Far away from San Diego, in the northern lands of Scandinavia where the winters can be long and dark, we know a blader named Zebastian Cassel Karnevik that, like many of his peers, was shaped by the cold. A frequent presence at the blader-famous Zero One Six skatepark with his friend Fredrik Andersson, and a face that’s regularly seen at the region’s ever-growing event scene, we’d reached out to Zebastian long ago about documenting his scene in a project for ONE. Now, after nearly a year of traveling and sessions filmed throughout 2014, that vision comes to life in the appropriately titled feature #VAGABLADELIFE. We hope you enjoy.
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Why don’t we start with you telling everyone who you are, where you blade and how you got wheels under your feet.
I’m Zeb or Z.C.K (Zebastian Cassel Karnevik), whichever you prefer, 27 years of age and originally from a small town outside Linköping, Sweden, but now living in the south of Sweden near Malmö city.
Currently I’m trying to blade all the spots I can find down here in the southern cities like Lund, Malmö and Helsingborg — all new territory for me and so much fun. Copenhagen is just across the bridge and going there is never a bad idea.
My interest on blading started with Jaren Grob to be precise. Some sort of broadcasted competition on Eurosport channel and his run was on. Huge airs, high speed grinds, bad boy attitude and a lot of black. Went straight to my heart and still today I find a lot of inspiration in Jaren Grob. You know he’s still DOPE right?
I was probably around 13 when I got my first pair of blades, some sort of camogreen hardboot which had the word “Eraser” printed on the side of the heel. They were worthless for grinding but when you really want to grind such things matter very little. During that first year or so, some friends from school and I just went around our small community trying to find spots. We mainly focused on spinning out of banks and grinding mizous, since that was pretty much the hardest trick we could think of back then.
After the Erasers my parents gave me a pair of white Roces M12s and my dad actually built me a miniramp where I practiced my stalls, grinds and airs almost every day after school.
Times changed and skateboarding was blowing up so all my friends from school sold their blades and bought skateboards. The “all or nothing” attitude towards blading followed the arrival of the decks, and I was pretty much the only one left still blading for quite some time.
Eventually I fell off too, with no one to session with and living in a small community I was not as strongly rooted yet. My dad sold the ramp, my blades ended up in the basement and I bought a skateboard just to cruise to and from school.
About four years later I started high school in Linköping and met a guy named Said Namvar that had been part of the Linköping blade-scene for some time and knew the guys from way back. I started hanging out with Said quite a lot and eventually met all the other guys. With some new found buddies I picked up blading again and got a pair of USD Psirus Team skates (three sizes too big) from a friend. I will never forget when my new crew showed me topside tricks and I was like “what???”
A few weeks later I was doing topside pornstars for hours on end at the local skatepark, and I started focusing on blading and my new found homies within the local scene more and more. That’s pretty much the “how I started” story in a cut down version. Since then my path has been strongly rooted in blading and I’m so thankful I found my way back.
I hit you up a long time ago about seeing more from the Scandinavian scene… and you came back with #VAGABLADELIFE. Wanna tell us where the concept for this edit came from, and explain how it’s structured?
First off, thank you for taking an interest in our scene!
When first asked I envisioned a pretty traditional idea for an edit featuring the local scene, but then I realized that I consider my scene to be all of Sweden and all of Scandinavia, as well as the people I’ve met throughout my journeys to other countries. For me, traveling for blading is just as big of a part of it as the actual tricks you do. I just thought it would be pretty cool to save as much footage as I could from 2014 and then put it together by the end of the year and see what I got. Some of it’s been used in other projects but there is a lot of new footage in there too.
#VAGABLADELIFE was just a term I came up with to describe the way of life you live when trying to travel all over for blading and I think it suited the project pretty good.
The edit is not at all a straight timeline. Structure in some ways bores me and gets me annoyed, so I try to edit in a way that you kind of compose with the music I guess. I want it to flow nicely together and build a vibe along with the tunes I choose. I tried to divide it into some sort of sections just to give the viewer an overview of the locations but I don’t want to destroy the footage by putting too much text on top of it or focus too hard on making a timeline that I loose my vision you know.
How often have you made a pilgrimage like this? Had you been to all these spots or cities before?
I try to go least a few times a year, besides comp trips. The duration of my trips all vary depending on my funds but recently I’ve become extremely restless so I do a lot of trips within Sweden to small cities I’ve never visited before, or go session with old friends in their hometowns if I can’t make enough money to go abroad.
I’ve been to Berlin before and Copenhagen a bunch of times but Malaga was my first time actually. I have relatives in Fuengirola so I’ve been close by before but never for blading, so that was for sure a great trip, great city, great spots and great people.
