October 20th, 2010

henrique goncalves — Cheese & Chocolate

I have to admit, I find it to be interesting just when someone is from another country, spending their lifetime in such a different environment. Henrique has been to the U.S. only once recently, living a life completely opposite to many of us. As unique a background he comes from, living in Brasilia and recently moving to Zofingen, you’ll be soon to realize it’s for the love of skateboarding and the simple enjoyment of life. A homie just wanting to live and get away from all the bullshit, so let’s take a trip over to Switzerland, where you can do just that.

Cheese & Chocolate Cheese with Henrique Goncalves

Henrique catches a dope backside flip over this nice sized bar

Henrique catches a dope backside flip over this nice sized bar — photo Alan Maag

So what’s your full name and how old are you?

Edson Henrique Pereira Gonçalves (Brazilian names are that long). I am 21.

How long you been pushing?

I’ve been skating for 9 years.

Where do you live now and where are some places you have lived?

I lived in Brasilia, Brazil till I was 15 years old, then I started a new life when I moved to Switzerland. Now I live in Zofingen, Switzerland.

Damn, you’ve been around… What languages do you speak?

Portugiese (Portuguese), German, Spanish and English.

You just came back from the states, right? What are some of the real differences you noticed between here and Switzerland?

Yeah I was there last year, it was very nice, I always wanted to go to the states, but it’s a bit different from than I thought… in America there is more business, in Switzerland more chilling, but the spots in America are pretty good and the weather is pretty fine.

What about skateboarding in Switzerland as opposed to skating other places?

In Switzerland you can’t go street skating everyday, because there it rains a lot… but unlike America, you can find the spots really easy and the spots are not that far from other spots. That’s what I hated in America, driving and driving every time.

Henrique tre-flip that binz gap — photo Alan Maag

NYC has some of that feel that your talking about in Switzerland, you don’t have to drive to every spot like LA or Florida skating.

Yeah, the spots are easy to find if you have some connections, and if you are in Zurich you won’t need to take a train, you can easily push to the spots.. but if I go to other cities I would probably need to take a train or go by car.

Where did you get to skate in America, did you go to the East and West coasts?

I have only have been in California, I know that NYC is completely different, and there you can take the underway… in SD and LA you can’t, just by car, but I have to admit, I never saw a place more beautiful than San Diego, really. The only thing I didn’t like was driving and driving, eating fast food, and that the famous Carlsbad gap was bigger than I thought.. but I really enjoyed my time there, it was my dream since I was a little child.

Word. So what’s a normal day like for you where you live? A typical day in the life for Henrique, skateboarding and not skateboarding?

A normal day is like meeting my friends at the Zurich main station and going filming, we normally skate the whole day. But I also work in a skatepark, I care for the park, so there I skate a lot of mini-ramp or some manuals (easy skating).

Do you skate a lot of spots directly in the business section of Zurich, what’s Zurich like as a city?

Yeah, cause there are a lot of different spots and how I said, you can push to the spots. Sven Kilchenmann just skated over here, Zurich is nice, the police never suck and the people are funny. There are also trams and buses so to live in Zurich is really nice and the quality of life is really high, you got everything in one city.

What are some places you travel to that are close by?

I like traveling to Barcelona, there’s a lot of spots and you can find it easy, good parties, nice girls, just a place to be, but for me just some times in a year, I like the quiet of Switzerland.

You live in Zofingen, Switzerland right? How is that as a town to live in?

Boring, nothing going on. I don’t know anyone there, since I came to Switzerland I hang out in Aarau, this is near Zofingen and some of my good friends live there.

Henrique backside smith — photo Alan Maag

Who are some of the homies you skate with regularly and kick it with?

Dino Brandão, I met him when I came to Switzerland and he’s like my brother, so we are always together, traveling and skating..

How did you come to meet him? Is he from Switzerland, what’s his deal?

That kid kills it, and he has a big heart, good as a skater and good as a friend. I met him in my first month out here, in a contest, I tried to speak Portuguese to him (because he’s dark, his father is from Angola and his mother is Swiss) but he didn’t understand me. We met up some days later and today we skate, travel, and party together.

Henrique frontside flip — photo Dominik Jermann

Spit some quick knowledge about day-to-day living in Switzerland?

Switzerland is not only the land of chocolate and cheese, hehe. I don’t know, everything is small and doesn’t take you a lot of time, everybody knows you.. It’s the only difference I know.

