with. Even though there are some people I could blade vert with, it’s easier just to stay with the others when I’m on a trip. But there is a new vert in Bonn! I always wanted to go there to test the new ramp and my bro Daniel Gourski recently showed interest in blading vert. I hope I can check that vert with him soon. It is so much fun and I don’t want to miss it.
Looking back at your still very young skating career, what has been your best experience??
There is just too much to name. Meeting all these people while travelling around the world, which I will never stop doing. Easily finding new friends everywhere, seeing the world in a different way, defining new interests in life, progressing and growing both as a blader and person. I learned a lot about myself and others and simply broadened my mind. And there is so much more I want to experience. Blading just makes it all easier.
And off blades?
Travelling. My parents never saved their money for things they didn’t need and so we spent almost every vacation somewhere around the globe. We were always backpacking, which is probably the best thing you can experience as a kid. I saw so many places and so many people even though I was very young. I have a lot of great memories. I can’t thank my parents enough for those.
Honestly I can’t think of any other great experiences like that, except for those related to blading. I believe that’s the reason I love travelling so much and never get enough of new places and people. Maybe that is also the reason why I don’t really care about money and spend it all seeing my friends and travelling every weekend to different cities. I never regretted it so far.
I know you have been to the States, to Italy, to Bulgaria etc. for blading. What place impressed you the most?
This is actually a hard question because each of those trips was impressive in its own way. Bulgaria was probably the most impressive so far because the scene isn’t that big over there and it’s just all about the love for blading. I met a lot of friendly people and no one I didn’t like as soon as we met. The spots are also way different because everything is built in a different way than what I’m used to. Most of the runups and landings are covered in grass and everything looks pretty ghetto, which I like a lot. Just check out my One Minute One spot I filmed over there. But I enjoyed every trip so far and I always learned a lot about people, myself and life in general.
Thanks for your time, Jo! Now, it’s time for shout-outs and some last words for all Be-Maggers.
First of all thanks to my family for standing behind me even though I haven’t seen them for way too long! My bros who are always there for me and always push me to my limits especially Patrick Smith, Maik Lojewski, Daniel Gourski & Yuri Pelaev. Remz for having the best blades on the market, Be-Mag and you, Olli, for the interview and all that. Big Up to my Bro Daniel Gourski for having so much stress during the making of this edit due to shitty equipment and troubles finding a song that fitted. Basti Hofer for taking those shots and surviving all the partystories. The party crowd that always goes crazy with the Ananas (pineapple is a shitty word..). Music!. All the girls on this planet who make life more worth living ;). Boobs, booze and blading in general. I wouldn’t be where and who I am today without blading! To all the Be-Maggers: keep shredding & enjoy the little things! Happiness is only real when shared!