What about your traveling companions? The edit starts in Copenhagen where we session with Christian Berg, Connaire Skerritt, Harry Abel, Michael Buhl Johannson, Christopher Kohn, Fredrick Andersson and more. But a lot of those dudes aren’t from that area. Who all were you hitching around with?
Yeah, I started the edit with one of my favorite clips I shot with Chris Berg back in 2014 — that backside surf right next to the beach in Amager, Denmark still gives me such amazing vibes. When I go to Denmark I always hit up Chris to see what’s up, since we used to be teammates it just makes sense, plus Chris usually never says no to a session. Michael is another one of the tightly-knit R-A-D guys that I’ve come to call my friend, and he joined me and Chris during our CPH sessions a few times last year so he just ended up getting some tricks too.
During Copenhagen Real Street, Connaire Skerritt and his DRC boys flew in and since I knew Connaire from before (ShapedByTheColdPosse), I shot some of his and Harry’s tricks during the comp. There’s also a few clips from the final spot featuring Albert Hooi and Carson Starnes.
I constantly change travel companions depending on who has funds and energy to come along, but mostly I travel by myself and then meet up with people when I arrive. Lately, waiting for other people is one of my least favorite things.
The video also features my trip to Berlin for Summerclash with some local scene friends, my trip to Malaga with Fredrik Andersson staying with Josh Glowicki and Sheldon Lapointe among others. To give the edit a touch of home I added some of the best clips I had from the Scandinavian summer competitions like “The Grind” in Oslo, and “Kill It Or Grill It” in Norrköping city which is a 20 minutes train ride from my hometown. It’s here you get the feeling were all a family — I mean, we all know each other more or less. If you have not been to a Scandinavian summer competition I urge you to go. You will not be disappointed!
Who do you normally blade with?
Usually I blade with Santiago right now, one of the guys behind Guerrero Soldados now living in Malmö, or any of the other guys living down here in the south if they’re up for it. If they’re all no-go I might pop over to Denmark and shred with whoever’s down over there. Also recently I’ve been visiting Fredrik Andersson in Eskilstuna quite often since I joined their GIBSweden Team, so I’ve been blading with the scene up there. The Zero One Six kids are ill!
Looking back on the trip, what are some stand out favorite memories? Feel free to share a story.
The outlook-point at the Malaga fort with the boys and a couple of tik’s after a full day blading are for sure on top of the list, but I’ve had so many good times along the way that they’re all kinda blurred together haha.
Just any point or place where you feel like “where the fuck am I, I and what am I doing”” and you still manage to be content and strap your blades on and get down to it with your friends is a wonderful feeling. That release of control and just being in the moment comes more and more rarely for me outside of blading, I’m sad to say.
I had the chance to skate in Sweden and Copenhagen back in 2001. Even got enough time to session the bowls at Christiana. That was something! Were you blading back then? Any idea how the scene has changed since then? Like, were more people blading then or now?
Sadly I was out of the game at that moment, but I’ve been to the bowl at Christiania now at least, haha.
It was quite similar here as in the rest of the world I would suppose. I mean it’s hard to say as I’m not that into the politics or the sales-statistics of blading, but I mean when I first saw blading on TV everyone pretty much owned a pair of Fattys or Roces, but then over the course of 4-5 years all those people started carrying boards or fell off. I would say more people were blading back then over here but maybe in a less channeled way, you know?Today I feel like we all make a community effort and we are all very organized and professional about the outlook on blading. We’re fewer but more tightly-knit as a group is probably the best answer.
Your area of Scandinavia is pretty renowned for its architecture and foward-thinking design. How often are new spots popping up? And how bad is security at protecting all that prime blade real estate?
I suppose that goes more for Denmark and Norway then Sweden but maybe I’m homeblind and tired of Swedish architecture, haha. Sweden’s got some cool spots for sure though and security is never THAT bad that you can’t sneak a trick or two before they call the cops. I’ve never got fined or arrested, in Sweden at least, and I blade pretty much anything I want. The cops will just tell you to go.
Regarding new spots, the bigger cities like Stockholm and Malmö get new spots all the time —you just have to spend a lot of time cruising the new areas and you’ll find corners you’ve never seen before. So I can’t complain about spots in Sweden although I prefer going blading abroad. It’s just a greater feeling I suppose. Never worry about security or bouncers in Sweden as long as you don’t hit em’, because you’re fucked if they count as officials. Just ask Alex Burston, haha.
Related: where is the best fresh terrain that other bladers don’t know about?
