Focus / Hugo Maillard

Photos: Clément Legall
Interview: Benjamin Deberdt

 Clément Legall

Give a voice to skaters that have that “little extra something” that nobody can really pinpoint: that is the goal of this feature.Hugo seemed to match the equation, with quite a long “past” already while he just about to celebrate his 20th birthday… “Young up-and-comer” like many a little while ago, here he finds himself at a turning point of his skateboarder life. He also finds himself here, in answers, photos and foremost video just for us and, well, you.

How does one turn into a redhead that many years after puberty?
[Laughter] Some diseases set in really late… No, all you need is a burst of craziness, the day after a drinking night, hit the supermarket, and a cheap perm later, the deal is sealed! I didn’t expect it to last that long… But, well, it’s fading away now, and I’m going back to my blue hair.
You got exposed to the media side of skateboarding quite early… Is that why you are how you are, now, you think?
You mean, smoking too many joints?
Jokes aside, how does it feel to get pushed up front like that, when you are 16?
It can get tricky, and it’s not necessarily good for your integrity. Sometimes you end up trying tricks that you don’t even want to do. When 16, the fact that you might get a photo in a magazine, or in a video on the net, or get a new sponsor, means you’ll most likely be able to impress your friends and others. It will give you the “needed boost” to do that one trick. It’s sad. I don’t want to generalize, but I believe I have been there.
Do you feel that things have changed a lot since that time of your life?
Yes and no. Yes, because I skate more and more for myself, and because I have the desire to. I started to really enjoy it, lately, because finally my practice started to match my vision, which is a lot clearer also. No, because, I’m not going to look the other way: the “needed boost” to do that one trick, it is now an energy drink that gives it to me…

 Clément Legall

Flip shifty.

You have been traveling quite a bit lately. How would you compare the Rennes scene to the rest of France, or to your experiences outside the country?
Rennes used to be really about street skating, out of necessity, really because we had no streetpark. Since we got one, the scene has split in two. The kings of the streetpark, and the ones that manage sometimes to not get sucked into the “Streetpark meeting”, and actually go hit the streets, and some less smooth pavement. There must be the same problem in many cities, and that’s why it’s always nice to bump into some clips or photos that were captured outside of a streetpark. I’m thinking of all those montages coming out of Paris, Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille or even Lille! I would like to see more, but to each his own, really! I hope your website will motivate some, and that from an outsider perspective, France will look like a country where people skate the streets!
Let’s hope so! How much pressure is it, when Tony Hawk announces he wants to deserve last part in the Anagram video? [This question refers to a tongue in cheek ad from Anagram skateboards, Ed.]
A lot! No, I really hope he’ll get last part, actually! So he can turn finally pro after the video!
How did you get on Anagram, actually?
I wouldn’t really hear anymore from Metropolitan skateboards, the company with pretty graphics, so I wanted to go somewhere else. That’s when Dorian from Anagram asked me, and since Girl skateboards wasn’t getting back to me, I said yes! It’s coming along really well, they’re always having a good time with the brand, so it’s cool.
Apart from that, do you still study, work, or are on the soon to be French Pro program?
None of the above! I stopped my art history courses in December, when we got the house. It was pretty difficult to go to university when there were so many things to do in that house… I actually work a bit, as a “taster”, no, really! It’s for a company that does satisfaction studies. It pays a little, and it’s quite funny to eat things and judge them afterward. As for next year, I applied to the Rennes and Lorient fine arts programs. I got accepted at Lorient, so I’ll most likely migrate there next school year and leave, sadly, my good life at the house, and in Rennes… “French Pro”, not really… I won’t deny it might have been on my mind, but now I don’t really care…

 Clément Legall

Describe the life of that house, at 126?
So, every morning, each occupant (Quentin Chambry, Benoît Leray, Romain D'andigné, Louis Deschamps and myself) wakes up at his own will, then plans, if he hadn’t already the night before, what he will do with his day. It can go from total laziness to brutal work, with options like photographs printing, silk-screening, drawing, cooking (off course!), writing a new episode of our fake TV series filmed on a VHS camera, taking care of visitors, and more… We rarely bore and rarely wash…
How long have you been there, now?
Since last December, and time is running way too fast.
How much more time before you get kicked out, you think?
We signed for a year lease, minimum! After the contract is renewable month to month, I believe, till 2013. Maybe more… Inch’ Allah!
I find your skating has evolved a lot, lately, as it can be seen in your Focus part. Any new influences to blame?
Yes! Some Japanese ones, some New-York ones… And also, dance. I’m more into thinking out a line or even a trick with some sort of unity. I want it to flow like dance, I want rhythm, and that it only stops with exhaustion.
Nice program… As summer is coming, any trips or projects coming up?
Well, there is that one video project helped by Burn that’s really exciting. Galib [Pacôme Gabrillagues, NDLR] should get his old camera back from Paris in a little bit, so we can start filming for it. And about travels, we would like to visit Berlin with some buddies. We need to plan it quickly! Apart from that no business trips from sponsors on the schedule, yet…
Alors, il y a ce projet de vidéo poussé par Burn qui est très motivant, Galib [Pacôme Gabrillagues, NDLR] devrait recevoir de Paris son ancienne caméra dans peu de temps, et l’on va enfin pouvoir commencer à filmer. Pour ce qui est des voyages, on aimerait bien partir à Berlin avec les copains. Il faut qu'on planifie ça assez vite ! Sinon, je n'ai pas de voyage d'affaire (entendre avec sponsor !) de prévu pour le moment…

Hugo rides for Anagram skateboards, Etnies footwear, Volcom Clothing, Haze wheels and Bears skateshop.
And you can see more of Hugo and the good life, here.

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