MAXI SCHAIBLE, EXPERIENCING CITIES THROUGH SKATE

A skater is that kind of person you’re fascinated by for their tricks and stunts, obviously, but they’re also that person who takes you by the hand and shows you around cities in a way that you could never experience if you weren’t on top of a deck. We talk to Maxi Schaible about his job as a skater, but also about the state of this culture in the city of Barcelona.

There are skaters which you cannot take your eyes from for their magnetic tricks and stunts and in general for challenging the rules of space, time and gravity. And Maxi Schaible does just that, of course. However, in his case, there’s another special thing about him: he’s a skater who particularly likes participating in videos in which he skates through different cities. In fact, this touristic vocation takes him beyond making videos, and he’s even explored it through several written articles.

Do we have to then consider that we’re so fascinated by skater videos both for their tricks and for the exceptional guided tour they’re offering us to cities which we’ll never see through the eyes of such privileged people like them? That may very well be. The possibilities are endless, specially so when they’re in the daring and restless hands of someone like Maxi Schaible, who, nevertheless, doesn’t allow himself to be limited by the clichés of his own trade and who, on top of skating, also works for Beast, a distributing company specialised in brands that orbit around skate culture.

Be it as it may, as a skater who in recent times has explored in a sublime way the city of Barcelona, we interview Maxi Schaible to talk about the multiple facets of his trade, the skateboarding industry, the deck as a vehicle for extreme tourism and, why not, the state of this culture in a city that was once known as the Mecca for skaters around the world.

What was your first time jumping on top of a skate deck like?

I remember that I asked my parents to finally buy me one of those cheap, department store skateboards after having seen a few kids skating in Stuttgart. I was so happy when I finally got it… From there, my siblings and I tried to learn tricks on our own. The three of us shared one skateboard!

Was it hard to take the decision of working in an industry as difficult as skate?

The truth is that I never decided to fully work and earn a living in this industry because I never thought I’d be good enough to get sponsors and so on. I’ve always done other side things, like studying or, as I’m doing now, working for Beast. I think that it’s truly hard to earn a living in skateboarding nowadays because there are too many good skaters. Also, the European scene is different from the American one, and there aren’t too many skaters who can live from skating.

There are some skaters who, like in your case, seem to skate to get to know the depths of a city… Is that why you like skating so much?

Yes, definitely, that’s one of my favourite things about skating. You experience each city you visit in a totally different way from how tourists or even locals who don’t skate do. You go to areas which most people will never end up visiting, simply because you’re looking for that unique space to skate in. Like in Barcelona, for example, where I always look for places I’d never end up in but in which I’m taken to for the need to find something new. You can always find something that’s really interesting, even though this can also be dangerous in cities like Mexico City.

And it’s not just about getting the know the depths of a city: in your case, it’s also about showing people those depths. You usually record videos in those cities. Do you do so to share those unique places?

Each skater sees and interprets skating in a different way. That is one of the reasons why we make videos. There could be someone who’s skateboarding in a place in a totally different way than you’d be doing. Do you know what I mean? Also, big audio-visual projects always elevate the level of skateboarding and they can show new tricks in very well-known places. I think that, in general, it’s important to make those videos as a way to present new kids inside the skateboarding industry, and also as a way of highlighting why some people stay in the business for as long as two decades.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working on a video project with my friend David from Sweden in which we have a New Balance sponsorship. I like the way that he shoots, and we’re going to try to release it by the end of the summer. Other New Balance skaters that I love will appear in it too. On top of that, I’ll soon travel to New York to skate with the Chrystie NYC team, a clothing brand for which I ride.

In Barcelona, some believe that the skateboarding scene was amazing a few years ago but that it suddenly vanished. Do you think that that is what really happened?

I don’t think that it’s like that right now. With everything that was built for the Olympic Games, it seemed as if the city was building skateparks. You see people on skateboards in every single corner, which is why I think that in that respect the city’s doing very well. I hear that around 2005 everything was much calmer, but I wasn’t in the city back then, so I really can’t say.

Do you have any recollection of that golden age in the ‘90s in Barcelona?

I wish! I only know of the stories that I’ve heard from my friend Marcos, who has been skating in Barcelona for the past twenty years. For my part, I went to the city for the first time seven years ago, so I can’t say much. Travelling back in time to see what happened at the turn of the century would be great. I remember that, once I got there, I was so excited to think of all the places that I had seen on those videos.

And, when you’re standing in front of the wardrobe before leaving to skate, do you have any favourite item that you think of before the rest?

Actually, I don’t. I think I’m a very basic guy in that sense. I usually just grab a t-shirt that fits me well, a shirt that the tailor from the corner has to alter, and a cap or a beanie and some comfortable trousers. I think that in the last few months my trousers have been getting wider, but, in the end, it’s all about what makes you feel most comfortable. There’s nothing worse than leaving your house feeling that your shirt’s too big or that your trousers are too tight. That’s really annoying, and it makes me have to change clothes again.

  • Photos: Viridiana Morandini