Szymon Jaros generally operates from Poland, currently out of Tri-City and although he's been up to a lot behind the scenes for a good while, nowadays, it is Semper Skateboards that's keeping him busy, in addition to family life and a full-time job. Today, the online release on "SEMPER ONE", the brand's first full-length video offering, on LIVE marked the tempting occasion to catch up with Szymon and dig a little further past Semper as a product, and into Semper as a personal outlet - and labor of love - from a longtime activist set on trying his hardest to give back to the scene that fed his growth, the way he knows how and without much serious consideration for what may currently be trending elsewhere. Behind every individual enterprise is a person's drive to be understood and thus it's naturally our pleasure to be able to give Szymon some space to explain his, via the interview below!

LIVE Skateboard Media: Hi Szymon! First things first - may you please introduce yourself? Where are you from in Poland exactly, and when did you start skateboarding? How was your hometown scene growing up and how is it now? 

Szymon Jaros: My name is Szymon, and I'm into my forties. I started skateboarding in the mid-nineties when I was living in Tarnobrzeg, a small town in the South of Poland. For the past twenty-three years, I have been living in Gdynia which is a part of Tri-City (comprising Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia) on the Baltic coast. 

Over the years, I've been involved in a lot of things related to skateboarding. I was a skate photographer, shooting pics for some magazines. In the naughts, I was running the skateboarding portals deskorolka.pl and skateboarding.pl. I was also involved in a local hip-hop and skateboard company for a bit.

When I moved to Tri-City, there were around thirty to fifty skaters and this was one of the biggest skate scenes in the country. Now there are hundreds of skaters, and Tri-City is still one of the best places for skateboarding in Poland. Nice skate spots, good skateparks (now also two indoor parks), and the Baltic sea. What more do you want?

Kuba Piejko, frontside bluntslide, Wroclaw. Ph.: Szymon Jaros

LSM: Today, we’re presenting "SEMPER ONE", which I naively assume means this is the first full-length Semper video? How long did you spend working on it and how far did you go to film - as clips from not just Poland but also various landscapes such as Berlin or N.Y.C. appear to be peppered throughout the video? How many trips did you take and how would you describe the general process behind the video in one word?

SJ: "SEMPER ONE" is our first full-length skate video. The oldest tricks were filmed seven years ago, but most of the video was shot in the last three or four years. We filmed it mostly during our skate trips around Poland, Lithuania and Germany. As you noticed, there is quite a lot of stuff from Berlin; I like Berlin’s vibe very much, and it's also only eighty kilometers from the Polish-German border. Trips to Vilnius and Hamburg were also pretty cool. Besides that though, we were traveling inside Poland. There is one trick from N.Y.C. that Maciek filmed during his summer vacation.

"The idea was
to create something
for the scene;
to give back what
I had received"

LSM: The video follows a classic part-per-part format, was there any particular reasoning behind that direction, or the one of using H.D. cameras for instance? Do you have any particular takes on the subject of skate videos or are you just doing things the way you know how? 

SJ: I grew up watching classic part-per-part videos from the nineties and two thousands, so it's pretty much natural for me to make something similar. When it comes to cameras, I used to be a skate photographer and one day I just decided to shoot videos with the equipment I already had. I started shooting "SEMPER ONE" on a DSLR and finished it using mirrorless cameras. I prefer shooting long lens, but also like filming fisheye.  

LSM: Can you introduce our readers to every skater featured in the video? Who are your riders, where are they from?

SJ: The Semper crew has been changing a bit over the years. In the end, "SEMPER ONE" consists in five parts with seven skaters. 

The video starts with Dawid Cybula's part; Dawid joined the family four years ago and has been filming heavily. He is originally from Glogów but is now living in Wrocław. 

Next part is Tomek Wiśniewski together with Kamil Gozłowski. They are both living in Tri-City and both decided to slow down with skateboarding over time and aren't that much active anymore. 

Third part is Konrad Bach's from Brzesko (near Kraków) with a few tricks from Andrzej Wylegżanin from Rzeszów. Both guys are quite fresh in the family, Konrad has only been on a few trips but somehow managed to film quite a lot. Andrzej was only on one trip and we didn’t film very much.

