HUNGARY CONNECTION | RIOS CREW ITW
Introducing the new RIOS edit – « Szeszélyes évszakok » Due to having had its original roots forming, developing & strengthening on sunshine-quenched US soil over half a century ago, it took quite a lot of time (and sometimes effort) for most minds to accept skateboarding as a worldwide phenomenon. Which implies the recognition of its european practice as […]
Introducing the new RIOS edit – « Szeszélyes évszakok »
Due to having had its original roots forming, developing & strengthening on sunshine-quenched US soil over half a century ago, it took quite a lot of time (and sometimes effort) for most minds to accept skateboarding as a worldwide phenomenon.
Which implies the recognition of its european practice as a mere thing – partly thanks to the Jérémie Daclins, Sami Hirithis & Stéphane Larances of their time, who helped initiate a process that would later, in return, nurture our cherished culture with then fully-blossomed, now-established landmarks such as Tom Penny / Alex Moul (& the entire subsequent late 90’s / early 2000’s Flip era), the Lordz clique & all its affiliations the US tech heads love to worship (William Phan, Flo Marfaing), but also the likes of Pontus Alv, Jan Kliewer, FOS, Danny Wainwright…
Case in point, history has shown us skateboarding as a whole could only benefit from opening up its geographical borders to better embrace the love & resulting activism of not just a select western few, but from the people sharing it worldwide altogether.
And this is exactly why we are proud to introduce you to the latest adventures & endeavors of some of our favorites, the Budapest, Hungary-based RIOS crew, who do not only happen to rep from the inside a region of the world which still remains neglected to this day (Eastern Europe – despite being a hip prey to skate tourism, we believe it is the actual locals who are to be recognized first & foremost, rather than foreign westerners on a quick visit to pillage fresh-looking ledges), but also kill it on all fields while doing so, all the while typically embodying the « skate rat » approach to existence which – most notably in this era of convenient communication – only incrementally reveals itself to really be a universal yearning for essential freedom, rather than yet another short-lived, californian trend.
This second installment of our « Connected With… » series (debuted last year with this article on skateboarding in Croatia) is long & thick enough as it is, so let’s cut this intro short so you can better enjoy the RIOS’ latest online hit, « Szeszélyes Evszakok », featuring the whole crew & our very-own, visiting Masaki Ui ; as well as the following rich interview with the RIOS’ filmer & key interpreter Bence Bàlint – covering everything from personal inspirations to bits on the history of skateboarding in Hungary, opening up to the rest of the world, D.I.Y ventures stemming from the lack of established structures, Maz’s foreign experience & much more – all thoroughly illustrated by the crew’s unique photos & visual works. Thanks for reading ! – Aymeric Nocus
Q : Lots of people follow your edits and thus have a basic grasp of your crew’s ondoings – in fact, your hardest fans might even remember that interview you guys had on Quartersnacks last year.
But somehow, a certain cultural barrier still makes it tougher than it really should be for the average American & western European to clearly put names on your crew members’ respective faces – or even have a clue of who you guys are altogether, beyond the documented skateboarding they eventually get to watch on their screens. So in a nutshell : who are you ? Where are you based ?
A : My name is Bence Bàlint, originally from Budapest, Hungary – where our fam, the RIOS Crew, operates !
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and famous for its monuments, reflecting its own 1,000-year-old culture. It also is one of the most populous city in the European Union.
The Danube river divides the place into two different sections : the Buda side & the Pest side – thereby representing & physically marking two different dimensions within one same city.
Buda mostly consists in hills, medieval areas (such as the Buda castle) with a lot of thermal baths and generally fresh air, due to it being more intact & untouched ; whereas on the other hand, Pest is more comparable to a metropolis, it really is a more urban & « living » part of the city, complete with its notorious night life and a busy downtown area.
Budapest also has a lot of suburban areas, mostly consisting in batches of housing estates.
Architecturally speaking, Budapest is home to many noteworthy buildings & constructions erected in a wide range of co-existing styles : ancient architecture such as Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, Ottoman, Baroque, classical, art nouveau… all mixed in with contemporary, more modern architecture.
An oddity that puts it on the tourists‘ map every year, due to its intriguing eastern, Balkan-styled atmosphere all the while retaining some type of spicy western influence to it.
Q : How long have you been operating from there for ?
A : I started skating when I was about 12.
Shortly after, in the early 2000’s, I ended up joining a local crew which instantly gave me my first taste of a sense of street community ; we were a huge gang, involving and gathering many different generations, ranging from 13- to 40-year-olds maybe, in a style that actually feels very similar to the contemporary RIOS.
