Arne Fiehl vom BOARDSTEIN – Corona Schleswig Holstein 2020

Arne Fiehl vom BOARDSTEIN – Corona Schleswig-Holstein 2020 VIDEO

Interview with Arne Fiehl by Jonathan Hay

For those that are under 30 and didn’t grow up skating in Germany, can you explain what was, or what is BOARDSTEIN?

BOARDSTEIN was a skatemagazine me and a couple mates started in 2000 and had to end in 2009 after 47 issues. You could say we had a very different approach to skateboarding than all other magazines. BOARDSTEIN was like a full colour punk hippie d.i.y. fanzine and I was editor in chief for all those years, so it was basically my vision of skateboarding on paper. That was a fucking cool job, but we were always on the limits financially, even though it was the best selling magazine back then. But as an independent magazine you ain´t gonna live off that, which I don´t have to tell you, but maybe the dear readers. You live off advertisments and for nine years we were lacking ads in general and especially from bigger distributors and companies. There were only a few – Carhartt, Eastpak and Vans being pretty much the only ones who supported us. And if you´re a real skateboarder and people dig what you do at one point that hurts. But it only made me stronger, and, I know, my main män Klaas as well. So since then I´ve always maintained the name as DJ BOARDSTEIN. I build spots and parks under the name BOARDSTEIN SKATE SCULPTURES, one and a half years ago I started to blog on BOARDSTEIN.COM… It´s still around somehow and people still always ask for merch, which is kinda unbelievable when I think of it. I guess, we did something right back in the day. So I like to keep it alive and actually would love to somehow see it rise again at one point, because it´s always been a family thing, never a one man show.

There aren’t too many 45 year olds making video parts – what motivates you to make a full video part?

Well, I´ve had at least a dozen video parts in 33 years, some of them on Youtube or Vimeo, but just as much frozen somewhere on VHS and DVD. It´s just a big thing that motivates me, videos have somehow always been around. After three years into skateboarding, me and my first crew had already done our first one, edited with two VCR´s, of course. And I loved the whole process of it and having all these good times on video afterwards together with some of your favorite songs, that´s just hard to beat as far as memories go. In all those clips you know who was with you, what tricks went down and stuff like that. It´s bloody fun to keep memories that way, the good ol´ days which they will become at one point…

And music is a major factor for me, I still have so many songs in mind that would be awesome to edit to. It`s like I need footage for that. Fortunately I still have a shoe box full of tapes from our BOARDSTEIN times, all the tours and stuff. It´s all captured, I just have to digitilize and edit it, I really hope, at one point I´ll find time for that, then I can put a lot of songs off my list. Same with this part now, I always thought a slowmo part to ‘Der einsame Hirte‘ would be sick, and it feels weird that it turned out only me starring in it, that was never planned this way. But now I can claim that I´m definitely the only one on the planet who already had two video parts with tunes from Mr. Sir James Last, the other one being ‘Biscaya‘ in ‘Meine Mudder Hat Meinen Schwanz’, two of the most northern classics.

At the Ferienzentrum in Heiligenhafen you`ll find this gap right at the beachside, epic spot for sure. This was one of the first new tricks I got on video last year during the first lockdown. This holiday resort usually is packed with tourists the whole year round. So I had an ender right away and needed a part for it. The whole situation is pretty cool with the people watching in the background, the family cheering and filming with the phone, you can actually hear a little dog barking when I take off.

But, yeah, just to explain this videopart and myself a little big bit, because it might come off as a bit cheesy to put out a 25 minute part, including slow motion. Like c`mon, dude, what`s wrong with your ego!? All I can say is, it naturally and organically came together like that and I´ll tell you how it all started: My last part had come out April last year and directly after that I got some decent clips during the first lockdown in Heiligenhafen where I built the BBB Bowl in me mate Sönke´s garden. I got the container drop and the ender ollie during that time, so I knew, the next video part is on. By then I definitely must have been inspired by Mark Suciu`s Chromeball interview about his ´Verso’ part. So the whole concept behind a part filmed only in one place or area turned on me, which Mark by far did not invent, but I´m a big fan. So far I have always loved a random mix of spots, street or park, in my video parts and was proud that the last ones always had spots from three continents in there. I always thought the more different terrain and scenery the better.

