Tiago Lemos Interview

Tiago photo1 750pxTiago Soares definitely soars, kickflip back Smith

Photos: Blabac

Tiago! What up? When I first met you, it seemed like you only knew the words acai, doggie and rice and beans. You perfect your English yet?
Nah, not yet, dog.

Do you have a middle name? How about nicknames?
Yeah, my middle name is Lemos and my last name is Soares. When I was younger I used to have the nickname Mini Indian.

How did you get that nickname?
Ah, man, I don’t remember. Some homie gave it to me and then everyone started calling me that. Maybe because I looked like a little Indian.

How old are you and where do you currently live?
I am 26 years old and I live in Long Beach. I have a visa right now, but I go back and forth from here and Brazil.

Whereabouts in Brazil are you from?
I’m from Jaguariúna, which is about an hour and a half from São Paulo.

What’s it like living there? What did the kids do growing up?
It’s a good small city with lots of trees, fresh air and a lot of nature. There’s good people all around. Growing up we would do things like fly kites, play fútbol, swim in the river, go in the jungle—just little kid shit.

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How old were you when you picked a skateboard? Do you remember your first board and how you got it?
Yeah, I was ten years old when I started. The first one was an old board that the homies gave to my brother and he ended up giving to me. First came the board, then the trucks and wheels. Everything ended up in my hands step by step. Whenever someone would change their wheels or trucks, they would give me their old stuff. The boards were heavy because they were made of marfim.

I’ve always wanted to skate one of those boards to see what it’s like.
No, you do not! They’re so heavy and they hurt when they hit you.

What was it like skating a maple board for the first time as opposed to marfim?
I could do tricks so much better. Everything would actually pop. They feel so much better.

You said your hometown was covered with a lot of nature. Where would you go skate when you were a kid?
I would skate around my house, in the street with my friends. After my brother took me to the skatepark that was a little far from my house, I just started to go there every day.

My older brother got me into skating when I was younger and I would always want to go skate with him. Would you go skate with your brother a lot? Does he still skate?
Yeah, he taught me a lot things: crooks, feeble grinds and how to drop in on quarterpipes. He doesn’t skate anymore. I’ve tried to push him to start skating again but he wasn’t into it. He was so good too. I saw him doing a lot of crazy tricks, things like kickflip back tail backside flips. Now he’s a working man. He has a kid and goes to church with his family.

Tiago photo3 750pxDone with kites but still taking to the skies, front crooks to fakie at Ft. Miley     

Do you remember the point where you fell in love with skateboarding?
I went to Barcelona when I was 18 or 19 and got a taste for how skateboarding really was. From skating spot to spot, to going on filming missions with filmers and photographers, I saw how everything in skating was. Seeing all of that firsthand just blew my mind. I knew that it’s what I wanted to do with my life.

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Were you into anything else that you dropped at the time for your skateboard?
Well, I was really into flying kites. Sometimes I would stop skating for a while to play with them. It’s different in Brazil because you battle to cut each other’s kites down. Before you fly it up, you’d attach a piece of glass to your kite to cut the line of your friends’. There would be a lot of them just floating around, going at it. Whoever goes down, you have to run to try to get your kite back before anyone else picks it up. If someone touches the tail before you do, it’s theirs to keep, forever.

Is it somewhat of a trophy if you cut someone down and retrieved it before them?
Yeah, it would be. If you lost yours to someone else and you still have your line of string, you look to the skies to see if there are any other kites going down. When you noticed one, you would run over there and try to get it back in the sky as yours before anyone else. There’s also a ton of people without kites, just lurking around trying to get someone else’s. Yuri Facchini and I would always battle!

How did your parents feel about you skating?
Now it’s super chill and they’re happy for me, but when I started, it was so hard. They associated skaters with smoking weed and being a bad boy. When I really got into it, I was doing bad in school and eventually just stopped going. My dad was really against me skating.

Since they were so against it in the beginning, how do they feel about your career now?
They can’t believe what it’s become and they’re super happy for me. I can help my family out and now they know why I love it so much.

