Sergio Santoro / INTERVIEW / "Original Rocker" / PREMIERE

About the Sergio Santoro phenomenon; well, its greatest strength has to be that it speaks for itself, as both the character and his skating style have been making an Internet sensation for quite a few years now - as though a testimony to how genuine passion is bound to keep overflowing over time, all the while transcending geographical and language barriers. Sergio's skating is quite unique, a logical consequence of growing up in an era allowing possible peeks and picks into a worldwide array of inspirations, resulting in a trick repertoire and body language that transcends fashion. But all the transcending aside, one verb that's frequently a part of Sergio's expressed delivery (as the interview below can attest) is "exploring"; really, Sergio is but an artless, curious mind with genuine appreciation for everything positive in life, and an aura that's bound to absorb you the second he pops off a smile.
 
Whilst he's actually out there casually scoring crazy Instagram points to the point of catching the attention of the Californian economic elite, and many of his own people love him to the point of developing expectations, Sergio's primarily consideration seems to remain skateboarding every day and appreciating every single second of just that; thereby shattering many potential preconceived opinions regarding e-fame, or impulses of territoriality. Sergio knows that neither him, nor the Brazil scene has to prove anything to the world; so below, we discussed ways to spread awareness about its incessant, quality local productions of all kinds, the unique styles present there but also throughout the world, the language barrier with non-Portuguese speaking countries and much more.
 
The heart knows no borders and who better than Sergio to represent sincere dedication over any other arbitrary construction of the mind. Hoping that the sunshine Sergio radiates conveys in words, LIVE is thankful and honored to present the first Sergio Santoro interview for a European magazine and therefore, a non-Portuguese speaking audience.
 

LIVE Skateboard Media: Olà Sergio! May you please introduce yourself to our readers who might have seen clips of you float around the Internet, but could not necessarily grasp your background? You haven’t always lived in Brazil, am I right? Where and when did you start skateboarding, and how did you first find out about it? I know your dad is a surfer...

Sergio Santoro: Olá my friends! I'm Sergio Santoro, a twenty-three years old skateboarder from Rio De Janeiro, Brasil!

So, when I was very young, my parents and I moved to California and that’s where I discovered my passion for skateboarding. I started skating when I was six, in the city of San Clemente, California.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

Yeah, my dad is a great surfer and one day he wanted to take me to go out surfing, but the ocean was not with good wave conditions and the water was very cold as well, so his friend suggested him to take me to the local skatepark.

"There is a language barrier with the rest of the world but I feel that slowly, it’s starting to change"

Once we arrived there, it was first love; after about thirty minutes of watching everyone having fun and doing awesome tricks, can you believe that a local skater came up to me and asked if I wanted his complete skateboard? Right away, I made the biggest smile ever! I think it was one of the happiest moments of my life [laughs]; I started skating that same day and never stopped, it really became my true passion.

LSM: So this is your first ever interview for any European skate media, right? You’ve had quite some coverage in Brazilian media, which is actually very rich (an accurate representation of the Brazilian skate scene in general), but a lot of the Brazilian skate culture regularly struggles to completely translate over to non-Portuguese speaking countries; most of the global audience in general gravitates around content that’s either in their native language, or in English when not English natives (and quite curious or nerdy). As a result, would you say there still can be a certain language barrier between Brazilian skateboarding and the rest of the world? Or would you say those days are getting eroded by means of visual communication like YouTube or Instagram?

Sergio: Yeah, this is my first European magazine interview and I feel so honored on being with my friends from LIVE Skateboard Media, much love!


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

Here in Brazil, the skaters are really passionate and you can see how much they love skateboarding, there is a lot of great instances of the media sharing and giving opportunities to many Brazilian skaters, which is super awesome. The YouTube channel scene here is really popular as well; for example, there are a lot of skate channels that share content and all kinds of news from our skate scene but unfortunately, it’s hard for the rest of the world to follow all of it since it’s always in Portuguese.

When I was in Portugal, I noticed that most skaters there follow the Brazilian scene and know a lot about our skateboarding; I found that interesting and really awesome for being a country so far away and, at the same time, having such a great connection because of our language. So yeah, I can say that there is a language barrier with the rest of the world but I feel that slowly, it’s starting to change and a lot more countries are starting to follow more of our skate scene.

LSM: In general, how would you describe the Brazilian skate scene to somebody who’s never been there?

