"18$ 3 TIGERS" A Derby SG promo / PREMIERE / Thomas Courteille / INTERVIEW

Thomas Courteille, LIVE hasn't been without showcasing his works before, most notably for Balargue skateshop; today, it is from Singapore that he's reaching us, in the midst of the lockdown but still strong of the capacity to introduce us to Derby, a new France-based bearing company and also to the accompanying promo video: "18$ 3 TIGERS", summing up one story amongst many that the man himself was enthusiastic to share, as well as more anecdotes and perspectives, as you can now read just below!

Naim, Danniel, Farid. Ph.: Thomas Courteille

LIVE Skateboard Media: Yo, Thomas, what's up? May you please introduce yourself to our readers, and then explain how come you're reaching us from Singapore, today?

Thomas Courteille: Hello Aymeric! All good here, lockdown just started getting enforced French-style sort, just without the paperwork thing...

As far as my background, I'm twenty-three, from the suburbs in the South of Paris and, over the past few years, I've been mainly busy working for Balargue: I was in charge of the videos, fundings, premieres... I really liked it but starting my own thing made more sense given my background as a student and a certain need to grow independent from the various forms of pressure skateshops have to deal with these days - especially with this Co-vid thing right now...

Qi, Amran. Ph.: Thomas Courteille

And so yeah, I just co-founded Derby with my friend Félix Baillet.

And regarding my Singapore presence, originally I came to visit my girlfriend for a month as she's on some student exchange type of program there, with the idea of filming the local scene in the back of my mind. Well, five days from now, that'll be three months spent here! [laughs]

LSM: How did you connect with the local scene exactly? Did you already know people prior to your arrival, or did you just randomly meet locals? How would you describe the Singapore scene in general, as much as you can from your perspective as a visitor? And how did you choose to involve those skaters in particular in your project - may you please introduce them to us?

TC: Just trying to look up the Singapore skate scene online is a reality check on how underrepresented they are: the first video that pops up is some eight-years-old Volcom Spain trip thing! [laughs]

Thankfully, Chabi (Adrien Chabiron) had been there before, so he got me in touch with Irwan, who runs a small, hyperactive [despite its name - editor's note] brand: Dormant.

Jason. Ph.: Thomas Courteille

Eventually that led me to meeting some of the local skaters, and then things just picked up naturally from there around the sessions and the Tigers from B.K. Eating House, the local headquarters.

"The mandatory,
two-year military service
that keeps getting
in the kids' way...

As far as the scene, it's pretty wild. There's an increasing number of skaters, even though the hype has nothing to do with how it is like in Europe, for instance. I reckon how kids here are conditioned to stay "in the right lane" from an early age on doesn't really help the development of street skating. So it's mostly skateparks that are popular, also maybe because of the Olympics, and how the expats' offspring imported skating over from their homelands. There are street skaters actually, but nothing comparable to, say, Europe or the U.S. in terms of percentage. Which doesn't make sense as the potential in terms of spots is crazy! Here, the entire downtown area is skate heaven (just with security for good measure) and if the marble and crowds put you off, then you can always skate anywhere else on the island thanks to the convenient transportation, to get to more secluded, rough, empty spots.

"Jason wants to make
one of the first ever
VX-1000 projects
in Singapore...
Although recently,
his VX broke down

All of this to say, the potential here is insane, and the city is always evolving, breeding a bunch of skaters, some of them with unique style and true rippers... But the scene is also held back by logistics or lack thereof such as the absence of filmers or projects, support, how strict the law is on street skateboarding, the mandatory, two-year military service that keeps getting in the kids' way...

Farid, Danniel @ Marina Bay Sand. Ph.: Thomas Courteille

Regarding this specific video, it was actually filmed over a really short period - like some side project thing. Two months into a strict handling of the Co-vid situation already, cases kept building up to the point where the Prime Minister gave a televized speech announcing the imminence of stronger measures. So the Derby SG and a few homies freaked out and we probably ended up spending a week filming this, in between that announcement and the systematic fines!

"Derby is a new project
I've been working on with 
a France-based
bearing company

So eventually this promo is packed with homies, including Jason and Rezza who are down to really push the Derby SG thing with us. Jason is a twenty-three-years-old skater who also films a whole lot, and wants to make one of the first ever VX-1000 projects in Singapore... Although recently, his VX broke down and, obviously, purchasing parts is a bit tough right now. It's also thanks to him that I could manage to extend my stay in Singapore - thanks for the couch, G! He's probably going to be in charge of the distribution of Derby in Singapore, too. And as far as Rezza, it's one of those skaters with his own unique style, clothing included and one who loves running into new handrails.

Ph.: Thomas Courteille

LSM: In fact, as a whole, can you explain Derby to us? Where is the company based, and what does it do?

TC: Derby is a new project I've been working on with Félix: a France-based bearing company, with some garment on the side. My idea is to keep doing what I was already doing for Balargue (which is supporting people, filming projects, managing premieres...) but around a selection of products that's a lot tighter - so, bearings. The roster mostly comprises youngsters (to varying individual extents) from the South of Paris, most notably Juan and Flo of Balargue but also Tao, who's always down to help... Also we back Ludo Arcens, a local from Sèvres, and another kid from the same area: Thomas Jekic. All people who operate under the radar but would benefit from more exposure.

The plan is to align all of this with my past experience with Balargue, and really focus on the shops as opposed to direct sales because in France, to this day, skateshops really are what keep the spirit alive on the local scale. We really want to focus on nurturing a great relationship with the shops we'll be working with as even our production is going to be small quantities, so we're not going for anything ambitious in terms of distribution and would rather favor quality.

Ph.: Thomas Courteille

Regarding the Singapore connection, the guys are on fire and down to help distribute, so hopefully we can develop a long-term relationship with this oh-so-particular city from Southeast Asia, notably via collabs and common audiovisual projects... In addition to being a very interesting scene, it's brimming with incredible artists. And sometimes those also skate, resulting in enterprises that really should be brought to light in the West, such as Nocturnal Society, a local brand with some strong and smart designs...

"I'm also sitting on
eight minutes of footage
of way more skaters
and spots

So yeah, we'll keep busy!

LSM: You told us something about another upcoming video also filmed in Singapore at one point, can you tell our readers what to expect around the corner? Have you been working on any other projects you would like to share about, maybe? Thank you for your time!

TC: Yeah so in this one, it's really the close homies that are getting featured, all on the basis of stuff we filmed one week before the lockdown. But I'm also sitting on eight minutes of footage of way more skaters and spots than in this little Derby promo. That video, I would like to accompany its release with skateshop premieres in Paris and Singapore and a zine, thanks to support from Vans. So we'll just have to wait to see where the current situation (with the Co-vid) takes us.

Alep, Farid. Ph.: Thomas Courteille

Besides all that, we've also been working on a full Derby video with a bunch of Paris folks and homies - we want to go on trips this summer, to meet shops in person too, before I need to dive back into my studies.

Going to be hectic, but fun! [laughs]

Thanks for helping us broadcast this video, I'm hyped and the locals are stoked!

Bonne journée!

Ph.: Thomas Courteille

Ph.: Thomas Courteille


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