Interview by Jojo Jacobi & Jack Neveu
Photos by: Alex Pitett, Guillaume Coutret, Nath Monjaret, Mina
HEY NICOLAS! LET’S START SIMPLE. PLEASE TELL ME YOUR FULL NAME, CITY, AGE, YEARS OF SKATING, AND YOUR SPONSORS.
Simple? That’s hard to remember….let me try. Nicolas Schopfer from Geneva Switzerland, 22 years young with 13 years of inline in it, skating for Xsjado, Conference, Cloud Unique Tees and Rolling Rock Shop.
WHY DO YOU THINK SOME PEOPLE DON’T KNOW YOUR NAME EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE RANKED ON TOP OF SO MANY EVENTS IN THE LAST FEW YEARS?
Hmmm, I think it’s because I’ve managed to stay very discrete in my tiny country (people even mistake it for Sweden) or something like that, maybe that the people I’ve rank with are SO much more important that my name just gets mentioned and is very quickly forgotten. Or people just hate me.
HOW COME YOU’RE ABLE TO PLACE FIRST, OR AT LEAST TOWARDS THE TOP, AT INTERNATIONAL EVENTS LIKE THE ASIAN X-GAMES, BUT YOU STILL MANAGE TO NEVER HAVE A PICTURE IN A PRINT MAG OR IN VIDEO FOOTAGE?
Well no one’s ever asked me to be in a print. I’ve always dreamed of it but I’ve never really had the chance. Lately, since the Conference started supporting me, I get more and more chances to do stuff like that, so look out for prints and footage SOON! These interview pictures are pretty cool though right?
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO SKATE THE ASIAN X-GAMES? DID YOU QUALIFY OR JUST REGISTER?
Well that started back in 1999; I was home in Thailand skating some indoor shopping mall skatepark and was asked by the manager of the Thai skaters if I wanted to skate Junior X Games coming up later that year in Phuket Thailand. Of course I said yes and got my ass over there and skated amongst CJ Wellsmore, Worapoj Boonnim, Soichiro Kanashima and Takeshi Yasutoko…and got myself in top 10 at every event and 3rd in street which got me into Asian X Games with Chiaki Ito, Hiroshi Kataoka, Ken Kitada, Jeerasak Tassorn, Toby Heslop and all the main skaters from that year. And from then on I was invited every year to compete. 10 years now…seems unreal. (You can see those standings by clicking here.)
YOU’VE SKATED A LOT OF COMPETITIONS IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. DID YOU PAY MOST OF THE TRAVEL YOURSELF OR DID YOU HAVE SOME SUPPORT?
Yeah I paid all of my travels myself, but depending on my results and arrangement with Conference I’d get prize money or hotel charges paid for.
IN BARCELONA I NEVER SAW YOU AT A PARTY – WERE YOU JUST OUT HANGING BUT NEVER MET UP WITH EVERYONE ELSE? OR ARE YOU JUST NOT INTO THE PARTY THING OR MAYBE THE ROLLERBOYS THING?
Yeah Barcelona was a bit special…I don’t know, to tell the truth I was just really tired. The weather was too weird for me, wind makes me sleepy…and skating on top of that makes it even worst. Sorry!
YOU SKATE VERY DIFFERENTLY FROM MOST OF TODAY’S NEWCOMERS. HOW DO YOU THINK SKATING SHOULD LOOK?
Thank you! My opinion, skating should just look consistent and smooth in a way, some skaters out there are trying too hard and even someone from outside rollerblading can notice. I think that’s important, that people outside rolling see it and say stuff like “that looks good”…instead of “wow CRAZY! But is he ever going to walk again?”
Nothing to do with clothing…so many people are saying that skaters in tight pants or “different” clothes are the ones making rollerblading look bad, it isn’t, it’s actually the ones trying too hard, and maybe also the shit talkers on forums.