Sergio: I would say that the Brazilian skate scene is really unique and awesome. Skaters here are friendly and everyone is always helping each other. In Brazil, a lot of skaters don’t have the equal opportunity to get a new board from the skateshop because of the high prices, but everybody is friends and always sharing and helping the next, which I always found inspiring.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

It’s also amazing how when a group of Brazilian skaters arrive at a park or skate spot, they will say hi to everyone even if they never met each other. The skate days here are always full of good vibes, humbleness and great energy.

LSM: About this new video, "Original Rocker". May you please tell us about it, what it is exactly, why the name and who TAF is? This is footage from the same European trip you went to last year on which you also happened to film "Monstro De Rua" with Rémi Luciani and Léo Valls, right? Can you recount where you went exactly, how much time you spent here, which cities you skated? First time on the old continent too, right?

Sergio: "Original Rocker" is a video filmed with my great friend Thiago Almeida (TAF) in Berlin, Barcelona and Bilbao.

Right before our Europe trip, Thiago bought a Handycam camera for us to film and try to create a project together. It was super fun filming for this because I got to really focus on the combo creativity with my manuals. We would just go out exploring and looking for manual pads [laughs], only good times. The edit was made with three songs from the music artist Augustus Pablo; the name "Original Rocker" originated from the name of the album that comprises those three songs.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

And yes! My trip was so incredible that I got to be a part of a dream project such as "Monstro De Rua" with my amazing friends Léo and Rémi. It really was the trip of my life. I got to explore so many places and made the nicest friends ever.

"I just improvised with the flow on each spot and that’s one of my favorite ways to skate"

So, I started my trip in Berlin, then I took the train to Geneva and from there I went to Bordeaux, after which I went to Barcelona, Bilbao and finally Portugal, where I explored the cities of Lisbon and Porto. So many good memories in each place I visited during my three months in Europe. It was a true blessing and I can’t wait to be back.

LSM: The clip is all long lens, and manual heavy; was that an intended concept from the start or did you just end up with a bunch of manual clips because that’s how you naturally skate? Also, where is that D.I.Y. spot where you double flip back tail then wallie 180 off the tree?

Sergio: Yes, so we thought about keeping this concept right after we filmed the long opening manual from the video. It was on our first day skating in Berlin, and we were so stoked on the way it came out than the next manuals came to me very naturally. The most fun thing about this project is that most of the time I never really had any manual combo planned, I just improvised with the flow on each spot and that’s one of my favorite ways to skate. I usually don’t film that aspect of my skating all that much and I loved how I got to use my creativity so freely whilst filming with Thiago. Every clip felt like a surprise because we never knew what I would land, or how the combo would turn out.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

I'm so happy you asked about the double flip back tail clip! It’s really one of my favorite clips, and it was so much fun. I wasn’t sure if the wallie would work - but it was working so good! It’s the best wallie tree I ever skated [laughs], it gives such a big boost! That spot is in Badalona, Barcelona, Spain at one of the best D.I.Y. parks I ever skated. I recommend every skater to go skate there while traveling in Barcelona. It’s amazing!

LSM: What first, and then lasting general impression(s) did Europe leave on you upon, and after, this first visit? Which cultural differences could you sense with Brazil? And which similarities?

Sergio: I loved everything about Europe so much, from the beginning of my trip until the end. On the last days, I was even starting to get a little sad because I didn’t want to leave [laughs]. Everyone I met was super friendly, and every place I visited felt like a new adventure.

I visited most of the countries by train and that was such an awesome experience. I also got to stay with some of my favorite skaters like my friend Léo Valls and Alexander Rademaker. Skating with them was such an inspiration and I progressed a lot as a skater and person while being with them. I think I could write a book about all of my Europe moments [laughs], a trip that I always dreamed about and it was magical.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

A cultural difference for me is the food. In Europe, you can find so many great options for all of kinds of delicious cuisine. In Brazil, the food is amazing but in some places it’s a bit limited on options for everyone. I found the skate culture in Europe similar in some ways to Brazil like, it’s awesome how most of the skaters that I met are really humble and kind. Brazilian skaters are usually friendly and warm-hearted as well.

Another big difference for me is traveling. In Europe it’s much easier to travel, giving everyone the opportunity to explore more places much faster. Here, we don’t have many good traveling options; usually it has to be by plane or bus and unfortunately, the prices are much higher.

"I recommend everyone to try skating looser trucks, I promise that you guys will love it!"

