Am Scramble 2019: Giovanni Vianna Interview
“That is the most orange skater I’ve ever seen!” That was our reaction upon first seeing Giovanni Vianna a few years back, when his fire-colored mane was at it’s fullest, most-electric volume. Recently, lined up proper and crushing both our Brooklyn table event and Bust or Bail we realized he was more than just an impressive mop, this dude is straight gnar-gnar. Mere months after getting the official bump to Primitive's elite team, he was featured alongside his heroes, Carlos and Tiago, with a full part of Encore-worthy hits. So when it came time to put the call out, we knew we had to get some Fogo! Ever wonder what the Brazilian secret to pop is or how to start hopping fakie at whatever rail comes your way? Let this interview be your guide.
You’re at home right now, right? How is Brazil?
I’ve been chilling. It’s been raining so I haven’t been able to skate.
You killed it on the Scramble so I’d think you could take a little time off.
Yeah, that’s good. I like it.
I remember when we first met a couple of years ago on the Volcom Terminal Tourists trip.You met up with us one day to just roll around and you ended up crushing every spot and getting a ton of footage. We all thought, Holy shit, this kid’s really good, then two years later, here you are on a Thrasher trip with us.
Yeah, thanks, dog. That’s my dream, actually—skateboarding.
While many could only dream of going over the top of this rail to lipslide, Gio makes it happen
You’ve been killing it since you’ve been out in the States. You’ve been all over the Internet, blowing up.
Yeah, I’m feeling good. Feeling so much better.
What did you think when you first got invited on the Am Scramble? Were you nervous?
So much, dog, so much. Because I knew the first one I watched and I’m like, Dang, I wanna go. And this is the third one. I’m so stoked. For me, it’s more motivation for skate, skate, skate.
But you couldn’t have been any more nervous to go on this trip than the Volcom one, ’cause that trip was Milton, Grant Taylor, Collin Provost, Pedro Barros, Louie Lopez and Jake Phelps. That was a pretty insane trip!
Yeah, the Volcom one is more nervous because I didn’t know everyone. So I think with Volcom I was more nervous ’cause everyone is really good; everyone has a lot of footage; everyone knows those guys.
Nothing beats a Florida orange fresh from the tree
And Jake Phelps was on that trip, too. He was kind of an intimidating guy if you didn’t know him well.
Yeah, with Jake Phelps, too. I can’t believe I saw him.
I remember you had really long red hair and Jake kept calling you War Criminal, because he said you looked evil. What happened to the long hair?
So the long hair, when it was long Carlos Ribeiro would always tell me I had to cut it. One time we were skating and he was trying a trick and I told him, “Yo, if you land it right now, I cut my hair.” And he landed it. The trick was a nollie heel nosegrind on a rail. So he landed it and we went straight to the house and those guys cut my hair.
Cab overcrooks, lost in translation
Damn. Were you bummed that you had to cut it?
So bummed. So nervous, too, ’cause I never cut my hair like that, you know? I’m, like, not crying but shaking. My hands were shaking—everything’s shaking.
I think it looks good short.
Yeah, I like it.
I hear you used to wear glasses and push mongo, too. What happened to that?
That’s a long, long time ago, boy. That’s crazy. When I started to skate, I started to push mongo. I was in a contest and the judge told me I had to push normal because it was so ugly. He said “The next contest you push mongo, every score will go down.” Then I learned to push normal. And about the glasses, I’d wear them a lot and every time I’m skating they drop to the ground. So annoying. So I changed for the contact lenses.
Did you know anybody on the Scramble before you went on it?
Everyone I know from footage and the times that I saw the guys at contests or something like this. Except Jesse. I didn’t know him.
You were kind of a quiet guy when the trip started but by the end you were a jokester, constantly making everyone laugh. Are you usually pretty quiet or do you get wild around your friends?
I’m usually quiet but everyone there was so good energy. And I like good energy. It’s hard for me to speak because my English is not the best. Because then I’m so shy, you know?
Surfing through the pylons with a crooks
Your English has gotten a lot better since I first met you, though.
Yeah, it’s much better. I’ve been in America for eight months straight so I learn a lot. I’m so happy to have that, too.
