Hujakflip: Edgars Kalns Interview

Some people are difficult to ignore. If you meet them once, you will remember them for the rest of your life. Edgars Klans is like that. He can be either an oasis in the Sahara desert or a grizzly bear in the wilderness, in any case you won’t miss him.

Out off all things he could have been doing, he chose skateboarding. When you see him, you can’t even imagine this big bearded guy to be a skateboarder. Besides his board and torn skate shoes, he doesn’t have many skate attributes that would give him away. Edgar belongs to a special breed of Latvian skaters. It feels like the purest breed. He doesn’t follow trends and fashion. He doesn’t know all the pros and cool indie brands. He might not even know all of the trick names (I wouldn’t be surprised). He is in it for the stoke. There’s no time for all that secondary shit.

The main thing you must know about him is that he skates, and relentlessly pushes the skate scene in Liepaja, his home town. It is important to note as well that the only things that happen in our region are made by skaters. We have no budgets no companies and no outside help. The beauty of our region is the unpolished, unshaven and ungentrified DIY spirit. And Edgars Kalns truly represents that. Make your own fucking parks and shit. Create your world.

Hey, Edgar! What are you up to?
I am at home, playing Call of Duty.

I wanted to talk about skating in Liepaja.
What do you want to know?

I don’t know. Everything?
We are six guys right now, skating around Liepaja. Some dudes that I used to skate with and some new ones too. We skate together all the time. Sometimes dudes come from Grobiņa. We met some new kids in the streets yesterday. They were learning how to ollie. I called them over and taught one of them  how to boneless.

You cheer kids up. You are like a coach.
No, c’mon. I just yell at people to hype them up, “Yeah, you got it!” Otherwise you know how it goes, people can be lazy.

Let’s talk a bit about your skating. How long have you been skating?
Haha, I don’t remember for how long I’ve been doing this. I am 33 years old now. I remember that in 8th or 9th grade I skated in school and teachers were yelling at me for that. So, I have been on the board for some 15 years or so, if the math is correct. There were times when I took breaks. When I worked at the docks, I didn’t skate properly for around 5 years. My shift was 3 days work and 3 days off and I could not take it. I had night shifts too.

Gatis Celmiņš, Madars Apse, and Edgars

How did you find skateboarding?
I grew up in a Bernāti near Liepaja. I saw skating on TV in some Latvian broadcast for the first time. There were some old guys skating fish shaped boards in Jurmala or something. I think one of them did a boardslide and I was like, “Oh, that’s sick”. Later in 6th grade I was playing football and hit the ball over the fence. I went to get it and saw Enkurs [Janis Enkuzens] skating. I kicked the ball back and stayed to watch him. I sat down in the grass for 10-15 minuets before returning back.

Magical moment. Did you buy your first board shortly after that?
Back then I couldn’t get a skateboard, so I just nailed two wooden boards together and pretended to be skating. Later, I saved some money and bought my first board at a Olimpic shop. The board was a complete piece of shit, it was the same as in Maxima. The best skateboard back then was Killer Loop, but it cost around 40 lats, which was unreal. So, after getting the shitty board I started struggling with it in my neighborhood Zaļa Birzī. A bunch of friends tagged along, Janis Egliņš, Vigls, and we all started skating together. Later we met Janis Enkuzens, he was running things. Over at 48th Vocational School [Arodskola] he and others skated at an old gym, I basically met everybody there.

What was different back then?
Back then we were all homies. BMX, inline dudes, and skaters, we would all hang out. You know grass was always greener back in the days. I also miss the old Ventspils times with Fox, Madars, Gatis Celmiņš etc. I was younger and the session were really sick.

How would you describe your skating?
I was always a punk: a bit on the side. I skated, and I stopped then I got back on. I was never a technical skater, more like fooling around and having fun type of skater. Rock ‘N’ Roll all day!

It gives me so much pleasure just to ride. I’d love to have my flips higher, but fuuuck, my legs hurt and I am too lazy to practice. I am also scared a bit. I am fucking 33, you know? I like skating, it is fun. There are people like Madars or Fricis who objectively kill it at skating, but I feel like me and my friends do the same. Whatever you do homies are hyped, and this is what I love about skating. If you are not some poser guy, it does not matter how good you are, people accept you.

Being a 30+ years old skater, have you ever been ridiculed or judged for still playing with the wooden toy?
I think when you are skating under the window of some old lady named Zinaida, you will get judged and ridiculed regardless of being 13 or 30. But I don’t remember anybody asking me, “Why are you skating in your 30s?” or maybe I didn’t pay attention to such comments. I have been frowned upon for going ice fishing a couple of times, but not for skating. In the end of the day you can’t be perfect for everybody. If someone told me something like that, I’d just say shove off and don’t teach me how to live [pis taisni].