But with the whole pandemic situation I figured ‘Why not stay in my hood for a year and see what we get!?’. My hood being Schleswig-Holstein which is that tiny stretch of Germany between Hamburg and Denmark with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east. I live in the most northern part of that in a sweet garden house at my father´s place 20 km east of Flensburg, five minute walk to the beach. It´s fucking paradise here, but spots are rare, of course, so I was on a mission. Totally back to the roots, this is stuff I grew up skating and the kind of terrain that shaped my skating. And I just took advantage of the whole lockdown scenario and skated places I hadn´t skated in 20 or 30 years or those that for 20 years I always had wanted to skate. And people who know me know that I can get a bit too focused on certain things at times, but, I guess, without that I wouldn´t have done most of the things I have done. And my life has been packed to the fullest with jolly good times and sweet memories, lots of them on paper and video.

So the whole video part just grew, and since I went on quite a few missions, a lot of shit happened in front of the camera that just represented the countryside I live in and the creatures I share this with. All those nature scenes came into play because I had always been filming stuff like that on my walks through the hood. I`ve always had the idea of doing like a rural video about our little paradise here. Suddenly I knew why I´ve always filmed that stuff and kept filming all over the last year. All that stuff was filmed in a mile radius around our house, a lot of it from my front porch. So when that bigflip happened with the girls walking into the scene right after I rolled away, I was like ‘Damn, I got another ender, I have to take a second song’...

And once more, the songs made the whole part, I actually already wanted to use ‘Grey Skies’ for my previous part, but The Builders And The Butchers definitely fit better last year. And Molly Nilsson is just genius and a favorite of mine so it was not hard at all to pick that song as second. And even though after last year I seriously just wanted to do one song without anything, I got so many good slams and the likes, I thought, I should do another rough cut part as an intro, because that´s basically pure comedy. I love slams ´cause I´ve always been really good at them and love to put them into a part. So when the whole concept of rough cuts came out a couple years ago I thought ‘Damn, now I´ve got a medium for all this footy’. So here we go again, to me all that little stuff is a big part of skateboarding, always has been.

A perfect example why the whole part became so long is the scene with my father and the veggies at our front door. I needed one more trick and had never filmed anything down our two stair and decided to do a 180° no comply which I had never really done down anything either. Just close to deadline I had to wait for dry days so it became another mission. When I finally tried to film it it started to rain, and then my father walks into the scene and I get this sweet footage of him. So I really wanted to make the trick to complete that session and in the end it took me like 80 tries, wet griptape and all. With that I had 45 seconds more for the rough cut, but still needed to film another trick for the gap in the part…

I tell you, it was the very first time I took a professional approach to a video part, and it was filmed exactly from April 2020 to April 2020, when I left for Uganda. So, yeah, sorry for a 25 minute part!!! As I said before I feel kinda weird about it, but I am beyond stoked how it all turned out. I mean, I got the grumpy neighbor basically the last month into filming as well and it was very clear that this would be an extensive but perfectly fitting outro. It´s super funny when you understand german. Shit like that has been been a big part of my life for over three decades now, even here in the most peaceful environment where you would expect nothing but happy people. But this is not Uganda, this is Germany, we got a reputation to prove!

Halfway in the videopart, I think, I started to tell people that this is gonna be the highlight of my career, even though I hate the word career, and, as I think of it, highlight is not my favorite either. But at one point it became obvious to me that it´s highly unlikely that I will ever again put that much time, effort and energy into a video part and it´s all gonna be downhill from here on, even though you never know. I´m pretty stubborn on certain things, skateboarding obviously being the major one. But when I saw the finished part for the first time I thought like ‘Damn, I skated quite a bit last year and meanwhile turned 45‘, so I think, for me personally it´s hard to top. But I´m naturally stoked that I love skateboarding just as much or probably even more than when I first started. It really guided me through life, that´s why it once more says ‘Thank you, skateboarding!‘ at the end. I can´t thank skateboarding enough, it was a cool fucking ride so far…

I guess, this answered your question!?