Who do you usually room with on Primitive trips?
When I started to go on Primitive trips my roommate was Tiago.
Do you and Tiago get along really well?
Yes, I hang a lot with Carlos, too—Carlos and Tiago.
For decades, some of the best skaters have been coming out of Brazil and it seems like they all have pop and major ledge skills. Is there something in the water there that gives these guys superpowers?
I think it’s because back in the day it’s not so many skateparks and so everybody is always skating in the plazas—banks and ledge plazas. And I think it’s the food. The food is good, like rice and beans. Everyone say that so I want to say that, too. The food is rice, beans, fries and açaí.
The beans, berries and influence from Tiago pay off with this perfectly popped heelflip backside 5050
So rice, beans and açaí will give you a lot of pop?
Yeah, I think. The guys say that. The jokes is like that so I think it’s like that too.
Damn, we might have to start the Brazilian pop diet. Who are some of your Brazilian skate heroes?
I started to skate by looking at guys from my city, but about the Brazilian guys skating in the US, it’s Carlos Ribeiro, Tiago, Rodrigo TX, Rodrigo Petersen, those guys.
Did you ever skate with those guys in Brazil or did you meet them after you moved to the US?
No, I only met Tiago one time in Brazil, only to say, “What’s up?” After that I met the guys in the US and Carlos helped me a lot. I didn’t even know Carlos in Brazil, only in the US and he was so good for me. So good friend, so good people helped me for everything. Carlos helped me a lot in the US.
Carlos almost seems like an older brother to you. He’s always giving you shit and he made you cut your hair. Why is he always picking on you so much?
I think it’s the energy. I think my energy and his energy is almost the same. He’s older, but he pushes me and I think I push him and he tells me, “Oh, I want to start skating more rails,” and I’m skating a lot of rails and that’s more like me and him working together, going out to skate every day in the streets and I push him on the rails and he pushes me more on some other spots—ledge tricks and something like this. Both guys learning something—he learns something here and I learn something there. I think it’s because the energy is cool and the conversation is too.
Bluntslide ride, straight fogo
Carlos definitely has good energy. He’s such a fun dude to skate with. How do you say Primitive in Portuguese?
In Portuguese it’s Primitivo.
Should we change the brand’s name to Primitivo?
No, Primitive is better.
Most people don’t know this, but you’re a twin, right?
Yes, I have a twin sister—same age, same everything, except I’m three minutes older.
Twins! Gio and Gio go frontside to backside in suburban Orlando
Do you look exactly the same?
Nah, she has black hair and I have red. Yeah, so different. I’m close to my mom ’cause my mom has red hair and my father has black hair.
Are you and your sister close?
Yeah, good conversation and everything. Over time she comes with me to the parties. She knows all of my friends. She’s super cool.
Gingers stick together. Sinclair tows Gio for a blasting frontside biggie
Does she skate, too?
Nah, she not skate. She started one time back in the day only, you know, push, push going straight. Only that, but she not skating anymore.
So you live with your parents and friends in Brazil, but when you come to the States where do you stay?
In Costa Mesa.
Do you ever go surf since you’re so close to the beach?
I try one time with Carlos. Carlos, he’s good at surfing, so I try one time with him. And I think since I kept going into the water and into the waves and the water kept going into my hair, I didn’t like surfing.
Did you try surfing fakie? Maybe you’d be better at it.
How does a kid from Brazil find their way to Costa Mesa, CA, and get sponsored by one of the more popular board brands in skating right now? What was your path?
I started to get boards two years ago from Primitive and coming to the US the first time was two years ago, too. I start to skate only for fun with Carlos and Tiago and the guys—more friendships and stuff, more natural. It’s crazy because my part in the Encore video, one month before they put out the video the guys tell me, “Yo, you know you have a part in the video?” It’s more like natural. I only film with the guys and skate with them for fun and I put all my footage in there.
Gio dipped a Smith then we all took our prom photos by the fountain. Florida is for lovers
So they didn’t tell you that you were filming a part for their video?
One month before the video came out they told me.
And how long did it take you to film that part?
I filmed it in six months.