Part 2: For the second part of the interview a good friend of Nicolas – Jack Neveu – asked him some more personal questions so you – the reader – could read a bit more about his personal life!
FOR STARTERS, HOW ARE YOU BROTHER? YOU HAVEN’T BEEN SKATING AS MUCH LATELY – HOW COME? INJURY?
Yo! I’m good bro thanks, better than ever! Haven’t skated at all for almost four month actually! I always fall on the same wrist, and then fell off my bicycle and tore two ligaments, one not that important, and the other, well kind of holds my wrist bones together… so yeah I’ve been recovering and now I’m back!
MANY PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW YOU BUT HAVE SEEN PICTURES/VIDEO TEND TO HAVE NEGATIVE REACTIONS ABOUT YOUR STYLE, CLOTHES, HAIRCUT, ETC. YOU DO HAVE A PARTICULAR STYLE – WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
I don’t know if it’s more a passion or a vice…I like dressing comfortably, and finding something out of the ordinary. I recently came back from Tokyo, I went in some shops that you would never think of going into, and it was where I found the most interesting and original pieces. Second hand stores are amazing too, just the search for something that fits makes it fun. Sometimes it’s also out of impulse…just like when we order hundreds of euros worth of clothes together online. Sometimes it’s fashion, sometimes it’s the feeling or simply the taste.
YOU’RE EXTREMELY ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF MUSIC – IN EVERY STYLE OF MUSIC. I REMEMBER DURING A WINTERCLASH WHEN WE SLEPT IN A HELLS ANGEL “HOSTEL” AND YOU MANAGED TO SHOCK THEM WITH ARTISTS FAR MORE BRUTAL THAN THEY COULD IMAGINE… AND THESE WERE ALL BANDS THAT YOU’D SEEN IN CONCERT! CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR PASSION FOR MUSIC? WHAT IT BRINGS YOU IN EVERYDAY LIFE AND HOW IT AFFECTS YOUR STYLE AND SKATING?
Oh yes that was a funny night! Since I was a baby my parents bathed me 60’s and classic rock music, so I relate music to family on some levels. I like being quiet too, chill out and listen to tunes and fall asleep. I love it all. I don’t usually skate with music, but when I do it’s just to help me focus, I don’t focus on the music itself but somehow it helps me concentrate on what I’m doing, if you ask me after a run what song I was listening to, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
I MENTIONED THAT YOU’RE ASIAN, BUT YOU HAVE MANY ORIGINS – SWISS, THAI, AUSTRALIAN… WHICH OF THOSE NATIONALITIES SEEMS TO BE MORE YOURS THAN ANOTHER?
I have an Australian passport but I have no blood relation with Australia. (Shh!). Thai and Swiss are what define me most, obviously because it’s in my blood. But my Thai side tends to come out the most in my life style, the easy going lazy side I guess. Swiss does come out of me sometimes with my, being on time maniac-ish personality.
I SAW A KENDAMA EDIT OF YOU A FEW DAYS AGO AND, FRANKLY, YOU’VE TAKEN IT TO A LEVEL THAT MATCHES YOUR SKATING. I KNOW YOU’VE BEEN PLAYING KENDAMA A LONG TIME – BEFORE IT BECAME TRENDY – BECAUSE OF YOUR PASSION FOR JAPANESE AND ASIAN CULTURE. WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO THOSE CULTURES?
I’ve always been a big fan of the Japanese Manga culture, the food was one of my favourite things there and still is! With skating I got to travel a lot to Asia and meet Japanese skaters, they introduced me to Kendama ten years ago, as well as Japanese music and games, and I made some more research and just got interested in their traditional culture. I find people in Asia to be very peaceful people, compare to Switzerland where you can sense the bad mood and stress in every day life.
WHAT SUPRISES ME IS THAT MOST ROLLERBLADING SPECTATORS DON’T KNOW YOU, BUT THE BIG PROS – THEY ALL KNOW YOU REALLY WELL; HOW’D THAT HAPPEN?