Was there ever a point where they had a change of heart and really started to support your career?
There was a point after all of my friends would talk to my dad, telling him that I was a good skater and he finally understood after a while. He would buy me a pair of shoes here or a board there and started bringing me to contests that were out of the city. After I won a couple they were starting to see that it could actually be possible. This was happening when I was around 15 or 16.

Tiago photo sequence1 750pxAnother switch jaw dropper at MACBA, reverse-stance tre flip with zero yo photo     

Do you remember your first trip to America?
It was in 2011. I came out for two months to film a video part for DC Brazil. For the first two weeks, I came to San Diego to stay at Peter Smolik and Jake Brown’s house.

What!? That’s so random! How did that end up happening?
Well, I met Peter in Barcelona on that first trip and ended up skating with him. When I went home to Brazil, I stayed in contact with him over the Internet. At one point, he told me to come to California to stay with him, so with the help of DC Brazil I got a visa and a plane ticket to California. I knew who they were because of videos and everything, but at the time I didn’t know Rodrigo Petersen or the other Brazilians either.

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Did Smolik speak Portuguese or something? What compelled you to come to California to skate with him?
Well, I was skating with the Sk8mafia guys in Barcelona and they told me they wanted to hook me up. When I got here, they went on a trip and left me and Sean Sheffey at the house. I didn’t know who he was at the time! I just hung out with him at the house for a couple days without realizing it. Again, when I was in Barcelona, I skated with Rodrigo Petersen’s brother and he Skyped with RP who saw me skate in a contest a long time ago and told me, “If anything happens, call me.” I didn’t have anything to do or anything to eat because everything was so far. Just to get out of the building complex I was staying at I needed a car! I was walking around, by myself in America, looking for WiFi to contact somebody. When I found some, I sent RP a message telling him everything that happened and I sent him the address of where I was at. He came with Carlos Ribeiro and picked me up. I ended up staying with them for the rest of the trip.

Is that how you got on BLVD?
Yeah, when they picked me up they also brought me boards to skate. It just happened naturally because I was skating with them so much. They were flowing me boards and I kept sending them footage. It just worked out. I liked the vibe and they helped me out.

Tiago photo4 750pxWe’re glad you found that WiFi, T-Go. Switch heel     

Did Rodrigo and Carlos and the other Brazilians help you learn English?
Not too much, because I always speak Portuguese with them. It’s better when I’m with American guys speaking just English. It definitely helps to have someone who speaks Portuguese and English to translate for you, though.

Do you remember the first time you met a pro skater?
Yeah, I went to a contest and met William Seco, who was a hometown hero.

What was it like seeing a pro skater for the first time in person?
It was super impressive and I was blown away. I saw him do crazy tricks with sick style. He was humble and I got to talk to him as a kid.

How did you get linked up with Ty for We Are Blood?
I can’t remember where, but I went to a spot with Carlos Iqui and Massimo. When we got there, these guys were skating. We stopped and watched them skate and they called us by name, like, “Hey, Tiago, Iqui, let’s skate! Just skate!” At the time, I didn’t know it was him so I was, like, “Who is this guy?” After they left, Massimo told us it was Ty Evans. We couldn’t believe it. He hit us up to meet up at another session and after that he invited me to really film for the video.

I heard you jumped into that RV trip without knowing anyone or being able to speak English. How did that trip work out?
Ty invited me on that trip and it was an amazing opportunity so I had to go. I was on that trip for almost a month. On that trip, I learned a lot and saw new places.

Tiago photo sequence2.1 750px 2xNollie crooked grind gap out. He could probably do it on a marfim deck too photo     

How did you get past that language barrier if you didn’t speak English and no one spoke Portuguese?
Well, Angel Saucedo helped me a lot. I knew a bit of Spanish and he spoke it fluently so he could help me say what I needed to say.

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What happened at a Cracker Barrel on the trip?
Oh, man. After we ate, I went to the gas station to get some snacks. I came out and the RV was gone! I was stuck there for about 20 minutes but I had a phone so I texted Ty and he turned around to pick me up.

