*This interview was originally published in Volume VII, May 2020.
In an era where European skateboarding arguably holds more relevance than ever before around the globe, more and more Euro-natives are being given the chance to shine on an international level—a concept that was still considered a utopia, reserved to just a handful not so long ago. In recent years, we’ve been delighted to see an increasing amount of European names becoming staples all the way to the States, though we don’t know many who have managed to do it quite as well as Jacopo Carozzi.
At only twenty-three, Jacopo has become the first ever European to ride for Baker, a company that set the standards of what street-skateboarding would be for generations to come, and film an outstanding full part for them in the shape of Baker 4. Whether you spot him cruising the streets of the Big Apple with the Bronze 56K chaps, filming with Beagle in Los Angeles, touring the US with Nike SB’s A-team, or standing on stage at the Baker 4 premiere, Jacopo seems to be integrated like very few of his peers. Nawt Bahd for someone who’s only recently learnt how to speak English and spent his teenage years zoning around Milano Centrale.
We caught up with him to discuss his influences growing up, the joys and challenges of making it to the main stage and the current situation in his home country of Italy.
WT: Can you first talk about your debuts in skateboarding, from picking up your first board to discovering Milano Centrale (Milan’s train station, the city’s most famous plaza)?
JC: I first discovered skateboarding in the summer of 2006. I guess back then it was getting more popular amongst young people. I just remember being at the beach with my mum, and at some point I saw people riding skateboards so I got really interested and followed them to see what they were up to…I remember running back to the beach and asking my mum to get me a board. I ended up getting a toy board the same day! Once back in Milan I just never stopped…it was love at first sight. People have been skating Milano Centrale for the past twenty years or so, so even when I wasn’t skating I remember passing through the train station and seeing all these people skating. My mum didn’t want me to go there at first as the train station has always been a meeting point for drug dealers…I was still really young then. But later on I started going there and never left.
Milano Centrale is a wild place. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t been?
MC is paradise and hell! I love that place as I spent a lot of my childhood there, but it can get really dangerous sometimes. From junkies starting fights, to people shooting heroin…I guess every train station has it. I’d rather go to the train station and witness city life how it really is, than lock myself inside a skatepark though. Just a different point of view I guess…
What did you learn growing up in such a melting pot?
Nothing is for granted. Ever.
Are you proud of your Italian heritage?
I’m proud to be Italian. Italy is a very strong country in terms of culture, but on the flip side I can’t be fully proud as there’s so much bad stuff that happens in this country too. Basically Italians love to talk highly about their country, but most of them don’t do much to make it change. That’s an old quote my grandma used to tell me, and I find it to be really true.
Fast forward a few years and you became the first European skater to get on Baker.
Can you talk about how it happened?
I got inspired a lot from all the Baker guys when I was a kid, that’s for sure. Before I even knew about Baker, I was a big fan of the Emerica video « This is Skateboarding ». I remember falling in love with Andrew Reynolds’ skating straight away. Also I spent years in my home skate shop helping the owner. He had so many skate videos and he would play them all day for days, so at some point I ended up knowing every bit of it.
Does being on a team with such a hardcore legacy bring with it a kind of pressure?
I gotta be honest, before I met all those dudes, I was feeling a little bit of pressure. First of all I’m Italian, we are soooo far away from the ‘American dream’. Even seeing pro skaters with your own eyes is something really rare. I remember just being super shy when seeing pros in general! Also I never studied the English language, so that made me even more shy. It’s hard for someone coming from a latin language to speak fluent English—it’s just really different from the way I grew up speaking and learning it later in life makes it even more difficult. Anyways, at some point I was traveling a lot with the Nike SB team, so I had to get better if I wanted to communicate with people…that was a good excuse to learn it. Slowly I started getting better, and now I think most people understand what I’m saying…I do understand what people say for the most part, which is already great (laughs). Then, when I first met all the Baker crew I was surprised how easygoing they were, from Andrew to Ellington, Beagle, Herman, Dustin, T-Funk…they’re such a nice crew. Just real people who love skating. They make you feel comfortable in every situation. I’m so stoked to ride for Baker!
