In Conversation with Charles Deschamps
Interview by Evan Rissi
Portraits by Ryan Lebel
Charles is a pretty unassuming guy. I don’t know him super well, but over the years it’s become clear that no one dislikes him—which is a hard thing to say about anybody in this industry. The saying that goes, “if you have haters you’re doing something right” just doesn’t seem to apply to Charles. When I interviewed him about two years ago, we talked about his education in architecture, his status on the international DC team, and working on his video part for Duluth (which was ender). This time around, I rang him up and we talked about whatever with no real agenda. Oh, and it turns out he’s still pretty good at skateboarding too.
Charles, where you at?
I’m at my place right now. It’s raining outside, kinda garbage. Just taking the day to clean and do a bunch of shit, things you’d never get the chance to do if you’re out skating.
You finally moved to the Plateau.
Yeah, finally. I had been living with some homies so far out of town for two years, had a good deal, but just got a chance to move to the Plateau and had to do it. Happened two months ago, pretty stoked on the place. Oh yeah, you’ve been here right?
Yeah. The giant Monster Energy light-up sign in your living room is a nice centerpiece.
Yeah it’s pretty dope. It’s been good with my roommates too, nothing to complain about. Central to everything. Right close to Parc Laf, Parc Laurier… bit far from the bars on St. Laurent, but that’s okay.
Over the back to 50-50. Kazimierczuk
Nice neighbourhood. I heard you had a bit of an issue with your bike the other day?
Yeah, I got a flat tire… had to walk home 45 minutes from across town. Just locked my bike up in front of my house, thinking I was gonna get it fixed the next day. Went out a few days later, came back and just the wheel was left attached my balcony.
Damn, your balcony is two floors up (laughs).
Yeah it’s fucked. The dude had to come up all the way, unscrew my wheel, and carry it down the steps… He must’ve spotted it and scoped it out. Everybody I know here has had a bike stolen—it’s so shit. I paid full price for it, I was being honest and not buying a stolen bike for shitty karma… but now, I might have to do that. I’ve earned it (laughs).
Welcome to the Plateau. Somebody told me your hangover drink of choice is a Gin and Tonic? Seems kind of peculiar.
(Laughs) Nah, it’s not that good. It’s only when you wake up and you’re still drunk, not hungover… wake up and get breakfast, get a Gin and Tonic. Still so fucked up. I try not to drink when I’m hungover, I know it cures it, but then you just get trapped back in the Vortex.
Tell us about this Vortex.
That’s it, man. You drink, you get hungover, and then you drink again to get rid of the hangover, and then you’re hungover the next day, and then to get rid of that one you drink again (laughs). Over and over again.
(Laughs) Sounds familiar.
I really try not to get trapped in it, it’s sick to drink once in a while, but it’s too gnarly to do that shit every day. It gets to me. I like it sometimes, it’s fun and good times, but I just can’t do it all the time like some people. When I’m hungover and feel like shit, the last thing I want to do is start drinking again.
But four out of five doctors recommend it.
Yeah, two or three beers in, you’re back at it… but then you’re drinking for real again and have to keep it up. You never really get to cure the hangover. What’s fucked is that when you really drink for a few days… you end up not really being hungover, it just fades out.
Your body just gets used to having that booze in your blood. It’s science.
Exactly, then you don’t really get bad hangovers. But that’s also how people become alcoholics… they don’t let the alcohol withdrawal do its job, so if you don’t let your body recover and just keep drinking for weeks, it gets used to it. Then, if you do eventually stop drinking, you feel like total shit for a week. So it’s like, “fuck, might as well keep drinking.”
You’ve been on some benders, Charles?
Nothing too crazy, but last winter was pretty much every day. The winter is so harsh, it gets dark so early… you have to be inside and you just end up drinking. The summer is chill because you’re outside, at the spot, and just end up drinking until you go to the bar.