I think it is an interesting time now, we have so many older skaters like never before. 
Grown up skaters are sick! I am definitely one of them. I have a lot of grown up friends who ride and I don’t see any problem with that. Enkurs skates, Ainars does slalom a lot, and Marcis. It is all good.

Did you do some other sports along skating, I heard something about Karate?
Yeah, I did martial arts. I started that before I was a skater when I was 4 or 5. I did Karate and Jiu Jitsu. When I started skating it helped me when I was slamming. Some people can have a chill session and not fall, well, I can’t do that. I always slam and roll around the ground. Having martial arts background helped me with that. I know how to fall and roll away from a slam. But yeah, I skate and slam and yell a lot. Release the energy.

You have a lot of boneless variations in your trick repertoire. Mike V must be your favorite skater, right?
Bonoless is my favorite trick. I am not a tech dude, and since I was a kid Vallely stoked me out so much. He has that rock’n’roll in him.

OK, let’s talk about Liepaja a bit. Tell about your indoor and Skrituļdēlu
So basically, I was working at the docks. I had long shift and had no time to skate. Then I changed my position there, my new shift was from 8:00 till 17:00, I had evenings off, so I could skate. I needed a place to skate in winter, so I went this old Publishing Building. The building had some big rooms. They hosted raves there and some dances, but at that moment it was no occupied. So, I told to the owner, “What’s up? I want to make a skatepark here.” Some homies were skeptical and told me I was a drunk, and won’t make anything. But I got the permission and we cleared the space and started skating there. Slowly, step by step we build some obstacles and it was on.

How many people run things over there?
We are 7 guys. When we started Klavs Laivenieks from the UK was also in town, so he helped a bunch too. Sometimes new guys come and try to skate. We are not really a public skatepark, but let people come if they want. On Sundays we had 3 scooter kids roll around, but then we decided it was not worth it.

So, it’s only for skaters?
Basically yes.

How long has the skatepark Skritulj deli been open or been a thing?
We have been doing our thing there since December 2018. It was very spontaneous, Enkurs drew a skull on the wall with a choc and wrote Liepajas skateboard club (Liepājas skrituļdēlu pulciņš) and I thought it seemed sick, so I sent it to an artist friend who made it into a legit graphic and that’s that. It’s all about fun!  We don’t need money, it’s cool if someone wants to give some cash or help out, but we don’t seek it. Our rent is small, and the main thing is skating.

What is Hujakflips?
It’s can be any trick, the only rule is that it needs to bring joy and it happens just like that – Hujak. We have made Hujakflip contests and we make some random girls be the judges haha.

I heard that when you started the park there was some beef with Skate Federation over some heaters. Can you tell us about that?
Oh, haha. Yeah, I heard that there is this Skateboarding Federation, so more as a joke I wrote to them and said, “Hey, what up! We have a small indoor park in Liepāja help us out. Maybe get us heater! You are the Skateboarding Federation for crying out loud.” Well, I guess I have a weird sense of humor and they didn’t like my messages, but as I said it was meant more as a joke. Later I heard from people that the federation guys are complaining. So I just wrote a new letter saying that it is all good, chill guys no worries, I don’t need anything haha. But yeah, I am not excited about the stuff the federation  doing. They make a big events, give out some cash and boards, but what is the gain from that? I don’t see a big impact from these events in the Latvian skate culture. It’s all to sterile in my opinion, I like the hardcore and rock n roll, like Nolemto Haoss. But it is only my opinion. There’s a room for everything I guess.

What do you mean when you say rock’n’roll skating?
Well more fun basically. Of course, I am a punk head and this type of skating appeals to me more, but I think it just has to be about having fun. I am not implying that you have to be drinking and yelling your soul out, but it is great when everybody can skate and enjoy skating together. I don’t feel that at these sterile events. Sorry, just don’t feel it.

What are the next plans for Skrituļ deli?
Now nothing because of the pandemic, but in short just skate make some new stuff at the park. Maybe we will have to move 3 stories down, but yeah nothing much just skate and will see.

Can we say that you are the initiator of the whole Skrituļ deli and Liepajas skate scene movement?
I guess so, I was just the loudest who said: “Common guys we have some space here let’s do something good with it”. Also, just skating in the city and finding new kids and welcoming them to skate, making friends and filming some little stuff at the park.

Do you have any last words or wishes to the skate community?
Don’t be dicks, clean after yourselves at the spots. Drink with caution. Let the rock n roll live in your hearts, skate have fun, keep skating and do some Hujakš flips.

HUJAKFLIP ???

Posted by Kalnz Edgarz on Otrdiena, 2020. gada 15. septembris

Video from the most recent Hujakflip event in Liepaja. 

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