The contents of LIVE's front page today owe enough to Ljubljana, Slovenia-based skater, photographer and artist Tomaž Šantl (of Original Copy) that we'd preface them with this acknowledgement; indeed, he is the one who suggested to Luka Demšar and Mark Pogačar Nikolić of the local Želve crew and brand LYC, to get in touch with us, about their new video production: "DOBRAAAJJ", consisting in no less than sixteen minutes of skate footage logged straight from the streets of the capital, and feels like an exciting, communicative and honest capture of the current energy and motivation of a timelessly and remarkably strong scene that, somehow, frequently eludes mainstream recognition to this day - for better and for worse. The opportunity was just perfect to catch up with the Ljub front for some news, represented by some young blood that does like to stick to the Sony VX-1000, so we all got the ball rolling, and the following interview ensued...

 Vanja Ćorović, frontside nosegrind. Ph.: Mitja Vašič

LIVE Skateboard Media: Hey guys! Congrats on dropping this great VX-1000 edit straight from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The video features quite a lot of talented locals, can you introduce the whole crew to our readers? Which generation(s) would you say you guys are from on average, and how was it growing up in Ljubljana as a skateboarder at the time? And how would you say that era compares to now in terms of vibes and opportunities in spots, video production and exposure; has that ever been changing much along the years?

Luka & Mark: Hello and thank you for this opportunity! Our crew is basically a big group of friends who met when we were kids and are still tight today. 

The crew grew even bigger around the time some of the guys who originally were from other cities moved to Ljubljana to study. That’s how we met Jan Robek, Nejc Šubic, Matevž Vršič. Then the older guys saw what we were doing and tagged along. We were all from the 1995-to-1999 generation when we started, but that's expanded since.

Mark & Luka. Ph.: Eva

Growing up in that time was really cool. There were lots of us, and there always was somebody to skate with. Over the years, not much has changed. There was a short period where some of our friends stopped skating and it was noticeable, but then the other guys we mentioned came to Ljubljana and suddenly we were a big group again.

"At that time,
the skateboard
was just another

Spot-wise, back in the day the city used to be pretty ancient when it comes to its roads, pavements, parks... But over the span of just the past few years, it's been being rebuilt, so some of the old spots are gone and some new ones popped up. But otherwise, no major changes in the general vibe. For such a relatively small city, there really is plenty of spots.

Mark Nikolić, kickflip. Ph.: Mitja Vašič

LSM: What is it that inspired you to pick the Sony VX-1000, out of all cameras? How accessible is the camera where you live and how easy is it to get repaired, as I know the situation commonly varies from country to country, and thus the effort it means to use one can change a lot? Personally, I find that it makes the colors and textures of the pavements and roads of old European cities pop out really well in particular. Did some videos especially encourage that choice of a camera or is just the gear you happen to be using, with no real second thought about it?

Luka: I liked how the fisheye looked when I watched "STAY GOLD". It was something else. Back in the day, when I didn’t really skateboard yet, my friend found that video and we watched it together. At that time, the skateboard was just another toy. We would also play the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games a lot - which also comprised video clips to introduce the real-life pro skaters featuring in them - and all those clips were filmed with the VX.

The camera wasn’t really accessible but the wish to have it was stuck in my head, so I started saving up my pocket money and selling my stuff, even my first camera, which was a Sony Handycam that my dad had gotten me. About a year or so later, I had saved up enough and got my grandpa's friend to order a second-hand VX-1000 from Germany over eBay.

Jan Arhar, backside tailslide. Ph.: Luka Demšar

That first one was the best one I've ever had to date. It never glitched at all. Sadly, one day, at some spot, a janitor got pissed off at us (we were later told he had some anger issues) and grabbed me and started beating me, shouting "delete those clips, you are not allowed to film here!...". We hadn't even actually filmed a thing that day; no one had even started skating the spot or anything, I was just fixing the settings for later. Eventually he grabbed the camera out of my hands and threw it on the ground, smashing it to pieces.

Ph.: Tomaž Šantl

I've had four more since, but none of them ever worked as well - they are all full of problems. I still have the first one at home. Mark and I even used some bits from it as spares, and he is always eager to try and fix it. There were some surgeries performed on the dinner table and in the garage, without much success though, sadly. On some days the footage is clean, on some others it glitches like crazy. I miss the old one a lot.

