WEB EXCLUSIVE: PJ GUSTAFSSON INTERVIEW

Hi PJ, where are you and what are you doing right now?
Hi there, right now I’m in my apartment in Kumla, Sweden listening to Darkthrone and working on some new graphics for my skateboard company called Kaleidoscope Skateboard Co. It’s crazy hot outside and my apartment feels like a fuckin’ Finnish sauna so I sit here in only my underwear and dream of ice cold beer.

What do you think of snowboarding in 2018? Do you think global warming and market slump helped at least it to get back closer to its roots?

Snowboarding will always be what you want it to be. Most part of the industry is pretty fucked up and so is the whole ”WC/Olympics/X-Games/Dew Tour whatever the fuck they call it contest scene” if you ask me. But it is up to each one of us to take snowboarding in the direction we want it to. If you don’t like  snowboarding as a sport or ”action sport” then don’t do it for anyone else except for yourself. Don’t do contests and don’t snowboard only to produce videos and videoclips for your instagram to get more likes, views and followers. Don’t snowboard to win or to become something and/or to get attention from others. Snowboard because you love it and do it for you and no one else.
If you don’t like the corporate side of snowboarding then don’t support the big corporate brands and shops. Don’t buy their products and don’t use their products. Don’t go to their events and contests etc. It’s very simple. It’s all about our own choices. Don’t follow trends.
The more corporate the biggest part of snowboarding becomes, the stronger the other part grows and more and more snowboarders will go back towards the roots.
It’s all about what you want it to be and how you look at it. I don’t think the climate changes has as much to do with how fucked up the snowboard business is today, as it has to do with way too many snowboarders supporting big corporate brands and shops instead of supporting local shops and riderowned brands. It’s our own fault that the industry is fucked. There’s no need to blame it on global warming I think.

Words by: Matteo Rossato
Photos by: Louise Eberhardt, Takafumi Okawa, Akira Onozuka, AxGxO, Yuya 7-11, Tomofumi Ishikawa

“Don’t snowboard to win or to become something and/or to get attention from others. Snowboard because you love it and do it for you and no one else.”

How’s your average winter day? 

In the winter season I usually live in my cabin in Sälen, Sweden and try to go snowboarding as much as possible. Usually around 4-5 times a week. Sometimes more and sometimes a little less depending on how much work I have to do with my skateboard company etc. An avarage day for me could look like this: Wake up around 07:00-07:30. Eat some breakfast, check my e-mail and work for a couple of hours. Then usually go riding around noon. Snowboard for a couple of hours and then back home and make some dinner. Eat and then chill with my family for a while. Put the kids to bed around 7-8 pm, chill some more with my love and then go to bed.

Do your kids shred? What they think of their rad dad? 

My son Dylan(8 yrs) and my daughter Holly(5 yrs) both shred and they love it! Especially Dylan, but I don’t want to push him or his sister too much. I’m just happy that they enjoy it and that we can go and ride the whole family together. Everyone snowboards except for my youngest son Love who is 1,5 years old. He usually sits on my back when we go riding the whole family.

My kids are all so young that they still think I’m the raddest dad ever. I am pretty sure that will change in a couple of years from now though hahaha. I just hope that they will still love me as much as I love them.

My kids are all so young that they still think I’m the raddest dad ever. I am pretty sure that will change in a couple of years from now though hahaha. I just hope that they will still love me as much as I love them.

You ripped off a good deal with a big brand and then went straight to Death Label snowboards to ask for sponsorship. How did that happen? I mean which was the process that brought you to be sure that was the best choice for you?

So I had been riding for DC snowboards in Europe since they started making boots & outerwear and eventually snowboards. I really liked DC when it came to a lot of the products and getting paid some money each month, but I didn’t like the direction where the whole company was heading and there was this new team manager that I didn’t get along with at all.

So in the end of 2007 when it was time for me to sign a new contract with them, I instead told them that I wouldn’t ride for them anymore because I didn’t like the direction they were taking the company and me and the new team manager had way too different views on snowboarding and on how we wanted things to be.

