Aaron is making tea for us with some cookies. The Cure “A Forest” is playing in the background. What a host. Aaron went to see The Cure, one of his favourite bands, a few months back. We start discussing in which video this song was used. We couldn’t figure it out, so I’ll do a quick research right now...
It turns out that the song has been used multiple times according to skatevideosite. Some examples:
Krux - Feelin’ It
Landscape - Portraits - Joel Curtis
KFC - Television - Phillipp Now
Film Fatties - Credits#2
According to skatevideosite The Cure has been used in over 40 videos. So I think we can all agree that most skaters are sad and depressed people. Except for Aaron. But we’ll get to that later on.
Interview by Frederick Walker and Charles Lanceplaine. Portrait by Walker, skate photos by Marcel Veldman.
C. How many boards can you ollie?
A. I think from flat it could be four or five, stacked. Like a barrier with half a board on top, so it’ll probably be five.
C. When did you start skating?
A. I can still remember actually because I went to my mom’s place last week where I found my old diary. I have it here. [It has horses on the cover and a tiny lock. Classic] “in school everything went wrong, I even ripped my sweater. After school I went to the skatepark and I did 5-0’s and 50-50’s, and that was the whole day.’’ - This was 23-09-2003. So I think I started skating in 2002-ish.
[There’s a drawing of the sparke logo on a page.]
C. Is that supposed to be Sparky but you messed it up?
A. Sparky used to be called sparke, it had two owners, my old boss David and Andre if I’m not mistaken. Andre left and went to Scheveningen and opened a shop there called sparke at sea. It had nothing to do with the old sparke, he just wanted to take advantage of the name to make money. Then David came to the conclusion that this isn’t how it works, you can’t leave a company and start one with the same name, so that’s when it changed from sparke to Sparky.
Here’s also a drawing of a Nike logo and now I skate for Nike, so it’s a full circle moment. Oh and a rocket which goes into space and my interior is space age design. So all my childhood dreams came true I guess!
C. For how long have you known Cestmir and Mauro, you grew up skating together?
A. Mauro and I certainly did, and Cestmir started when he was 16, I think. Mauro is also from Zwolle and Cestmir comes from Hattum, a small town next to Zwolle. I’ve known Mauro since he was 11, we used to call him frog legs, cause one time he came to the park and he was watching Leo Romero a lot, he was wearing the brightest skinny green jeans you can think of. Somebody shouted ‘Hey yo frog legs!’ That’s fucked man, telling that to a kid that’s new in the park. But yeah those two guys are my best homies, since day one!
R. What about the other guys like Chris Belling and Rick Holtvluwer?
A. So yeah, those are the guys that were skating for Sparky, before I was skating for them. They were killing it. I think Rick quit skating, I was always looking up to him like “yo, this guy is so good man.” It’s a shame but yeah, it happens. I think Chris has some back problems, he’s a big guy. He moved from Sparky to Herqua, too.
R. Shout out Jan Willem!
A. I’m not sure but I think he went there because of the golf gear, hahaha.
C. How did you get into furniture?
A. Mainly because of my injury last year, in July. I have been living here for about five years, and I didn’t really do anything about it. I was just using it as a room, and not really a house, so I saw my injury as a perfect excuse to change that. I was selling stuff and with the money I earned from that I went on to buy something new like a nice lamp or some chairs, basically everything I could find for a fair price. I changed it a lot though, sometimes after a few weeks I got tired of a certain piece and sold it again. Hunting on marktplaats for some good deals to try to get it as cheap as possible is also a part that drives me. It’s part of the morning routine as well, checking instagram for skate clips and then marktplaats for furniture.
