When Felipe exploded onto the U.S. skate scene in 2007, the vibrations were felt worldwide. Spectators who witnessed his first-place win at Tampa Am (including Antwuan Dixon, in an uncharacteristically tender moment, who sprinted across the course to hug the boy from Brazil) were in awe of his consistency and natural talent. His footage was soon spread far and wide, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Felipe is so smooth, it kinda made you want to quit skating.
That was then. Now, Felipe is a journeyman for aspiring Brazilian skaters, a sort of guiding light leading the way for one of the fastest growing populations of skateboarders in the world. The role of mentor is one that he embraces wholeheartedly: “It’s dope, knowing what I’ve been through, now I might be the dude to help. If they ever need my help, I’ll be there.”
The Skateboard Mag #142.
How was the filming trip to Brazil with the whole crew?
It was awesome! I got to hang out with the dudes from the video, and we got to go to our own cities so we could let everyone know where we’re from and where we grew up skating. I got to go to Carlos’s city, Thaynan’s city, and Tiago’s city, you know? It was nice to know a little bit of what they came from.
How was it for you to go back to Brasília? Was it everything that you remembered or did it change a lot?
I go back to my city, like, maybe three or four times a year. But I’ve never really went with a crew of proper filmers, proper photographers, you know? Getting up in the morning, hop in the van, checking out five or seven spots a day—it was different for me, ‘cause usually when I go home I just kinda chill. I try to hang out with my family. I just go to my hometown spots and I don’t film, I just skate and hang out. But this time even my friends was like, “Dude, you’re on the road right now,” like, I can’t even skate. I’m like, “I gotta go! I gotta show these dudes my hometown right now.” I wanted the people to be hyped about it, about where I come from, you know? It was pretty dope to come to my city and share with those dudes!
Nice! Tell me about the first time you met Tiago, Carlos, and Thaynan.
Well, the first time I met Tiago I think it was at a contest, like, right when I came back from Tampa Am 2007. I came back to Brazil and I stayed for a little bit, so I went to this little contest in SãoPaulo. I saw this little kid skating and I was like, “Yo, who is this?!” He was doing a hardflip front board down this rail. Then I found out that he was the friend of a friend of a friend, and after that point I just knew that he was gonna be something, you know? Just a phenomenon of skateboarding. That first time was probably 2008? We never got together too much because I just lived too far away. I would always just see him like three or four times a year at some random contests.
Same thing with Iqui, but I knew him since, like, 2001, when I really started going out of my city to skate contests. I used to stay at his place in Porto Alegre. I didn’t grow up skating with him, but I grew up watching him. We’d skate contests back-to-back—like, I’d get second and he’d get third and stuff. Then he got on DC Brazil and once all of that started happening, now we’re finally back again.
Even Thaynan, too. It’s the same thing, except actually Thaynan was young when I met him. He was probably like nine. But it was the same thing, like, I would go to SãoPaulo and stay at his house. His dad was super awesome—he owned the board company that I rode for. Even when I won Tampa Am I was riding his dad’s board company, so that’s pretty awesome. I’ve known Thaynan for the longest time. He moved out to Europe when he was twelve and I moved out to California when I was fifteen, so we kinda split, but we were keeping in contact, you know? Just seeing all the stuff he was doing, and I’m pretty sure he was seeing all the stuff that I was doing, and we just got connected again. It’s pretty awesome knowing the dudes for so long, then all of a sudden the four of us are on a trip together, you know? Pretty dope.
I’m really hyped on this video project, too, ‘cause it’s like something for my country, you know? Us four Brazilian skaters, we’re gonna actually show what our country is all about. Showing all of our personalities in one video, just being in a video with such gnarly dudes, it’s gonna be dope. I can’t wait to see it!
What do you think it is about Latin American culture that creates such great skateboarders?
I don’t think that we create just great skateboarders, I think just people in general, you know? I think that we’re so thankful for everything that we have, and it’s just so hard to get things, you know? And how hard are the opportunities out there. I think that makes every Brazilian a little stronger than everybody else, I don’t know. You know how hard it is to come up on something in skating … skateboarding is hard as shit! [laughs] But I believe, like, people that come from here literally come from nothing to go chase the dream somewhere else. I think that’s why we are so hungry for something, ‘cause there’s not that many opportunities out there.
