PREMIERE / "Haiiro" / Teppei Ono / INTERVIEW

"HAIIRO" is a new independent video production out of Toyota, Japan, brought to our attention by Max Guyot and glued to it by the sheer strength of said work. More so than a parade of athletic performances, it's Toyota itself as perceived then meticulously retranscribed by author Teppei Ono that takes the leading role, here, co-featuring the local scene and its struggle with and against the color grey. With its landscape of car production factories, Toyota may feel more desolated than the more contrasted or colorful spots in the style one can be used to expecting from skate videos out of the larger cities in Japan. Still, there is a persistent scene and to reflect this very identity, Teppei didn't shy away from taking an experimental route with his film, as to convey the rough feel of the settings not just as an afterthought, but actively emphasizing on it with intriguing tricks and a home-made soundtrack. The result being an impactful watch (and available in DVD form here and via Shelter Skate Distribution), we just had to ask the man himself a few questions and with the generous help of Connor Kammerer at the translation duties, along with this showing of Teppei's own segment in "HAIIRO", the following exchange ensued!
LIVE Skateboard Media: Hello Teppei and thank you very much for your time! So, we’re really fascinated by this new video you authored: « HAIIRO ». The whole piece is very conceptual (both in terms of production and skateboarding), in the tradition of some of the most renowned Japanese videos, but with particular focus on atmosphere, and unusually industrial-looking spots. Before we discuss it, may you please introduce yourself and explain your background in skateboarding, and in skate filmmaking? When, where and how did you start doing both?
Teppei Ono: Hi! Aymeric. I live in Toyota city, in Aichi prefecture. I wanted to start skating after I watched my first skate video, which was twenty-two years ago.
I used to like clothes made by Zorlac Skateboards, so when I was wearing Zorlac gear, one day, a shop owner asked: "Why don't you watch a skate video?" and introduced me to Powell Peralta's « PROPAGANDA ». At the time I didn't know anything about skateboarding, so everything in this video from 1990 was new to me and I was blown away. I was hooked as soon as I saw it, and started skating then. I spent my first three years just practicing old school tricks.

Teppei Ono, wallie. Ph.: Shinya Ogata.
Then, about fifteen years ago, I got my first video camera. It was a Sony VX-1000, just because that was the standard for filming skateboarding at the time. Of course, I had no knowledge or skill, and unfortunately my camera broke before I could really tap into what makes the VX-1000 so great. After that, I got a VX-2100 and used it for a long time, but then recently, like a lot of other people, I realized the allure of the VX-1000 and wanted to make something with that sound and video quality.

"In Japanese,
'haiiro' means grey [...]
which immediately
brings to mind
our factory setting

Teppei Ono: Hi! Aymeric.
当時、ZORLAC Skateboardsのアパレルを好んで着ていてショップのオーナーからスケートビデオを観てみたら?と勧められたのがPowell PeraltaのPROPAGANDAでした。
LSM: Now, what was your inspiration to start making « HAIIRO » in particular? From the aesthetics of the production themselves, to the whole concept. The landscapes in the footage of « HAIIRO » look very industrial with a lot of spots appearing to be inside factories. Was this a theme you wanted to focus on from the beginning? Or is it a direct representation of the spots and scene in your hometown? Is it an imagery you wanted to use to convey specific emotions or messages, or is the poetry of the footage natural?
Teppei Ono: In Japanese, "haiiro" means grey.

Akio Kuroda, ollie. Ph.: Kohei Minehara
When I started this project, I spent time with Yoshimi Kondo thinking over how we could represent our scene's color, or individuality. Toyota city is a vast expanse of car production factories, which the video features heavily, but the first step for us was choosing the title - "Grey", which immediately brings to mind our factory setting. Not all of the footage is filmed in the factory areas, but throughout the video I think the viewer can feel the greyness.

Yoshimi Kondo, frontside boardslide.
The VX-1000's image quality also really matches the atmosphere, and plays a part in bringing the footage together into a cohesive video. The artwork on the DVD itself represents "haiiro" too. It was drawn by Toyota local skater and artist PMA-S. If you get the chance, I'd love for you to hold the disc in your hand and see it.

