Playboard Magazine, a Norwegian skate/snowboard magazine of high quality, published an exclusive interview with JP Solberg a while back. Sorry about the delay, but I hope it was worth the wait. I know Avran has had a hard-on about reading this for a while. I´ll translate as best I can JP´s thoughts on being part of the Burton team and then moving on to something new.
Much thanks to the editor of Playboard, Lars Gartå, for the original cover file and the courtesy to let me translate and post this interview for the Angry Snowboarders not speaking Norwegian out there.
A new deal
It´s a new chapter in the life of the Solberg. Uncle Burton´s not holding my hand anymore. Heh-heh, that sounded kinda sketchy! Don´t take it the wrong way, I´ve had the time of my life there – completely insane! Burton was the greatest thing ever. It´s always been like that, and it can work for you, but it can also swallow you whole and spit you right out again. If they´re keen on pushing you, they can really help – that, or you may end up in the shadows. They were keen on pushing me heavy like, sent me out in the big world, and put me on the global team. Good times. But getting told what to do all the time will really get on your nerves. They´re so directional, a lot of politics involved. The contract is literally this fat (illustrating a small version of the yellow pages), and on every page they list up new reasons for breach of contract. It gets kind of silly when you get a very strict no-alcohol rule and then get sent around on the world tour with free bars everywhere.. Heh.
We went through all kinds of media training, had to practice how to do the right things; you´re supposed to think this, you´re supposed to say that. Everything is prearranged, you´ll turn into a pawn in a game of chess. You never really know what their agenda is. When a kid, full of life, full of juice, winds up in something like that – of course it´s going to work. They´ll suggest something, you´ll get very stoked on virtually anything. As you get older, though, you start reflecting about what´s really going on, then you start wanting to say no to certain things, and then it gets harder. They cover you from head to toe, for better or worse. Like I said, though, I had the best time at theirs. I´ve been developing myself, and started to learn a lot about production and product testing – the whole process. The next logical step for me is to do my own thing. A lot is working over there (at Burton), but there were a lot of things I didn´t see working out just as good, too.
On Romain DeMarchi
Take that thing with Romain, for example; the UnInc deal. Romain is the craziest guy. The graphics for the Love-series was his idea. He wanted naked ladies, but all they said was ‘no, no, no’ every single year. Then he got left out in the cold, and Burton went on with naked ladies, and gave it to Mikkel (Bang)! All props to Mikkel, but he can´t pull that(naked ladies on board graphics) off the way Romain can. Romain deserves cred for all the controversy, but Burton is 110% run by the market. Everything has to be calculated, timed and politically correct. UnInc was a lot of fucking fun, and we received a lot of props for it. We sort of wish we did it ourselves, though. The intention was to distribute them (the UnInc boards) to a select few core shops, but the US reps went to the big chains and anyone else and tried to sell in a big volume; shops could only buy the UnInc boards if they bought the whole line of boards. Lots of smaller stores couldn´t do this. The only thing we heard was that our boards didn´t sell.. What the fuck? Now we´re off to a fresh start. Now, we have the experience, the technology, and the freedom to make something seriously sick. I´m putting my life, heart and soul into this. If people don´t dig it, fair enough. It´s worth trying, we´ve got nothing to lose; it´s only us.
On UnInc and Yes
The whole idea about UnInc was that I, Romain, DCP and Gigi were going to do our own thing. We decided to do it under Burton´s umbrella, and I guess you can say we can regret that now. That´s why we´re giving it a new go. The first year of UnInc was fucking cool. We got to, for the most part, to run our own show. But when the owners realized the potential of our brand, they all of a sudden wanted to have a say in every process. Didn´t go much further than the second year that we started to feel that we lost control of the brand, and that it became more and more a part of Burton. No wonder we lost inspiration. Now, we´re working full time developing some very exciting and promising shapes, and we plan on taking a whole new and different approach to graphics than anyone else on the market. Our brand is going to be named “Yes”, and we believe we have something new to offer. We´re cutting all unnecessary links between the riders and consumers. If the kids want to critique our boards, we want it right in our own inbox. That´s how we can make better boards. Communication with the riders will be a key part of the image of “Yes”. If you want the graphics of the 154 on a 162, you can order it on our website. We´re also going to change the graphics every 4th month. The southern hemisphere gets this season´s boards half a year later because of the winter season differing from the northern, since most brands release new boards once a year, but we plan to change that.
Arilds thoughts and comments
On the Burton criticism, I´m not surprised. Back in the days of Eira Snow, my buddy Eirik´s and mine snowboarding accessory company, ran a side blog, called fuckburton.com. We actually owned that domain. This may or may not have been started right after we tried to buddy sponsor (no pay, of course, but plenty of tees, beanies and bandanners) one certain Scandinavian Burton rider, who had to say no due to the fear of breaching contract. Not giving out names there. Mostly, what we did with the blog was uncovering the evils of Burton, most of them highly unsubstantiated and lacking proof.
Stoked on seeing Yes Snowboards around, curious of what new shapes they´ll bring us.
Thanks to Arild for translating this for everyone. Thanks to Lars for letting us bring this over to the site as well.