The first time I met you we were on a trip together in Dubai. Do you remember when you ripped an iPad off the wall in the hotel by accident?
So, in the hotel, in order to take the elevator to get to your floor you had to use this tablet to choose where to go. There weren’t buttons in the elevator. We skated all day and I was really tired. I just so happened to be holding onto the back of the iPad, leaned back, started to fall and I took the thing down with me! It ended up working out, though, and everything was fine.

I noticed you pretty much had the most footage in We Are Blood. Has anything changed for you since the release of the video?
After it came out, a lot of doors opened for me. Opportunities with DC and being able to work on new projects.

Tiago photo sequence3.1 750px 2xThey make porn vids in this building now, but Tiago’s switch back tail is all the stimulation we need     

I’m pretty sure a lot of people came to you with offers to ride for their companies. Why are you with a smaller brand like BLVD?
Actually, they didn’t. I like being with BLVD because they are my friends and the vibes are always good. I like what’s happening now.

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Congrats on getting a new shoe on DC! How does it feel having your own pro-model shoe?
It’s crazy, dog. It still seems like a dream. I couldn’t never imagine having my name on a shoe. Sometimes I look down and think, “Really?” It feels weird, but I’m so happy. I don’t know how to explain the feeling. It’s a dream come true. I never thought I would ever get a shoe.

Have you seen anyone wearing it in the streets yet?
Yeah, I’ve seen a couple homies have them and people tag me on Instagram. It’s still all new to me and it’s sick to see someone skate my shoe that I helped design and tell me that it’s good. It makes me happy.

Tell me about the switch back tail at MACBA that was heard around the world.
Well, when I got there I wasn’t even going to skate. It was after we were done skating that day and I started looking at the ledge. I was thinking to myself, “Maybe I could switch back tail the whole thing?” I started to warm up and kind of check it out. I started jumping on it thinking it was possible. I was just trying it without cameras or anything to see if I could maybe come back another day and actually do it. I was sliding half of it to test the waters, so I knew it was possible and I stopped to come back the next day. Everyone filmed it on their phone and the next thing I knew, it was on the Internet.

Tiago photo5 750pxAw shit, Tiago’s here. We skate stopped the wrong ledge! Switch front crooks     

So, the one posted on social media wasn’t even the trick you were going for? What were you trying?
Fuck. I was thinking maybe the whole thing to drop down to the next ledge. But you know—

Where the fuck does all the switch pop come from?
It comes from the desire to skate, from my love of skateboarding. Watching Alex Carolino, RP and those guys do tricks with pop when I was young made me want to tricks with a lot of pop and skate high ledges. I just wanted it.

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How do you measure if something is too high to get onto? Do you think you can pop switch higher than regular?
I try to ollie next to the ledge, jump off my board and onto the ledge to see if I can get that high. It depends on the day. Sometimes switch is higher, others regular is higher. Sometimes I’ll try a trick and it might not work regular, so I go switch and it might work better and vice versa.

Do you remember the first video part you ever released? What’s it like filming for a bigger video part now as opposed to that first one?
It was a part for DC Brazil in 2011 called Los Angeles. There’s definitely a lot more responsibility and pressure; I have to think about it more. I have to come out right and I always want to make it better than the last. I always want to improve, but that’s not for anyone but myself.

What are you currently working on?
I’m filming for The DC Promo video that’s coming out soon. I don’t know who all are going to have parts, but I think Wes and Evan might. I know everyone is going to have tricks, though. I’m also working on a shared part with Carlos Ribeiro in an upcoming video.

I recently went to Brazil and found that everyone was extremely welcoming, friendly and thankful. I noticed that you are the same way. Why are you so thankful?
I’m thankful just to be alive, to be able to be here. I’m thankful that I’m able to skate with my friends, thankful for my health and that I can live the life that I currently have. I didn’t get here by myself. I’m especially thankful to everyone that helped me open the path to get to the point where I am at now. I would not be here without their help. I am just thankful for everything.

What’s next for Tiago Lemos Soares?
Keep it moving.

Tiago photo sequence4 750pxNollie noseslide nollie heel out, the puma is definitely out of its cage! 

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