This is the full interview that ran in our April 2013 Interview Issue.
By Luke Callahan
After steadily putting out multiple video parts per year while studying business in Barcelona and London, it will be interesting to see how much more Madars Apse produces now that he has completed his schooling. With homework likely being replaced now by more skating we can guarantee a few additional parts added to his annual average. That or the construction of more Latvian skateparks.
“I do not support fighting and I will never support it.”
You've been away from home for a while now. How does it feel to be back in Latvia?
It's pretty nice. I like to come back and try to get myself back into the skateboarding scene out here and try to keep up with my friends. And I've got a girlfriend out here now and it's nice to be back and see my family. It's home, you know? It's good to feel winter too, by surprise.
It seems crazy for a skater to miss snow.
I have a friend who had the same thing. He lived in San Diego for a year and he is excited to be back home now in the snow. He doesn't want to go live anywhere else. I don't know why.
Do you do anything with the snow? Or is it straight to the indoor park?
Well, straight to the indoor park I would say. And I would occasionally, very occasionally, I mean, not too often, I would go snowboarding maybe once or twice while I lived out here. But the best thing to do with the snow is go naked in it after the sauna.
Polar Bear Plunge style?
That's what I would love to do. I've done it in a little small pond where there's ice but not in the sea. I have friends who did it. No sauna. Just straight jump in the sea where there's ice and swim for a little bit. It's supposed to be good for your health and good for your blood flow and stuff.
Have you been experiencing any celebrity status back home after returning from the recent tours and coverage?
A little bit. Since you guys gave me this World View thing, I got the ambassador of Latvia of the year, for the extreme sports. People are very happy for me, and I guess people appreciate me for what I'm doing. And I'm happy for it because it's good for the skate scene.
“The best thing to do with the snow is go naked in it after the sauna.”
Did they have a formal presentation?
Yes, they did. They had a prize for me and just like for the ESOTY, Kingpin's European Skater Of The Year, I wasn't here so the prize is somewhere in somebody's hands. I haven't even seen it yet. I would probably be better off if I was there to get the awards, but I had the option to go to New Zealand with DC. I'd never been south of the equator, and I felt like I won the lottery when I found out I could go.
Growing up in Europe, you have come up skating some creative spots. Have you had a tough time getting inspired in some of the other cities that have less creative options?
Yeah, I lived in Barcelona for three years and I totally understand what you mean. There're a lot of banks and stuff and a lot of Swedish skaters out there, I got a lot of my inspiration from them and Finnish skaters and there's a bunch of OG skater guys out there. And yeah, it was definitely great to skate the Barcelona spots and open up my mind a little bit. I can definitely say that I learned to skate street while living there.
Did you feel a little more limited by the spots in California while your were out here?
Yeah, I guess you might say so. I didn't have a big bag of tricks for stairs and handrails, so I just do what I can to get by when I'm out there. There's a big change; it's not the same for sure.
You've recently finished your college degree. How did you manage putting out multiple video parts in one year while going to school?
It's by textbook. It's not complicated to do the exams, and it's not complicated to do those assignments. Everybody can do them. Just yesterday I looked up this intellectual linguistic professor, Noam Chomsky. He speaks a lot about education. How it's basically about textbooks and how the modern educational system does not teach people how to actually learn. It just teaches you how to read something in a textbook, learn the answer, and don't even think creatively about the other options of this answer. So it's not complicated to do a degree and skate.
“I got the ambassador of Latvia of the year,
for the extreme sports.”
What made you want to study business?
In 2008 I had just finished secondary school and my parents told me to go to school because my older brother never went to university and my parents didn't want to allow me to do that, so I had to go. My mom had looked it up online that this school in Barcelona is really good, and basically I just applied for it nevertheless for the high prices of the university. Personally I did not care what I studied. I was not interested in anything besides skateboarding, playing guitar, or you know, kid's stuff. It's hard for an 18-year-old to know what he wants to do in life.
Your skating is definitely inspired by creative architecture and sculpture. Do you have any interest in those art forms outside of skating them? Have you built any spots?
Like creating sculptures myself? No, not really. Just the DIY. Red Bull asked me to do an event, and I was over doing events that leave nothing for the society, so I just decided to create something that stays. We decided to build a skatepark. There was no plan for it whatsoever, and we went along with it and then we started building it. It actually turned out pretty cool because it was [around] an old Soviet fountain. We're gonna finish up the DIY this summer. We're gonna maybe extend on the outside of the fountain, and we're going to build some flat ledges hopefully and then fence the whole place. We have to put some Jersey barriers on the top of the banks to make it much nicer, and apparently it should be really good for the kids. I must mention that the financial situation and the crisis in Latvia is one of the most severe in Europe. There're not many people that have money who would like to spend on concrete and things as people need to pay for their food and stuff, so I'm very fortunate to have Red Bull on my side. They went 100 percent over budget with this DIY project.
Word has it that you're also organizing a big contest in Latvia?
Actually just earlier this morning I had a meeting with a organizer of this contest. We're doing a Madars Invitational contest in my hometown. So everybody out there come to Latvia on the eighth and the 11th of August. I have to get as many skaters as I can [to come]. Last year I had two skate teams come through. The Sk8Mafia and Sweet team came out when we were doing the DIY. The Quiksilver Europe team came out too. It was pretty radical.
What was it like hosting those teams on your home turf?
It was wild. There were 15 people staying in a flat where nobody had stayed for over a year. There was one shower that was broken and apparently we flooded the whole bottom floor. Then the tour car broke down, and I had to beg people in my hometown to not beat up the guys. In my hometown people love to fight. It was really a lot of stress for the team managers. I give my apologies.
You were saying the Latvian dudes like to brawl. Was there a lot of damage control to do while you were hosting?
Yeah, it was almost embarrassing. I had to go up to four grown men and tell them to please not harm my guests because they are from abroad. The guy almost punched me in the face on the spot. I do not support fighting and I will never support it. Marius [Syvanen] got kicked in the back really hard from out of nowhere. They just kicked him. This was at the club. Some guy kicked him in the back and afterwards he came up at least three or four times and asked for three cigarettes each time. It was pretty embarrassing I admit. Those guys? You do not want to not give them cigarettes. Wes [Kremer] saw a guy get punched super hard in the face five times in front of the security guard at the front door.
Damn. So roll with cigarettes for those dudes when in Latvia.
Yeah, cigarettes and sunflower seeds.