Gap to Smith grind. Jivcoff
B Shans told me you’re super weird at ordering/modifying food, or will send stuff back if it isn’t perfect. I’ve seen it a bit; you’re just pretty particular about what you want?
(Laughs) Am I? I don’t think so, maybe a little bit. No fucking pickles. I don’t know man, maybe. That Chicago trip, I remember he really called me out for putting syrup on my eggs.
He didn’t mention that one.
Yeah, we were eating breakfast in Chicago, and I was putting some syrup on my eggs, making a sandwich or whatever.
See, I think it all depends what was on your plate. If there was a pancake or French toast involved, the syrup wouldn’t be questionable at all.
It was like eggs, bacon, potatoes… classic breakfast.
No pancake or waffles?
See, then it’s a bit weird. I mean, I wouldn’t call you out on it, but I would definitely make a mental note of it.
Is it weird? (Laughs) I guess it’s not a common thing, I don’t usually do it. He was really shook, like “what the fuck are you doing, who does that!” And I was like “stop judging me bro, I’m eating my breakfast.”
Breakfast of Champions. Perfect segue way to skateboarding in the Olympics?
It’s kinda fucked man. It’s good and bad. I understand how it got there, but it’s nothing like a runner doing the 100-meter in 10 seconds. Like how do you know if a tre-flip crooks is harder than like a crook nollie-tre out, you know? How can you put a number on a trick? I don’t think you can get proper marks on tricks like that.
Well, it’s all subjective. Look at figure skating or gymnastics, people do the same or different shit, but there are judges to decide what scores more. Pretty whack comparison, but it is what it is… a competition.
That’s true. It is subjective. I guess it makes sense with the Street League system, and I’m not gonna lie… I watch those, they’re pretty entertaining. I guess it’ll just be another version of Street League but more serious because you’re representing your country. Probably the same shit with the same skaters. Not sure if it belongs there, but it’s definitely entertaining to watch. Putting numbers on tricks is still sort of whack. At the same time, if you can bring money to the industry and build new skateparks or benefit the community, then sure. I’m not for it or against it, but I think it was meant to happen either way. I guess now it’s happening.
Four years away, baby. Are you going to try out?
Yeah I’m fucking killing it at contests; I’m the best (laughs). Always land my run, do really well under pressure, 9-club tricks every time. Always landed.
Yeah, that’s me. Actually I’m probably too old for that already. You need younger guys that have tons of years of drinking/abuse left.
What if JCTM held a gun to your head and made you try out?
I don’t think there would even be a reason for me to try. You’ve seen me skate contests (laughs), I fucking suck at contests. Olympic ten stairs, big gaps, kicker to flat… that’s clearly my jam.
Remember when you randomly took that Adderall before skating at Dime Glory Challenge? Did that help?
I would have to take two next time—it didn’t help me at all. I woke up drunk that day laughing, just felt like shit. Hangover hit me later, headache of pain. It didn’t really help; it really didn’t feel right to skate that day (laughs). Just trying to boardslide a giant sword five feet in the air. That whole contest was fucking genius, so sick. Super fun day, regardless.
It was amazing. Any hammer insta edits coming out soon? Your next part?
It’s hard to tell what’s an insta clip and what’s a real clip these days. I feel like if anything is filmed iPhone—even if it’s the sickest clip—it won’t go in a real part, it’ll just go online. It’s all in the way it’s filmed, I think. At the same time, you could film a lesser trick on an HVX camera or something, but it could make its way into a real part because of the way it’s filmed or edited. That’s the main difference I think. Nick (vonWerssowetz) from Lurk NYC films everything amazing, even the simplest thing, and makes it look sick. It’s nothing like crazy bangers or super tech skating, but it’s the way the spot looks or how it’s filmed. Overall, it has that proper ‘video’ vibe.
Half Cab Backside 50-50. Kazimierczuk
What are you working on right now?
