Simon Perottet

Simon is only 21 but it feels like he’s just as wise as an older guy. I think that what struck me the most when I first met him a couple years ago, was that and his great abilities on a board! Born and raised in Geneva, Simon is keeping up the helvet savoir-faire heritage with style and ease. Over the years he has learned from the best and used skateboarding as a way to grow his self-confidence.

When he’s not in his homeland he likes to spend time in Paris and that’s where we shot most of this interview. It took us a few months, a lot of back and forth trips and a little help from Sebastiano Bartoloni but it’s finally here! As for the interview we did it really last minute, exchanging through messenger while he was getting ready to start his day, we kept doing it when he was riding the bus and avoided a fine, then when he was having lunch with his best friend and until he got to his local park. Bless you hyper connectivity! Anyway if you’ve never heard about him, here is a good opportunity to discover this lovely guy but if you have you might still learn a thing or two!

"Well sometimes I wish I was a little less smart, less thoughtful and more dumb."

Hey Simon, so is it your first interview? I had one when I was 17 years old for a Swiss magazine called That Noise, but the problem was that the interview was in French and I think the rest of the mag was in Swiss-German… so all my homies that don’t speak French could only look at the pictures. Swiss problems you know haha.

I also had a « Vos gueules » in Sugar, my friend Dax wrote the text to introduce me and that’s about it.

Can you tell me how is the skate scene in Switzerland?

Well it’s a small country with a big scene. I’d say there are two major cities Zurich and Geneva that are the gathering points for the scene, it’s where most things are happening. In Geneva there’s a rich history with generations of skaters that I don’t even know but always hear about, like the Kampfen brothers!

I’m guessing skateboarding is a good way to overcome the language barrier in the country!

Yeah it is but we mostly speak in English even though the Swiss-Germans are pretty good

with French.

Do you speak any other language than French and English?

Not really, I do understand German a little bit and my girlfriend is teaching me some words in Russian.

Who do you skate with in Geneva?

Mostly with the OG 2000 crew, it’s a group of friends that I’ve known for at least a decade.

When I was smaller these guys were already the big guys and I had a lot of respect for them and admiration for the videos they were making.

Back in the days the crew was called « La fine équipe » and David Goldsworthy (Dax) was already in charge of the editing. I’d watch his videos for hours. I also skate a lot with Manuel Muller (Redline films), he’s in forties and has been filming for years and when I was a kid I was dreaming to shoot with him, I was a big fan of his work. But I got to say that my influences were mostly my contemporaries, I was never the kind of kid that would watch the « Fully flared » for a hundred times and learn every part by heart. I’d watch the videos from the guys that were at the park.

With the OG 2000 you often connect with 5ème Terrasse crew in France and it feels like it really helps galvanize this part of the Alps!

Yeah, it’s true and I think most of the guys from the 5T crew grew up in Annecy which is only 40 minutes away from Geneva by car so we’ve know them for a while. They were already coming a bunch and vice versa but I don’t really know how it started. It might be when Thomas Gouillon aka Natas started to make music videos for Di-Meh, he would come often and hang with us so the connection came naturally. But yeah we try to do stuff on our own and make some noise because there is very little media coverage over here!

Talking about Di-Meh it makes me realize that you guys have a lot of rappers that skate too. Do you still see him at the park?

I got to admit I haven’t skated with him in a long time, he’s too busy with music now. But yeah, we have a good rap scene in Geneva. I mentioned my friend Jne Side when you called me earlier, he just released a new project today and he skates too. There is also Célian Cordt-Moller aka Yngmaison and my best friend Mickael who just started.

It makes sense that you’re also friends with Antoine aka Lomepal then.

Actually I didn’t met him in Geneva, it’s my friend Alastair who introduced me to him two years ago when I was in Paris for two weeks… that’s when I met you too, do you remember?

Yeah of course, it was at Musée d’Orsay.

So Alas told me he would introduce me to his friends and one day Antoine came. I had no idea he was into rap music and even less that he was starting to get famous. When I finally understood I tripped a little bit. When I heard my friends in Geneva talking about him I realized he had some influence in the music industry.

