BORDEAUX & PARIS WITH EDOUARD DEPAZ

Words & photos by  Robin Pailler . Portrait above:  Lucie Bascoul .

Words & photos by Robin Pailler. Portrait above: Lucie Bascoul.

I think the first time I met Edouard was during the 2017 Copenhagen Open.

It’s all a bit of a drunken haze looking back now, but it was during Polar’s LA Days premiere in the meat-packing district. I can’t recall how we were introduced exactly but I do remember bonding over our love for Bordeaux and football, specifically our hatred for PSG. Which is funny, considering Ed was both born in Paris and currently resides there. Regardless of his Parisian roots, Ed remains a self-confessed Bordelais through and through. Having moved to the city when he was seven, he spent the majority of his youth under the southwest sun and discovered skateboarding just as the local scene started thriving. 

“I think like a lot of people I started skating because my older brother was doing it and I wanted to be like him. It was round about the time the skatepark in Chartrons was built (in 2006), so me and my friends would go skate there, and with Riot across the street, it all just happened naturally.” 

For those of you unfamiliar, Riot skateshop is undoubtedly the mecca for everything good to come out of skateboarding in Bordeaux over the best part of two decades. Situated opposite the skatepark by the river, it’s been a safe haven for many a local over the years, nurturing the talented likes of Leo Valls, Paul Grund and Ben Chadourne, to name a few. 

“Me and all my friends all ended up doing work experience there at some point. Seb (the owner) is almost like a second father to us all and then one day he asked if I wanted to ride for them and so, naturally, I was stoked. Riding for Riot is like a consecration in the Bordeaux skate scene. And even now, Seb’s still a second father to us in a sense, but it’s developed into a more fraternal relationship if anything.”

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As I meet Edouard on a rare visit back to Bordeaux – in which we originally planned to film our short piece SERENE together – we’re met with heavy rain and all plans of skating are scrapped. Fortunately, Riot offers us shelter and having kept his visit secret, it’s clear to see Seb and the locals are thrilled to see him back in the city. A quick coffee run at Molly’s next door and we’re sat talking about the early days of his induction into the Bordeaux skate scene.

 “I think I’d been skating for a couple of years when I got introduced to Leo (Valls). He was a huge influence to me growing up and so he’d invite me out to skate. It was around the time he was filming for Frame by Frame by Romain Batard. Leo would often be skating at night back then so he’d hit me up and arrange a meeting point at whatever time. I’d have dinner, say goodnight to my parents and then, I guess influenced by what I’d seen in American movies, I’d stuff clothes in my bed and a rugby ball on my pillow so it looked like I was sleeping, then I’d climb out my bedroom window and go skate from 11pm to 4am. Come home. Sleep 3 hours and then go to school super tired. I think that lasted 3 weeks during Frame by Frame and then since it became routine; we just kept it going. I probably did that 2-3 nights a week for six months. I think Leo was filming for Minuit right after that. It was a really good experience for me.”

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With his family still based in the city and both his board sponsor Rave and Riot playing such an integral part in the local scene, I wonder why Edouard chose to move out to the French capital.

“I mean, it kinda sounds bad towards my friends here but I guess first off the scene and the sense of motivation over there. If you wanna go skate, you know there’s gonna be at least ten other people motivated to go skate too. There’s obviously loads more filmers and photographers based in Paris. It’s just easier to get stuff done. And then the spots. There’s obviously the central spots which everyone knows of course, but then you’ve got all the spots in the suburbs of Paris which are incredible. There’s spots for everyone. Rails, ledges, curbs, whatever. I mean I just feel if you wanna get stuff done in Paris you get it done. It’s not that Bordeaux’s unproductive but you can quickly feel like you’ve done the rounds here.”

It’s a fair point, and after meeting Edouard in Paris several weeks later to finish filming our piece together, it seems he’s thriving in his new surroundings. Every spot we cruise to he’s greeted by local friends and no matter what the terrain it seems he’s always got a variation of tricks to try. You can tell he’s stoked just to be out skating every day. Whether it’s cruising with his best friend and fellow Octagon and Levi’s rider Val Bauer, hanging out with the Momes Paris crew or shooting the next Giddy clip with Romain Batard, it seems there’s always a skate connection around every corner. Regardless of all the rippers in the local Parisian scene right now, there’s something still unique about Edouard’s skateboarding. It’s a powerful yet gracious approach and until we’d filmed together I hadn’t noticed how on point his switch game is. Yet, despite how far his skating’s come over the years, and the hectic schedule it entails juggling the likes of filming for Rave, Converse, Levi’s skatboarding and Octagon (as well as a host of homie clips in between), Edouard appreciates it’s just a moment in time. Skateboarding can’t last forever and admittedly after the next two trips he’s focused on pursuing some more graphic design work on the side. 

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“It’s funny because sometimes it’s easy to feel self conscious about skating. Like if I go out with my girlfriend and she tells people I skate for a living they don’t really get it. They might’ve studied at some business school and now they’re Managing Director of some marketing firm or whatever, but then they’ve maybe never even left their hometown, whereas tomorrow I’m going to the U.S., after that I’m going to Tokyo. It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s my choice. I’m happy. I go to bed smiling, I wake up smiling. You can’t care what others think. If you skate, you skate. That’s it.”

Watch our accompanying video starring Edouard below and catch up the original article featured in Wasted Talent V, now available online & in stores across Europe.

Supported by Levi’s® Skateboarding.