When people think of skating in Russia, they might think about the amazing work of Barabakaa with Absurd, or they think about RASSVET or maybe Asphalt Magazine. But like with most countries all these things happen in the capital city or cities as in Russia. With both Saint Petersburg & Moscow historically being known as such. Today though we delve into the world of Alexey Kulagin and the HOME CREW from Nizhny Novgorod. Where is that you may ask? Do your Googles and find out, but before you do that first press play and find out if you like what you see!
Interview by Roland Hoogwater.
Film & Photos by Alexey Kulagin.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how old are you and where are you from?
Hey! My name is Alexey Kulagin, I am 25 years old and I was born and live in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
When did skateboarding enter your life?
One of my friends skated a bit and I asked him if I could try his board. I liked it and the next week I bought my own. We rode together and met two of our mutual friends who were also with skateboards and began to skate together on our block. It was around 2010, that’s where and how it all started.
When did the shift to filming start to happen?
Quite quickly, we became interested in what other spots there were in the city. Because we became tired of all the spots in our own district. We started to travel into the city center and looked for places to skate, there we started meeting other guys and I started filming with my friend’s mom’s camera (I think this is a classic situation for many Russian skaters).
At that time we were actively watching videos from the St. Petersburg team «LVO». We, like them, wanted to drink beer, hang out wildly and skate 24/7. During that time we were out filming, but just for ourselves, we did not show it anywhere. Then In 2012, I broke my leg, which made me want to skate less but shoot more and more. We created our own crew called “HOME CREW”, which is around to this day.
After that, I bought a normal DSLR with a fisheye and shot with it for 4 years. But after a while, I realized that I wanted to try a VX1000. I’ve been filming with the VX since 2018 and don’t want to go back to HD anytime soon.
So what is HOME CREW?
HOME CREW is our association of friends. We do not have any specific team members, HOME CREW is everyone who hangs out with us. There are many of us who engage in various interesting things, such as DJing, tattooing, graffiti, organizing parties, hardcore metal punk-rock. We are all good friends and there are a lot of us. But first of all, everyone in HOME CREW is from Nizhny Novgorod.
What was skateboarding like growing up in Russia?
I have watched the development of skateboarding in Russia over the past 10 years and I can say that people have changed their attitude a lot. Skateboarding in Russia began to seriously grow up, many new skaters appeared and this is cool. But in my opinion, most of them don’t have an ideology. 10 years ago it seemed to me that skaters and their friends would film their own skate video. Today I feel new skaters are not striving for this. Instagram changed the game and people are not so interested in watching skate videos. I feel they think it is easier to watch a one-minute clip on Instagram instead. Maybe I’m wrong, but this is my personal experience.
In Moscow and St. Petersburg, the industry has been developing quite well, which cannot be said about the provinces. It is so normal in our country that if you want to achieve any success you need to go to live in the capital, otherwise your progress stops at some point or it slows down. My city for example has never had a concrete skate park, and the wooden ones we did have were bad. Recently though, after skateboarding became an Olympic sport, the authorities got down to business. Over the past couple of years, there have been many new projects, supported by the government, where skate parks got planned. Some of them have been built. Naturally, local skaters have to facilitate these moves by contacting their local government in every possible way and propose their ideas to the city council.
It seems over recent years Russia has seen a boom (Especially Moscow & Saint Petersburg) with teams coming down and visiting and filming from Atlantic Drift to Vans and Bobby DeKeyzer. How has that affected the skate scene? Russia now seems cooler than ever?
I’m glad that such serious skaters started coming to Russia to film for their projects, and apparently, they really liked our Russian spots. When you watch their finished videos from Russia, you understand that you, yourself were skating this spot and wonder how it was possible for them to do the tricks that you just saw in the video. I think this, one way or another, pushes both already established skaters and beginners to progress and raise their own bar and the bar for skateboarding in Russia.
How has the creation of Russian brands been for the scene? You skate with both Timur Mirkarimov and Igor Smirnov they are part of some of those brands like PACCBET.
I think this is exactly what Russia needed all these years before. After the creation of a number of skate shops and brands in Moscow and St. Petersburg, more and more domestic skate content began to appear and more people began to be interested in skateboarding in general. With Timur and Igor, for example, we met a few years ago and just started skating together and filmed tricks when I came out to Moscow. It’s cool that Russian brands created teams, recruiting not only famous skaters but also putting on freshmen who, due to the support, are growing very quickly. Personally, I always liked looking at small interesting skate projects, rather than watching these giant projects from companies with big name pro skaters.
Tell me a bit about the video? How long did it take to make? And who are the people in the video? Your friends?
We filmed this video during the summer of 2020. There are some people who filmed with me constantly because we live in the same city. But I also managed to film some tricks with friends from other cities. We went down to Moscow two times over the summer and filmed there with our local friends.
So there is quite a bit of Moscow, but where did you film the rest of the video? There are not a big amount of “famous” spots in there.
One-half part of this video was filmed in Nizhny Novgorod and part was filmed in Moscow. We are located around 400 km from Moscow and it is not a problem to take a train and go there for a week to film. Every time we came down, a lot of new spots had been either found or built. Me personally, I don’t like famous spots. it is not interesting to watch one by one every Russian video in which people skate in the same places. I’m interested in showing the viewer, other spots, places that no one has ridden before, Don’t you agree?
I do, I was surprised by the number of good unknown spots! On last thing, can you tell me about the title “EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING”?
I named the video after the song by the same name that I used in the video. Considering that it was difficult to skate in Russia during the pandemic, and it was impossible to travel and film tricks comfortable. When the restrictions were lifted, there was not much time left before the cold weather to film more nice tricks. I believe that this name fully embodies the content of the video, tricks, and vibes.
Alexey, Thank you for doing this!
Thanks for the opportunity to work together on this. From Russia with love!