I love skate footage with snow in the background, but at this spot that day it almost shut down my success story not to say mental and physical health. As there`s names for slams this should be a halfway decent scorpion and my head was just inches away from crushing into the asphalt. I made it out alive and maybe shall return for more. Anybody down to film on a Sunday morning!?

Yep. How many boards did you lose to the water and break during the filming?

I actually lost one board to the sea, which I couldn´t get out no more, the water was too deep and dark. And I only broke the one in that last scene with our grumpy neighbor, definitely because of him, I think, there was too much adrenaline floating for something that involves a 540° board rotation… So I usually go through four boards a year and break one of them inbetween, that´s been my rhythm for ages. And sweet that you mention the water, because when the part kinda came together I realized that there´s a lot of clips with ocean in the background which was not intentional at all, and is kinda rare in skate videos. Then again I live in a place they call ‘land between the seas‘, so I´m stoked I can represent that, especially by accident. But it´s no secret, every tiny harbor has at least one little spot just as every industrial area has something to skate. Just look for it and get creative… and maybe ride bigger wheels!

Are you sponsored? As in, do you still get hardware and clothing for free, or do you have a stockpile of it from the BOARDSTEIN days?

Nah, I was never really sponsored, I pretty much took boards for free when we did our little mailorder during the BOARDSTEIN days. I basically made myself the first team rider, always been good with self promotion the old fashioned way. Carhartt supported us bigtime when we did the magazine and I actually still got heaps of good clothes from that era, we all know they´ve always been doing great stuff, right!? Damn, dude, I even got a Carhartt tattoo, without them BOARDSTEIN wouldn´t have lasted longer than two years, I will represent Work In Progress forever and for real! Other than that I buy my gear at the local skate shop as I always used to and might get a discount nowadays. Hook me up, anybody, I ride 8.25! Not that I need or deserve it, better send boards to Africa!

You put your body through some serious abuse in the making of this video, what do you do to medicate for pain relief and/or physical and mental preparations or post slam physical remedies?

I love the term ‘post slam physical remedies‘, bloody good name for a stoner band… Well, to sum it up, I do a lot of yoga and such. That´s been my recipe for physical and mental health for the last decade, ´cause as we should know everything belongs together. Anima sana in corpore sano! I stretch a little bit before I skate, but for me it´s more about a general fitness which I need for my work as well. In the skatepark building business I´ve seen quite a few people come and go because of back problems, insanity and whatnot. It´s a tough job, just as skateboarding is a tough passion, and you better keep your body in shape if you abuse it all the time. Other than that I live quite a healthy hippie lifestyle and there´s a lot of good energy coming from that. In the summer I try to swim at least once a day when I`m back home, it´s such a privilege to have the ocean that close, I don´t wanna take that for granted at all. Marijuana has been an important part for most of my life as well and can help a lot with ‘post slam physical remedies‘… And maybe with ‘positive mental attitudes‘…

This is Slappy Spot No.1 at Messehallen in Hamburg`s world famous Schanzenviertel. It`s a bloody fun spot and there`s another one, Slappy Spot No.2, a three minute skate away. Slappy scene got big in Hamburg, shout-out to them boyz! This is the only spot in the video that is not in Schleswig-Holstein, but my old lady lives just around the corner and we spent a lot of time there last year during those locked down times. And besides that Hamburg is basically the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, everyone who denies that is not from here. My good friend Andi took this shot without me knowing, and I was way stoked when he showed it to me. Even Andis can shoot artsy skatepics nowadays, aber hallo! (Photo by Andi Seidel)

You’ve been travelling to different countries a lot the last ten years and building skateparks for marginalized communities. How did this come about, with which organizations have you been working with and where have you built these community skateparks?

