SHANE O'NEILL / シェーン・オニール











Jarne Verbruggen had a heavy part last March called "PROFESSIONAL LIFE." Jarne talks about struggling with alcohol, back to back video parts and the flowerpot incident.



Photos_Guillaume Perimony

VHSMAG (V): So for the readers that don't know, could you tell me where you're from?

Jarne Verbruggen (J): I'm from Belgium. I was born in Mechelen. It's a little town between Antwerp and Brussels. It's really the middle of the country. It's not that big of a city but it's close to Antwerp and Brussels, which was pretty cool.

V: You're currently living in France?

J: Exactly. I live in Biarritz now.

V: Why did you move there?

J: Because my good friend Phil Zwijsen, he lives here. Romy Bertrand is a good friend of mine too. She used to work for Element. I came on a holiday here to meet them, and then I stayed for six months. Then after six months I found my own place with my good friend, Rafa Corts from Madrid. And now we live in Biarritz.

V: You had "What Paradise?" part last year, which was amazing. You were talking about struggles you had to go through with alcohol. How long were you fighting with it?

J: Since a while, actually. I had this since I was 17 or 18. I realized I had a problem. Took me a while to really reach out for help. A couple years I was drinking a lot, and knowing that I had a problem but not really admitting it to myself. I wouldn't want to involve other people into it because if you reach out for help, it's a big step and it becomes a real thing. And you also have to do something about it, you know? You have to first want to do something about it, and then you got to ask for help, which are two difficult things. Then when I did that, people around me were all really aware of it, but they really understood it. It was actually the best thing I ever did to myself, to tell my mom and stepdad about it, and then to all my close friends.

V: I heard you went to rehab center as well.

J: I actually went three times in the span of two and a half years. I filmed that part straight out of my last rehab in January of 2019. That's why we've built up the part like that, I guess. Moving out of Belgium changed me as a person, made it a lot easier for me and my drinking problem, which I still have. I know I'm going to have it through all my life. Yeah, it's just a way to handle it, with the right people. I'm feeling pretty good about it now.

V: What inspired you to come back on track?

J: Skateboarding and my family. My family was pretty devastated at one point, because I reached out for help and then I went down under again. I can't really do this to them and my friends. It was pretty selfish what I did, actually.

I saw how it feels to lose it all. And that made me really realize what I have.

V: You went pro for Element in 2016, right? What happened to that?

J: Well, when I was skating for them they paused my contract and it hit me right in the face, "Okay, I'm really losing it." And yeah, I talked to Nike and I was like, "I really don't want to lose everything." They believed in me, that I really wanted to get off of it. That was a big boost for me to really step it up again and not just throw my life away.

V: What did you gain from that struggle?

J: I saw how it feels to lose it all. And that made me really realize what I have, and I should really cherish it. It sounds a bit cliché, but not take anything for granted because I used to really do that. I think because I'm skating since I was 12, and I'm getting sponsored since 14, and I'm going on trips since I'm 15, and I've been getting stuff for free. At one point, I was just used to not pay for anything, so I never really got this thing of having to work in my life. I was never experienced with how it is to really work for something, but I really learned that. I'm lucky to have this life, you know?

V: You overcame your demons and you made that part.

J: I was still a bit demonic during that part though. But yeah, that was the way.

V: One thing I wanted to ask about that last trick... you do that thing down the brick bank with the crack in the middle... and then there's this pretty girl... There was a subliminal phone number thing. Who's number was that?

J: That was my number.

V: Did you get a call from that girl?

J: Well, actually, yeah.

V: You did? No way!

J: I think somebody told her and she texted me. That bank is in Barcelona and she was studying in Antwerp, I think. That was crazy. It was a year ago or something. I texted a bit with her but I actually never saw her. She was in Antwerp but I think I was in Croatia on a trip or something. I was like, "Well, you're studying in Antwerp. I live in Belgium. It's super crazy." But I never got to see her. We never hooked up. I have a different number now. She's probably been reaching out to me, but...


V: After "What Paradise?" part you never stopped. You had the Spitfire "One Week With Jarne." That girl Maité is in all your videos and she's got a great vibe.