« Streetlife » – Budapest, 2003
Naturally, we did try to make our own thing back in the days – videos and the like.
Eventually, the original energy started dwindling with time & that distinct era for me ended in a natural way – you know, just like how all things in life normally come and go.
Although, a handful of kids from that time period persisted & are still part of the RIOS crew of today, with mature minds to boot ; a good example would be Buta Jani who’s making all the titles and graphics in our videos.
But yeah, after all that momentum eventually died down, I quit skating ; I tried focusing on my artwork for a while instead.
The skate scene had been transforming into something else too, becoming more like « cyber skating » (flip-in / flip-out stuff, etc.). I really couldn’t relate to that.
I kind of lost interest in skating for almost 7 years, after which, suddenly – boom ! The RIOS crew guys are just blowing my mind… with the real street G-type of old school flow !
Nobody was doing that in Budapest.
It was heavy, with all kinds of car skitching, and downhills. These lil’ bastards had to be only 10 or 11 years old when we were about 16, maybe 17… They come up and somehow manage to bring back the real shit, complete with all the basic spirit, essential tricks and style…
It just got me hyped and influenced me to the point where I started skating again.
To this day, they make for a personal reminder that helps me remember how skating is all about the crew life and going with the flow of being part of a community – a part of something.
I have to a give a big shout out to the RIOS crew for getting me on a skateboard again ! After which it was easy to get further involved within the crew itself, for we all loosely knew each other in some way beforehand anyway.
Q : How many people does the RIOS crew comprise ?
A : The RIOS posse comprises 30+ people… but the really strong, tight-knit core of the crew consists in like 10 – 15 people.
Not all the members are originally from Budapest ; a lot of the guys happened to visit from smaller cities or countries, just to experience & feel the vibe… and ended up moving here & joining the business. And within just a few years, a core naturally started to form.
The RIOS crew really feels like a collage of different generations, coming in a variety of age groups.
I guess a good dichotomy would be to consider that maybe one half of the guys first took up skating in the mid-2000’s, whereas the other half are skaters from earlier on.
Some of us actually started way back in the 1990’s, and finally we have our « father » & mentor John Glenstond aka. Glenn, still the proud owner of VHS video recordings of 1988-1990 local skating – complete with old-school, fish-shaped decks – from when he was young.
Q : Where does the RIOS name come from ?
A : « RIOS » – as a name – comes from the place we use to hang out and skate at.
It started out as the name of a local night club back in the days, which used to stand there until the government tore the club down due to some corruption issues, resulting in a skateable slab we started to frequent.
While we were at it, we ended up just reappropriating the name too ; it just felt like the logical thing to do, especially given that it literally translates as « flow » and we couldn’t dream of a better name for our crew !
The spot had the Danube river flowing just nearby, which may explain the reasoning behind the name of the club.
From an empty concrete slab & throughout the combination of all our efforts, it slowly evolved into a full-on, fully skateable D.I.Y. park ; a history that runs deep as the main link still connecting the whole group.
We all used to save up money so we could afford the cement and, working together, gradually help ourselves have our own park.
We had a main man, Csabi, who had some former experience & knew how to work with concrete – he helped out a lot.
Anyway, that was the place where we usually met up at, to then decide upon either staying & hanging out, or progressing further downtown to skate.
It is worth mentioning how there really aren’t any decent skateparks in Budapest (besides shitty « Rhino parks »), and just plain none indoors or even undercover ; thus commonly resulting in really boring winters, because of the freezing cold temperatures and the amount of rainy & snowy days.
Anyway, we naturally have the tendency of separating ourselves from what we perceive as the main skate scene in Hungary, just because we happen to be 100% skate rats – real street kids.
Many modern skaters in Hungary primarily think about skateboarding in the fashion sense, focus on « trying to get sponsors », going to contests, challenging each other…
A competitive approach the younger generation got fed on, to the point where a lot of those kids barely ever even got an idea of how much joy and freedom skateboarding really has the potential to bring upon someone, to be experienced first hand.
Q : Do you ever go on trips to skate other cities than Budapest – be it in Hungary or in other countries – or would you rather claim to be some type of 200% BP-brewed skate sauce ?
A : We don’t get to go on trips that much ; I mean, we do try, but it often proves to be hard deciding on a schedule & organization all together.
A lot of our boys do travel on an individual level, although more often than not it really isn’t with any skating (or even mere leisure) purposes in mind at all, but instead to get a decent job ; because unfortunately, you get paid much more money abroad compared to how much you would make for doing the exact same work here at home in Hungary.