"No phone or Facebook was needed"

LSM: Can you try and describe the Ljubljana scene past and present? Slovenia in general always had a sick scene with strong D.I.Y. ethics (Proper Skateparks and the Boldrider crew are pretty iconic), be it when it comes to spots or general production - for instance in your clip people can be seen rep local stuff such as Kiss The Future - are there any similar creative entities you would like to shout out to and recommend that people take a look at? Any shop, events or publications that keep the locals strong throughout time? And of course, what is it that you guys directly do yourselves, and can you hit us up with some links of your own?

Luka & Mark: For a while, our group (from 1995, 1999-ish) was the youngest generation out here skating the city and doing stuff, but lately we've been seeing more and more kids hanging around with skateboards! There’s a few guys we used to see a few years back, when they were little kids - they seemed into it but then stopped coming around, and now they are about half a meter taller and skating really well. And besides them, there are about fifteen other boys and girls that come to Cankar, our main street spot, regularly now. 

Within our group, street skating was always strong. There also are many good skaters around whom we don’t know that well, as they tend to stick to the skateparks (even though the two 'skateparks' in Ljubljana suck). All in all, the scene here is really good right now.

In the past, all the skaters in Ljubljana would get together at Cankar Hall. It was the main spot for skating and hanging out on Fridays. No phone or Facebook was needed, as there always was someone there. That's around the time the O.G.'s were filming "TO NI HEC".

Mark Nikolić, frontside boardslide. Ph.: Jan Robek

The D.I.Y. scene was already strong back then too. Locally famous spots such as Kolezija Pool (R.I.P.) and Pumpa were already active. Today, that's escalated even further. Pumpa transformed from a little D.I.Y. pool to a full-blown skate jungle. More D.I.Y. spots and constructions have been appearing. Our local indoor park, ROG, expanded a lot. And we have to mention our friends from Alprem (Kamnik), KESA (Škofja Loka), Prestranek (Prestranek), Ribnik (Domžale); they are all very strong names, familiar to anyone anywhere near the local skate scene.

Other than spots per se, there is also a huge D.I.Y. scene here that features skate- and not skate-related fashion artists, musicians, photographers... Anselma is the local shop where Kiss the Future products are sold and they also work with us. Tomzi is there always, local figure and part of the landscape.

"What Nikola [Racan]
has done for
the Balkan scene
is something big"

Then there's Peter Fettich - our introduction to that guy was seeing him walk his dog around Cankar Hall as early as back in the day, he's a really rad photographer who has an eye for cool stuff. In the past, he's made zines and also, recently, a book about the D.I.Y. skate scene called "RISPECT THE BOUL", and you should get it if you are into that. It's full of pictures of these D.I.Y. spots throughout time, being built and skated.

Our crew is known locally as the Želve crew and we have our brand called LYC. Check us out, and also all the people we mentioned above.

LSM: VX-1000 in Ljubljana - especially with your settings - instantly gives me flashbacks of Nikola Racan’s "SOLSTICIJ"; can you explain the fraternity there seems to be between the Croatian scene and the Slovenian scene, the Serbian scene and many others in the region? The network always seems very strong but for people who aren't too familiar with the area, that might not be especially apparent, so let’s bring it up.

Luka: I guess it all looks very much alike as all of our countries were once part of Yugoslavia, so the buildings, pavement, streets, people don’t differ all that much, at least visually. There’s also the fact that over time, we've naturally met many good friends from Croatia and Serbia, and it's worth mentioning that the yearly event known as the Vladimir Film Festival brings us all together - so naturally, we take notes from each other. What Nikola has done for the Balkan scene is something big, and we all appreciate it very much.

Mark Nikolić, body varial hippy jumpPh.: Mitja Vašič

Mark: I think the Ex-Yugoslavia scene is more connected because it's small, and nobody really appreciates it that much, and we all have the same struggle skating here.

"Anyone else
who finds us
finds something
rare and unknown"

When somebody is visiting from Croatia or Serbia, we always try to get together, skate and hang out as much as we can and vice versa. It's a brotherhood type of connection and we all keep in touch.

