Marius Syvanen ‘Outliers’ Interview

In the recent age of extended team video projects (some up to five years), the annual TransWorld video offers a shorter filming schedule than most. Adding to the fact that Marius signed up for Outliers roughly half way through its production means that he’s been very busy over the past few months. So busy in fact that it made it tough for him to be tracked down for this interview (filming at spots all over the world will do that, shitty wifi doesn’t help either). He took a minute from filming to hit a pay phone to recap some recent events including the sketchiest switch ditch bomb of all time, Finnish culture and inspirations, and being told he was turning pro by the homie at the board factory.
Luke Callahan

Backside 180. PHOTO / Chami

Backside 180. PHOTO / CHAMI (*click to enlarge)

Where are you right now?
Barcelona. I’m ten stops on the red line away from the city, from Universitat. I’m just a little outside of the city.

Is that the pay phone zone?
Yeah, I’m sitting in this laboratorio, which is pretty much a Pakistani phone center.

How long have you been on the go for? What have been some of the stops?
Almost a month now. It started off in Berlin, then I went to Madrid to meet a posse of friends, then we went to San Sebastián in the Basque country, and then I came here to meet up with some Habitat friends.

What other cities can we expect to see in your part?
The past year has been incredible travels. Japan, on a TransWorld mission. I was in Barcelona at the beginning of the year as well. Bolivia with Levi’s and TransWorld, that’s what I was just in Berlin for. The premier of the documentary [Skateboarding in La Paz].

Backside 180 alley-oop

Backside 180 alley-oop. TransWorldSKATEboarding’s Outliers.

“Back and forth from SD to Helsinki. This is pretty much the twentieth summer in a row.”

Are you going to have some Finland clips in there?
I’m still on my way, actually. From here I’m going to Helsinki. I’ll be there for about two weeks and then come back to The States. Within those two weeks I’ll try to get some Finland clips for sure.

Who you linking up with up there?
Finnish homies are up there, some dudes from The States are coming too, some of the Mafia boys. Should be a posse out there.

Did you want to hit Finland specifically for Outliers?
Specifically for the video, and I go there every summer, back and forth from SD to Helsinki. This is pretty much the twentieth summer in a row. It’s an annual trip out there, and it’s prime for the video.

Frontside lipslide. PHOTO / CHAMI

Frontside lipslide. PHOTO / CHAMI (*click to enlarge)

You were born in Finland, when did you move to the US?
I was born just outside of Helsinki, the Capital. I moved to San Diego When I was five.

Any elements of Finnish culture that exist in your day-to-day throughout the year?
Pretty much just going in the sauna at the house in San Diego. That’s pretty much one of the biggest Finnish cultures there is.

San Diego is like a sauna for a good part of the year as it is, is this activity a winter exclusive or is it all year?
Throughout the year, yeah. Whenever I’m feeling jacked from skating or just want to sweat it out.

Any additional stoke watching Arto in Menikmati and Sorry as a kid? How old were you then? 
Damn, Arto has always been a huge inspiration for me. When Sorry came out I was ten, or eleven. Shit, that was the biggest hype for me, him being from Finland as well. He was pure stoke for me for sure.


Wallie backside 180 fakie five-o. TransWorldskateboarding’s Outliers trailer.

“They definitely had to handle it. Military. Running around in the freezing cold snow, dying.”

What do you think you’d be doing if you had stayed in Finland?
[Whistles] Damn, I’ve thought about that one a lot of times. We moved to San Diego for my parents’ work and we were only supposed to stay there for a year and a half, and now it’s turned into almost 20 years there. If I still lived in Finland, who knows what I’d be doing? Probably be working some sketchy little job or something. I couldn’t tell ya.

What kind of jobs are we talking?
A bunch of friends out there, skater homies, they work in what I’m in right now. Just calling people, selling shit, little jobs like that. Building sets. Whatever they can find. Who knows, maybe I would have been an architect or a doctor or something [laughs].

You got out of the mandatory Finnish military service with the wrist plate and screws, but isn’t there some softer work they have for the busted up dudes? Are you still on the hook to do some office filing?
Nah, luckily I’m totally off of the hook. But there are other ways you can do it. You don’t have to do military boot camp. There’s civil work you can do. Go working in the hospital and clean up the bathrooms, helping out at an elderly home.

Frontside shove it. PHOTOS / BARTON

Frontside shove it. PHOTOS / BARTON (*click to enlarge)

Have all the Finnish homies done their stint?
Yeah, pretty much everyone.

The Perus dudes?
Yeah, all the Perus dudes for sure. As over it as they were, they definitely had to handle it. Military. Running around in the freezing cold snow, dying.