I would say the industrial areas around any city are the best goldmines as far as spots go, usually big stuff which I prefer. Also the small cities and communities along the main traintracks in Sweden are hidden gems, you usually never stop there which is all the more reason to do just that.
What about when you’re editing — how do you approach a project? Care to describe the challenge of cutting all these travels into this package?
Usually I put a few tracks on my MP3 and whenever I’m in a good mood or at a spot that gives me good vibes and helps me relax, I’ll start listening to some possible edit-tunes and just try to envision the tricks I have on film, kinda build an edit in my mind while listening to the tune. Whenever I’m satisfied with the vibe and vision, I start putting a few clips in at a time. I’ve learned not to put all the material on my timeline right away as the amount of clips will get me unmotivated and I want to spend the same amount of energy on each clip. For me about 1-2 hours is the max amount of time I’ll sit at a time with a project, after that I need a tik or some sort of break to not get tunnel vision.
As I said earlier, this edit doesn’t really have a chronological order, it’s more about giving you a insight in some of the good times that comes out of blading and the people I’ve met and places I’ve been during 2014.
When other ONE contributors and I were discussing the edit, a question that came up was “Has there even been a Scandinavian pro?” No doubt there’s a TON of really talented bladers, but we weren’t sure if anyone had that “pro” designation. What do you know about that?
Rene Hulgreen 😉
Besides Rene I’m not so sure, I’m not the most educated but I mean we had a lot of AM’s during the blading-boom but PROs? I’m very uncertain. Recently I think Fredrik Andersson made Razors Pro and he is probably the most well-known Swedish blader… and he did get a SIC URETHANE wheel, so that must count for something haha. One of the many Fredrik Andersson prodigies from Zero One Six Skatepark is Johannes Karlsson. Johannes took the win at the WC junior comp, so I’d say watch out for that kid as well as Axel Bihagen. We’ve still got some talent coming.
There’s so many more Ams around Scandinavia that all are very talented and probably all rising as we speak, people like Kåre Lindberg, Olav Norheim, Joakim Lundberg, Kenth Ulvedahl, and Peter Kallio to name a few.
Have you been to the US before? I ask because another topic that came up were babes and bacon-wrapped hot dog carts. Ha! What sorta stuff do you guys take for granted that you think American bladers might be surprised by?
Sadly no, but it’s on my to-do list so it’s all about the funds right now. It will happen for sure.
I guess the fact that you will never get arrested for blading unless you trespass into some really heavy facilities.
Also, yes, the beautiful girls here. Spain is said to have beautiful women but nah, they don’t even compare to Scandinavian women. I guess a tleast I take that for granted sometimes haha.
Where’s the furthest away from home you’ve even been?
I would say Gibraltar, not that far really but I’m still pretty new to this vagabladelife so there is more to come for sure.
Thinking about your friends and fellow Nordic bladers, what’s the future of the scene? What should we all be paying attention to?
The future is looking brighter than ever, with our new Swedish Rolling Association (S.R.A) in motion things are looking up. It’s all about community efforts you know, bashing your head bloody by yourself won’t get you anywhere really, not if you want to make a lasting impression in such an industry as ours. I always mention Zero One Six Skatepark in these circumstances and the people up there because they have a working model for re-growth and have spent a lot of funds and energy on getting where they are today. I try to put on events twice a year and my local skatepark Hangaren always provide me with a decent budget for riders. I try to give others the opportunity I myself would like to have and fly in any Ams or Pros that are down to shred as often as the budget allows it.
We are all a family you know whether you like it or not, people are sometimes so busy upholding their street-cred or whatever that they seem to forget that there would be no blading at all if we were not on the same path. Opinions without any substance are just that and should not be given attention, positive energy is all that matters you know.
We all just have different goals and approaches but that’s what makes blading so great to me. I can’t for my life understand what’s supposed to be the outcome when people speak of blading and that it needs to go this way or that way. Are these people the ones who want to be the expert commentators talking about how a soul grind should look to score the maximum points for fifteen minutes, or what?! As long as we’re not stuck we’re fine, right? I still blade and so do you.
Thanks to all the homies who bladed in front of my camera or gave me a place to crash and showed me around — this is for you, I love you all. Mom and Pop for their endless support.
Stefan and Said for giving me a way in to this worldwide family that has become my life-force.
Fredrik for always giving me the spark back when I feel shitty and for being a mentor when I need guidance.
And let’s let you stop there! Thanks again for sharing everything with us Zebastian — we always like to spread the BLADE LIFE as far as we can. Hopefully we get to shred on your turf someday soon.