Do you see any similarities with the guys who are coming up now and what you have gone through?
Oh yeah, for sure! Like, seeing Tiago doing an interview and he’s not speaking that much English, that’s just reminded me of me four years ago, you know? Not being able to write or get into a conversation, having issues getting in and out of the country—that’s just me right there! And it’s dope, too, ‘cause knowing what I’ve been through, now I might be the dude to help. ‘Cause I had somebody to help me out before, you know? Like, all the Brazilians just there, will help you out and give you a hand, you know, just show up to Cali. If you have someone out there to help you out, it’s always good, you know? So when I see that stuff happening, luckily I’m there if they ever need my help. I’ll be there.
Who influenced you and helped you to make the transition?
With everything, my family helped me out a lot. I didn’t know a bunch of dudes, I knew Rodrigo TX and Adelmo Jr. and all those dudes but I didn’t have a real connection with them, and this dude Vitor Borger helped me out in the beginning, I stayed at his house; and this dude, Austin Black, too. Those are the two dudes who helped me out the most, like, literally teaching me English and letting me crash on the couch and all that. And then my family was always there, too. So, like, those people are the ones who were like, “Dude, you got it!” You know? And I didn’t know those people when I moved to Cali. They helped me with everything, and having those people in my life helped me out a lot!
Do you ever feel like skateboarding is more popular than ever every time you go back to Brazil?
Oh yeah, for sure, dude. It’s getting bigger and bigger. Nowadays, it’s like the second most played “sport”, you know? The first was soccer—and I’m pretty sure it always will be—but skateboarding just keeps growing and growing: it’s on T.V., it’s on the media, Instagram, Facebook. I keep seeing people, like, shredding and trying to film whenever I go out of the house. You don’t see that back in the day, you know? Nowadays, it’s so popular, every little kid skates now! It’s awesome. Anything that can help skateboarding grow is awesome.
What do you think it is about skateboarding that makes it so popular in Brazil?
I think skateboarding is a sport for everybody, you know? It’s also how much family you feel when you start skating, how much you get from skateboarding is just like a thing that everybody who starts skateboarding loves. You feel, like, so peaceful when you skate. Skateboarding just brings you that vibe—that love—that nobody can give to you. It’s like a thing that you have only if you skate, that’s why I think it’s getting bigger and bigger.
When did you first hear about this DC video (De La Calle/Da Rua)?
It’s been about a year, I guess. I was actually filming for the Plan B video (TRUE) when I heard about it. They were like, “Yo, next year we’re going to do a project. Do you wanna be in?” I was like, “Yeah, I’m in. As soon as I’m done with the Plan B video.” And then I have the LRG video (1947) that’s coming out two weeks before the DC video. Having those two projects to work on is kinda hard, you know? Plus, all of the people have been filming forever but I had to hop on the video, like, right after the Plan B video. So everything I had, I had to hustle for with such a short amount of time to film. I’m pretty happy with everything I have for the video, but hopefully I can get back to Cali soon to film a couple more tricks.
Have you been paying attention to American politics, like the presidential race, at all?
Dude, I’ve been on the road and not paying attention to anything that’s been on the T.V. nowadays. I’ve literally just been skating, on airplanes, and going places to try and make this video part happen, too busy to pay attention to anything that’s going on over there, man! [laughs] If it’s something bad, I’m sure my dad is gonna be calling me soon, like, “Yo, something is going on over there, man. You gotta watch out!” If I don’t get that call from my family, then I think I should be straight! [laughs] Literally, every time something happens in Cali, my family will let me know, like, “Yo, there was an earthquake. Did you feel it?”
So they’re like your own personal news service, keeping you up to date?
[laughs] Yeah! I just got too much other shit to do to be paying attention to T.V.
Well, Donald Trump is trying to keep all of the immigrants out of the U.S. What do you think about that?
I think that’s fucked up! The U.S. doesn’t work without the immigrants, you know? Pretty much, if the immigrants are gone, people that do all the different kinds of jobs will be gone and the country will just stop. The immigrants are the way of the future, too, that’s the way I learned. I learned from other immigrants, from Peru, from Chile, from Europe. That’s my personality, I learn from other people. I think that if the immigrants are gone that’ll be a little weird, you know? I’m not sure, though, I’ve literally never thought about that.
Watch raw clips from the DC Boys From Brazil, HERE.