J: Yeah, exactly. She's from Antwerp. She's amazing. She's actually as amazing in person as you see her in videos. She's really a special girl. She's really, really cool. She's what skateboarding needs at this moment too, I think. I'm happy to call her a good friend. I used to know her since she was really small. She was 10 maybe, I think she was doing handplants already. As you say, great vibes around her, you know? She's a smart girl, and it's cool to talk with her about stuff. She's not a brainless skater or whatever.


V: Let's talk about your new part, "Professional Life." That was super heavy 12 minutes.

J: Thanks. Actually, the first part of the part is all in Croatia, because my mom moved there. Then I went there with Guillaume Perimony on a trip, and we filmed there a lot. We went there seven or eight days and we filmed the whole Croatia part. I had this idea in mind to do a VX part and a HD part in a single part. And then do some funny skits in between. Try to be funny, you know? But I was putting a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to step myself up. And it didn't come easy. I had so many tricks I didn't land. It wasn't the funnest time to be honest. I became kind of cranky about skating, or whatever. And then the flowerpot thing happened. Because I wasn't having the best vibes about my skating, you know what I mean?

The guy hit me with the flowerpot. I went dark in my head and I woke up at the bottom of the stairs.

V: Yeah, that flowerpot clip was insane. What exactly happened?

J: We came to the spot and I was trying the hippie jump. Then the guy opened his window and started yelling. I was like, "I think I can do this fast. We're going to go in five minutes, don't worry." And he went back inside, and I was trying, and all of a sudden, he came with a flowerpot. He just started throwing and he almost hit Guillaume. I was super scared to do the trick, and then there was a guy aiming at me with a flowerpot so it was pretty intense.

V: Yeah, we could all feel that vibe by just watching the video.

J: There was a lot of cars coming through too. My two friends were looking for the cars. It was the most stressful session ever. But I knew I could do it, so I was like, "Fuck it, I'm not going to stop." And then the guy hit me with the flowerpot. I went dark in my head and I woke up at the bottom of the stairs. I didn't really know what happened. I didn't know I hit the wall.

V: Oh, you didn't know you hit the wall...

J: Yeah, and then the neighbors knew the guy was kind of crazy so they called the cops on him. I think he's alone, you know? He lives alone, and if people are alone too long you just go berserk. It's not healthy, you know? I felt sad for him, although he tried to kill me. So the cops came, and they came to us and asked if we were okay. I told them I got hit and they went to talk to the guy because the neighbors called him for attacking us. Then the cops went inside so we had three or four more tries to do it without the guy throwing anything. He was also throwing sticks and stuff, anything he could find in his apartment.

V: It wasn't just the flowerpot…

J: Then I did it. And exactly when I did it, different cops came for us and they were like, "What the fuck are you doing? You're on a private property. You shouldn't be doing this." And then the first cops came to talk from the apartment and they were arguing with each other. The cops that came for the flowerpot guy were like, "These guys were not doing anything wrong. They were not even on private property. They were doing the right thing with having guys on the street, watching the street." So they saved us from these pair of cops. They asked me if I wanted to sue the old guy, but I didn't want to go to the police station after that. I was just over it. And I was happy I did the trick. I was really satisfied, I guess. And then the guy came down and he was screaming about the mess. We were like, "Fuck man, what you did is so stupid." He was still mad.

V: So nothing really happened to the old guy? Not even arrested?

J: No. But we watched the footage at home and I saw that I hit the wall... I was like, "Fuck man, that dude actually could have killed me. Fuck that guy." And Guillaume said, "Yo, look at how he lives, look how he acts. He's already punished enough by his own life." You know what I mean? And it's true. I was like, "Whoa, yeah, that's actually true. What are we going to do about it?" You know? If you're doing that shit you're already pretty fucked up.

V: Yeah, that sucks...

J: It's kind of sad... But that was pretty insane. I probably have a little bit of brain damage but that's probably from other shit. I'm fine, so whatever, it's all right. We got the trick and Guillaume filmed the whole thing, he wasn't scared. That was crazy because I was fucking scared. And he was just looking through his camera, not even looking up. He could go work for National Geographic, lions and shit like that.

