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If my math is correct, you’re turning 40 this summer right? Any big party plans?
Exactly! Nope, no party’s planned but something closer to depression! Haha, I’m kidding of course. My birthday date is on August 25th which means plenty of time to get something like a secret party managed by my girlfriend & friends, who knows!

By the way, tell me: is there really something like a midlife crisis?
Yes I think. But then it also depends on your past. Like if you succeed to do everything you wanted while you were young, I believe such a crisis should be less intense and probably occur later as well. On my side I feel it coming but in a very light way. So I don’t think it’ll be a big thing in my case and by the way I still feel like a teenager thanks to skateboarding 🙂

Haze Wheels logo

I read somewhere that you first skateboarded in the year 1987, I was born that year haha! What do you keep in mind about skateboarding in the 90’s? And in Paris?
Ah funny! The 90s was one of my favorite times, since I was just starting. It was very essential and memorable. The good side of it is, like today, I get a true revival feeling because the trend nowadays is really 90s/2000s based. At the end of the day this is just some cycles and I’m happy because I’m still riding and kind of made a whole round.

Are you nostalgic sometimes or not at all? You enjoy skateboarding right here right now as much as back in the days?
Hell yeah I love skateboarding as much as at the beginning. Even though physically speaking it’s not the same story unfortunately. Yes there is always a part of nostalgia but you know, I believe nostalgia is a luxury… so I’m happy to be nostalgic 🙂 and the great thing in skateboarding is that there are so many different tricks that you’re always learning, no matter how old you are.

I’m curious: what exactly made you fall in love with skateboarding?
It’s this kind of activity where you’re single but in groups; the self-taught spirit as well and the total freedom that comes with it. Oh and also the artistic side of it; the fact that the playground is literally unlimited and not everything is based on performance.

Well, I dug too fast so you know what, let’s start again: can you introduce yourself?
My name’s Bertrand Soubrier, I’m born and raised in Paris, I’ve lived here my entire life. I think I got my first pro-model in early 2000, some wheels from Tikal. Then I skated for some brands, like Cliche (I was in their flow team for a while), DC Shoes for 7 or 8 years, Converse in early 2000, Mekanism Skateboards, Tikal Wheels co, Square Wheels, V7 Distribution, Eastpak, Creme Skateboards (I got some pro-model with them), Follow Skateboards where I got last year a veteran pro-model etc. Now I skate for the Parisian skate shop Nozbone and the french distributor of Lakai gives me some shoes.

Apparently you were already announcing that you’ll launch your own brand at some point while you were still a pro, is it true? Why? Was it the logical path to take for you?
Yep, indeed. I even said this long before turning pro. I remember a discussion with my aunts when I was 17 or 18 years old and they asked me what I wanted to do as a grown-up. I told them that after skateboarding I’ll launch my own skate brand. That was definitely the path in my head yes, I was sure about that. And the reason was simple: I’m way too much in love with skateboarding, period. Maybe one day I’d want to make something else but until then, skateboarding is all my life.

JP Villa in the Blaze Supply movie ‘Ceremony’

JP Villa in the Blaze Supply movie ‘Ceremony’

Ok, so at what time exactly did you start your own brand?
I decided to launch my first wheels brand with a friend right after the 2 biggest French wheels brands—Lordz/Square and Tikal—shut down. Since I’d skated for Square and then Tikal, that seemed logical for me back then to start with wheels; and the investment was lower too.

You started with the wheels but then launched some hardware (Screwheads), some bearings (Pulsar), some griptape (Creep Grip)… tell us: when will you launch the complete Basementhill haha?
🙂 You know I already make boards sometimes (Creepn Crawl) with my friend Steph (art director & graphic designer for Basementhill) so yeah we just lack the trucks… Graphics wise, Steph (alias Koolfunc’88 alias Turs.) does everything.

Can you talk about your team? Do you pick the riders yourself?
Yep, and I love the fact that they all have a different style. I mean they all have this very special board control but if you think about Michael (Mackrodt) or Oscar (Candon) or JP (Villa) they all have their own way of skateboarding.

Sam Partaix, ceiling wall bash

Sam Partaix, ceiling wall bash. Photo: Savate

One thing I noticed about your team—apart from the fact it’s a big one—it mixes a lot of different generations. I mean, did you mix someone like Jeremie (Daclin) and Victor (Campillo) on purpose?
Yes I think we have to get a team with different generations in order to ‘resonate’ with every skateboarder out there. While you mention Jeremie, did you know he was the very first person to sponsor me back in the days? Like the very first time I earned some money from skateboarding! Hence my desire to get him on the team, especially since I’m really fan of his work and he inspires me a lot.

Some shout outs?
Thanks to you first for this opportunity. KrakBox is a very cool concept, and thanks to you: skateboarders in the US will discover for the first time Haze and Screwheads. And thanks to my entire family, my friends, the people who helped me along the way, the skaters/shops/distributors/media who support Haze, Screwheads, Pulsar, Creeep Grip, Creepn Crawl, and above all: a big up to skateboarding!

Well, a big up to you Bertrand, we wish you all the best for what’s next, and I look forward to our next session together in Paris. Peace.
I look forward to it too.

Haze Wheels graphics

Cover image: Hugo Maillard in the Sugar x Pulsar video

This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 12 that shipped with the Winter 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!