Attila Fehér’s 2015 Vienna section. Video by Bence Bàlint
That actually is the main problem for the Hungarian government at the moment ; most of the talented young people has to resort to leaving the country because it’s just impossible to live here with such a minimal income.
We have some friends in countries such as Austria or Croatia which are geographically pretty close, so we usually visit both those places on a yearly basis, roughly.
Austria (notably Vienna) feels like western Europe to us, oddly enough ; but it’s also really close – like 3 hours from Budapest. Nice atmosphere and all, but we tend to prefer the eastern flow that we have in Budapest, at least skating-wise with the cracks, holes, shitty ledges… It’s more of a challenge to skate !
My favourite trip was in Fažana / Pula for the 2015 edition of the yearly Vladimir Film Festival. I think everyone who tagged along would also have to agree…
Originally, it all came down to me just sending some e-mail to Nikola (Racan), telling him that I would like to have one of our videos screened at his event… But not any of the old ones (which all had already been thrown online at that point) – rather a brand new, 100% fresh one people wouldn’t have seen before.
Which is exactly what happened, I threw an edit together and eventually it just so happened that we had a killer premiere in Fažana during the Vladimir Film Festival.
Bonus points to the Nikola’s croatian crew for naming the video, too – when I originally sent it over, we really had no definite plans of even going there yet, also the file had no title ; however they had to be able to call it something in order to advertise it in the local media, on the web & to put it on their merch. So they went for « Jönnek » which translates to « They Are Coming »… and so we did have to come.
Pfft man ! It was unbelievable to meet everyone there.
People like Richard Hart, Henry Kingsford, Will Harmon, Yoan Taillandier, Aymeric Nocus… and finding out that they knew so much about our lil’ RIOS Crew already ! It really did mean a lot to us.
To be fair, we have no idea why there is such a big hype around us – we don’t skate that good, any city you can think of has better skaters than us – and now those guys actually really like our stuff. That was pretty intriguing.
It all felt like some kind of family trip… Super good atmosphere with the old, historical town by the sea, the abandoned fortress in Barbariga, the unforgettable sea food & all the good people gathered there – I miss it so much ! I hope we will meet with those guys again… hopefully this summer !
Edit of the Rios’ trip to Croatia for the 2015 Vladimir Film Festival
Q : Your footage always looks so new because of how Budapest has been below the mainstream skate radar (at least from a western Europe / US perspective) for a long time, but I bet local skating has been going on for a long time. What is the history of skateboarding in BP / Hungary like ?
You have older members in your crew, maybe you can introduce them & explain how long they have been around for ? I bet there has been some sick videos from Hungary nobody knows about, or stuff people should check out in general.
A : It would be really hard to sum up the entire history of BP / Hungarian skateboarding out of the blue like this.
Main thing to keep in mind is that it wasn’t easy to skate here back in the days – we are talking about the Eastern bloc here, which Hungary was politically aligning with.
Which means a lot of modern cultural elements were unpopular here – most of them originating from the USA, including skateboarding.
People used to play football a lot, we were like a soccer type of nation. But it can be tracked down that we did have skaters in the late 1970’s, for there are photos of them building jump ramps & halfpipes.
I’m guessing they used to have to get their boards straight from the USA, somehow…
And we had one concrete bowl in the mountainous area of Hungary, built in the late 1980’s, by BMX’ers I think.
Anyway, after the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, the Soviet troops left Hungary in the early 90’s which by itself started some type of new cultural wave ; the whole country suddenly undergoing democratization, we were then able to catch new streams of information from overseas, and more than just literally open our borders again.
That era gave a lot of people hopes for a brighter european future ; unfortunately Hungary also ran massive foreign debt which really hindered the potential of a faster development.
Not that I want to get into political & historical issues, which you can already read about in books – I just want people to take note that we maybe have a darker background than most western countries.
The occupation and painful history are considerable and can still be felt to this day. Budapest is not your average, enlightened western city by any means.
If I remember correctly, Hungary did have its own scene of printed magazines featuring some skateboarding-related content.
Founded in 1997, Áron Süveg’s « The Boarder magazine« was Hungary’s first & main skateboarding (paired up with snowboarding) magazine – which really had more of an « alternative press »-type of feel to it, coming in hot with real essays, usually not devoid of any wit & sarcasm ; that mag was a noteworthy publication although it no longer exists, unfortunately.
With such a low audience of skateboarders available to support independently-ran projects, it is very hard to keep those running.
Most of the skateparks to have ever been built in Budapest in the past 20+ years have been either closed down, or just destroyed ; right now, all we really have left is one BMX-styled type of course with a vert wall & an oversized funbox, and a stray bowl (« the Sashalom pool« ) in the suburbs.