Filming a video part in six months is pretty impressive!
Yeah, I like that because we skate every day and skate a lot and there was a lot of good energy, too. I was only skating with the guys and going sometimes on the tours and going to parks and right now I know everyone and everyone knows me. It was more natural then.
Back tail fly over on some orange stucco
There weren’t any other Brazilians on the Scramble but we definitely had a few gnarly people from other parts of the world. How was skating with Jack O’Grady, the Australian pit bull?
It’s good skating with him because his vibes are so good and I love his skating. I like his energy, you know? It’s good energy and he pushes me. He just goes for it or he lands it. He knows what he wants to do and I like that.
Jacopo wasn’t able to stay with us long since he flew back for the Baker 4 premiere, but how was skating with him?
I like him, too, because he’s Italian. My grandfather is Italian. I thought he was an American guy but the first time we met he says, “No, I’m Italian,” and I say “Really? Damn,” and he’s says, “Oh, are you from Italy, too?” And I’m like, “No, I’m from Brazil” He says, “But your name is Italian, right?” And I say, “Yeah, my name is Italian because of my grandfather.” And because of that we had good energy. His Baker 4 part was beautiful.
Language barrier be damned, Gio and Jacopo bond with the Italian connection
Had you been to Florida before this trip?
I had been two-and-a-half years ago, I think in Miami.
Did you see any alligators?
No, I didn’t get to see one! The guys tell me like, “Oh, there’s one over there,” but in the van it drives so fast that I didn’t see it in time.”
Damn, we gotta go back and get you an alligator then.
Yeah, get one for my sister and for my mom. Little ones, small ones.
You’re going to bring baby alligators back to Brazil?
Yeah. Damn, that’s gnarly.
No time to find gators when you're on the hunt for a crook
I know this was your first time to Steak ‘n Shake. Not exactly like the steakhouses you have in Brazil, is it?
Damn! That’s a gnarly one. I love the shakes. I love that place. The burgers are so good, the shakes, too. The best combination. So good. I like it so much in there. It’s different than Brazil steakhouses, for sure, but it’s good. Steakhouses in Brazil are more like steaks, you know? Not like lunch and burgers and that. Only the steaks and that’s everyone’s favorite food.
How was hanging out with Mike Sinclair in the van all day?
Damn, he’s so funny!
Did he help teach you some English?
He helped me a lot. He’s a good guy, too.
Do people back home recognize you now that you’ve been getting more coverage in skating?
Yeah, it’s not a lot, but it’s a couple kids who come to me to take photos. That’s good. I like that.
I’m sure it will start happening a lot more. I think once the Am Scramble comes out and you drop another part, everyone in Brazil will know who you are.
Yes, this will help more, I think. And the video, too. I think all the Brazilians will watch it, all the kids, too. I wanna do that and keep going more—more parts, more parts, more parts. And skating different places and know different people, you know? In skating and the world, that’s the dream. And support my family. My family is good.
What’s your favorite flavor of White Claw?
All of them were good, but I think it was blueberry. Blueberry was better to lemon. Lemon is not too good.
Do they have Claws in Brazil?
Nah, they don’t have them here.
Damn, we gotta send you some. Do you have any nicknames?
In US I have Gio. Sometimes they call me Fogo in Brazil because of my hair. That means fire.
There are a lot of really good red-headed skaters right now, it’s sort of a ginger uprising. Is it about time to start a red-head exclusive brand?
No? If you did start that brand, though, what would you call it?
Ginger Boys? No, Vermelhos. Vermelho is fake red hair in Portuguese.
We ate at Whole Foods almost every day of the Scramble, sometimes twice a day. What does an 18-year-old boy from Brazil get at Whole Foods?
I got different things. What are they called, donuts?
Guarded by real cops, the rails at the Florida State Capital building were sketchy for a number of other reasons. All those dolphins, for instance. More seriously, because they shot straight into traffic. Giovanni Vianna zipped the lip before Jack O’Grady came two feet from getting squished by a car while rolling away from a grind (thankfully, not shown). Heavy start and another Scramble miracle
Yeah, a bagel with avocado and cream cheese and one time oranges.
