If there’s one thing that keeps skateboarding interesting, it’s that the pathway to the worldof professionalism is different for every single up-and-coming skater. It’s a constantly evolvingand never consistent platform of exposure, networking and talent. These days, timing can be just as important as the skating. This was a big year for Bobby Dekeyzer: being invited to travel a huge chunk of the world while filming for three video parts and negotiating multiple sponsor changes. Some people might crack under this kind of pressure, but it appears that Bobby is just as calm and collected off a board as he is riding on one. His story could easily be viewed as a sponsorship fairy tale by some. Or maybe good things just come to those who wait their turn. Either way, it’s undeniable that the time is now for Bobby De Keyzer, and it’s no coincidence that he’s landed right where he wants to be. —Jesse Landen
INTERVIEW BY MORGAN SMITH
What’s up, Bob? What’s going on?
Nothing much, just been skating, traveling a bunch. Are you referring to the Euro trip of doom? Yeah, I went on a three-month trip to Europe from February to April. After that, I kinda started giving people the footage I got on that trip. Then DC invited me to go on a Europe trip with them in May, to Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante.
How was that? Did you feel comfortable with those dudes or intimidated?
It was a sick trip, and it was the first time I’d been on a trip with them, like, with the team. I wasn’t really intimidated… maybe a little uncomfortable at first, because they all know each other super well and I’m kind of like, “I wonder who I’m rooming with?”
Who did you room with?
Thaynan Costa from Portugal and Enjoi. But it was a good trip and everything was mellow, so they asked me to come to California, and I went to LA and SF for, like, two weeks in like August.
Didn’t you go somewhere with Element too? To Vancouver, like, through the mountains?
Yeah, Mount Bullion [with Element]. I was on an RV trip to Vancouver and Calgary that was pretty interesting. Then, after that, I went to New York with the DC guys; they were sponsoring the Harold Hunter Day. Then we skated street for a couple days—that was really cool. So you’ve been on a few trips with DC.
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You’re probably feeling more comfortable now?
Yeah, everything’s comfortable now. I just got back from a Southeast Asia tour with them for two weeks. It was crazy. Drop some names of the cities you hit. Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand.
Damn… they are exotic to say the least.
Yeah. That was my first time in that part of the world, so that was a crazy trip. It was mostly demos… I think it was nine flights in 14 days or something. There was a demo in every city. So every city was basically like: get there and chill for a bit, have a day of street skating, then do a demo. In the Philippines, we got there at night, the first day we did the demo, and the next day we left for Thailand. So it was pretty intense.
How did you like it?
It’s weird for me—nobody knows who I am [laughs]. We’d go to all these demos, and kids are all screaming, stoked on Evan Smith, Matt Miller and Wes Kremer, which is awesome, but I’m just kinda standing there minding my own business… which is cool. I mean, I like it. I obviously wish I could have been in some of those cities for longer, because I don’t know the next time I’m gonna be in the Philippines. But it’s still sick to experience all that.
So going on all these trips with the DC guys… what’s goin’ on there?
I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about that. [Laughs] So, basically after I sent them the Europe footage, they wanted to bring me on some trips to make sure I worked with the team and everything. So after that, I wasn’t really sure what their intentions were… just kind of filming and going on trips. But then they offered to buy that footage off Jordan [Moss]. I still didn’t know what they wanted to do with it, but I was down for whatever. I figured it was the best place for it to go. I guess they just ended up having a blank month on the calendar for video content, so now they’re gonna have an intro to the team for me and Tristan Funkhouser. It’s out in mid-December online.
That’s awesome! Congrats on that. People should be on the lookout for it.
Thank you. I’m definitely stoked.
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You’ve been skating for a long time, basically since you were four years old. From what I can see, you waited a long time—until you were feeling strong on your board—before you really had any coverage. You waited for your time. What do you think of kids who just start going for it, trying to get hooked up right away?
I just started skating around with local friends and with TJ [Rogers] a bunch, watching him. He was doing crazy shit, and we were going to super-crazy spots… kinda before I even figured out what I liked. But, whatever, I was just sort of skating with my friends, trying to join in on the session. I did that for a while, but soon I kinda fell out of that. My legs started growing, and I got a bit taller and started realizing manuals are fun, ledges are fun and it doesn’t hurt. You can only FS Flip so many stairs or go so big, you know?
I heard that at one point when you watched your own footage and said you weren’t gonna film anymore for, like, two years until you grew. Is that true?
Yeah. I was skating in Whitby and the suburb towns and not having great spots, or going to the same stuff every day. It was just kind of unmotivating. I started coming to Toronto, trying different stuff, and it kind of happened quickly: I could just skate downtown and film ledge tricks and have way more fun. I started coming into my own and skating what I like and not necessarily what everyone’s doing around me.
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You mentioned skating in Toronto; we’ve both been skating here for a while. Is it popping off right now?
Definitely. Right now, it’s super good. I was really excited this summer coming into it, like, hearing people were moving here, like Wade D. [Desarmo]. I always knew Toronto was an amazing city to skate, but it always seemed like people were moving to Vancouver or Montreal for whatever reason… which is cool, but I just always really liked Toronto. I used to come downtown to skate as a little kid, but I didn’t start staying for weeks at a time until the past year or two.