Next is Maciek Olszewski from Nidzica (near Olsztyn) but now living in Kraków. Maciek has been making great progress since he joined the family three years ago; we managed to film a really good skate part together.

Maciek Olszewski, frontside feeble, Warsaw. Ph.: Szymon Jaros

Final part is Kuba Piejko, a guitar player and a rail killer from Głogów. You just have to check his part. 

As you can see, the crew is pretty much mixed from all over Poland, which doesn't help when the time comes to try and get everyone on a skate trip - but we manage to make it work.

LSM: Can you tell us a bit about Semper? When did you start it and what was your motivation?

SJ: It's a funny story; around ten years ago, I was traveling with my friends to some skate contest, and we had a long discussion about sponsorship in Poland. One of the guys said that he would do anything to get a board sponsor; we started talking about it, I told him that I knew some factories from Bright and one thing led to another.

Every skater's dream is to have their own skateboard brand. Back then I was in my early thirties with a wife and kids, as well as working full time as an engineer. I decided that I could start Semper and treat it as a hobby; something to support the scene, not to make money from. 

Now, ten years later, I’m still working full time as an engineer and trying to run the company in my spare time. My motivation has not changed. I'm not skating as actively anymore, but going on skate trips and filming videos or shooting skate pics remains a lot of fun. So Semper is still more like a hobby, and not serious business. It would be nice to live off skateboarding, but I think I kind of like it the way it is. 

LSM: Would you say there is anything in particular you are trying to achieve or represent in skateboarding with Semper? Even subconsciously, if it really had to be something, what would it be?

SJ: Semper is latin for 'always': always skateboarding. Skateboarding has been in my life since I saw people riding a piece of wood in the nineties; my life is what it is thanks to skateboarding.

The idea of the brand was to create something for the scene; to give back what I had received. I'm trying to do it the best I can.

"Tri-City has
always had
good skate videos,
is one of them!"

I decided that I don't want to do another dark brand with skulls and bones. That's not my style; I'm interested in ecology and nature. I believe it is important in life. I like comic book- or cartoon-styled illustrations; therefore, in the end, most Semper graphics are animals and plants drawn comic book style. I myself am not very good at drawing, so many projects are created in cooperation with local artists.

LSM: Are there any other crews or entities in your area doing cool stuff that we should rep? How about the legacy of local videos? My attention was recently brought to works such as "HE HE HEADS". 

SJ: The scene in Tri-City has always had good skate videos. "HE HE HEADS" is one of them!

One of the first was the Polish video magazine "INFO", released in the mid-nineties. You can also check out "FISHEYE PROJECT STUDIO", from the naughts and "REGRES", from two thousand fourteen. One of the latest notable videos is probably "POINT OF ENTRY".

"What I'm missing is
local skate shops"

LSM: How would you describe the current Polish scene and how satisfied are you with skateboarding these days? If there is anything you wish could change, what would it be?

SJ: Poland has changed a lot since I started skateboarding. The scene is becoming more and more mature, in my opinion. We have local skateboard brands such as Semper and a few new ones that popped up around last year. There are more and more video productions, too; I think people should know about Kuba Kaczmarczyk and Krzysiek Godek's videos.

Also, local kids are shooting their own 'web parts' and posting them on social media. A few years ago, I used to be afraid full-length movies would be killed by social media, but that didn't happen. The younger generations still want to make actual videos.

Another important phenomenon is how skateboarding is also developing in the smaller cities. Nowadays, good skateparks can be found not just in the big cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, Lublin or Tri-City, but also in many small towns; last summer, I saw a group of skaters skating a D.I.Y. flat bar on a small parking lot in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. 

What I'm missing is local skate shops. Over time the market has changed and sales been moving to mostly online - which in turn has resulted in the closure of many skate shops. Some new local stores had started to revive the community last year, but I suspect the virus might not be helping them right now.

LSM: OK Szymon, let’s wrap things up! Shout out times. Also, what should be expected next from Semper? Any particular projects on the way?

SJ: We don't have anything set in stone yet. We had the plan to film and drop a short online edit for the year twenty twenty, but that didn't work out because of the virus. I hope that in twenty twenty-one, we will be able to film more and release something good. Anyway, yes, probably sooner than later, we will end up filming a second skate video.

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