How is it to have Andrew Reynolds as your team manager?
Reynolds is an amazing human being. A true skate rat, he has more energy that anyone else. He is a pure inspiration on and off the board!
Congrats for your part in Baker 4. We loved that contrary to the rest of the video, most of your part was filmed in Milan. Although you obviously filmed that Thrasher part with Yoan Taillandier there just before. We can’t help but ask ourselves: are you done filming there for the moment?
Thanks! I got caught crying when my name popped on the screen…it’s a dream that came true to me! When Andrew told me he wanted me to have a full part in Baker 4 I didn’t have that much time to work on it, but I remember him saying ‘I want you to get some tricks at the train station!’ Most of that stuff was filmed when the crew came to visit in Milan…that was awesome…I couldn’t believe they were all there skating the spot where I grew up. To see Reynolds in person wasn’t a dream just for me, but also for many of the locals at the train station. I wanna say that was such a gift for the city! I actually had more footage that was filmed entirely in Sicily for Baker, but that ended up in the Bronze video. Now me and Yoan are working on a new project that we’re probably gonna drop soon. It was supposed to be another Milan part but after we filmed for a week we had to stop because the situation was getting out of hands with the virus. Since we don’t know how long it will be before we’re back filming, we might do two chapters: before and after the virus.
Can you tell us about the Covid-19 situation in Milan as we speak?
The situation at the moment is pretty fucked up. On top of what’s actually happening—the spread of the virus and the sanitary situation—the government is trying to scare people as much as possible…there’s heaps of fake news around and it’s all making people act real aggro…
How do you manage to get supplies/get by?
Usually I go to the grocery store, but it takes hours to get in. It’s a nightmare! There’s always like 20 people in front of you waiting outside…also lately they’ve been measuring the body temperature before people get in. It’s kinda stressful. Also if they see you skating around on the way, people start to yell at you, like you’re having so much fun and you’re not supposed to. I use my board to move around as I really miss skating. People on bikes don’t get in trouble but we do, which doesn’t make much sense to me.
[At the time of writing] we’re entering the sixth week of lockdown in Italy. What are your main hobbies at home, and how do you keep sane?
Since we’re under quarantine, I’ve been trying to develop my kitchen skills. It’s been really hard for me to find ways to keep busy. Like you said, we just started our sixth week home here…I’ve pretty much done every little change possible in the house, cleaned every corner…but besides that I’m trying to get this music project done. It’s just a remix album, for which I pretty much take some songs I like and tweak them to make them sound different.
What have you been listening to of late?
Damn. I could say so many albums…but here are a few titles: Group Home’s ‘Livin Proof’, ‘Fiendin 4 Tha Funk’ by 11/5, Louis Armstrong’s ‘C’est Si Bon’, and Suzy Q’s ‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’.
Are you someone who watches a lot of movies?
Usually I’m not. But recently I watched a documentary that really got my attention! It’s called ‘Wild Wild Country’ on Netflix. It talks about the Rajneesh cult; these people bought a ranch in Oregon and built their own city. I won’t say anything else, you really gotta watch it. You won’t believe what happens in there. This one is on my top movies list for sure. I also liked ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, ‘The Commuter’, and of course I had to re-watch ‘Inception’.
If you had to live somewhere other than Milan, where would it be, and why?
I’d like to live in the Basque Country. I really like it out there! But at the moment, I would probably try to get to LA and spend some time with the Baker crew.
What job do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a skateboarder?
Damn! I really don’t know. I would probably try to do something with food as I’m really getting into it!
What’s next on your agenda when things go back to normal?
At the moment I can’t really say…as soon as this shit is over, I’m definitely gonna start enjoying the little things that we usually take for granted. Like being free outside. Having a beer with your friends. Enjoying every second of every skate session. Going to museums. Enjoying time with my family…little things that actually really matter.
If quarantine was over and the virus was totally wiped off the surface of the earth tomorrow, what would you do with this day?
I would definitely wake up as early as possible and go to the train station…skate all day, set up my tent and sleep there (laughs).