You just got on Blue Tile Lounge (BTL). How did that come about?
It was sick. As I started skating in the city more and coming into the shop more, it just sort of made sense to me. I was on Scotties—and I’m still friends with all them—but I didn’t really live near the shop, and I wasn’t really going in there that often. I was mostly downtown, and it just made sense to ride for Blue Tile.
Your welcome-to-the-team part for BTL made it the the Thrasher website. I was stoked on that. How do you feel about web clips and web parts? Do you fear your web part might fade into obscurity?
It already has, which is fine—I don’t care. Whatever you put out, people are either gonna like it for a week or hate it for a week. Maybe if they like it, they will watch it again. But I watch so many videos a day that I never go back to. And that sucks. But I like that I just filmed a bunch of footage and got it out there quick. I like that, instead of sitting on it and thinking about it too long.
Would you prefer filming for a year or two and having a five-minute part of your best shit, or just keep doing stuff like that?
I mean, I like doing both of them. But I feel like the DC part coming out has more; I’ve been filming for that for a year, and I’m stoked for that one because it has a bunch of different cities in it. I was basically filming HD with the DC guys on tour, and when I came home, I’d film VX for the BTL part. So it was kinda fun to work on both at the same time.
Instagram—what do you think?
You un-follow someone and then see them in person later, and they’re feelin’ that, you know…? That shit’s kinda weird. Mainly, it’s the insane clips that people put out. I hope people don’t just become purely Instagram skaters. It seems like it means a lot these days… that people are taking it seriously. People are making careers off of it; people are getting paid to post things for a company once a month.
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I noticed you’ve got some cool photos on there.
[Laughs] Yeah, I don’t really post skate things. I like to separate it from skating a bit. I like shooting photos and film. My brother is a photographer, so I was always around [photography]. But I think it was actually Rich Odam’s Polaroid camera that got me into it. Also, I took a class in high school and learned how to use a darkroom and got super stoked on it.
Do you have your own darkroom at home?
Shooting digital is cool, but shooting film and developing it yourself is kind of like skating in a way. It’s a lot of work to develop prints by yourself, and it’s so easy to fuck them up. So when you finally get a good print, you’re stoked on it.
Do you take your camera on most trips?
Yeah, I bring it on every trip and have it with me—always looking for something to shoot. Going to all these places, it’s really motivating to use it. I shoot a lot of photos on my iPhone, but it’s nice to get back, and even wait on the film a bit and be like “I remember that” when you finally see it. And then to have prints that you can actually hold. I mean, who knows how long I’m gonna have these iPhone photos or my computer or whatever.
Any other trips planned?
Winter is approaching, so I’m gonna chill here for December and then go to Long Beach for a month in January. Why Long Beach? I’m going to stay with the Habitat team manager Brendan Conroy. I think there’s gonna be a Habitat commercial that might come out at the same time as the DC part, depending on the footage. I’m not sure. I may film for it a bit longer and put out a proper introduction part instead.
Let’s talk about Habitat.
Paul Liliani was on a trip with these guys in Texas. He showed them a local video that I had a part in, and they watched it. I was so young and didn’t know what I was doing, but ever since then I was always into Habitat; I loved their graphics and videos—just very influenced by Habitat. Then they invited you on a trip? Well, I was on Element and it was cool, but I guess I just wanted to be on a company that I really loved and really wanna skate for. I sent some footage through Supra Distribution to Habitat, and I wasn’t really expecting much. But they actually hit me back asking me what was up with Element, and they invited me on a trip to Philly. So suddenly you’re with all these dude you’ve been looking up to, and they were filming for Search for the Horizon, trying to handle some business…. I was super nervous and not that confident with my skating on that trip. I just didn’t feel that comfortable skating around everyone. It was the first time in 10 years where the whole entire team had been there all together, so I got to meet every single Habitat rider.
They were probably looking at you like, “Who’s this guy”?
Exactly. Like being in the van with Fred Gall driving to Philadelphia, and they were just on this gnarly other level filming for the video. I mean, I knew I was not ready to be with these guys. Later on, I got an e-mail from Joe Castrucci, and he said: “We [Habitat] can’t do anything for you right now, and getting to go on trips and have a travel budget with Element is more than we can currently do for you. But keep sending us your stuff and stay in touch.
Long story short, he was saying now’s not the time?
Yeah, which I totally excepted. It was such an amazing experience to go on that trip. I was so thankful, so I kept in touch with them. Then I filmed for the BTL part, and I wasn’t even gonna send it to them, like this is never gonna happen, you know? But the night the intro to BTL part came out, I got an e-mail from Joe Castrucci asking if I wanted to come to California and skate with them.
You must have been stoked.
Yeah. I had already quit Element and was getting Krooked boards for a couple months. So I hit up Krooked and told them if they wanna do something, I’m down to stick around, and I told them about the Habitat thing. They hit me back saying they couldn’t really do anything with me, and if I wanna jump on the Habitat thing, then I should do that.
So it’s safe to say you’re hyped now?
Fucking stoked. I’ve wanted to be on Habitat for so long. I’m good with whatever. I got a box and was just like, “Getting Habitat boards is so sick!”
Just hoping to get a place downtown Toronto next year and keep skating. Maybe stay here until I’m over it, and then maybe look at getting a visa and going to the States or something.