Well, it haven´t been with too many of these projects, ´cause when you do this work professionally the whole year to pay the bills it´s hard to go on volunteer stuff like that inbetween. But my first one was in San Isidro in the south of Costa Rica in 2012 at the end of a trip around the world. That was through my friend Petzi with Pura Vida Skateboarding and Skate-Aid, I met really cool people through this project. And that sparked the flame in me to give skateable concrete to those who have nothing. A year later I ended up in Rio de Janeiro with Rio Ramp Designs to build a bowl in the suburb Cosmos. That one was paid, but with local salary, so consider it another social project in the hood. There I got to know Mikey from Concrete Flow whose brother in crime I became for the next seven years. 2017 I was in Nepal with Make Life Skate Life and that was a special experience as well, lots of good people, vibes and energy, so much love to everyone involved! And since then I´ve been with Skate-Aid to Namibia, Syria and just a month ago Uganda to build the countries´ first decent skateparks, which is always quite an honor. I mean, fucking Syria, you can expect we had some life changing experiences over there! Everywhere in those places, that´s why I´ll always be down for these kinda projects. I really like the idea to go somewhere and work with the locals rather than just travel the country to see the sights. Especially when you can leave something that will change the life of quite a few people in a positive way. That´s still my main drive to build skateparks, it doesn´t matter on which continent.

You just returned from building a bowl in Uganda, how was that?

It was fucking amazing, I didn´t expect it at all, but Uganda claims to be the pearl of Africa, which it really must be. It´s a beautiful country without a doubt, but the people make it what it is, the sweetest and friendliest humans you could imagine, people who care for each other and welcome you with a big smile. Yeah, it was a exceptional heart warming experience and nothing but good times, I can nothing but recommend going there! And to build a bowl, one of the first real public ones on the whole continent, felt amazing once again. It´s located in the district Kintintale in the capital Kampala, home of the Uganda Skateboard Union. I hope there´s gonna be a feature in the next issue of this very magazine!

There used to be a squat called ‘Luftschlossfabrik’ at this place on the east bank of Flensburg harbour which got torn down five years ago and, of course, ever since nothing has happened with the property. Perfect spot for a skatepark which is still lacking in Flensburg, a total shame for itself. To raise their voice some people poured some stuff one night, which set a small example at least. I really wanted to film something on the rail over street gap before demolition would settle in again. I managed a Boardslide Shove-it Off captured for eternity… How did that rail end up in the skatepark of Glücksburg by the way? (Photo by Christian Neve)

In general you would classify yourself as more of a “street skater” than a “bowl skater”… what is it about street skateboarding you prefer?

I wouldn´t classify shit, but, I guess, you could say that. I´m a skater and will try to skate everything you put in front of me if nothing else is around, if I`m down to skate that day. Ultimately I`m just a product of my environment and for the first two years I was skating flat ground on country roads, not even a Bordstein in sight, which is german for curb or sidewalk. That´s why I like to flip my board! I got the chance to learn tranny quite late because there was not much around in the `90s, especially not where I`m from. It started in `97 with my first trip to Australia that I got hooked up on bowls and the likes, especially the old crusty ones from the `70s and `80s. And during BOARDSTEIN I tried to hunt down as much of the european monoliths as I could. I love snakeruns and ditches, that´s like my favorite terrain, and during my years in Hamburg the Flora Bowl was my go-to-spot.

Arne´s selfie tripod ready to roll

But, yeah, after 13 years in the concrete business and almost 100 projects under my belt I really prefer to skate stuff that was not made to skate. I still love to build skateparks, but after work it´s almost like I can´t stand concrete no more, it got really strange like that the last years. And that´s how I perfectionized my steady cam technique, because most builders are naturally more on the tranny side of things, so there`s only few people who are willing to share shitty street spots and bad times with me trying to get footy. But when I drive by a spot every day on the way to work, I think of tricks all the time and that after the project I shall never return, so at one point I go there and try my luck and most of the times capture something. And at a lot of these kinda street spots you can be quite sure that you`re probably the first one to ever skate them, not to say film there. I love when people pass by and you can see in their faces they`re thinking ‘This ain`t no spot, son!‘. That´s part of the motivation right there, and if it takes two hours and a hundred tries you bet I´ll sleep very well that night. For me it can be just as satisfying as a session with the bros. I actually love skating on my own, I have to admit nowadays I almost prefer it. After a year of solo missions you should have seen me in Uganda, all eyes on the Muzungu, it was horrible for me to skate that sketchy ass park. That´s how I grew up and learned how to skate, in solitude, so you go with the flow and get back to the roots. I´m my own grandpa nowadays…

