A skate revolution.
Kilian Martin: fearless and innovative.
“Have you heard the one about the American, Spaniard and German stuck in the desert?” What may sound like the beginning of a really bad joke is actually a tweet by director Brett Novak kicking off our trip into the Mojave Desert to film the much-anticipated new Kilian Martin video for mb! by Mercedes-Benz. See the result of our collaboration on the next page!
Kilian Martin is the punk of skateboarding. Not that it’s obvious. As we meet over breakfast with common friends in Long Beach, he’s easy going, instantly likeable and full of enthusiasm. Yet behind the friendly face there is also a focused, fearless and sometimes annoyingly persistent athlete who refuses to be pigeonholed.
Criticised at times by other skaters for his cross-disciplinary and dance-like style, the 24-year-old Oceanside resident, who originally hails from Madrid, invariably stays true to his own principles. “I don’t care about what category or style I am skating. It is only skateboarding – and I do what I enjoy.”
Millions of YouTube fans seem to agree. Together with cameraman and visual effects specialist Brett Novak, he has already published three videos. All of them self-financed, as Novak – also 24-years old and living in LA – wants to retain full creative control. Both artists share a love of detail, a determination not to repeat themselves – and a strong perfectionist streak, as I am about to discover.
As we leave LA to drive to our two-day mb! by Mercedes-Benz video shoot in the Mojave Desert with a beautiful 450 SL from 1980 in tow, Kilian reviews pages of notes covering new skating moves while happily torturing us with hours of non-stop oldies from the 50s.
Later, I watch for hours as he repeats his newly designed tricks tirelessly until both athlete and director are 100 percent happy with the results. Or, rather, until the sun disappears and the derelict former water park is bathed in the glow of a spectacular full moon, making it too dark to film. Like I said: perfectionists at work.
Back at the hotel after a Mexican dinner, we finally get round to our interview session while Novak is on the phone outside the door. Not a skater myself, I have to approach the topic from more familiar territory.