There really is a gap that can be felt dividing our generation of skateboarders & our elders here in Hungary. That also might be the case in other european locations – maybe to lesser extents depending on the country & its specific history & vulnerability to streams of mainstream culture – but here we can really talk about generations-worth of « skatepark dudes », who might have been ripping for a long time yet really have neither links nor clues as to core street skating as we know it – like it’s a completely different practice.
Oh yeah, people used to skate the Heroes’ square a lot – that spot fostered maybe 3 or 4 generations in a row, and it’s nothing but ledges and (what used to be) good flatground.
Not many people ever really documented skateboarding all that much either – people didn’t have access to the modern consumer-styled cameras for the longest time.
We have this local legend of a stock of VHS tapes with unseen OG skate footage on them that would still exist to this day, safely stashed on an unknown someone’s private shelf somewhere in the country – that or maybe it got thrown in the trash 15 years ago already, who knows.
Melicher Andràs’s « skate video from 1992 » (accurate literal translation of a just-as-accurate description).
I guess the first hungarian skate video to ever be produced and undergo some sort of official « release » was that one movie by Zone skateshop ; they issued a limited amount of VHS copies of it & distributed it back in the days.
After which the shop (which had originally started out as a core store based inside a skatepark) became bigger, relocated & although they kept producing videos, they gradually started losing touch with the actual practice of skateboarding & its demands in favor of business moves, a new name & weed socks.
David Giczi 1996 footage filmed & edited by Zoltán Bődi (interview on skatejawn.com)
Other independent skateshops such as Skate Service, Lokàl or Shaolin then started to pop up as though to feel an empty void in Hungary, and support local skateboarding in ways that felt right – unfortunately, by the time things got to that point, all potential interest in core practices the hungarian scene might have found before had died down already & all those promising operations ended up, again, closing down.
We no longer have real skateshops in Hungary nowadays – just mall shops, and instead of proper team rosters in a rather western sense of the term, we instead have individually « supported » skaters who get the occasional help from those from time to time, all spread throughout Hungary.
More recently – around the mid-to-late 2000’s or so, Budapest did have one notable skate filmer, Hambalko Bàlint, who did put out a steady stream of videos but mostly worked with a tight selection of skaters – usually the cream of the crop of the sponsored hungarian dudes – in order to better work things out in terms of deals with the corresponding endorsements.
Which is usually how things work in the industry anyway but you have to understand that in such a tight economy, it’s even more of both a sacrifice & a luxury to choose to do things on your own & deliberately invest time in reaching out to an even smaller audience that might or might not even support your work in return.
Self-propelled video work is a risk & not an easy thing to do… especially when the local « shops » give jack shit about building a solid image & getting off the ground by supporting the skaters & involving them in projects, because they are way more urgently concerned with the bottom line they make in unrelated, direct sales of trendy skate-branded product to (mostly) non-skaters.
A phenomenon that tends to discourage a lot of the new kids whose skate filmmaking flame starts tickling…
Attila Fehér’s « Budapest ’13 » web part by Nagy Santi
As of now, we currently have no real videographer in Hungary, besides your average little kids making fun YouTube montages. Now would be a wise time for a change though, we are in the internet era after all & there never has been a more convenient time for people to fill that type of local void I think !
Q : Now onto broadening perspectives. When we all met at the croatian Vladimir Film Festival last year, do you reckon that might qualify as one of the first instances where hungarian skaters got to get in direct touch with some of the western world’s skate industry & media ? (thinking magazines, i.e.. Grey Skate Mag, Free Skate Mag, Push Periodical etc…).
A : I couldn’t speak for the entirety of the hungarian skate scene, in that our skaters definitely have traveled & met westerners before, be it on the occasional skate trip or even going to foreign contests (N.B. : the contest scene used to be quite big in Europe in the 1990’s).
But as far as our crew is concerned, then yes ! It was our first time meeting fellow skate rats from the west & it was an ineffable feeling to have them ask questions about our crew, and just generally being curious about who we are & what we do.
Nikola made us feel at ease as soon as we got out of the car after a long journey, then we just kept feeling the true love from everybody.
It was great being able to experience those encounters & made for some funny moments, i.e.. at that Barbariga fortress spot we were mentioning earlier. Henry (Kingsford) shot a photo of Kis Tomzon & later casually mentioned to him that he would like to run it in the next issue of Grey Skate Mag. A simple idea that still felt so foreign & amazing to us, for none of us had even gotten to see a physical copy of the mag before !
