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The brand tagline on your website is ‘French Core Skateboard Company’; what did you have in mind when you picked this one up? What’s a ‘core skateboard company’ for you anyway?
For me, ‘skatecore’ means pure and raw skateboarding; no fuss; no fashion; no trend; no duty to perform this trick or that one. Moreover, it’s a company owned and operated by skaters; every type of level I don’t care but everyone should skate. Here at Diligent, the photographer rides, the filmer too, the graphic designer and so on and so forth. We make our products either in Canada or in Spain and they come from a great factory which is managed by skaters too. I mean, we’re not a cult either but I like the idea that the people involved at any level feel a kind of emotional and personal relationship and get some skills with what we’re making. All that being said, we should probably acquire a non-skater-type of commercial development haha!

Is it important for you to stay ‘core’ in the long-term?
For sure. We want to stay ourselves. I don’t want us to have any partnership with some energy drinks or some other shitty stuff like that. We want to stay independent. And we don’t want to participate to any kind of ‘fun contest’ such as the FISE or anything else like that.

Has there been any moment where you told yourself ‘we won’t do this’ because you could have lost this ‘core’ mindset?
I’ve never gone through any decision like this to be honest. I think it’s because we’re still small which means we don’t receive that many requests and consequently, we’re still free.

Ben Raitano, switch heel

Ben Raitano, switch heel. Photo: Johan Verstappen

Do you think there are a lot of ‘core’ skate companies? Too many? Not enough?
I think there are quite a lot of them but unfortunately they’re not the ones we hear the most about. You know it’s always the same thing, they are crushed by the big guys in the business. Their resources are also limited and they don’t have a lot of money for communication. Like they can’t afford any ad in skate mags for instance. So obviously it’s not simple for them to grow efficiently. Now you have social media which is mandatory and actually a cheap way to get the word out.

What are the biggest challenges for these kind of brands?
First: to exist. Then: to survive. And then, to be introduced in the skate shops. Because typically shops tend to deal first with the big guys because prices are cheaper and risks lower. But I think that if you focus on quality, that’ll work at some point. Nevertheless I have to say, some shops are big supporters. Some others just talk a lot and claim ‘support your local shop’ but I’d want to tell them ‘support your local brand’. I don’t want to blame them neither, I mean I understand their challenges. It is indeed quite complicated in France to manage a store; especially when you consider all the pre-orders required by the ‘skhateboarding’ sneakers companies.

Okay we went a bit too fast; let’s come back to the basics: who are you Flo? Where are you from?
Florent Bavouzet, 40 years old. I come from the center of France, a town named Chateauroux. This is quite lost but there has always been a small and super motivated skate scene. Consequently when you grow up there, it kind of forces you to get out and progress. Then I’ve had many lives: experienced the contests, managed a skate shop, got a pro-model, skated street, vert etc… I got the chance to explore the many sides of skateboarding but I’ve also been very down-to-earth in the other sides of my life; like a normal life with a job, family time and everything. Skateboarding is like a big passion for me that consumes a huge part of my energy.

Sammy Idry, wallride grab

Sammy Idry, wallride grab. Photo: Johan Verstappen

When did you start skateboarding? How?
When I was 12, in 1989. It was mainly due to the group of Emmanuel Camusat [he’s the one who drew the Krak logo diversions you might have seen on our Instagram]. I saw them riding a bank on a bike lane and that how everything started. Then I just never stopped haha! It’s funny because we didn’t talk to each other (Manu and I) for like 20 years and recently, we bumped into each other and worked together on a graphic for a deck named ‘Forbidden’… so beautiful haha!

Mandatory questions to understand your skate-influences: favorite skate video? part? trick nowadays?
H Street ‘Hocus-Pocus’, Plan B ‘Virtual Reality’ – of course I talk about old ones because these are the ones that stay just engraved in my mind! The others… well, they’re good in terms of performance for sure but I clearly don’t feel the same thing when I watch them.