C. What’s the biggest miss you had in your 20 years of skating?
A. It’s more like a mistake I reckon, but my first sponsor, Allstyle Distribution (Aldo Niemeijer, love that dude)... I was 16 at the time and I got the whole package, Toy Machine, Theeve Trucks, Pig Wheels and Dekline Shoes. And back then the only social media there was, was either Facebook or Hyves. And the only thing that I would post were some new Nikes that I got, eventually someone told me like ‘hey why don’t you post stuff that you get from Aldo’. I thought, are you supposed to do that? At some point he told me ‘yeah I don’t really like that you post nikes and whatever’ and I can’t really remember what happened because it was so many years ago. Oh no wait, the sponsorship ended because I went to Hardcore Supplies. But yeah the biggest mistake back then was just posting Nikes whilst getting other gear, back then social media was way different than it is today. Nowadays it’s common sense that you post about gear that you get from your sponsors but this was 2010-ish.
R. Social media was still in its baby-shoes, so you didn’t know better at that time as well.
What about Nike, what do they want to get out of you?
A. That’s a good question, basically what I have been doing for the last couple of years. Putting stuff out on insta, and I’m working on a video part with Dylan van der Laan. But because of injuries, the first one happened in May 2022, I broke my right thumb and tore a ligament so that was eight weeks and physical therapy for a month after that. Three weeks in I broke my left elbow, so I had a thumb that was working for 70%. Try to put on a beanie without your left arm and one hand without full usage of the right thumb. It’s near impossible, man. So I’ve got a couple clips, the last one was right before breaking the elbow. And on top of that I got sick in December 2020, it lasted for two and a half months being sick, losing eight or nine kilos, and recovering from that took roughly six months and then after three months of being off medication I got sick again. When I recovered from that, the broken thumb and elbow happened whilst still being on medication for my sickness ‘Adult Still’s Disease’ [a rare type of inflammatory arthritis which causes fevers, rash and joint pain] fewer than 1 in 100.000 people get it each year. I’ve been on medication for more than a year so after the elbow issue is gone I want to focus on getting off the meds, and then geting back to skating to my full potential.
C. How did you manage to keep sane during all this?
A. That’s interesting, lots of good people surrounding me who really helped me. The first period of being sick was at my moms place and it was during the pandemic so you couldn’t really go out and see your friends. I was just playing games or my family came over, and after the pandemic sort of ended I went back to my place here in Amsterdam. Friends came over and I could skate a little bit, which was weird cause I couldn’t even walk while being sick. The first time I tried to ollie I could only clear a pencil on the ground and thought “yo is this it, is this my life?” but it got better over time and after six months I could skate properly again. Just being able to skate and cycle around felt like such a big relief. But because I was coming off the medication too quickly, I got sick again. That was a pretty hard period for a couple months, but after talking to my doctor we finally got it stable. As soon as we were trying to reduce the medication again, the whole thumb thing happened.
But yeah, it was basically being around good people, which made the whole process easier. And thinking, is it just dumb luck or is it supposed to happen since it’s such a rare disease. My thumb is dumb luck and my elbow is dumb luck, I wouldn’t say that mentally you get used to bad shit happening, but eventually you’re like whatever, you have to make the best out of every situation. I can skate but I still have to be cautious, so not skating-skating more like cruising around for the feeling and surrounding yourself with good people helped a lot to keep sane. Also, the furniture obsession helped me through a lot. Just things to occupy the mind, constantly checking online, reading books about it.
My brother visited me a lot while I was sick at my mom’s place as well, he has a lot of great stories about the past, he’s 48 so we’re almost 20 years apart. My family helped me through the sick situation, and the homies when all the shit with the thumb/elbow happened. You manage.
R. How did you get on Nike actually?
A. I think it was a skate night on a Friday or maybe just a regular night. I was skating, i.e. destroying the curb and I heard Eelco de Koning, Vincent Vos and I think Piet Parra talking about me in the back, and I didn’t know those guys back then, like ‘yo who the fuck is this guy, never seen him’. A few weeks went by and Eelco had been talking to some guys in Noord about me. A week later he came up to me ‘hey listen I’m Eelco, and I actually want to hook you up’. I said are you serious? Holy shit this is crazy and two weeks later my first package came in. He told me ‘whenever you need something just let me know’. That’s insane, and to this day that’s still crazy for me.