Speaking of connections, this is where I also have to mention Matthew Chambers, founder of the LA-based company Child Care Official which he runs with the help of his fellows Dain & Chase.
Matt Chambers was our first contact in the US – we first got in touch via email, after which he visited us from LA twice, to hang out with the crew ; and both times we got along really well.
For those who don’t know, he was a videographer back in the days who notably filmed for Zero ; nowadays, he is in the art scene.
« MYAMI » by Matt Chambers. 1999-2000 footage of Matt Cantor, Joel Meinholz, Andre Lazama, Arto Saari, Paul Diaz, Paul DeOliveira, Jamey Azelvander, Janca Arias, Oscar, Ian O’Connor, & Lindsey Robertson w/ Jon Allie, Jamie Thomas, and Adrian Lopez
Anyway, he made it real underground & expressed that he wanted to support us – which resulted in a RIOS crew wheel collab.
Needless to say, getting our hands on the finished product felt unbelievable !
About Benjamin’s Live Skateboard Media, it has to be one of our favorite web pages to check – you know the video picks are always going to be good.
Anyway, at some point I just sent a random email to Benjamin which was like « hey, here’s some raw shit from Budapest in 2014″ – just that & the link to our summer ’14 edit « Toló » that we had then just wrapped up together with Santi and Glenn.
That clip might have been the one that originally got us the most attention overseas ; in a way, despite how we had been making edits for some time already, it might as well have been the first lengthier RIOS video for which we actually started consulting each other, confronting ideas & actually trying to come up with articulate concepts for a typical home-made skater vibe.
Basically, we were becoming aware that we could drop something under a form we could really mold according to what we wanted to represent.
The RIOS’ 05/2014 offering, « Toló »
So we went & tried to make an old school-styled video with some fresh twists, going by the feeling that it’s hard to present things in an entirely new style in nowadays’ saturated worldwide skate scene.
I instantly got a message back from Benjamin : « hey there, so sick ! The video is our video of the day. We should do something together, I love what you guys do with your videos ! ».
So this is how our communication was first established ; we’ve had a lot of e-mail exchange since, and I hope we meet in the flesh someday…
Q : Not too long ago, Bordeaux-residing Magenta Skateboards rider Masaki Ui flew out to Budapest to skate with you guys (as seen in the new edit). How was it having him around ? I bet you have some crazy stories – hell with this guy around even a chair would have stories. Was he stoked on lots of things ? What do you think he liked the best ?
A : Haha, crazy G Maz. I had just come back from Pula & started to capture the tapes when I got that first bit of e-mail from him. He just wanted to know what the weather was like around that time of the year in Budapest… Which kind of hinted that flying out to visit was on the back of his mind already.
My intuition was right – the second bit of e-mail from him was like « hey, Vivien just booked my tickets so do you have some room for me to sleep… I’m staying for 10 days« .
It all happened really fast. And once he got here, he just got stoked on everything. I don’t think he had ever visited the Balkans before – anyway, he surely brought in some type of a western touch with him.
It was such a strange thing to us – a guy from Magenta wants to come to our little city to skate with us. We couldn’t believe it, although obviously we were hyped !
As soon as he arrived at the airport, I had that feeling as though we had known each other for a long time already. And from then on & for the whole (short) time he was there, he gradually worked his way to becoming a real RIOS member.
He was with us all day & night, be it skating around downtown or going to parties & getting wasted… only to go skate again the next day & have twice as much fun.
The way I perceived his approach to the trip, to him it seemed to make for a welcome change of scenery to just fly out & go nuts on that fresh lifestyle of living and skating non-stop with eastern dudes, all the while retaining his spirit and really just living the way that he wants to live. He also kept cooking some really tasty food for everybody all the time & introduced to us to the habit of eating baguette with everything.
The only thing I sort of regret is the language barrier that would get in the way sometimes – although more often than not, the skateboard was the best possible interpreter.
Maz also picked up a few words of our difficult language really quickly – we actually suspect that he might be an undercover hungarian, due to how he somehow managed to register a lot of the words we were regularly using around him (mostly slang, too), and assimilate them to the point where we never really had to translate those to him.
Masaki Ui’s « MINUIT / Night Leaks » web part by Yoan Taillandier
Maz crashed at 3 different people’s places over his 10-day stay, throughout which we always tried to accomodate & supply him with nothing but the best of what we could afford (#kingsize) – we even got him to go on a trek !
However, we ran into trouble with the cops and security every day.