The Swiss definitely have some proper chocolate and cheese though, ha. How was the adjustment coming from Brazil which is so large, was it easy to adapt to a smaller country?

Oh shit yeah, I remember my first morning here, I looked down the window, and saw nothing going on. It was not motivating, in Brazil there is something going down everyday, people are open and they don’t give a shit about anything. The people here are really serious, they care about the future. I adapted myself here when I started to know people and from speaking German, now I love it and don’t want to go back.

That’s dope. You had a trick I recently saw in the Safari Clothing video? Do you skate with that team regularly in Switzerland?

Yeah, I always used to skate in Zurich with Sven Kilchenmann and sometimes with the Safari guys which are all from Zurich, so they film me sometimes..

Henrique frontside feeble — photo Alan Maag

Henrique frontside feeble — photo Alan Maag

Where has skateboarding taken you recently in your life? How has it personally changed for you in the past couple years?

In Switzerland is where everything started for me, in Brazil it’s really hard to reach something with skateboarding. Switzerland is easier but also hard because it is really small and the big brands don’t want to support us, I think.

Henrique with a backside tailslide on a hubba in Schuleenge — photo Alan Maag

But I felt that skateboarding’s level in Europe was far away from the level in America, in America you can earn money easier than in Europe, but you have to kill yourself for it, so I prefer to stay in Europe, here I don’t earn that much but I’m free to skate when and what I want.

When I came to Switzerland there were a lot of skaters and now everybody stopped skating, I think it’s not the same everywhere but I definitely felt it with my sponsors, just that they don’t have that much budget anymore. So I can say that the skateboard industry in the world hasn’t been going that good. But you know, the sun doesn’t shine the whole time, so I think the good time will come back again!

My homie from Brazil says that it is really hard to come up over there.

So it is, they skate hard, to get some sponsors but in Brazil you only can earn money if you are good at competitions, and I’m not good at that, so I had no chances there.

So, who is hooking you up right now?

Emerica (Europe), Zero (Europe), and Reell.

Henrique switch frontside heelflips in Rotterdam — photo Dominik Jermann

Henrique switch frontside heelflips in Rotterdam — photo Dominik Jermann

Europe also breeds amazing skateboarding, I think skateboarding right now in America is in somewhat of a “ledge dancing ballet phase”, there still is dope, clean, and solid skating out there but it’s way harder to come by.

Yes, it’s harder in Europe, but honestly, only Americans do the big shit, there is no Reynolds, Cole, Paul… in Europe.

Henrique switch backside tailslide bigspin — sequence Alan Maag

People do kill themselves in the U.S. for that money in skateboarding.

Everybody tries, but I think you not only have to skate hard, you have to have something that other people like…

There are some gigantic companies involved now in America, how do you feel about such big companies like Gatorade and Target jumping on the skate bandwagon now?

For me personally it’s bad, but it can also be good, so the skateboard scene can grow up, but for the skaters who really understand what skateboarding is about, it’s bad, because there is no history behind them. They waited until skateboarding got big and then jumped on the skateboard bandwagon.

Henrique kickflips beastmode — photo Dominik Jermann

Henrique kickflips beastmode — photo Dominik Jermann

I can understand why you like being more under the radar in Switzerland. That’s a good feeling, to live in a place that is mellow along with the people there.

Definitely, I want to stay here, here I got a good chance for my future. I will keep skating, with or without sponsors. I will also travel to skate too.. but I hope to spend my life here. I don’t know how it is in NYC, I’m sure it’s nice there like in CA, but for me America is tooooo big. The American people are really, really nice though, I hate when somebody that never has been in America talks shit about America (just because Bush). Bush was just one of millions…

Henrique switch big-heel — sequence Alan Maag

What are some future plans you have in mind as far as skating in particular goes?

I want to go to America, and spend there 1 month or 2, but not just CA, I want see as much as possible… and skate as long as I can. I don’t plan that much, I just live the moment how it comes.

Any last words?

The weather here sucks sometimes, right now I’m in the tram, in Zurich about to meet Sven and some other guys from Zurich in a few minutes, but it’s wet, so we’ll have to skate the skatepark! hehe, this is normal for Switzerland!

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photo Alan Maag/Dominik Jermann
conducted by Bradley Cushing
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