Make their beds proper though, on a samurai level, ?90 degrees, tucked.
Crack of dawn, for sure.

Back to Outliers, is this one of the shorter filming deadlines you’ve had?
Yeah, pretty much. I found out I was having a part in the video in the middle of March, so it’s been five months now. It’s been short, but it’s been good. Thiessen’s fucking killing it.

No comply. TransWorldSKATEboarding's Outliers

No comply. TransWorldSKATEboarding’s Outliers.

“Somehow, on one, I just made it to the bottom. Held on for dear life.”

You had some clips in Search The Horizon that dropped in December. Are you starting from scratch from there, or were you holding on to some stuff for this project?
Nah, I definitely held on to a bunch of clips, that’s why my part in Search The Horizon was pretty short. I held onto a bunch of clips for the TransWorld vid for sure.

One of the most celebrated clips in Search The Horizon was your switch crook / ditch bomb. Break down that session.
[Laughs] I was skating with Rowley out of nowhere. I had called him up to see what he was doing, when I was living in Hollywood. “Yo, we’re gonna go check out this ditch out in San Bernadino.” He was down. We got out there, it’s like an hour outside of LA, I’d never been there before. Rowley was trying some shit, he kind of tweaked his ankle. He was out for the sesh. The switch crook turned into a couple-hour battle, skating it solo. Somehow, on one, I just made it to the bottom. Held on for dear life.

Heaviest slam you had? Anything clearly stand out?
Fuck, I’ve had so many. Shit, just a month ago I cracked my head open at Washington [WVST]. I hung up on the love seat and back flipped to my head. Ruined my lower back and had to get staples in my head.

Backside tailslide. PHOTO / ChamI

Backside tailslide. PHOTO / CHAMI (*click to enlarge)

Have you been skating much with the other guys in the video?
Not really beside the trips that we’ve done to Atlanta and Miami.

Who has surprised you most?
Damn, everyone’s surprising in their own way. I’m going to have to say Brad and Zered. They got some shit. The New York trip. Zered, man… It’s fucking amazing.

You picking music for your Outliers part? Is Chris taking music suggestions for the video?
Yeah definitely. We’ve got a bunch of different songs in mind. It’s just a thing with getting the rights. He’s got it all figured out. He would send me some songs, and I’ll listen to them, it should be cool.

Frontside bluntslide. TransWorldSKATEboarding's Outliers.

Frontside bluntslide. TransWorldSKATEboarding’s Outliers.

“I’ll get out of there for a year or two, but SD will always be the home base.”

Is this one of the first times you’ve bounced stuff around with the editor?
Probably the first time actually. Other video parts I’ve just let Joe or Brennan handle it, or Russell for the Osiris video. They ‘ve always just chosen my songs. I’ve never really had any input into it. I don’t really know shit about music. I know what I like, but I couldn’t say what band I want to use. I’m up for whatever.

Who’s had the best skating to music pairing? What comes to mind?
Damn. Cardiel for sure. Sight Unseen.

The demise of Alien Workshop, I feel like it’s one of those events where people can remember where they were when they found out. Where were you when you heard the news?
Shit, I couldn’t say. I saw it somewhere on Instagram. There where thousands of them (posts). Some epic Alien graphic, or some epic clip from some Alien footage, “RIP bro, so sad, crying,” you know?

Frontside Smith grind. PHOTO / STRAND

Frontside Smith grind. PHOTO / STRAND (*click to enlarge)

Wanted to congratulate you on turning pro. Hyped on that. How did you find out?
[Laughs] I got the boards by accident at my house. I get my boards straight from PS Stix, and the dude that was there wrote this letter on the inside of the box like, “Congrats mate! Hyped for you.” There was just ten of my first board. I was just like, “What the fuck?!” I knew something was maybe coming, but I didn’t know it’d be that quick. I sent it to the team manager, Brennan [Conroy] over at Habitat, he was like, “Oops!” like, “What the hell, you weren’t supposed to get those for a while.” It wasn’t supposed to come out for a while, but the guy at PS Stix didn’t really know that and just sent them to me. It was completely out of nowhere.

What’s the last DVD you threw in the player?
In Madrid we watched Mouse [‘96] on DVD. I was with Jimmy Cao, Jamie Palmore, Tyler Surrey, and some Spanish friends.

You’ve been traveling a lot over the year. Do you think you could ever move to any of these destinations or will SD always be home base?
I have to say SD will definitely be home base. I’ll get out of there for a year or two, but SD will always be the home base.

Check out more from Marius in his bio and archive.  

View more coverage of Outliers at the world premiere in LA and NYC.

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