Monster Skateboard Magazine recently caught up with Keith Hufnagel on the Stoops Euro Tour. During the interview Keith discusses diversity in skateboarding, valuable lessons learnt over the years, and how Austyn Gillette and Dylan Rieder got on HUF. Check out a preview of the interview below, and click here for the full article on the Monster Skateboard Magazine site.
What was the most valuable lesson you learnt over the years?
Oh man, there are millions of lessons I have learned over the years. I guess one of the most important ones is really just to not lose focus no matter what is happening. We all know what it is we want to do, at least somewhere deep down, even if we’re embarrassed to admit it. So you have this dream, or goal, or whatever it is you want to call it and you aim all of your focus towards achieving it. You don’t make any compromises and you don’t worry about making any money doing it or about what others think or about ever even being successful because of it. You just do what you love because you need to do it, because it is burning a hole inside of you, and you concern yourself solely with doing that thing well. And as long as you maintain that focus, drive all of your energy towards what you want to make or achieve, that effort becomes your art, your name, its own currency, becomes something valuable and at the same time priceless. Life is going to be hard regardless, it will go up and down and in and out, but as long as you believe in what you are doing it is all going to be worth it.
Some people think, there is to much fashion in skateboarding nowadays and it should be more dirty again. What’s your opinion on that?
Well essentially there is every style in skateboarding, so I don’t think you can necessarily say there is too much or too little of one thing or another. I think we are at an important era in skateboarding where variety of style is embraced more so than ever. Skateboarding has become so big, has so many niches, that everyone can find their own place within the community. It wasn’t always like this. Skateboarding has gone through some harsh periods where you were either in or you were out. Personally, I’m psyched to see all of the different trends in skateboarding right now. It is super accepting of all types of people and that makes it all the more powerful. I don’t see a difference if someone wants to be fashionable or wants to be dirty or wants to be whatever – this is skateboarding and we all started doing it to express ourselves. Some people express themselves through tricks and some do through fashion and some by being a fucking dirtbag. I like seeing it on all levels.
Is it true, that the socks are the best selling item in skateshops right now?
I think it is really a case-by-case issue. We get all kinds of feedback from shops – sometimes it is our hats that are selling best, sometimes it is the socks… Whatever it may be, we’re just stoked to be able to use that money and pump it back into making new product, what we want to make and think is cool. Hopefully one day that best-seller will be footwear!
Pornstars, ganja leafs, bongs – parents won’t like stuff like that, but skaters are hyped. Do you want to be controversial, or is this just the HUF lifestyle?
[Laughs] I am not trying to be controversial. We actually hold back a lot of things that we could have put out, but that we just didn’t think was our overall vision. In the end, we’re not going to sugarcoat anything just to be able to sit on shelves inside of a mall. Kids are smart, they know what is going on, and that is just life… we aren’t going to pretend they don’t know about this shit. When you grow up as a skateboarder, out on the streets everyday you are exposed to things that your parents would probably prefer you never knew about. But it is just reality. So in the end we just put out items that make up our surroundings everyday… They may be edgy at times, but that’s not really the only point. We design product to reflect our community, and focus on just making it the best quality we can. We have to bring the skateboarding attitude to this brand because that is what it is and who we are. We have to be forward, but in the end, we are not just about the items you suggested, because we have a huge collection beyond just that. Skateboarding involves being dirty and rebellious and drugs and music and girls, but it is also much more than that. That’s what we are trying to encapsulate, and that’s what HUF is about.
Do you think the skate industry right now is to p.c. and there should be more early 90′s flavour, with beef between brands and a „who gives a fuck“ attitude?
Yes. Skateboarding is soft right now. I’m not going to contradict myself, as I mentioned earlier that I am stoked to see all walks of life involved in skateboarding these days. That is not what I am referring to. I just think that with big corporations moving in, catering to the greatest common denominator for profit, they have to censor themselves – which is in direct contradiction to what skateboarding is all about. The moment you have to censor an image or a „bad word“, it is not skateboarding anymore. As I mentioned before, we all started skateboarding in order to express ourselves. Once you take away the freedom to express yourself, you kill that creative spirit, which is the essence of skateboarding. There are a few cool brands that maintain that spirit, but most nowadays are too soft. It is just like skateboarding – people used to get beat up if they said dumb shit or if they snaked you at a park. Now they are getting a pass. Times have changed.
You put together a team of stylish, real street skaters. What are you looking for, when you hook up a new skater?
Hands down, I am always looking at style. Without style, a skateboarder is just a robot, and that is most apparent in current times. Any kid can do any trick nowadays, it is ridiculous. But style is something natural, or something that shows you actually think/care about what you are doing. On top of that, you have to be cool. I don’t mean someone who is a favorite among the message boards or TV, but someone who is just down for skateboarding, humble, and can hang with the crew. I don’t want to put some cocky asshole on the team—there are too many of those out there that are getting the job done just fine. It’s about style, originality, and personality.
Everybody thought Austyn would be on Cons and Dylan on Vans. How did you manage to get them on HUF?
I gave them what they wanted. Money talks, but it can’t sing and dance…