Who’s on the Diligent team?
Sammy Idri (Nimes), Ben Raitano (Marseille/St Etienne) and then the flow team Mathieu Sabourin (Lyon), Remi Larnould (Lyon/Montpellier), Arthur Fontis (Grenoble/Mâcon), Victor Naves (Nimes), Adam Geidt, Florian Bac, Guillaume Nozieres, mostly south-east…

Do you all live in Lyon? How did you meet each other?
Well half of us live in Lyon. We met each other through skate sessions obviously. Then some others emit the desire to jump on board so we made them come to Lyon for an interview haha!

Mathieu Sabourin, f/s ollie

Mathieu Sabourin, f/s ollie. Photo: Johan Verstappen

Do you have any favorite skatespots these days?
Gorge de Loup if we want a battle. Small Place if we want to play and drink. Never HDV. Charpennes a lot and every spot that is non-conventional.

We were talking about videos… If I’m right you’re currently filming your full-length, yeah? Are you happy?
Every time we just want to make a 2min edit and we end with a mini-video project which is way longer… we improvise a lot haha! Then I have to say I’m a bit old-school so all the lazy Instagram-clips in which you upload everything and anything, I find them dumb. And this is really sad to focus on ephemeral stuff just for the sake of buzz, no? Well it’s my opinion at least.

Do you have a name already? Or a theme? When is the release date?
March 2018 I think. We don’t any theme yet. A name? Queen Mary 2 – related to our Dilivan.

It’s your first one right? Why this format actually? Was it important for you to release a proper full-length? Why?
We already made a 13min edit in 2015. The name was ‘Plaisir solitaire pour tous’ [Selfish pleasure for everyone]; that was related to a deck graphic we released named ‘La Marianne’, a kind of French standard but porn-oriented; kindly of course… well this isn’t the topic!

So this time we target 15min or slightly more… ok let’s stop with the minutes counting; wait and see finally. We aren’t in an online video contest right!! The length isn’t important at all. But I find a video longer than 25min painful!

Is everything taking place in Lyon or have you travelled a little bit?
We skated in Lyon of course but also in Nimes, Grenoble, Marseille. Actually we try to keep things easy. And because we also all have a double-life with a job or some studies, it means we also don’t have much time and this isn’t that easy. This is really an easy-going way of making a video; we don’t even try to go to the ‘must-spot’ like Barcelona, Berlin and all… At the end we even prefer to skate a village. Anduze already done!

Where does the name ‘Diligent’ come from? And the logo?
‘Diligent’ is a word that’s written, pronounced and means the exact same thing in both french and english. That’s really an universal word. That also means ‘someone who does all the necessary to get something done’ and I found this definition very cool for skateboarding. It’s like all the energy and time you put to land a trick.

I found it because I searched online the dictionaries and synonyms for like 2 weeks. I wrote on a lot of papers, I tried every type of spontaneous technique haha like beers, kids crying behind you etc… everything except: talk about it around you. Then I gave the name to a friend—a graphic designer named Jean Lambert—and he thought about a logo like an arrow on the top to give the direction, and then the 4 legs are like 4 wheels. Of course when you read this you’ll be like ‘it’s a bit too far’ but nope, I was all down.

Remi Larnould, blunt

Remi Larnould, blunt. Photo: Johan Verstappen

When did you launch the brand exactly?
March 2013.

Let’s make a quick ‘entrepreneurship detour’: if you had the chance to do it again, what would you pay the most attention to?
Alain Delon never fails! [french reference… sorry]

Do you have any advice for the people who are reading this right now and would want to launch their own thing in skateboarding?
Argh… don’t do it for the money because you’ll be disappointed; even though some people succeeded.

Thanks for the inspiration man!

Diligent team in Marseille

Diligent team in Marseille. Photo: Johan Verstappen

Cover image: Florent Bavouzet, b/s ollie. Photo: Johan Verstappen

A short version of this interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 17 that shipped with the Xmas KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!