Artwork: PMA-S
Teppei Ono: "HAIIRO"とは日本語で灰色を意味します。
プロジェクトを立ち上げる時にどうすれば自分たちの色(個性)が出せる作品を作ることが出来るかをYoshimi Kondo と考え自動車産業で溢れかえる豊田市特有の工場の多さに着目して作品を作り出す前の段階でタイトルを決めました。連想する工業的な色"HAIIRO"に。
映像だけでなくDVDそのものにも"HAIIRO"を表現しました。ディスクのレーベルデザインは豊田のローカルスケーターで絵描きでもあるPMA-S に自分の頭の中に浮かぶイメージを伝え描いてもらいました。是非、手にとって見てもらいたいです。

"I told him about the idea
for a soundtrack using sounds
that don't really work
in a skate video"

LSM: In general, how is the scene in your hometown like? May you please introduce the skateboarders involved in the project, and explain what it is that made you film with them? Are they associated with other local projects that we should mention, or are there any other activists producing independent skate content in your region that you would like to bring up?
Teppei Ono: All the skaters in this project have a lot of respect for one another. It's mainly the Toyota local skaters around me, but there are also appearances by skaters from neighboring towns who I've known for a long time, and some skaters from the 3RDZ crew. The guys from 3RDZ have their own unique worldview that they present through skateboarding too, and I'm really looking forward to the video that they're coming out with.

Yuichiro Horiuchi, boneless in.
Teppei Ono: 今回参加しているスケートボーダーは皆、互いをリスペクトし合い多くは私の周りに居る豊田のローカルスケーターです。他にも古くから交友のある隣町のスケートボーダーや3RDZのメンバーも参加してくれました。
3RDZ は唯一無二の世界観をスケートボードで表現していて、その3RDZがもうすぐ新作DVDを出すので楽しみです。
LSM: The soundtrack is one more interesting aspect of « HAIIRO ». It really fits both the skateboarding and the industrial settings very well - is it homemade? May you please explain how difficult it might have been to work on, and use to perfect the atmosphere of the video?
Teppei Ono: I had an idea to make the soundtrack for this project out of sounds that don't really work in skate videos.
For the chaos section, I told my DJ friends The Bulbs about the feeling I wanted for a track, and amazingly they were able to come up with a song that relates the formless atmosphere I was looking for.
Besides the chaos section, all the music was made using sound collage by Keisuke Takemura, who also skates in the video. I told him about the idea for a soundtrack using sounds that don't really work in a skate video, and he came up with audio that matched the images perfectly.

Keisuke Takemura, backside 50-50.
Teppei Ono: サウンドトラックはスケートビデオで使われないような音で今作を作りたいと強く思っていました。カオスパートのトラック"SQUID"は友人のDJのTHE BULBS に依頼して作ってもらったトラックで彼等にイメージしている音の雰囲気だけを伝えましたが見事に形の無い音の雰囲気を形あるトラックに変換してくれました。
カオスパート以外の全てのトラックは出演もしているKeisuke Takemura が様々な音をコラージュして作ったトラックです。まさに冒頭で話した"スケートビデオで使われないような音"で映像と合わせても少しの違和感も無くて作業もスムーズに進み音と映像がマッチしたパートに仕上げることが出来ました。
LSM: Again thank you very much for your time and work, Teppei. Do you have new projects in the works already, what are you up to these days and what should we expect next? Any last words, anyone you would like to thank?
Teppei Ono: Thank you for talking to me.
I just recently began the next project, and like « HAIIRO » the plan is to express our own color, or individuality.
There was no way I could have made this DVD without everyone working together, so I would like to thank Yoshimi Kondo, who supported me to the very end, PMA-S for his artwork, The Bulbs and Keisuke Takemura for the soundtrack, all the skaters who were a part of the video, and Shelter Skate Distribution for distributing it.
And also to Live Skateboard Media, Aymeric Nocus, Max Guyot and Connor Kammerer, thank you!
Teppei Ono: こちらこそありがとうございました。
最後の最後までサポートしてくれたYoshimi Kondo
サウンドトラックを提供してくれたTHE BULBSとKeisuke Takemura
そして Live Skateboard Media
Aymeric Nocus
Max Guyot
Connor Kammerer
Live Skateboard MediaLive Skateboard Media

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