ITW – Barney Page

Board Culture Exposure 2024

On the occasion of an event organized by RVCA Paris at the Consulate, I had the chance -Thank you Florine- to interview Barney Page, an incredible skateboarder. I had discovered it in the Etnies Album. His way of seeing the spots, his board control, his selection of tricks, Barney is a very creative and ultra chill skater. Good for him, since it was my first face-to-face interview in English.

When and how did you start skating? I read that you started skating in the small town of Exeter in the South West of England.

I come from Exeter, in the South West of England. Devon is the region, Exeter is the city (capital). I was initially drawn to BMX racing, and actually a friend of mine owned some boards. I started borrowing one to skate with them. I was riding on my knees or sitting. I loved it, I think it made me want to get my own board. So, a few months later, Christmas coming, I was able to have my first board. Very quickly, I stopped BMX to devote myself fully to skateboarding. I really fell in love with the board.

What attracted you to skateboarding?

I can’t really tell you what attracted me to skateboarding. I believe that skateboarding is something individual where each of us is unique, and mixing with people different from me makes me feel good. Also, of course, progressing: learning one trick, then another, and another, it’s a lot of fun and it’s addictive. That’s how I feel.

When did you feel that you could be a pro and make a living from skateboarding?

It was a crazy idea at the time to be able to earn a living from skateboarding. You know, you start skating because you like it and not because you are planning a career. After I left high school, I believe I started earning a monthly salary from my sponsors.

This is how I was able to start traveling and doing what I love, my job. I think that’s when I realized I had found my thing.

How did you get noticed by your first sponsors, in particular by Rob Selley and his company Motive Skateboards? Was that when you started skating in Milton Keynes?

Yeah, right, I’m from the South West and I used to go to Milton Keynes, North London. There was a spot called The Buszy. It was an old bus station that had been turned into a skatepark plaza, with curbs, manny tables, etc. Me and my friends used to go there once a month. We were super hyped every time. We drove for 4 hours and stayed all weekend skating The Buszy and making friends. It was during this period that I met Rob Selley, through friends we had in common. He was running the Motive Skateboard company at the time and he offered to send me some boards. Things started to change at that point.

He was also working with a British photographer named Leo Sharp. Leo came one day and shot me for a weekend. Thanks to him, I was able to get my first Check Out With interview at Sidewalk, which has now disappeared.

I think it really exploded for me from there. I started to make myself known, appear in Sidewalk magazine, etc. If I had never left Exeter this probably never would have happened and I wouldn’t be here in Paris.

Barney Page RVCA Paris 4

And with Etnies and Sour?

Leo Sharp talked about me at Sole Tech (éS, Emerica, Etnies) UK, and then I went to this contest in Scotland with a group of skaters who were sponsored by Sole Tech. It was at this time that I began to receive Etnies shoes, and thus climb the ladder with them.

With Sour, it’s a little different. A lot of my friends were in Barcelona and skated for Sweet. So I started skating first for this brand. I loved riding with these guys. They inspired me a lot, the way they skated, their team. I skated for Sweet for about a month and then we all left.

What happened? I heard that there were dissensions in the team.

They didn’t like the graphics and the direction the brand was taking. It no longer suited them. So Björn Holmenäs, the team manager, decided to set up Sour with the Sweet alumni. He borrowed money from a friend to create the brand. It all started like that with Sour.

If you hadn’t been a pro skateboarder, what would you have done?

I often ask myself the question…

Model? With that gorgeous hair?

Hahaha nonnnn! Hmm… I had done an internship as a carpenter when I left high school. I love working with wood with my hands. I’m not talking about building houses, that’s boring. But I like the artistic aspect. See Jericho in London? They make rings, pendants and such. I would love to do something like this. More like a side job. But to be honest, I really don’t know. It’s hard to know what I would have liked to do, because I’m already doing something that I love. There is nothing worth it.

Etnies welcomed you into their team with the “Welcome to Barney Page” video in 2010. I watched the video. It was amazing. How do you explain your longevity within the brand?

Man, I don’t know, haha! Luck ! Haha! You know, they’re really nice people and they’ve become good friends over these ten years. I always enjoy going with these people on a skate trip. Having a strong bond with these people helps with longevity.

Barney Page RVCA Paris 1

And physically, how do you manage to stay in shape?

You know, I try to stay healthy. I make sure to stay hydrated. Skateboarding every day is already a lot of exercise in itself. Your body is constantly in motion and eliminates toxins on its own. Your diet matters a lot too I think. If you only eat thrash food, of course, it will affect your body in the long term. This will significantly affect your recovery when you get injured. I think if you eat well, you feel good.

I saw some old pictures from your Motive Skateboards period. Lots of gaps, rails, mini ramp skills. How did your style of skating evolve from your beginnings to your very original type of skateboarding today?

I would say it’s mostly by riding alongside extremely strong skaters. It inspires and you learn from them, from their techniques. The more I got involved at the professional level, the more I was surrounded by professional skateboarders who push you to progress, to try new things, new tricks.

They also inspire me a lot, especially in rail and things like that. They have this ability to try technical tricks without “dying” in quotes. When you see them trying things out, it seems so easy for them. You learn by witnessing this. It gives you confidence and it can unlock new trick possibilities.

Which skateboarders inspire you the most?

Through the years and by far, I would say it’s the Habitat team: Stefan Janoski, Danny Renaud, Danny Garcia too. Besides, I played the VHS part of the latter over and over again when I was younger. The music, the tricks, hyped me up a lot.