Last November I got a text from him which said ‘hey listen we want to put you on Nike Elite’, which is an official flow deal with Nike and I lost my mind. What it means is that you get a budget for a year, which you can spend on an external website of Nike where you get Jordans, ACG’s, tennis, golf and whatever. So yeah, that’s how it happened, from that one night of skating in Noord to being on Nike Elite now.
C. Have you been skating a lot recently?
A. I have been for the last month and a half, since I got the orange light from the hospital (I can’t say green light yet). December 9th I had surgery for my left elbow and they actually removed a whole joint, which is gnarly. I was walking around with a PICC Line at that time. So what they did was they made an incision in my upper arm and stuck an IV of 40 cm in an artery, going to my heart. So I got the hip bag filled with antibiotics connected to the IV pumping 24/7 on every second heartbeat, which helps to heal the body faster. So one week in the hospital and one week at home, I had to change the bag every morning between 10/11. Take it out of the fridge and try to work as sterile as possible, washing my hands with alcohol after every step. But as soon as it was attached it was good to go, ready for another 24 hours.
C. And you’ve got a new job right? Was that emotional?
A. Yeah man, but yes and no. I thought I would cry, I’m an emotional guy but I didn’t, hahaha. I’ve been working at sparky for almost 10 years. The last day I worked with Cestmir and a lot of our regular customers came by with presents. Like this family of three, a mom with a son and a daughter and I kind of had a little crush on her, haha. They would come by almost every Saturday because we always gave them a good experience. [R. Giving tea and cookies just as we’re having right now]. One day I was super hungover, they came by and always before coming they would go to the market to get fruit, cheese and whatever. And they saw me and were like “hey man, you don’t look so good are you okay?”. I said “nah I’m super hungover, been partying yesterday.” And they gave me some fruit that they just bought so that was super nice, and they would come every 6/7 weeks and it became a regular thing to give me fruit and I offered them some coffee or tea. On the last working day they popped in, the three of them, and gave me a handwritten card with two gifts which said “because you’re not here anymore to receive our fruit on Saturday, we give you some fruit to place at home.” And the gift was two Christmas balls, an orange and a strawberry. So you know these kinds of things happened because after working there for 10 years you build a strong connection with the customers.
C. But how did the change come about?
A. The first time Benny asked me it was, I think, in 2020, like “yo, we’re looking for some new people to work in the shop and I really want you in the shop.” No serious talks just yet, only some chit chat. But there are only two shops in the Netherlands that I would like to work at, either Sparky or BenG. So I liked the idea of working there, I’m always stoked for some change.
Benny is the distributor of Huf, so my old boss would meet up with him every season for the new collection. I don’t know how but he found out that I was talking to Benny about maybe working for BenG. So he texted Benny “hey you better not steal my employee, keep your hands off him”.
So fast forward, I got sick anyways so if I was making the move I wouldn’t get a contract. End of 2021 Benny asked me the same question again, and some stuff happened at Sparky, some things my boss didn’t like. My boss found out we were talking again and sent the same text. I thought “oh my god, what am I gonna do?”. So another year passed and Benny asked me again, and I was like, fuck it I’m just gonna do it. I don’t care about what anybody says, this is what I wanna do. I asked Benny what the hours would be, the salary and possibilities if I would work for him, then got everything down and signed the contract.
C. I wanna know, cause you, Cestmir and Mauro are the hottest and best looking squad of the Netherlands. Were there a lot of groupies coming in on Saturday? What’s the secret?
A. Hahaha, the secret is being Asian for sure. Mauro is Indonesian/Chinese-ish-Italian I think, Cestmir is Indonesian-Dutch and I’m Indonesian-Molukken-Dutch. So I think that’s one of the main secrets, haha.