The crew in Pula, Croatia, 2019. Ph.: Mark Nikolić

LSM: What do you wish people knew about skateboarding in Slovenia? Unfortunately it’s one of those many countries with an excellent scene, yet too foreign to resonate with the interests of the mainstream skate industry, so unless one really digs into the culture and local history for good, it’s way too rarely under the spotlight unless in the context of some big name pro's trip there. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to need that type of outside support to remain strong and authentic at the core. Are there names of locals you wish people were more aware of? Are there some historic videos from Ljubljana and Slovenia skaters from all over the world should watch? Maybe Tomzi’s video "TO NI HEC" would be a good start…

Luka & Mark: [laugh] "unless in the context of some big name pro's trip there".

Luka: Nothing, really. It's a local scene that we share with each other and our Yugoslavia friends. Anyone else who finds us finds something rare and unknown, which I would be hyped on if I did so.

Mark Pogačar Nikolić, frontside wallride. Ph.: Luka Demšar

Mark: It would be cool if people realized how big and strong the underground scene is here, especially for such a small country.

Luka & Mark: "TO NI HEC" for sure! And if you really wanna dig deep, look up Boris Petković "Hefe".

"An adult living
a teenager's

Tomaž Šantl, frontside noseslide. Ph.: Mitja Vašič

LSM: Let’s devote a specific question just to Tomzi because the man deserves it. Can you describe his role and influence on the local scene throughout the years, and to this day still with Original Copy? On a scale from zero to five, how would you rate his performance in the role of a crucial cultural ambassador as the bearer of the last part of "SOLSTICIJ"?

Luka: Tomzi is the childhood hero you meet and doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment. He’s a legend and we hang out and skate with him. He helps keep the scene strong, and is a straight 100.

Mark: Yeah, I agree with Desh. I think everyone from our generation knows who he is, he’s done a ton of things for skateboarding here, yet I think he doesn’t know what a great impact he's had on us... With his series Original Copy, he has a really unique way of working with everything video, music, skating - it’s one of the best things that have come out from Slovenia in the recent years. He's also the best hairdresser. He cuts my hair, and I watch after his cat when he's out of town.

Luka & Mark: We want everyone from our group who knows him to say something about him, too.

Jan Arhar: One of the few O.G.'s who is still pushing strong for the scene. Best style.

Matevž: Most grown up child I know. 

Vanja: An adult living a teenager's dream, I guess.

Jan Robek: Balkan skateboarding’s greatest gem.

Nejc: Sonček slovenskega skejtanja (approximates to 'local sunshine' but I don’t think translating does the real thing justice here) 

Acty: The guy you want to be growing up.

Gal: Surfer flow.

David Soda: I can only say big thanks for "TO NI HEC". It's something I watched a bunch when I was younger and that's inspired me the most in skateboarding.

Adi: Tomzi original!

"The clips
and full-lengths
just happen"

Jan Arhar, frontside 50-50. Ph.: Mark Nikolić

LSM: OK, shout out times! Give thanks aplenty to whoever you feel like. Also what’s in the cards for you next, are you still filming? Thanks for your time and keep in touch!

Luka: Shout out to Tomzi for connecting us with you and to you for being so hyped on us. Also the good friends we meet through the years: Raul, Peki, Puti, Nikola, Butko, Soda... The Yugo connection is strong!

I've been filming for ten years now, and nothing was ever planned really. We just go out and do stuff, the clips and full-lengths just happen. We are still filming and will keep on doing it. Here's a link to our Vimeo channel featuring some of our major works. Right now, Mark and I have some clips in Tomzi’s next Original Copy production and soon, there will be new montages from us. It just always happens. Everyone wants to film, so the footage keeps on stacking.

Mark: I’d like to give a shout out to Luka’s mom for feeding me leftovers throughout the years [laughs]. No, but I’d like to thank all the friends I’ve made over that time span, also ROG skatepark for keeping us warm during the cold winters. Shout out to Vevče, the Croatian homies, the PRVNS crew from BelgradeAlpremKESA. Yeah, we’re always filming - maybe a bit less during the winter, because of the bad weather, and we have clips in the new Original Copy production “PANNONIAN ROMANCE” that was filmed in Slovenia, at the border with Hungary. I’m also filming a part-or-something with Tomzi, which will of course also feature some of the Želvas! So, yeah - we’re always on the streec.

Luka & Mark: Thanks Aymeric and LIVE for giving us an opportunity to present our new video and shine some light onto our skate scene!

Ph.: Jan Robek


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