FROM ETNIES GLOBAL TEAM, MASTER OF QUICK FEET SKATING
Interview by VHSMAG Photos courtesy of P.I.C.
VHSMAG(V)： First of all how did the signature shoes as collaboration project with Magenta come about?
KOICHIRO UEHARA(K)： At first there was this project to release etnies x Magenta collab shoes, and Magenta decided to have my name for the shoes and make them my signature model. Brand manager at etnies was from European just like Magenta and he knew who I was. I already had a pro board from Magenta and my part in LENZ II had a lot to do with the signature shoes, I guess.
V： How was the process of making the shoes like?
K： I had a lot of talk with An, the TM at etnies Japan after I heard about the project. He helped out all the conversation with etnies US and I talked with Magenta on my end. I really appreciate what An did for me. Thanks! We used Maraba Vulc as the base and Soy Panday, art director at Magenta, did the design.
V： You also have a jacket aside from the shoes as well. Tell us about the design and function of each product.
K： One of the signature shoes is the most popular model at etnies, Marana Vulc, and I rock this model on the daily. It keeps all the function that Marana has and turned into a vulcanized model, and you can feel the vibe of Osaka street 100%. The other model is Scout and it's super light. This is a chill shoes. You can wear it off the board or when you're cruising. It's really light so you'll get surprised. And as a matter of fact, I didn't know anything about the jacket at first. I found out about it when I saw the shoe sample. I couldn't believe that my name will be on the jacket. Design for the shoes and jacket is all the same and it's Soy's work. There was this Soy's design that we sued for TBPR tee and my Magenta board, and he used that for my shoes and jacket. So basically these shoes are etnies x Magenta collab, but for me, Soy kind of added TBPR in this project.
V： Releasing signature models from a global shoe company is a big news in Japan, which I believe is the first ever in our country. How do you feel about this?
K： It's too big of a news. It's like, "Me? For real?" I'm blown away and super happy but at the same time, I feel pressured.
Releasing signature shoes and a jacket from global brand is a great news in Japan's skate history.
V： You have a promo video part out for this project. How was working with Mike Manzoori?
K： I was super nervous and pressured at first. You know, the fact that etnies is focusing and filming just me... I had this weird sweat coming out from all over my body. So decided to give everything I got on the first day, even though I don't do anything big. I was hyped and thought to myself, "I'm gonna show them Osaka style!" I chose all the spots where I could express my skating and I remember when I felt that people seemed to like it. I got relaxed after that. Mike Manzoori seemed to like my skating too and told me that all the footage he got was fresh and he enjoyed filming with me. I really got psyched on that. He really seemed to enjoy filming with me. He was super nice too! He made me relax even though he's like a legend in the skate community. He made me feel comfortable. I wanna work with him again some day!
V： How long did you film for?
K： Total of 12 days. We were supposed to film everything during etnies Japan tour but Mike decided to stay a week after in Osaka to continue filming.
V： Where did you mostly film at?
K： We filmed mostly in Osaka and we also went to Kobe for a day. It will be released worldwide so I wanted to film in my hometown. I love Osaka.
V： Anything you kept in mind when you were filming?
K： I filmed everything at night. Mike seemed to like filming at night and we came up with a concept at our first meeting. After we came up with the concept of having all footage filmed at night, I kept in mind to stick with my skate style. I realized that I didn't have any ledge trick in the part though. So that could be something I kept in mind as a result (laughs)?
V： How about the things that stick out in your mind from working with Mike Manzoori?
K： His attitude when he was filming. How he changed equipment, position of lights... he was always running around when he was getting ready. And he never said that he's tired even the shoot went down until midnight. He told me, "If you can skate, I can film anytime." He really motivated me. I was blown away how he gets b-rolls too. When he's filming skating or when we're going to spots, it seemed like he always has his image of what he wants and starts filming random things out of the blue. The last trick took a long time and we filmed until 5am; we were all exhausted but Mike got interested in TBPR's lights and he started to compare and test the lights. And he seemed to be enjoying it even though he's really beat. The professionalism that he has blew my mind. I mean, global professionalism was amazing.
V： You're known for quick tricks. Who did you get influenced by growing up?
K： I really respect Taiki Higashi, Jimmy Lannon and Paul Shier as skater, but I was really influenced by Taiki the most. There's this VHS video called The Skaters High by Grapevine Asia and I was blown away by his part. I got into quick ollies after that. I want The Skaters High on DVD (laughs).
V： Now you've released signature models worldwide. Were there any change on your position at etnies?
K： I just got a call from my friend and he told me that he found my name on etnies' website. My name is in the list of all the amazing etnies' riders! This is amazing! I can't believe this! I think this is a good thing to pass on to the next generation in Japan. Even if you only skate certain things in the street and don't do anything big, as long as you do your thing you can make it. That would give hope to other street skaters. This is awesome.
V： Any project in the works? What can we expect from you in the near future?
K： First of all I'm gonna promote my shoes. I wanna do some kind of feature article using photos. Video is nice but I'm also stoked on expressing my skating with photography. I want shoot something that no one have seem before. Also, it's 5th anniversary for Magenta this year so I might be going on tour. Other than that, I wanna promote this skateshop called SHRED that we opened up recently!
etnies Japan ad to welcome Koichiro to the team.
Transfer Back tail on a flat rail (February 2011).
Ollie up to quick Fs 5-0 (July 2011).
Bs Krooks on a electric box (August 2012).
Nosebluntslide on a round rail (Summer 2014).