Blader Union & Roces Present: Stefan Brandow

Skating & Edit by Stefan Brandow

Main Camera: Logan Fuller

Additional Filming: Kurt Rose, Josh Yarmesch

Interview by Daniel Nodzak

Last August I approached Stefan Brandow about producing the next Blader Union Crowd-Funded edit and despite still recovering from an injury he suffered in May he immediately agreed. Over the next few months as Stefan continued to strengthen his ankle he was able to eventually began filming. Yesterday morning Stefan and I had a chance to talk more about this video, how got involved with Roces, filming with professional scooter riders, and what he feels may be holding our community back.

Like all of our official Blader Union videos this was made possible through the generous support of our backers on patreon. Blader Union is a non-profit organization run on a volunteer basis. 100% of the funds contributed through our patreon finance our mission of providing the rollerblading community with up to date news aggregation, compensating skaters like Stefan for their hard work, sponsoring events, and commissioning work from talented artists around the world. No contribution is too small so if you would like to find out how you can help please visit our patreon here.

First of all, I'd like to thank you for collaborating with Blader Union on this video. It also happens to be your first project since joining Roces as an Ambassador so we might as well start there. How did you get involved with Roces?

Of course! I love what you guys are doing so I'm hyped to be a part of it. I'm also hyped to be involved with Roces. Ricardo Lino basically made it all happen after I did a podcast with him. [Listen here] He knew I was skating V13s at the time and was enjoying them so he made the effort to contact Roces and get them in touch with me.

Toe Slide

Toe Slide

That must have been pretty exciting. Roces has sponsored a lot of legendary names of the sport and you're now involved at a pivotal time when the brand is reestablishing itself in the aggressive community. You've been dealing with an injury for awhile and this edit is the first content you've been able to produce since joining the team so did you feel any pressure to live up to the skating of some of those classic team line ups?

Oli Short and Charles Dunkle have always been two of my favorite skaters if not my absolute favorites, so I'm always thinking about how rad it is to be a part of something they were a part of. But the only pressure I feel is from myself wanting to skate a certain way and not physically being able to yet. It's been a rough time for me mentally because usually skating is my release from things, but when I can't skate or skating is frustrating it makes things hard.

So tell me about the injury. How did you get hurt?

In May I tore some of the ligaments in my right ankle. I was skating a local skatepark doing something I've done a few times and just landed awkwardly with all my weight folding on my ankle. Didn't realize how bad it actually was for a few weeks. Had to do a lot of physical therapy and staying active walking to get it moving again. I still can't bend it enough to do royales, torques, topsides, or rails. It also hurts sometimes to try balancing back and forth on rails. So while I can skate hard again my trick vocabulary and the spots I can skate are very limited.

Recreation featuring a Stefan Brandow look-alike we hired.

Recreation featuring a Stefan Brandow look-alike we hired.

So you had to get creative in this edit and I think it shows in the best way possible. It's not your typical skating we're accustomed to but you've still managed to pull off some crazy stuff. How did you approach skating for this?

Obviously the first thing I wanted to do was go jump off stuff. That's not always a possibility right now. I have good and bad days with the ankle and sometimes I just can't take a drop from a certain height. So doing stunts I'd normally do wasn't an option. There are also days I can barely lift it up to hold a toe roll, so between all of that and only being able to do very specific grinds on specific spots it was tough to think of tricks to do. It basically turned into what can I physically do at this spot right now, or traveling to places that I knew had cool things I could skate.

Stefan jumping off stuff

Stefan jumping off stuff

Speaking of traveling, while you were filming this part you joined up with some professional scooter riders. How did you get involved with them?

That was kind of why this part came together at all honestly. There is a very small spread out scene in Baltimore/DMV so when I first moved to Baltimore I started going out skating with Logan Fuller who is a pro scooter rider and amazing filmer as well. He and some other guys I know were going on a two week filming trip to Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cleveland and some other smaller cities in Pennsylvania for their sponsor and invited me along. That's how I was able to get most of the footage for this part. Logan and I have the same mentality on riding and filming so we always vibe great and I love doing anything with those dudes.

Acid soul

Acid soul

Are there any noticeable differences between traveling and filming with scooter riders as opposed to rollerbladers?

I think that always depends on the people involved, but the guys that I know like Logan, Michael Hohmann, Brian Noyes, and Juzzy Carter are insanely professional, organized, and positive.

They drive around searching for the best spots, get pins to other spots from people in other sports, all know how to film. They also all support and respect everyone not only in their own sport but others too.

Sometimes it seems like respect can be in short supply within the rollerblading community. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on where you think we're collectively at as a sport. Are there any lessons we could learn from our skatepark-sibling sports?

I think the biggest problem in rollerblading has always been that the minute you're on a pair of skates you feel ostracized by others. Other action sports, other people, whatever. I think that in turn makes rollerbladers feel like everyone is against them so we get defensive and hateful back to everyone else but mostly each other. But I think the biggest issue that causes is that because we're "uncool" everywhere else everyone in blading feels the need to follow whatever the cool trend is in blading for fear of being not accepted by the one thing they're involved in. 

All street scooter riders respect each other and their riding. If they don't like someone's riding they still respect that person as a fucking person. That is always awesome to see and be around. Rollerbladers seem to judge someone by their skating or choices without actually knowing them as a person. I think that's one of our biggest problems. If you don't like someone's skating, don't watch it. 

No one is going to get into what we do by seeing a cool kids club of people that hate on other people that do the exact same thing they do. The "too cool to care" attitude has to go. We obviously all love rollerblading or we wouldn't all have been doing it this long, so it's rad to care about it and want it to succeed and see people with a talent for it not struggle

Wall ride

Wall ride

That's a great observation. I think that attitude has been with rollerbladers for a very long time but may have been exasperated by the rise of the social media age, where everyone suddenly has a voice, but you don’t always know the person on the other end of the thread. We could be using these tools available to us to facilitate progress but more often than not it seems like instagram, facebook, YouTube and other platforms are used mostly for shit talking and petty arguments. Having said that, it's not a steadfast rule. Are there any people in rollerblading you think are doing a particularly good job of rallying the community together in the social media age?

On top of doing a great job pushing his skating on Instagram Bobi Spassov always stays positive and makes a point to push that. Kevin Little took over Donate and Skate from me years ago and has been able to keep it going strong in Texas and other areas with contests where the community gives their old skates to kids and those in need. I also don't think scenes like Detroit and Ohio get enough credit for keeping an active community going in their areas with organized sessions and contests. Things like that are integral in keeping people on blades

This is a question without an answer but moving five years Outward where do you see rollerblading?

That's one I really have no clue about. There's a lot of ways it could go. Things happen and progress naturally without us even noticing and until we look back at them. I do hope social media/Instagram clips play less of a part and people start appreciating video parts again.

Yoshimi being a very good girl

Yoshimi being a very good girl

Alright Stefan I don't want to take up any more of your time this morning but before i let you go, what's next for you in and outside of skating?

Biggest thing for me right now is Outward. The next line is at the printer right now actually. Growing Outward is the most important thing for me going and why I'm taking a break on Brigade. I love the new creative direction I have for it, it's exactly what I want to do. 

Being hurt has made me just want to skate more and be able to get all my tricks back and learn new ones. Excited to start traveling again to skate too.