No cheese balls or meat-filled bread? Those seem to be a staple at those little markets in Brazil.
No cheese balls. They have that a lot in Brazil and it’s a lot of croissants there, too, like little breads with cheese inside.
Had you ever been on a trip with a girl in the van before? Breezy is awesome. How was it rolling with her in the van?
I think never. Yeah, first time.
How was it?
I like it because Breezy is good people. She is a good girl and she’s killing it, too. Actually, even here right now the girls are starting to skate more. More sponsors have some girls and I like that.
She’s awesome. What are some of your memories from the trip?
The most funny one I think is Griffin rolling the dice. Me and Breezy didn’t know how to play the game and every time we’d lean onto Griff because Griff knows everything about the game.
That might cause a problem with the dice game later
Had you played dice like that before?
I never played dice. This was my first time.
What about Aaron’s rapping and the music video he was making?
The guy is funny. I like that. He knows everything about the music. That will be a good memory for a long time.
If you could choose a trick that one of the guys on the trip did, what would it be?
I think the 50-50 Jack O’Grady did—the kinked, curved rail. I like that.
That was pretty insane. You have some gnarly grinds, too. You almost seem to be more comfortable skating fakie. When did you start skating fakie so much?
I think because my father watched some videos—he knows a little bit about skating and he knows when I’m trying half Cab board—and he said, “I think that’s easier because you do the fakie and you’re almost there. You’re almost on the rail.” So I keep trying and I skated fakie a lot. I’m comfortable now and I think it’s because of the practice. I’m almost every day skating fakie.
All the stuff you can do fakie is honestly incredible. Like the Cab front noseslide you did on that rail in Miami. That was nuts and it only took you a few tries.
I’m so comfortable right now about fakie because I skate a lot right now in the streets and I’m so much comfortable with a couple rails. I like that trick, too. I think my favorite one is full Cab nose. That’s my favorite trick fakie.
That’s a crazy one, especially on a rail. Not that many people do that one. Who do you think was the MVP on the trip?
Jack O’Grady. And then I liked Myles so much, too. He was killing it. Aaron, too. So Jack, Myles and Aaron, those guys.
A pole welded onto the end couldn’t stop Giovanni Vianna’s grind transfer. That shove-it out, though? Pure gangster shit
What trick do you think stood out the most to you?
I like so much the back crook by Jack O’ on the kinked rail. He’s so on the top, like almost a nosegrind. So looking good, you know? I also like the back Smith that Myles did on the yellow rail. I almost died there.
Who do you think will turn pro first?
I think Jack. I want everyone to turn pro at the same time, but I think it’s Jack.
Do you want to turn pro at some point? Is that a personal goal for you?
Oh, that’s my dream. I think it’s the dream of everyone. And keep going, keep skating and filming, you know?
Gio annihilated every spot and won over the crew with his genial demeanor, enthusiasm to learn English and low-key Crip walking. Skating for Vans, Volcom and Primitive, he was our Scramble MVP
It seems like you’re on the right track. You just got announced to Primitive, which is a really solid squad. Those dudes are awesome. So what’s next for you?
I wanna go and keep trying to film parts, going to other places and skating. I think that’s my next. I wanna start another part right now and keep going, skating the streets, going to a couple contests and be the real life skateboarder.
Are you gonna move to California permanently?
I’m renting a place right now with my friend and I can only stay six months because of my visa, then I can go to Europe and come back to LA and skate more. So yeah, I wanna stay here the more time that I can.
Anything you would like to add to finish this off?
I’m just so hyped you understand me over the phone and I understand you. I’m so happy about that.
It’s not always easy but we figure it out.
Yeah, it’s not easy, but I like it because I can practice more and more.
We’ll keep practicing! I’m looking forward to seeing you at the premiere.
I’m stoked. I wanna see it so bad. I think I am there for watch. I’m going, for sure. I wanna so bad.
Alright, we’ll make it happen. Good talking to you, Gio. I’ll see you soon.
Thank you so much for everything.
Cab front nose fakie and another Scramble in the books. Big love to Gio, Am Scramble Class of 2019 and everyone who helped us along the way. These are the days
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