A few thousand fans indeed!

You said earlier that there is not a lot of media coverage in Switzerland and from what I understood you’re a bit forsaken by the big brands right?

Yeah, a little bit, back in the day, there was a distributor (Brazil distribution) who spoiled the older guys but it went sour. After that, for the guys from my generation there was not much hook-ups left. I think we are maybe 5 people in Geneva getting shoes regularly, maybe even less.

But at least 242, your skateshop is very active!

Yeah Jason is doing what he can to help out, he was the first one to give me a pair of shoes and a board. But it’s a small shop so he can’t do it all. Big love for the J!

Did I saw a board from the shop with your name on it posted on Instagram?

Yeah, he often make some tribute boards with two names on it, this time he did one for each rider. Jordan Queijo got one too and I don’t know who’s getting the next one but I hope it twill be Luc Boimond! I think it’s his way to thank his riders for representing the shop.

I think it’s pretty cool, did it make you want to get a real pro-model?

Haha yeah maybe one day but it’s not my primary objective. I just want to kick ass at skateboarding and have fun… but I’d be stoked if it happens!

Let’s talk about another of your sponsor that a lot of skaters must be jealous of, CBD 420, it’s pretty funny considering that you don’t smoke!

Haha yeah, my friend Jonas Duclos started the brand a few years ago, we call him « Jojo the ember » because he smokes so much. When CBD became legal in Switzerland he just jumped at the opportunity and he already had this idea of having a skate team and he took me in. But they’re not only making weed, they also do balms for the muscles and that’s my shit!

That and the sparkling water

Fuck yeah, that’s my shit too.

A true addiction from what I saw.

Some of the older guys got me into drinking it, before that I was more into sodas… it feels more mature, more distinguished, haha. But recently I just got sponsored by a Swiss maté brand called El Tony, it’s pretty good too especially if you mix it with gin in a cocktail.

Maté is kind of a more natural energy drink, how the hell did you get sponsored by them?

Well it started as a bet with my girlfriend Laura, she lives a bit outside of the city and when we would take her car we would always stop at the gas station near by and get a bottle. We started to drink a lot of these and one day out of nowhere she challenged me to get a sponsorship so I just took my phone and sent a quick message. If I was to succeed she would have to do something that I can’t say here haha… Next thing you know, I’ve got a maté sponsor

That’s pretty funny. What is it going to be for the next challenge? Swiss air so you can take her on holidays?

Haha why not? That would be nice! I don’t know how but there is this one guy in Geneva that is sponsored by Norwegian air so he can go almost anywhere for free, that’s nuts!

That would be a great one!

Yeah not so green but it would be very convenient to see more of the world. But I think my ultimate dream sponsor would be Lacoste!

Then you should apply for the French citizenship and get on the Olympic skate team, they have some decent Lacoste tracksuits.

Haha no way, I’m not into Olympics!

But you’re into travelling! It feels like you went on a bunch of trips these past few months!

Yeah and I feel so lucky for that! The last one I did was in Morocco and I remember talking to a guy who had never left his city of Rabat. It made me realize how privilege we are being able to go there for two weeks, just for leisure when he never even went to the next city in his own country.

Very true and not everyone is aware of that luck!

What are the other memorable trips you took?

The very first one on my own in Croatia. Then the usual Barcelona, London, Berlin.

What else, Milan, Los Angeles, Montréal and of course Paris.

Ah Paris, it feels like you’re here

every other month.

Yeah true, we’re thinking about moving there for a bit with Laura in a near future.

Hopefully it will work out with school too, you just restarted right?

I’m sure we’ll be able to do it one day!

Yeah, I’m going to the haute École de travail social (University of social work) and studying socio-cultural animation.

Basically, the job is to intervene with different populations to create social cohesion within the community and with the rest of society.

We study a lot of sociology, history of social work, economics and law. It’s pretty interesting to see how it’s been handled differently in France and in Switzerland, it’s really different.