Indeed, our crew has been kept on a tight leash recently & ever since last fall, due to how our latest video « Jönnek » happened to feature the documentation of some skitching behind cars & the subsequent angry reactions from pedestrians, all of which had gone viral a bit.
RIOS’ fall ’15 video clip « Jönnek »
Coincidentally, Maz – who just so happens to specifically enjoy skateboarding amid traffic – flew out to visit in the dead middle of those tense times.
On that one night we just start filming a line that eventually involves cutting through traffic, then keeping going against the flow of the cars – not even with it… A pretty sketchy idea ; anyway, we just go in between cars & land some tricks, only for one of the cars coming our way to reveal itself being a police car !
The doors open and people start to scream at us ; knowing that Maz always left his ID at home, I urge him to bounce while I stay standing there to get mine checked, and he storms out of here. The cops were rather angry, and kept asking about « the skater who left » ; I just stood there with a straight face (like we always do), expecting a sanction of sorts or maybe that they would ask for a backhander.
Eventually, they just dropped the issue and left on a threat : « we see you in traffic again and you’re going straight to jail ! ».
Now of course, we do have some crazy stories from the party nights, but those are going to stay private. All I can say is on his tenth & last day among us, Maz didn’t want to leave to go back home. Come back, Maz !
Q : Some more personal filmmaking history questions now – all within the RIOS crew seeing as we’ve covered the general status of the hungarian skate video scene before.
I remember the 2013 Ati BP edit (I know you didn’t film that, Santi did), to me that was my introduction to you guys & the one edit that originally caught my attention big time. Before you personally started to film with them guys, who used to film their old stuff ?
Also, how has your own filming developed and what cameras have you been using & why ? « Alternative » SD rigs always feel fresh in a VX-vs.-HD-dichotomy-dominated skate world.
A : Glenn originally started to make sick edits with the help of Ákos Bocskai & Santi. He was pretty much the kindergarten teacher of a lot of our kids – who back then were under 18 for the most part – and always looked after them, all the while also teaching them discipline.
Anyway, they had borrowed some little HD cam and duct-taped a random fisheye (that normally wouldn’t fit) onto it, and started toying around with that « set-up » all the while not even knowing what ‘autofocus’ meant as a camera setting.
They were the best-feeling videos – I loved them, everybody loved them ; raw street rat flow with a lot of life within & spontaneous humor, no fake scenes & always a real director’s cut. Those might have been some of the first RIOS-styled edits.
Around the time that little camera eventually died, Ákos & Santi started to record the daily routine of their circle of friends.
They put together 2 or 3 videos with the same vibe, just with better cameras and fisheyes – coincidentally they both had the same set-up (using the Canon XM-2), making it really easy to mix all the clips together within the same edits.
That was the start of the whole process, pretty much.
Around that time I was also filming but didn’t really edit anything – I’d just keep stacking tapes, to the extent where at one point I had about 70 S-VHS tapes laying around – so by the time our cold winter arrived, leaving me stranded around the house for a while, it was easy for me to make about 7 different videos to drop online on a monthly basis – sometimes even more frequently.
We would go out on the streets all day & sometimes all night, always with the strongest motivation to make new videos. Around that era, Glenn, Santi & I made for three of us – three different minds each with their respective interest & take on filming, which was exciting to have around.
Then after a while, it all really came down to just Santi & I, and I upgraded to a Sony VX-1000. We were both working on solo video projects, respectively – and since the both of us were also shooting a lot of analog & digital photos on the side, the idea of starting a Tumblr page came up.
That time he made the « Budapest ’13 » clip with Ati (posted above), they collected all the footage within two intense months of filming – a worthwhile effort seeing as that was our first video to ever get foreign coverage (on Live Skateboard Media).
That got us stoked & only enhanced our drive to keep doing whatever we were doing, then next thing I know we end up getting interviewed for an even more foreign website, the US-based & east coast underground institution Quartersnacks.
To this day, that those guys even felt like getting in touch with us feels quite incredible, and the reason why they did still fucks with our minds. Maybe they thought our style had a certain candor to it ?
Anyway, one of the few hungarian skateboarding websites took it upon theirs to translate it into our language, and that’s how we managed to catch the attention of the more mainstream hungarian skateboarding-related media – if that’s even a thing.
Around the time we were filming for Toló (posted above), my VX-1000 died but Glenn quickly replaced it with his old Canon XM-2 that he gave to me so I could keep the filming process going – the best surprise, respect !
I am still using the Canon camera to this day. I relish the crispy sounds of it, and it’s good to have some unique stuff going, instead of seeing & showing people the same colors and aesthetics everyday. I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen the same video 1000 times nowadays, just because of how the basic, go-to skate filmer set-up has to be the VX-1000 / MK1 combo.