V: He deserve a Pulitzer.

J: And then, another crazy shit happened. I was in Paris, and I still wanted to get a trick. I tried something and I broke my foot really bad. I was hurting myself for a while trying to get these parts, and it was enough actually. I kept going, I couldn't stop. I think it was a sign telling me, "You got to chill."

V: The music was nice too.

J: We didn't get the music right for the last song. So Guillaume tried to learn piano to make the song. And after a while he was like, "It's too hard to do it in this amount of time. This is crazy." So he actually did it on his computer with software which is pretty insane too. He actually made the song. He always finds a solution. It's pretty dope and that's why I really like him. He's always positive. It's really cool to work with him.

V: That's awesome.

J: Wait, I just realized I have my earphones for nothing.

V: What?

J: I couldn't hear you through the earphones. I was looking all professional up in here, but it wasn't plugged to my phone (laughs).

V: Get rid of that (laughs). Which trick from the part are you most stoked on?

J: I think half cab up and then back three down the stairs. Because I never really did back three down stairs, and probably never will again. I had a bet with Guillaume. If I don't land it now, I got to pay up $50. And in the end, I was betting my car on it. Then I broke my board and had to go get a board because there are no skate shops in Croatia. So Guillaume owned my car and he was always telling me like, "Yo, your car is mine." I was like, "Fuck, I have to do this trick." I also wanted to do the trick so it was like a double motivation to land the trick. Then the next day, we went back and I got the trick and my car back.

V: That's funny.

J: We do a lot of these bets, actually. He was like, "Yo, I never come out with winning. This has got to stop." That's why he got the little duck toy in the part. It gives you electric shock. He was like, "If you don't do it now, you got to push the duck once or twice."

V: Those clips and skits are fun to watch. What about that very first clip from your new part? That frontside wallride where you're saying you're going to do a treflip after that? Was that also a skit?

J: Yeah. That was a skit. Sometimes it just comes up to my head. I just think it's just fun to do it. We laugh about it while we do them. I guess it's just fun. It doesn't always have to make too much sense. Too much thought can get weird.

V: What about for skating? You have unique approach. It seems like you adapt really well to spots.

J: I don't know. I guess if I try to be too prepared, it doesn't really work. I just try to skate and not really think too much.

V: So you said you broke your foot. How is it now?

J: It's better but I'm not really skating yet. It was a pretty fucked injury. I want to take my time to heal really good and then start skating, and not mess it up.

V: Plus with the coronavirus, are you guys staying home and doing the social distancing? What's the situation over there like?

J: I'm living with Rafa. Our situation is pretty good, actually. We go around the block sometimes and we have a garden which is good. And we live next to the ocean, but the beaches are closed. But it's good air. You can go outside. They let you out for an hour a day, so if you want to walk you can. But the cops are pretty strict. I went to the pharmacy and Rafa had his board, and the cop came to us and he was really arrogant. He asked Rafa, "What are you doing with the board?" Rafa was like, "Oh, you can do workout, right? One hour a day, 500 meters from your house." And then he said skateboarding is not a workout or a sport. We were like, "Yo, this is in the Olympics and you know it."

V: What a dick. So what are you guys doing in this downtime?

J: We did a little project. We made boards which we're pretty stoked about. There's Rekiem Skateboards, which is a French company here, and the guy makes boards himself. So we're pretty stoked to be doing that. Just trying to make the best of it.

V: Nice. After your foot heals, and this whole bullshit is cleared up, what's your plan after that?

J: I just want to start skating again and start feeling good on my board. I want to just go for a month on a trip, when I can skate again. Maybe go to the States, if that is possible. Go to San Francisco, skate there, that would be dope. And maybe film Double Impact 2 with Phil.

V: Looking forward to that. Anything you left out?

J: Hey, actually I have one sentence that I came up with. When you asked me how I approach a spot, I want to add this. "I don't approach the spot; the spot approaches me."

V: That's the ender right there (Laughs).

J: Sick man. Ciao.


Jarne Verbruggen

Born in 1992 in Mechelen, Belgium. Attacking spots with his unique approach to skating, Jarne currently bases himself in France aiming for the next project after the quarantine clears up.