I’ve got a couple things on the go right now, just not sure where everything is going. I have a bunch of footage with different filmers, but working on it. All HD now, I haven’t really filmed too much VX since Duluth. HD is easier to do because most of the people are doing it, so it’s better if all my clips are similar. I miss VX though, I filmed with Nick in New York this summer and it’s always sick.
Anything with your sponsors? Cliché?
Yes and no, they hit me up to get clips for their upcoming video dropping in 2017, but there’s nothing really planned apart from that. Gonna try and travel and get a bunch of clips for that, for sure. DC is also trying to do a video, so I’ll get filming for that too. Hopefully work to finish and release a part before that, get it all together… it’s kind of hard these days though, to be satisfied with what you’re doing.
These days? What’s changed?
It’s just running out of ideas, I’ve been in Montreal for so long so it’s hard to get inspiration. The good spots I’ve already skated, and it’s not always easy when you end up at Peace Park all the time (laughs). It’s hard to get inspired when you’re in your own city. When you travel it’s way easier to get shit done, everything is new, and it’s good vibes… Nothing on your mind but skating. I’m hoping to travel this winter, nothing really planned. It’s too early still, but winter will hit soon and I’ll make some calls. Cliché was trying to do some European tours, so that would be sick.
Backside 180 to Switch 50-50. Kazimierczuk
We’ve talked about you designing skateparks before, with the Olympics happening will that be more opportunity?
Yeah cities have been waking up to that lately, lots of skateparks popping up these days. It’s inevitable that a bunch of new parks will get built, and that people will recognize skateboarding as a real “sport” and not just some punkass kids breaking stuff. Still, there’s not much here in Montreal—just Peace Park now that it’s legal to skate at. If we get busted in the streets, all the cops always send us to “that new skatepark.”
Maybe if you were an Olympian, you wouldn’t get kicked out.
Yeah. I’ll just submit my name to the Olympics, but then just pick someone else to skate for me.
Who would you pick?
That’s a hard question… I don’t know! I’ll find someone, do some interviews, and get them to send me tapes for taking my spot in the Olympics.
Make sure they wear the same size of tracksuit as you do.
(Laughs) Yeah I wonder what it’s gonna be, the official skate uniform of the Olympics. All the different countries will have different ones.
Hopefully it’ll be like those OG tour jerseys DC or éS made in the late 90s.
Those would be so sick. I’m kind of intrigued to see how it’s going to happen.
Canadian suits will probably be made by Roots. But, maybe TSA will storm back onto the scene as the official Olympic skateboarding sponsor. Perfect athletic gear with sweat-wicking technologies, mesh, and zip-ties to turn pants into shorts.
That’d be sick, we should bring it back.
Shorty’s Fulfill The Olympic Dream.
I wonder who’s actually going to skate for Canada?
Shit, who knows. Probably Berger, Decenzo, JS…
A lot of people are going to fail those drug tests, hey? It’s going to be hard.
Well, JS won’t have that problem. He’ll test positive for veganism and PMA.
Which is a good thing. It’s like he’s been planning for the Olympics five years before it’ll happen (laughs). He’s actually so good at contests too. Can’t wait to cheer “Go JS! Go JS!”
We laugh now, but that’s actually going to happen. It’s kind of fucked up to think about… JS on the cover of Cheerios.
Would be proud of my boy! TJ could make it too. It’s kinda good, we could actually medal. Skateboarding has always been so whatever, you do whatever you want, contests rarely start on time… and now it’ll be all professional, by the book, so serious. I could not do that at all. But yeah, Wade D at the Olympics will be sick.
Oh, man. Wade, let’s get it. Shoutouts?
Cliché, DC, Thunder, Spitfire, Hélas, Empire, Stance… Octane.
(Laughs) But not Octane 10.0.
I’d be so stoked to get legit sponsored by Octane, no lie… get cases delivered to my house. I just wonder how long that would last until it actually became a problem (laughs).
Backside 50-50. Kazimierczuk