Madars Apse Interview

Question: how many college-educated Latvian pro skaters are there in the world? Answer: only one, Madars Apse. One of the most popular skateboarders in Europe, Madars is putting in the work and quickly making a name for himself on this side of the pond as well. With his going-pro part dropping on the Element site today, we thought we'd touch base with the lanky Latvian and talk about moving to California, government kickbacks and accidentally drinking pee.
Michael Sieben

Do you get tired of explaining where Latvia is to Americans?
No. Never. I love doing it. I'm not the best at geography myself, so why wouldn't I help out somebody else who has the same problem?

Are you the first Latvian skater to turn pro?
I think so. I think this might be the case, yes. 

When did you start skating? What was your introduction?
I started skating in 2001. I lived right by the Olympic Center where the skatepark is, so my introduction was basically the homies that were skating in my hometown of Ventspil back then. I basically watched how they skated and then I tried rollerblading, bmx and then—skateboarding was the best. 

Bump to front board  Photo: Gaberman

What was the first decent board you got?
It was a Killer Loop. It's, like, in-between a toy and a skateboard. They had cool graphics for teenagers that loved action. That was pretty much my first board. I moved on to Element pretty quick, though. I started skating Element boards maybe, like, two years after I started skating. 

So you were buying Element boards before you got sponsored by them?
No, I think I only bought maybe two boards and then I got sponsored by the local skate shop. 

So you were on Element flow through the shop?
Yeah, and then I moved on to the actual team. 

Frontside heelflip  Photo: Hammeke

Were you on the Element Euro team before you got on the global team?
I don't know. I wouldn't want to make that separation because it's, like, as long as we're all on Element, we're all on Element, you know? It's not a European or US team, it's all just Element. It just depends on where you skate mostly. At first, I was skating mainly in Europe and then I moved to America to skate out here with the photographers out here and stuff. So that's basically how the move happened for me. 

Why was it important for you, personally, to venture out to California instead of staying in Europe?
Because I wanted to travel, you know? This is what I wanted out of skateboarding, to be able to travel the world and go see the places that I wanted to see. And I was brought up on skateboarding—seeing all of the stuff that comes out of California—so of course I wanted to come here and meet all the people that I looked up to growing up. 

How did your It's A Mad World YouTube show come about?
Basically, I got Kingpin magazine's European Skater of the Year award in 2012 and it was announced at a trade show. And then there were these guys walking around the trade show—they worked for a big production company in London called Line 9—looking for somebody that would be a good fit for a show they wanted to do and they chose me. 

Do you get tired of having to film everything you're doing or do you enjoy it?
I definitely get tired of doing it, for sure. I can't be doing it on every trip, so I only pull the camera out on certain trips. I don't do it all the time. It's definitely a lot of content to fill to make each episode. 

It seems like Wes Kremer pops up on your show a bunch. Are you guys tight?
For sure. Wes is a homie. He's definitely a good mate because we travel a lot together with DC. Like, two years ago we met and we just bro'd down and we've gone on trips all over the place. And I really support what Wes is doing and I want to show it through my show, too. I want to give him coverage through the show for the sake of friendship. 

Backside tailslide  Photo: Gaberman

Do you think later in life you'll use your degree in business and marketing?
Who knows. Well, actually I already have my own show which I have to market, so I guess I'm already using it. 

Is it true you're getting a kickback from your hometown of Ventspil for having the town's name written on your Element pro board—it being included in the graphic?
It's true for sure. They're helping me to travel. They've helped me come up. Basically I've gotten help from the Ventspil Council to travel and I thought I might as well give them some love from my side, too. And I'm also trying to give some love to the locals. That's where I'm from and I want people to know that. 

Lipslide  Photo: Gaberman

Do you really have a fear of Western medicine? We had a sidebar in the mag about you rubbing pee on your swollen knee to try to reduce the swelling. 
No, actually my girlfriend is a dentist, so there's no way I can really be afraid of it. But if there's a way to avoid surgery, then I'm taking that chance. Anything. Even if it means I have to piss on my leg, I'll do it. 

Okay, I gotta spring one on you. Be honest. Have you ever accidentally drank pee out of a bottle in the Element team van?
Ahh, yes I have. Don't put that in there. Nah, you can put it in there. It was so embarrassing. I didn't think anybody noticed. People are probably going to think I'm weird, but I actually did drink pee out of somebody's bottle one time. 

Bump to backside tailslide  Photo: Gaberman

Backside kickflip  Photo: Rhino

On accident, right? Just to clarify. 
Yeah, I was super tired after a long day of skating and I don't know how but I just, like, without looking grabbed a bottle that was by my leg and just started sipping and realized pretty quickly that it was piss. The van was full of people, so I just shut my mouth and kept quiet and tried to not think about it. 

So who did you tell? Who leaked the story? 
I didn't tell anybody except my girlfriend. 

Then how did Cole [Matthews - Element Skate Team Manager] know?
He must have noticed that I did it, but since the van was full of ten guys he didn't speak up about it. Thank you, Cole, for that. And I'll have to thank him for telling you about it. 

Backside nosegrind revert  Photo: Broach

Pole jam blunt  Photo: Hammeke

Okay, so you got the pro model now. What's your next goal?
Film another video part for Element. We're doing a team video sometime soon. But the plan is to keep making video parts and hopefully get a Thrasher interview in the magazine in the future, too. 

Good answer. Let's wrap this up with some words for the kids. What's your philosophy? What do you want the kids to know?
Well, first I want to say thanks to everybody that helped me turn pro, because I really couldn't be more appreciative. I've learned from a lot of people. And I'd like to tell the kids that they should also be very thankful for their friends that they skate with, because those are the people that they are going to learn from. So go out and skateboard and have some fun. 

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