I just quit and I remember having anxiety at that time since DC provided me with all my clothes, shoes, outerwear, boards and boots and even the money that paid for my rent. But it was also a relief because now I could just focus on snowboarding the way I wanted to, dress and ride the way I wanted without anyone telling me this and that. I still had alot of DC gear, boards etc that I could sell pretty easily so I could make some money while I went out looking for the perfect company for me.

I really wanted to ride for a company that had an image that matched my own and had the same view on snowboarding as me. Which is basically that snowboarding is not a sport, but a way of life, and that the true essence of snowboarding can never be bought. In late March or early April 2008 I found the Death Label website after hearing about the company from an old friend and Swedish Allian rider.

Just the name Death Label got me really interested in the brand and when I saw the graphics on the boards and the whole image of the company I was pretty much hooked.  They even had boards with “Don’t Do It!” graphics on them. Since I’m an old skateboarder and I really don’t like that big corporate companies like Nike and Adidas are trying to buy skateboarding and snowboarding, these “Don’t Do It” graphics got me really excited.

I wrote an e-mail to Taka (Death Label boss/owner) and told him my story and that I would love to start riding for Death Label and be their first non Japanese rider on the team. Maybe two weeks after sending Taka my first e-mail I had a box with five fresh 2008-2009 boards delivered to my door from Death Label.

Since that day I have never regretted the decision to leave DC for Death Label. Death Label as a brand fits me like a glove and I see Death Label as my family and friends and not just my sponsor. Now it’s just Death Label ’til I die!

Why – in your opinion – snowboarding is looking back so bad to early nineties? Even Death Label did board (Death Series) with a heavily 90s inspired oval logo.

Almost everything comes back when it comes to trends. Its not just snowboarding that is looking back at the early 90s and so on. I think it is because almost everything has been done already. It’s so hard to come up with something new and unique that has never been made before. It’s much easier to look back at past trends, graphics, designs etc.

In some cases it can also be that a company wants to pay homage or tribute to a certain era, rider or board graphic but in most cases I think it is just a lack of new and original ideas. Nothing is new under the sun you know. Snowboarding is still so young and the 90s is pretty much all we have to look back upon so far.

Which were the best times for snowboarding? Or the best has yet to come?

Probably the early to mid 90s if you ask me hahaha.

Who inspired you? Not necessary snowboard related…and why.

I have always been heavily influenced by skateboarding and punk rock. Skateboarding in the 80s and early 90s when style was the most important. I also got inspired by snowboarders like Johan Olofsson, Jamie Lynn and Noah Salasnek. Style and being unique is everything if you ask me. Way too many snowboarders look, dress and ride the same way. Just trying to be like everyone else. ”Stock style” and ”circus tricks”…It’s so fuckin’ boring. I’d rather watch Jamie Lynn do a Method on repeat the whole day than some ”stock style” rider doing some crazy aerial maneuvers.

What’s your position about social media? Are they damaging the snowboard scene or on contrary they’re the most democratic way of expression?

I hate it! Snowboarding shouldn’t be about getting likes and views on instagram. Some kids won’t even ride unless someone can come along and film them so they can post it on instagram. Its crazy. Also since there are so fucking much that is fake out there. People buy likes, views and followers just to look good and more popular than they are. Getting likes, views and followers seems to be more important than actually snowboarding. Snowboarding to become Instagram famous Hahaha…It’s just bullshit! No one hardly reads any more…There isn’t a lot of good snowboard magazines and websites around any longer and I think alot of it has to do with people being too busy with instagram.

What does the future hold for for PJ Gustafsson? And for snowboarding in general?

Right now I am looking forward to a great summer with my family and friends. Some vacation, lots of beer and drinks in the sun and some skateboarding with my kids. Snowboarding and skateboarding is forever! I won’t stop until I have to. I will shred until I’m dead haha.

“Snowboarding shouldn’t be about getting likes and views on instagram. Some kids won’t even ride unless someone can come along and film them so they can post it on instagram. Its crazy.”

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