The fact is that we had a lot less of migration waves than you and the identity reaction in France was kind of a ghettoization towards the migrants. That’s why they build all these social housing blocks of flats. That’s when it started to go wrong and I’m super interested in this kind of topics.

In Switzerland there was a bigger effort to try to integrate migrants. I mean we do have social housing too but we don’t have the same history.

So you would be kind of a mediator?

Yeah it’s part of the role of a facilitator, you do mediation and you accompany the people in community projects. You’re also the link between them and the politics. It’s an important job because usually people don’t have the knowledge about how the Swiss system works so you help them to figure this administrative nightmare out.

I’ve heard it’s pretty hard to get the citizenship.

Yeah it’s the blood right. I have a buddy who lived in the United States his whole life but he is from Venezuela. He’s been living in Switzerland with his father for 5 years but last year his father’s work visa was coming to an end and he had to return to the States. He was so scared because of the new immigration policies in the States he might not be able to go back home and would be sent to Venezuela. So, he tried to do a lot of procedures to get a work contract in Switzerland (which he got), he even thought of marrying a Swiss girl to stay. So yeah, it’s hard and it takes time!

You must feel lucky to be Swiss then!

Yeah and even more these days, it’s a safe country, the unemployment rate is low, the economy is strong but the only problem is that if you don’t work your ass off you’re screwed! Everything is expensive and you got to pay for everything. Now I’m studying but soon I’ll have to think about what’s next.

Maybe skateboarding full time?

Yeah why not, or working a bit in Switzerland and then moving to France… it’s basically what I’m doing already. Working in July in Geneva and skating in August in Paris.

You’re a smart kid, I’m sure you’ll

figure it out.

Well sometimes I wish I was a little less smart, less thoughtful and more dumb.

Oh come on, I won’t quote anyone but I’ve interviewed a bunch of dumb skaters, you don’t want to be like them I swear!

You’re right, too many skaters only think about skateboarding… But yeah, I don’t know, the fact that I lost my dad when I was 13 made me grow up a little bit faster I guess.

It made you more mature that’s for sure! Do you think it affects your skateboarding too?

I don’t know about that, maybe I’m more scared of certain things but it mostly affected my teenage life.

Then skateboarding allowed you to empty your mind?

Yeah for sure but it can also rack my brain haha. Thinking too much made me feel a little bit out of step with the other kids. My friends were just messing around and I was kind of the wise one in the group. I have some regrets about that, like I didn’t enjoyed my teenage years enough. Now I realize that I’m not a kid anymore and I might not be able to mess around like I could have.

Don’t worry you’ll have to mess around during your midlife crisis.

Haha yeah, we’ll see about that. But skateboarding has always been a way to make me feel better. When I was a kid I had nothing special, I mean I still suck at soccer, at school I was good but not the best. I was introverted and not so good at relationship so skatebarding was my way to kick ass at something. Now I got other stuff, I’ve evolved but for a long time it was a way to tell myself that I don’t suck.

That’s why I like interviews, it’s a good way to know people deeper, see you never told me about all that.

Skateboarding really helped me to like myself and be more confident. We all do sports for different reasons but I think we all need to feel better at something than the others. Skateboarding did that for me and now that I’ve travelled a bunch and met people way better than me I realize it’s not essential. It changed my mind but I can still be very competitive. It’s not the only thing that motivates me anymore.

Yeah, I saw you killed a few contests.

I’m not going to lie, I like contests but it’s not a priority. Today I want to travel, meet people, shoot pictures and videos.

You said earlier that you have other stuff than skateboarding, what?

I’ve spent a good amount of time writing and drawing these past few months. I also love to walk, in Geneva we have the shore of the Rhone river and it still kind of wild, I love it. Recently I discovered curling, that thing is really dope!

No way, you’re the first person that I know who does curling.

Haha you know Celian from our crew was like third at the Swiss championships!

Are you gonna release your texts and drawings someday, I’d love to see that!

Yeah I should start an Instagram account for that, I’ll do it one day.

You got a life ahead of you!

Well it’s only good to have a life ahead of you if you do something with it! Interview: Clément Chouleur Photos: Clément Chouleur & Sebastiano Bartolini