We like to make what we call « Frankenstein » fisheyes, from other random lenses & unused fisheyes. We learn a lot from each other’s ideas & always make sure to exchange a fair bit.
Sometimes we get hyped on some of the VX-1000 masters & we compete with each other to see who will be brave enough to sneak the fisheye the closest possible to the deck, or wheel. So of course, in return we occasionally suck with the fisheyes too (scratches, etc.).
It was a good momentum we had going ; alas, a bit over a year ago I had to go back to working on the videos alone, due to Santi moving out of the country to start working in Norway…
Nowadays, I often find myself working on the edits accompanied by the mastermind Glenn, who really has a down-to-earth, reliable view on things – kind of making him the 2nd director, always supervising & questioning the current choices & concepts.
The music selection especially plays a fundamental role & usually makes for the hardest decision in the editing process. We always try to find music on YouTube with as few views as possible, like 100. The last times we stumbled upon a rare track, we were the first persons to listen the song – it now had 2 views, despite having been uploaded almost 1 year ago.
Q : Let’s talk about the RIOS artwork. Who makes it ? You have some pretty killer stuff in that department. All the rough sketches & drawings, video titles, and also those more technical pieces that look like etching / engraving. Do you work as a collective for that or is it just a few of you ? How does that come about, what is the process like ? Looks like everyone in the crew is always down with it.
A : As stated before, my best dude János (Buta Jani) is behind all the crazy RIOS graphics.
I got to start hanging out & skating with him 15+ years ago – we were already buddies around the early 2000’s Heroes’ square crew era which I referred to earlier.
Unfortunately, he has really bad knees now, due to past injuries, so he has to take it easy with skateboarding – that’s pretty much the reason why he started getting more deeply involved in the graphic arts department.
He really is the « visual » type of guy who can project ideas onto paper.
Unfortunately, we are kind of parting ways right now, due to how he moved to Austria in order to study at the art university there, while I’m going to the hungarian one myself.
Anyway, he is more into the actual act of skateboarding than I am and – quite conveniently – right now he happens to be living with a crew of hungarian skaters who also moved to Vienna, making his place a sweet one to crash at for a lot of RIOS boys who want to go on skate trips to Vienna.
So right now, he kind of stands for the foreign extension of the RIOS youth organization !
We both joined the soon-to-become-RIOS crew around the same time – we discovered the forming group together, back when they were a more random, bigger crew of kids trying to make their own videos under the name « Superscum » ; we got a similar genuine, raw vibe from them boys & simultaneously chose to hang out with them all the time at the DIY spot, regularly popping up as the old school faces, trying to get to know them better & form friendships.
That was when we realized we really were on the same wavelength.
When I showed up & started making videos for them, it was never a question whether or not I should include some visual art to go along with the edits – János’ drawings were there, standing in line already as the perfect illustration of the general spirit, also marking the time we started to sign the videos under the RIOS name.
« Vetekszik » (12/2013)
The crew’s feedback on the first videos was unanimously positive. Turned out that most of them were into art already, and they all embraced János’ sketches as the most ideal representation of what they were doing already – something the crew felt like they were lacking, like a missing piece of a puzzle.
From that stemmed a collective energy, as though everyone was just becoming aware of a formerly neglected potential – the RIOS crew now wanted to put themselves on display to showcase that there really was something happening in Budapest, and that they could reach out not just to the small, inner skate scene, but also beyond & to a more general public.
That is when – with the help of Ákos – we launched the production of limited runs of shirts & hoodies adorned with silk-screened renditions of János’ graphics.
As far as making & using János’ video titles, the process can vary from being really easy to being really hard, especially now that he is in Vienna & doesn’t get to witness the editing process. But he has a good mind & always works with his heart… More often than not, the hardest thing for him to come up with is the main title of the video – hence why I always reveal the actual name of the edit to him at the very last minute, once we’re all done with all the rest.
He is a master at work, therefore I don’t have to say anything to him, I don’t have to shepherd him. It’s all from his mind… There are no rules… No need to justify anything to anyone… We are independent !
Q : Finally, what are your inspirations ? Be it in terms of skating, life, art. Favorite videos, favorite skaters past & present? Favorite movements maybe. What do you want to do in the future, what would you like to do, as a person, as a group ? And do you have any last words ?
A : It’s complex. Right now I couldn’t decant my art from my life, but it’s all working together eventually.