Well I guess travelling made the difference, when I was 10 years old I travelled abroad for international contests like Asian-X-Games, the judges there where skaters the likes of Jon Julio, Arlo Eisenberg, Mike Opalek, Azikiwee Anderson, Jon Elliott, Tom Hyser and so on… I guess travelling and trying to socialize like a “normal” person rather than a “rollerblader” opens more conversation and bonding windows. I remember chatting with guys not even noticing they were “Rollerblading Rock Stars”.
I like it when there is more to a person than just rollerblading/skateboard/bmx…. You can’t imagine how many easygoing, human, kind and artistically talented “skaters” there is out there!
YOU’RE INVOLVED IN MANY THINGS – COULD YOU DESCRIBE IN MORE DETAIL HOW YOU GOT THERE, PEOPLE YOU’VE MET, ETC… ON THE FOLLOWING TOPICS:
My dad did a lot of photography, and I guess it relates me to him. I haven’t thought of doing more than just taking pictures like this until a few years ago. I’m not saying I’m feeling obliged, but I feel it’s something so diverse in a way that it’s great to be able to bring my eye into it and one day maybe be recognized for it. One of my best friends in Geneva is also a great photographer and I love talking about photo and shooting with him. My girlfriend is also very keen on photography and that makes it even greater. During the summer I’ve done my first exhibition in a bar in Fribourg, Switzerland, and it felt great to get my work out in a large format and having positive echoes of it all. The plus side is I sold all my frames, which makes it even better knowing that your work is hanging at someone’s place. (I still owe you a frame Jack!).
Aaaaaah INK! Pain is a fetish…no just kidding. I’ve always loved the art of tattoos, mixing it with my passion for Asia and Japan; you find the greatest and finest art in the world. Japan’s traditional tattoos and iconography is just so powerful! The things it represents, etcetera…plus the idea of having a “piece of art” on my body for life, I like it. I got to meet a lot of good people and share a lot with the “tattoo scene”, like my tattooist Cem from London.
FIXED GEAR? HAHA!
Ha-ha. I know why you are laughing! Yes this is how I busted my wrist! Geneva is a small city, so I always choose bicycle to move around, I’ve been a cyclist for over a decade…going from crappy bikes to road bikes and now track bikes. The feeling is very different, every single movement you make affects your bike…and it’s kind of like skating, attached to the bike with foot straps and every movement counts to keep balance. I just like the feeling…but I did focus a bit too much on “tricks” this summer and neglected my real passion. So now I got it build for speed and travelling only.
IT SEEMS THAT WHAT YOU LIKE IS ANYTHING ARTSTIC OR THAT RELATES TO STREET ART -PEOPLE JUST NEED TO LOOK AT YOUR SKATING AND LIFESTYLE TO UNDERSTAND IT. WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
I really haven’t thought about it so far…I hope that I’ll be able to do what I love for a living, whether it’s involved in skating, photography, bicycles, kendama…or else. I’m still working on it but I think I’m happier not thinking about it too much, even if it will probably strike me in the face sooner or later, I’m willing to take the risk.
THANK YOU’S? TO WHO, AND WHY?
First of my mom, for raising me, always being there and supporting me with my rolling career. You Jack Neveu, president of the “DOWN IN THE PARK BULLE CONTEST – 16-17-18 JULY 2010 – WRS 3STARS EVENT” for asking me these questions you were perfect for this role and I couldn’t find a better friend to do this!
My girlfriend Mina that I F****ing Love, she inspires and motivates me on so many levels! And our two lovely cats! All my friends and loved ones, I have nothing but admiration and respect for you. All the great friends I’ve made through rollerblading. Jojo Jacobi, for promoting me and getting me out there. Xsjado and Conference for their great support. Rolling Rock & Roll’N’Rolla Clothing for the support as well. Everybody that believes in me. Thank you!