Benjamin Debert is a mainstay in the contemporary European skate scene. He runs Live Skateboard Media, a website that provides us with our daily doses of quality skate content. Scrolling through the site you catch a glimpse of Benjamin’s taste. Live is a platform for him to show that taste, albeit through his own work or through collaborative efforts.
We ventured out to meet him at his house, and once we entered the Parisian apartment, we started off doing the usual things: drinking coffee and tea, talking about the industry, and of course exchanging obscure skate nerd knowledge. What we did not expect was to walk into a museum of sorts. His living room walls are decorated with gifts – both attached to and positioned against the walls. His shelves are filled with books about photography, art, skateboarding or all three combined. His study is full of old VHS tapes and scanned and unscanned negatives are lying around dispersed throughout the space. What struck me the most was an old photo showing a group of NYC skaters, “that photo was shot on my first trip to New York in 1995.” Benjamin tells us, “Is that Quim Cardona?” I ask “Yeah! Did you know everybody used to call him Mini Gonz?” The truth is that we did not know.
But Benjamin was there for all that. He was there in the heydays of the Brooklyn banks and he was there when skateboarding landed in France. He started Sugar magazine and then he moved to London to work on Kingpin magazine. What I am getting at is that he has been around the block a couple of times and whereas most people get jaded he has not lost his appetite. He knows the up-and-comers and the legends personally, and if you are in Paris working on a project – like we were – he can be a helping hand when it comes to spots, people and stories. Even though he is not as mobile as he used to be, he is still out there in the streets with the same Nikon FM2 – the one that he bought on that first trip to New York back in ’95. Speaking about his FM2, he says he still exclusively shoots on film. We all know film is not getting cheaper but it is arguably still the best way to capture light. Even though Benjamin has said he is just too lazy to go digital, we have a hard time believing that. Benjamin is somebody who is vocal about his opinions and he likes the direction in which the Paris skate scene is moving: Away from the one crew one spot identity of the past and towards an always changing group of people that explores the Paris city streets in their own way.
by Roland Hoogwater
Photo: Danny Sommerfeld