I read in an interview that your grandparents traveled a lot and that their house, where you spent part of your childhood, was full of memories of those trips. Did that inspire you?

Yeah, the house is crazy. They started traveling around their forties. It was late, and traveling at that time was different, more complicated. They didn’t have a lot of money, but my grandfather managed to save some money with his work. Thanks to this, they have traveled to all corners of the world until today, even if the COVID has somewhat slowed down their plans.

And then you know, my grandfather, even at eighty-four years old, he still travels to incredible places. For example, he went to Congo, North Korea, places like that. That’s crazy ! I think he went to China something like twenty-five times…

To see all these memories all over their house like you pointed out, it was very inspiring when I was going there as a kid. You say to yourself, “I want to experience the same things. Everywhere you looked there were these cool things. I tell you that, but I never bought anything during my travels, ahaha. Because I wouldn’t know where to put things. I don’t want to carry them from one place to another. So I don’t collect anything. Maybe one day it will happen, but for now, I’ll stick to pictures.

Among your many travels, is there a country that you appreciated more than another?

I love Europe. It’s a beautiful place. It is so vast and at the same time different. You can drive across the continent and cross four or five countries. The architecture is also incredible, the food, the languages, the history, etc. I find cool everything that emanates from these places. Also the freedom you have here is great, because there are plenty of places in the world where you feel less of that. Typically, in the United States, you can’t even drink a beer on the street. These little things can really change your perception of freedom.

Culturally too, in Europe people seem more motivated to do things. It really is a rewarding place.

Conversely, what was the worst destination you could go to?

I don’t mean to offend anyone, haha. I would say England. The weather is not crazy. London is wet. You would think that summer does not exist. It’s very weird. In the year, you only have two weeks of summer. This year, I spent the summer there. It had been a very long time. And in truth, I was able to appreciate this period in London and also spend time in Devon. There is the littoral coast where to walk and the national park which is cool to visit. Otherwise, the rest of the time, it rains all the time, it’s cold…

I was in London in winter for a whole week and indeed, it was cold, it often rained and, the strangest thing, it was the sun which set at 4 p.m….

Yeah, on the other hand London in the summer, when it’s sunny and hot, it’s one of the best cities. Because I think people are not used to seeing sunshine. And as soon as there are a few rays, everyone is super happy. Which is rather unusual for Londoners, haha! So there is a kind of vibe that is felt in the city and lots of events are organized, free parties… It’s very cool when the weather is good.

Etnies High Five with Tom Penny By the way, Etnies Album video recently full lenght videos are quite rare now. Before, it was something huge that we were all waiting for, we watched AVPs in shops… Now the videos are shorter, a lot of solo parts, it’s on YouTube, Instagram? Is it something you miss or not at all, is that the normal way of things?

I think people’s attention has evolved with the internet. People can no longer sit in front of a full length video. To be honest, sometimes I can feel the same way. What is missing most is the expectation that surrounded the release of a video. And today, they are so easily accessible at the click of a fingertip. In the second, you can view any content. Also, one of the reasons I watched Mosaic over and over again was because there were few videos available and I had no internet.

People’s attention isn’t what it used to be. It is therefore in the logic of offering shorter videos. Fewer people are inclined to stay an hour, an hour and a half in front of a video. Afterwards, it’s good that there are still full lenght videos; it is important.

Barney Page RVCA Paris 6

Exactly, do you have any upcoming projects with Sour or Etnies soon?

A full lenght video is in preparation for the next four or five months. As for Etnies, there is currently no full length, strictly speaking, in sight. But we are working on a few projects. We’ve been filming for a while. I couldn’t tell you exactly.

Speaking of evolution, what do you think of skateboarding at the Olympics?

I don’t really know what to think about it. Personally, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t think anyone should have a negative judgment about it, because people who want to skate in the Olympics skate in the Olympics. Besides, it seems to have been well received. I think it can be a way to introduce it to as many people as possible and, if it can improve our image with the general public, then it’s positive.

Were you ahead of the Olympics?

Yes, and the atmosphere was quite gloomy for a premiere, probably because of health restrictions. But it was still fun to watch. What is the Olympics? It’s every four years. There are contests every week. It’s all the same. We do not care. It’s like watching the Street League in the end. I don’t understand why some are offended.

What makes Paris so special? A lot of tours come here and “shun” the other cities?

It’s usually because there are a lot of spots to skate here and visually it’s beautiful to film. It’s very photogenic. Paris is a concentrate in terms of culture, fashion and gastronomy. To move, it is also very smooth. You can push from one place to another easily. You do not necessarily need to take your car like in some cities. It is all these things, among others, that attract towers to the capital.

Between us, what do you think of Aurelien Giraud, who is about to sign with Etnies?

Technically he is very good. His arrival, if it happens, would make sense: Chris Joslin, Trevor McClung, Ryan Sheckler are both at Plan B and Etnies. In addition, Pierre André Senizergues is patriotic, and he loves French skateboarders, so it would fit.

Any other projects in sight, apart from Sour and Etnies?

I have planned to travel England from North to South for the Ben Raemers Foundation from September 25th. I plan to travel 941 miles (1514.39 kilometers) in twenty-five days. Because, as you know, we lost Ben Raemers a few years ago. His friends and his sister came together to create this foundation to do suicide prevention. And I want to do my part. This is the project that is most important to me at the moment.

Thank you Barney Page for this little moment. An online Go Fund Me kitty is also open. You can participate, regardless of the amount donated for the Ben Raemers Foundation. Thanks to Valentin for the photos.

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