LSM: You have over 200K followers on Instagram and your videos are regularly shared by Californian institutions such as Thrasher or the Berrics. How did those connections take place? All over Instagram? How long have you had that account for, by the way - it seems like that’s where a lot of people originally found you, but that feels like years back? Must have been quite a trip to see it blow up organically, step by step. How seriously do you take all of this? You are rather young and grew up around technology; yet instead of using it passively without realizing its modern possibilities, you promptly developed a knack for communication it seems like.

Sergio: Yeah, it’s a trip to think about it. Instagram has been such a big a part of my life over the years. It gave me the opportunity to connect and meet up with so many incredible skaters around the world.

For example, because of our connection I got to stay and skate with some of my favorite skaters during my trip, like I never thought I would be skating and becoming great friends with them. Really felt like a true dream!

I started my account at the end of 2012 and it started growing the most when Instagram added the new video feature. I loved it because then, it was so much easier for me to share my new tricks and skate days with my friends each day. A few pages eventually started sharing some of my videos and that’s how I started getting more recognition with my skating. The first time the Berrics and Thrasher posted one of my videos, I freaked out [laughs], it was a combination of happiness and gratitude.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

And those connections took place from two of my latest video parts: "Insert Disk" and "Nicest Moments". Seeing all the love I got from them was really inspiring and motivating for me.

LSM: Skate nerd alert: can you describe your set-up, what about the loose front truck? Is there a philosophy behind your loose trucks, when and how did you start doing that, was it a natural evolution of your skateboarding? Did anybody or anything influence you to go that route, and are you the same as Daewon in that your back truck is slightly tighter than your front?

Sergio: It’s funny that on my first year and a half of skating, I had my trucks super tight, so one day my dad got me a new complete at the local skateshop and he put my trucks on a lot looser than usual. At first I was kind of mad because my dad had dropped me off at the skatepark and I didn’t know how to use a skate tool at the time [laughs], well I kind of had to forget and get used to it, and by the end of the day I was loving it! After that, I would always have the softest Doh-Doh bushings on my truck set-up for extra curves.

"Matt Rodriguez was also a big influence for me to start skating super loose trucks"

So I always loved my trucks pretty loose but in 2011, I saw a video of Daewon Song showing his truck set-up and that inspired me a lot to have them much looser. In this video, he explains why he loves it and than he’s like, "go try it with your board!". I never used Daewon's set-up with no bushings, but after that I would loosen both of my trucks a tiny bit each day until they started shaking. That changed my skating a lot - I started becoming more creative and having more fun on my board as well.

Matt Rodriguez was also a big influence for me to start skating super loose trucks. I have a normal set-up, I just take off my washers on both of my trucks so I have more space to loosen them the most, and I only feel comfortable riding if they are shaking. Yeah, I also have my back truck slighty tighter for more control on specific tricks. Sometimes my bushings break and then my trucks become like double the loose! Still super fun but the board can get out of control [laughs]. I recommend everyone to try skating looser trucks, I promise that you guys will love it!

LSM: Who are your favorite skaters that you would reckon some of your inspiration comes from? Any influential video you would like to bring up?

Sergio: So many to mention, but the first skate video I ever watched was "P.J. Ladd's Wonderful, Horrible Life" - I had it on DVD and would watch it everyday before going skating, that video really influenced me a lot. It’s so magical, and P.J.’s part is just beautiful.

I started skating at the same local skatepark as Ryan Sheckler in San Clemente; watching him everyday at the park was really inspiring for me. I always loved doing kickflips down gaps growing up by watching Ryan; he also inspired me to learn kickflip indies.

Another huge influential video for me was DVS' "Skate More"; it was when I started watching more of Daewon Song and having him as one of my biggest inspirations. At the time, I was starting to discover my love for manuals and creativity. Skaters and friends such as Louie Barletta, Rodney Mullen, Nilton Neves, Daniel Marques, Adelmo Jr., Mauricio Nava, Léo Valls, Ben Koppl and Alexander Rademaker have been some of my biggest influences and inspirations lately.

LSM: Shouts out time. Any project(s) you’re working on already? Any last words or commentary you would like to make? Anybody to thank?

Sergio: I'm recovering from an ankle injury since February, but during this time of recovery I’ve been thinking of new projects that I'm really excited to start working on. I want to start filming a new video part soon and recently a friend of mine wrote a really nice song for me; we are gonna work on a video clip for it called "Good Time", should be lots of fun.

I want to thank my good friend and amazing skater Aymeric Nocus who gave me this amazing opportunity to share a little bit about my Europe adventure and new project. I also want to thank my family, friends and everyone reading this. You guys are the best and inspire me so much! Sending lots of love and big hugs.


Ph.: Thiago Almeida

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