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The Governor: Marius Syvanen

(Photo above: Pivot to fakie, San Diego, CA. PHOTO / Blair)

I've seen a lot of message-board opinion of late discussing how much "hard work" and "on the grind" certain pro skaters might be. Like that's a good thing. People are tallying footage output, scrambling for metrics, and decrying "lazy pros" for milking it. That's all fine and dandy. Yeah, we all want to see our favorite skateboarders actually ride their skateboards. I get that. But guess what? I never want to see my favorite pros doing "hard work." The reason I fell in love with skateboarding, and the loose prospect of "professional" skateboarding, was because it looked like the coolest, funnest, most carefree thing on the planet. I don't want to see a dude train in a gym or private skatepark for half the year between warehouse ledge drills. Fuck that.

Marius Syvanen more or less represents my ideal "professional" hybrid. He's not hiding—he puts out footage frequently and shoots photos for the mags. But he also travels the world—tinkering with madness, bordering on alcoholism, and raging through life's adventures with gusto. You know, the ones that happen while the other guy was busy working out some doctor's Power Plate vibration machine. Cornered briefly whilst traveling through Spain with his New Balance teammates, Marius took time out for a short but sweet Q and A on the happenings in his life, circa summer 2016. Here's to you, Governor.Mackenzie Eisenhour


Portrait by Jaime Owens (click to enlarge)

What's been cooking lately?
We've been out in Spain now for about three weeks. Skating around, chillin', having fun.

You guys are in Madrid with New Balance, right? What's new with the NB crew?
Yeah, we were in Madrid first, then went around the north of Spain in Basque Country for 10 days. The NB crew goes hard.

Can you break down going “Tom Penny crazy” in BCN a few summers back?
[Laughs] Yeah. Shit got a bit rough for sure. Not sleeping and drinking boatloads of booze will definitely send you into days of craze.

I was told you were found shirtless and shoeless at MACBA mumbling to yourself. Is that a Barca rite of passage? It was for me.
[Laughs] I was running around naked pretty much for a week straight—seeing shit flying around in the sky. I was toast.


Switch crooked grind. Los Angeles, CA. PHOTO / Peters. (click o enlarge)

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." Did your dad work for the company that invented waterproof iPhone cases or something like that?
Yeah. The company he worked for was called H20 Audio. It was rad, but it's not around anymore now.

Was the fam always pretty well off, or was that when he struck it rich?
Nah, he didn't strike it rich or anything. My family has always been chillin' though. Not super well off or anything but just normal.

You still go back to Finland every summer and sail around on the lakes?
It's been a few summers now I haven't been with the folks out on the boat. Cruising around the thousands of islands around the Finnish archipelago is amazing.

Are you considered an American now over in Suomi land?
Pretty much. I'm always getting called out for not living there and reppin' it so hard.

"I was running around naked pretty much for a week straight—seeing shit flying around in the sky.I was toast."

What are your thoughts on Habitat being distributed by Official now? Was Tum Yeto just the rebound relationship?
I back it for sure. It's going in an epic direction; those guys are really cool over there.

You, Wes Kremer, and Tyler Surrey are referred to as the "SD Trifecta." Do you guys triple team girls? How did the nickname come about?
Not sure where that originated, but we've all been skating together for like 15 years and counting. Possibly Cuong [Lieng] or Fitz [Mike Fitzgerald] came up with that one.

You're also nicknamed "Govs" because you call everyone "Governor." Did you watch a lot of Victorian theater or Oliver Twist? How did you pick that one up?
Oliver Twist, mate. No, I remember like 10 years ago with Austyn Gillette we'd always be calling it out like, "What up, Governor!" But then it faded away and no one said it for years, and nowadays I somehow got the name and still say it. I personally don't like saying "dude" or "man," so it's just funny to me when you call someone "Govs."

Fair enough. And then of course "Bob" is your drunken alter ego, right? Aka Bobblehead. Is Bob in full rage these days?
[Laughs] Yeah, I believe that is pretty accurate. And yes, he's definitely raging right now.


Backside tailslide. San Diego, CA. PHOTO / Gould (click to enlarge)


Have you been pretty healthy of late as far as your heart and that? Anything new on that front?
Nothing new. Just survival, mate.

When was the heart thing? Last summer?
It was end of last August [2015].

Break it down. What happened?
I woke up one morning at six a.m., my eyes wide open and my heart racing. I thought I was having a heart attack. The homie I was with, we took a tram to a taxi straight to the hospital. I was in Helsinki. I was trippin'. My heart wouldn't calm down. They strapped me down and knocked me out instantly with anesthesia and defibbed my heart back into order. My heart stopped and they defibrillated it back into a semi-normal pulse.

"I personally don't like saying "dude" or "man," so it's just funny to me when you call someone 'Govs.'"

How long was it stopped for?
Not long. Like four minutes or something.

What?! Did they have you hooked up to a machine that was pumping your blood or something?
Oh, yeah. So craze.

Was it a heart attack? Or what was going on?
No, I have an irregular heartbeat that I never really knew about. I've had a sketchy heart my whole life and it finally acted up.

Anything spark it to act up?
There might have been something that sparked it for sure. Something to do with being out there raging for a while; shit catches up to you when you go cold turkey for a couple days. That's pretty much the conclusion I've come to.


Frontside wallride from ledge. Los Angeles, CA. PHOTO / Peters. (click to enlarge)

So is it on a regular beat now, or is it going to be irregular for the rest of your life?
I actually had surgery in December. They go through lymph nodes in your groin with these tubes, so it's not like that major, but it ended up not working—150 thousand dollar surgery. I didn't have to pay that much of course, insurance covered most of it. The surgery didn't fuckin' work.

You get it done here or in Finland?
San Diego. I had to drop a cool four [grand] on it. It's some stupid percentage, like seven percent of heads who get this surgery for an irregular heartbeat doesn't work.

So you still have an irregular heartbeat?
Yeah, I'm on these meds. I'm waiting to have surgery again here after the summer. Sketchy-ass heart. I hate to talk about it. It's such a horrible thing. Arto went through the same thing. I seriously live day by day since that happened. It was so fuckin' buck. I don't take anything for granted. It was a serious wake-up call.

"I seriously live day by day since that happened. It was so fuckin' buck. I don't take anything for granted. It was a serious wake-up call."

Are you still out on the Levi's build projects? Thoughts on their program/gear?
Oh, absolutely. For sure, the program is amazing and so is the gear. Our next project is out in Detroit soon, so that should be cool to see what they come up with.

I'm sure it's been discussed a million times over the years, but can you run down surviving the speed wobbles after that switch crooks to hill bomb [Search The Horizon ('13)]? Miracle? I still think of it every time I hear your name.
It was definitely a miracle. That was the first time I even rode down it. I didn't even just regular bomb it. But Vincent Alvarez had recently done switch 180 nosegrind back to switch and rode down it no problem. So I was super hyped on that and just went for it. At any rate, I ended up finding out quickly that that shit was fucking sketch, Govs.