Right around the corner of the gap of the ender ollie is the skatepark of Heiligenhafen, a little shitty stretch of asphalt with some fucked-up pre-fab concrete ramps. The most fun is this little hip on the side but the whole scenario is pretty tight and hard to skate. Since the banks are really short I had to take my Blindside Flip to Rock before going to Fakie. Sönke`s son Piet took the slam that occured during the filming like a man by the way…

What plans do you have for the future?

As usual I have way too many plans, so if I get half the shit done I want to do, I can consider myself more than happy. At the beginning of the year I had some kind of vision and now got some things going that should eventually bring some change in my life. Basically this means that I won´t spend my whole summer in Belgium, France or elsewhere to work no more, but here in my neighborhood. That´s what I really wanna concentrate on. It´s about time and I have heaps of projects, ideas and whatnot in the making. Stay in my hood and do some good things right here and spend more time at home and in our lovely garden. In the end I´d like to work less and find more time for my creative outlets…

Private miniramp finally coming soon, I`ll definitely keep you posted on that one! With 45 I need to learn how to skate miniramps without feeling awkward doing it, and my father finally gave the green light to build a little one, with almost 80 years he starts turning into a skate dad. Speaking of that I wanna build some Park & Ride in front of the house as well, don´t tell him yet! It´d be awesome later this year to find some time to finish my book which is way overdue. I don´t wanna talk more about it, because I already have way too many times for years, but there´s a serious book coming at one point soon for sure. I´m thinking about filming a whole part in the skatepark of Glücksburg, at least one trick on every obstacle, maybe some new ones I´ve never done before!? There´s endless spots in that park. Next to that maybe a short street part filmed only in Hamburg!? I live off ideas and to-do-lists, can´t help it. I´ve never been bored and don´t plan on being so… That´s it for the next two, three years, to think further ahead doesn´t make any sense in these weird times, never did actually, at least not in my life. One thing´s for sure, I´ve always been seriously scared about our future, right now more than ever. And I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames…

This ollie is the very last trick in my video part and was obviously not shot in Schleswig-Holstein, but in the southern hemisphere, Kampala, Uganda to be exact. Streetskating there is quite a mission, broken dusty roughness and millions of people, and security on anything smooth. I surprised myself and did this one third try without any damage, so I didn`t want to do it again for better footage. I`m too old for that kinda stuff, then again if we would still do the magazine and there would have been one of those BOARDSTEIN tour articles!?… Ja, Mann, paper is where it´s at! (Photo von Ian Nnyanzi)

To finish this off I´d like to send my love to Herrchen, thanks so much for spending these years in paradise with me! Muchas gracias to head honcho J-Hay for his passion and dedication to keep Confusion alive giving freaks like us a medium. A big hug to everyone who at one point held the camera for the longest video part of my life! That´s Sönke, Martin, Lucas, Meike, Simon, Steffen, Kiki and, of course, best Superbatz Olga! Cheers to the friends section Andi, Sönke, Harris, Vic, Bülent and Bela and a 25.30 minute long double thumbs up to Klas for helping me edit this motherfucker. It should have come out in early April, but at times I´m too fast on too many lanes which can be hard to handle if you´re not me, I apologize… Thanks everyone for flying with BOARDSTEIN, I hope to see you on board very soon!

Meanwhile check BOARDSTEIN.COM for news from my gutter…


Still want more Arne Fiehl? Check out:

Arne Fiehl vom BOARDSTEIN 2018/19
Arne Fiehl vom BOARDSTEIN 2017
Arne Fiehl vom BOARDSTEIN RUMgesprockel 2016
Arne Fiehl in Gnaddel Ranz und Rappel