JB Gillet X Fred Mortagne X Hôtel de Ville

Photos: Fred Mortagne

Interview: Benjamin Deberdt

New footage of JB Gillet? We're down! If it's filmed on his home turf, by long time friend, Fred Mortagne, we can't really ask for more, can we? This new production for the Nokia Pureviews series gives a chance for both to reunite on The mythical spot of their town of Lyon, the famous Hôtel de Ville plaza, and an occasion to sit down with Fred and reminisce about the place and its international ambassador for so long, where they have filmed some amazing parts over the years…

Your first memory of JB?
At La Piste, the great outdoor skatepark we had back then. JB was a tiny l-kid that came from the countryside between Lyon and Grenoble… From the beginning it was clear he had something special… On a busy day at La Piste, all you could see were JB and Julien Gilliot!

What did he looked like, then?
A young kid, with a high pitched voice… All those kids, JB, Julien, Malik, Gary, we called them “The Gazelles” because thy had sticks like legs!

Your first encounter?
I don't really recall, but it's most likely to ask him if he'd be into filming for the very first Lyon video, the Magical Mystery Video, during the summer of 1994.

And your very first filming mission?
It must have been at La Piste, because back then, the Hôtel de Ville spot was not completely skatable yet. It was going under major construction, that lasted a few years, and we couldn't wait for it to be done! So, we didn't have a street spot where everybody would skate all the time and meet at, so La Piste had that function for us. So, this is where we started filming together.

How is the Hôtel spot, nowadays?
So, HDV, as the young generation calls it now, is a sad state… To a point where it just gets worst every over week. For the locals that are used to it, it's usable, but for people visiting Lyon, it's a great disillusion. They freak out, and find it just unskatable. From the beginning, you had those lateral grooves that are part of the design, and that already was never easy to adapt to, but add hundreds of cracks all over, and it's a mine field! Then again, Mark Suciu came, observed, then skated, and according to Flo Mirtain, did the craziest line ever done there, so everything is still possible! For the latest Go Skateboarding Day, Jérémie Daclin put some metal angles on the ledges that were in Beirut mode, totally unusable, and that gave a little boost to the spot. It's crazy that nobody thought of that before, when the spot has been fucked for years.
For the past fifteen years, there's been rumors of a renovation project with green spaces covering it all… And it seems like it is happening and it will be a reality within two years…

Frontside 180 fakie nosegrind.

What is JB's place, within Lyon's scene, nowadays, compared to the good old days?
You can go to Hôtel de Ville any day, and you're pretty much sure to see JB there. He's the spot watchman, the boss, the legend! The young respect him fully, and he's still there, motivated. JB without HDV, that seems more unthinkable than Lyon without HDV!

Did you realize one day: “Damn, it's been 20 years!”? It that what gave you the idea for this project?
It while we were filming for this video, actually. I hadn't realized before… I started filming there, with my friends. With JB, it adds up to 19 years, actually…

Who else still skates from the people you were filming twenty years ago?
It had been a while that I hadn't hung out at HDV, filming regularly, and I realized that many of the old heads still came to skate a little for fun, once in a while.  You can still see Raphaël Vitorrelli, Martien, Stéphane Giret off course, and his brother Crick. Malik must cruise by, I think, but more rarely… What sucks is that Julien Gilliot stopped skating, he could have had a career like JB… He was incredible and so stylish.

Where you see yourself meeting up with JB in 20 years?
Maybe he will have built an exact replica of HDV, somewhere, without the cracks, and the weirdos that lurk there!

It's true that close up, the plaza doesn't look too appetizing, but when JB's wheels touch ii, it just magically changes:

Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

Wait to pass announcement...