I have yet to come to terms with those systematized & systematizing terms, « art », « artist » – to me it just doesn’t sound right. Although I will earn my intermedia art diploma this year, as though to make myself more at ease with the concept of what I commonly produce – which really has everything to do with being lost in thought & resorting to an outlet of usually mixed media crafts.
My productions quite naturally always feed off my life & my memories which are just as naturally earthbound. I have some background in graffiti as well & more often than not my works have to do with researching, documenting, photographing and trying to unveil & unfold social phenomenons.
In the end, it really feels like street-based studies by the means of other tools than a skateboard. It feels satisfying & quite complementary gathering impressions resulting from the use of both approaches.
And as something fueled by the everyday life, my inspiration is naturally nurtured by the days worth of hours we regularly spend on the streets…
I usually drift a lot from there. If you don’t skate, you just can’t ever imagine & understand what is it all about, to be let loose together sharing something with your fellas, and feel at home when you are sitting on the dirty streets.
That also puts you in a position where you have to talk & interact with people – where it’s essentially necessary – and your mind has to be sharp enough to keep reasoning & keeping up with why you’re out strolling the streets on your skateboard, all the while acting – as means of survival – like you don’t give a damn.
You’re out for all citizens to see, all the while knowing that they judge by looks.
And you constantly have to break it down to them & explain that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it for the enjoyment, for the groove.
Whereas ledges & stairs are just material objects which – ironically enough – are definitely going to outlive most human beings – just to put things in the perspective that maybe they shouldn’t be taken so seriously !
There really isn’t much freedom to skate in Hungary, but at the same time it’s good to be a marginal somehow – it’s a spicy feeling. And with that in mind, it’s always a refreshingly welcome disenchantment to run into random people who actually do get hyped on we are doing – inspiration always just snowballs from then on.
As far as inspirational skate videos go, back in the days I would just get hyped on everything, due to how hard it was to get your hands on copies (let alone originals) of pretty much any skate video released on VHS.
Although, the first video to really leave a mark on me had to be Alien Workshop’s « Photosynthesis » – making for my first experience of a properly edited skate video with crazy rhythm and flow – the editing really was top-notch with the beats perfectly sync’d up with the snap of the decks.
The footage captured the soul and vibe of what skateboarding really comes down to being all about & didn’t even bother showing more than just real street rawness. The Cardona brothers, Ricky Oyola, Harold Hunter are / were such awesome skaters…
Harold Hunter in Underworld Element’s « Skypager » (1993)
I don’t really have any favorite videos these days. I actually feel quite full right now, because of the internet – lots of goodness floating around, lots of new good styles, new good edits, lots of new talented videographers every day.
On the other hand, that very saturation makes it hard to retain a unique style nowadays, although there are some diamonds in the rough, for instance I think what Yoan (Taillandier), Zach (Chamberlin) or LurkNYC (Nick von Werssowetz) are doing with their cameras stands out & looks way different – some next level type of filming which inspires me a lot.
Leo Valls’ « Just Cruise (Alternative Part) » filmed by Zach Chamberlin
And as far as recent skaters, again I don’t really have favorites, but I like to see the different approaches from all around the world, & rare styles, i.e.. how Glen Fox skates, or Jamie Platt, or Noah Bunink ; Alex Raeymaekers also has some crazy flow.
I like the french scene with those crazy combos, fast lines and quirky tricks (Blobys, Santiago Sasson, Hugo Maillard), the Bordeaux boys (Leo, Aymeric, Maz).
Hugo Maillard in Pacôme Gabrillagues’ 2010 Rennes classic, « CROSSWALK »
Also, some of the Canadians are onto some next level style of skating, which sometimes resembles dancing on a skateboard (Ben Blundell, Will Blakley etc.) ; and some of the New York boys like Genesis Evans, Dick Rizzo represent, in my opinion, some true skating.
But of course, it is unquestionable that my real favorites & true inspirations are my friends from the RIOS crew.
As a person, I would like to finish university & focus on some new exhibitions in the future – right now I’m a little bit sloppy with that – and I would also like to continue my publishing endeavors (under the name Karate Zines) which debuted a few years ago, and try to expand on that too.
As a group… I would like to continue making videos & working on the D.I.Y. spot effort, and get to travel more, go abroad. Establish some new collaborations, try to push the RIOS production thing (by making more clothing for instance). And at last but not least – skate with new people, always make new connections !
Last words : thanks everyone who ever helped us out & supported us in the game in anyway ! Balàzs at Smoking Papers, the Child Care family, Aaron Buzàs & Sweet SKTBS, Vivien Feil & Magenta Skateboards, Aymeric Nocus… Thank you so much for the interview.