After countless years sitting at the back of class listening to a 60 year old bucktoothed professor blabber on and on about the fucking geographical coordinate system and the second world.. one would figure that I could easily pin point where Latvia is located, but 20 years later, and all I could do was throw a wild guess of its proximity. While on a Google quest for more info on this Baltic country, I repeatedly came across two stimulating subjects : stunning women and Madars Apse. He has single handedly put Latvia on the world map and we had the chance to kick it with him and get the lowdown on his native land and his perspective on the progression of the skate scene.
Jacker / Hailing from Latvia is pretty unique, how was the skate scene there when you were growing up? Are there a lot of skate spots?
Madars / There are more spots now than there used to be. I feel like there are 3 generations that Latvia has had. First in the 80’s, then the 90’s, and now the 2000’s. There are 3 shops in Riga, and skaters are everywhere now. The skate spots in Latvia are like a mix of New York and the soviet union.. There’s a bit of a Russian vibe to it.. You can always find new spots, there is always some weird spot or some handrail, like today I found a really cool handrail that I’m really hyped on..
J / How did you get in contact with skateboard companies ? Contacts ? Contests ? Sponsor me tapes ?
M / It was all of those that you just mentioned, mainly contacts through the distribution, through the skate shop that I skated for. My manager would tell me what to do, they would tell me to make a sponsor me video, I traveled to contests abroad, and I made a list of all the contests I entered and won. After 3 to 4 years of straight traveling and trying to get into the scene, the team manager for Element Europe decided to put me on in 2004.
J / What do you think about the skateboard industry today compared to the early 2000’s ?
M / Yeah, it was amazing back in the day, because you really appreciated any video that you got your hands on. For me, in Latvia there were some shops where you could get the VHS tapes but my parents would never want to purchase them, so I would have to record from the television.. I would record the X Games, or this EuroSport TV show and sometimes when I would win contests, I would win VHS’ and that’s how I would get inspired. These days, everywhere you look there is some new trick coming out every day and the possibilities are endless, back in the day the scene was smaller.. I mean I’m not even OG to really be talking about “back in the day” [laughs]. Back in the day you would appreciate having a video and watch it at least 100 times. I would watch the Habitat Mosaic video, Element World Tour was pretty ill, Adio One Step Beyond, and a whole bunch of 411’s. Back then I would watch a skate video, watch my favorite parts, get amped, get amped, get amped, press stop, and GO !
J / We have read that Latvia has one of the highest rates of fashion models per capita in the world, it must be crazy skating down the streets and there are hot chicks all over the place, no ?
M / It is like that ! You should come for yourself and see ! Especially in the summer, it’s amazing !
J / You’ve got quite the free mentality, “do what you feel, see what happens”. Do you find an equilibrium between filming and chilling when skating/on tour ?
M / It’s hard to find an equilibrium, because I always get invited to go on some trips, to Mongolia or India or Australia and I’ve just been saying no to all these offers and it’s so hard to say but I have to film for the Element video. My team manager told me what we were doing and that I should focus on it but if I wanted to go, I could and it would definitely be an awesome trip. But Element is Element, they are my core sponsor and I really want to have an awesome video part ! Injuries also keep from going skating all the time, so an equilibrium kind of comes naturally. I wish it was more natural, I wish I would not have to get hurt to chill, but for the most part, I’m a skater that get’s hurt all the time.. I would have to go on a trip, come home, heal, go back, and repeat. But I’m really trying to change that right now, it’s my main goal.
J / You hold a lot of respect and recognition in the skateboard scene, you also tour schools and events to promote skateboarding. Do you have any advice for others looking to get exposed or get into skateboarding ?
M / The skateboarding industry is very small if you look at it, so it’s not easy, but if you’re really creative and the videos you post online aren’t too long and focused more on the quality of your tricks and style, then you’ve got a chance ! If you travel a lot, and do good in contests, it’s always good.. It’s all about meeting people and getting together with your favorite skaters that push you to another level. I feel that I got kinda lucky, so it’s kind of hard for me to say what people have to do to become a pro, but you really have to have true passion for skateboarding and it’ll all work out.
J / We know you’re a fan of acupuncture to prepare yourself for skateboarding, are there any other things/rituals you do before a session or while on the road ?
M / Last week I had 3 of sessions, but most of the things that I do are my actions so I don’t NEED someone else when I’m hurt on tour. If it’s really bad, I’ll kick it at the hotel, elevate the injured area 10cm above my heart, relaxing, and a little bit of meditation. I just went to Austria and my friend’s girlfriend is a specialist in traditional Chinese medicine, so she hooked it up ! I was pretty stoked on that. I’ll probably go again next week to my local in Latvia but really it’s all about exercises and meditation.
J / You’ve been filming for the Element video, what are some of the funniest/best memories so far ?
M / Right now I’m filming for the Element video and for my YouTube show “It’s A Mad World”, it’s coming back to life, re-incarnated ! There’s a new project that I just filmed in Austria with Niki Waltl, I can’t talk about it but it was fun ! Watch out for it this summer, it’s going to be cool. I got lucky with one of the last tricks I was filming for the Element video, I got really lucky and did a trick by accident, but then again accidents are a big part of my life [laughs]. I also saw Mark Appleyard skating a month ago, and that got me really excited, it really made me think that when I’m older I can still kill it [laughs]. Appleyard was my favorite skater and next thing I know, he’s skating my board and doing the gnarliest shit while I’m there watching [laughs].
J / You’ve travelled all around the globe filming your web series, “It’s A Mad World”, meeting the demands from all your sponsors, releasing signature products, and attending University all at the same time, do you even sleep !? How did you manage to juggle all of this ?
M / Yeah, I don’t sleep, I’m one of those guys that stays awake all night and reads books [laughs]. Nah, I take it step by step. I can’t wait to finish my university so at least that is over with and otherwise it’s ok because I do the things that I love to do. But it’s definitely hard to juggle, but it’s a modern world, globalization, the 21st century, you gotta roll with it!
J / Back in 2013 you set up a skateboarding event in Latvia, has the skate scene in Latvia progressed ? Any plans to hold another event in the near future ?
M / Yeah definitely, I just had a meeting with my Red Bull team manager and we were talking about doing another DIY project. Since 2013 there have been a few DIY’s in Riga and some homies just built another indoor skate park so now we have two indoor parks, the scene is growing for sure !
J / The world is about to end in 15 minutes, you have one chance to teleport to one spot in the world, where would you go and what would you do ?
M / Are you sure the world is going to end ? [laughs] Because then I would probably get on a plane and jump off without a parachute.. if I knew my time has come, might as well OR I would go to some Nyjah type of skate spots and skate the biggest rails as if there was no tomorrow.
J / Alright, so you’ve teleported and the woman of your dreams is there and immediately invites you for a solid 15 minutes together.. skate or smash ?
M / I would grab my board for sure !!! [laughs] Probably not but for the interview I would say yes [laughs].
J / Thanks again for taking the time to kick it with us, any last words/shout outs ?
M / Peace on planet Earth ! Thanks for the interview, I hope everyone enjoyed reading it, now go out, skate, have fun and enjoy !