Pedro Barros is one humble dude.
Arguably one of the best vert skaters in the world for over a decade now, winning an insane amount of competitions, including six X Games gold medals and a silver medal at the 2020 Olympic Games, Pedro’s somehow kept his feet on the ground, despite spending half his time in the air.
But what many perhaps don’t know is Pedro’s pretty clued up when it comes to surfing, and isn’t too bad in the water either.
So with the Vans Duct Tape Invitational kicking off in his home country of Brazil tomorrow, Rio de Janeiro to be precise, we thought it fitting to have a quick chat about his home town roots, the upcoming Olympics in Paris and the inspiration behind two unique boards he shaped, specifically for this week’s event.
What’s up, brother?
I’m good how you doing?
Yeah super good man.You made it to Rio already?
I did indeed but I’m surprised it’s raining here. The weather forecast for the next few days is pretty bleak.
No fucking way.
Yeah looks like rain for the next few days but should clear by the weekend.
That’s crazy, man. It’s so beautiful down here in Florianópolis. I feel like a lot of times there’s events, it rains the whole weekend. But we’ll have fun. We’ll have a good time.
Oh I’m sure we will. Is this the first Duct Tape event you’ve been to?
Yeah it is actually. It’s gonna be the first one. I think I was in New York when they did one once but I was there for something else. So I knew there were people there but I didn’t really know what it was all about. So this is the first time I’m actually getting more into it. It’s pretty sick.
Yeah dude. I was pretty hyped when I heard you’re shaping a couple of boards for it too. Tell us more.
Yeah so I actually shaped one, as in, I got to put my hands on it. But with the second one, whilst I did all the ideas, I didn’t really have time to shape it. Because you know, it’s kind of been a crazy year for me with the Olympics in Paris coming up and the contest qualifiers that had been happening. So a lot of focus on that. But yeah, it was a crazy experience for me because I lived my whole life in Florianópolis pretty much, which is a beach town here in Brazil. We used to have the world tour coming over here back in the day, like, way back. Years ago. So whilst now it’s known for skateboarding, back in the day it was surf city pretty much. So I grew up here with all of my family and friends. As well as this legend of skateboarding in Brazil who I would say is like a godfather to me, Leo Kakinho. He was a really big pro skateboarder in the 80s and one of the first to skate bowls and stuff like that. He was like a reference for Bob (Burnquist), for Sandro (Dias), for Lincoln (Ueda) and a lot of guys who did a lot for vert skateboarding y’know? Leo was a big reference for them. But what happened was vert skateboarding kinda died in the 90s here in Brazil, and since Florianópolis was known for their universities as well as surfing, and Leo loved to surf, he ended up coming to study here. And he’s the guy who gave me my first skateboard. He’s really good friends with my Dad. And when I was like three, he ended up building a shape house and he made boards in his backyard, y’know? And he’s never been a shaper. He was more of the guy who does the laminating. So I literally grew up going into shaper rooms and just tripping out. So for me, it’s like something I’ve never really done. But I grew up with it around me and I’ve always wanted to be part of that process. So it was really, really interesting to finally have this opportunity via Vans.
So did you shape in Brazil? Or was that back in California?
No it was in Brazil, actually. But that was what was kind of cool too. Because it pretty much felt like a throwback to back in the day. The guy who’s the shaper is a really good friend that I’ve known my whole life. He used to shape Yago Dora’s boards when Yago wasn’t surfing Mayhem. He’s a really cool guy and he has a little shape room in the back of his house, like this old wooden shack. It was a killer experience because he’s right here. I just hit him up. I was like, “man, we have this project for Vans. I don’t know shit about this. I don’t know what the the processes are. Let’s get together and let’s try to make something interesting.” It was really cool because he’s kinda followed my path. He knows my story. But what he knows especially, is my story in the surf vibes. Because I worked with a shaper back in the day, that’s a local here, this is more than 10 years ago, when I was really young. And my whole trip was always to make a surfboard that feels like a skateboard. I think my whole life I’ve been surfing, that’s all I’ve wanted, y’know? I’m a lot better at skateboarding so how can I bring my ability from skateboarding to surfing. So that’s always been my been my trip y’know? But at the same time, I grew up surfing with a style of surfing where I’m using a lot of power in the legs, because that’s how we skate right? We use our legs a lot too. But with surfing, it’s more about the balance between your legs, right? And I’m a person who puts a lot of pressure on my legs. And I remember at that time the Dumpster Diver model from Al Merrick was happening and some shit like that. Dane was surfing those square ended boards. But those boards, they would sometimes just not handle the lines. Like they would be really fun to surf fast. But you wouldn’t be able to do like, a sharp bottom turn, like upside down. And that’s really what I most enjoyed with my surfing. I don’t have much skill, but I can do a pretty ok backside hand turn. So the only thing I need on this little skateboard model to try and work as a kid was that, like, at a point that you can still go a little bit upside down. So I have no clue if this is gonna work or not. But the guy that I shaped these boards for the Duct Tape with, he knows that I’ve always searched for that. So it was cool. Because when we got there, we were able to design this model that’s like, I don’t know what it’s gonna be called. But it’s like a skateboard. We made a tail, we made a concave, we made a little bit of a concave on the nose too. So it looks just like an old school skate deck. And it’s pretty small too. But it looks like you’re still going to be able to do some solid turns and that’s what I’m more curious about y’know? The other one was an old block he had, that had been sitting there for five years and it was unused. And I think that was kind of something cool to bring to this story because we’re trying to make these creations with what we have and not try to be all picky about it. So he showed me this mini block that was already machine cut from five years ago, into like a 5’2 or something. But really, really, really thick. It’s like the mini Siemens. So that’s what gave birth to this more skateboard looking model. Because I looked at this mini Siemens, and I was like, “Man, this is exactly like the board I want”. I want a board with a bunch of foam so you can paddle easy, and you can fly down the line if you want. But let’s try and make something that we can actually do tricks on it, some turns or maybe an air or whatever. So that’s why instead of just cutting it down totally square, like the mini Siemens just goes totally square. This one, you get an extra little tail with the wing. So the whole trip was to add two big fins on the side and a smaller one in the back, to make it feel like a truck on a skateboard y’know? So the fins act like the wheels and the mini fin is the pivot from the truck. So that mini fin is gonna serve you well so you don’t lose your board on the bottom turns and it still holds it a little bit. But the two big fins on the side make it ultra loose so you can turn, revert or whatever. It should work but I mean, all this is just the trip behind the creation I guess.
I’m hyped to see it. I had no idea you even surfed.
Yeah I love it and I’m stoked to be a part of it too. Because I’m not a surfer. I don’t consider myself a surfer. But at the same time I’ve literally lived my whole life with surfers. Even yesterday, on the session, Jack Robinson, Yago and Adriano De Souza were there watching us skate. We’re 100% connected with skateboarding and surfing and since skateboarding kinda came from surfing in a way, I feel like it totally makes sense. So I’m pretty stoked.
So are you living back in Brazil full time now or do you still have a spot in the US?
Yeah so I actually have a spot with TJ (Gaskill) who shoots video stuff for Vans. We rent a spot together in LA. So I moved out of HB and went to Long Beach. From Long Beach, we ended up going to LA. But the whole idea was to just have a space in the States so I can have like a HQ over there. The thing is I decided to try and skate for Brazil again for the Olympics in 2024. Even though it’s a competition that is sometimes regarded as outside our culture and what our core represents, it’s still something that I believe brings out a lot of good and positivity.
For sure. I think there’s a lot of shit talking on the Olympics, but at the end of the day, if it’s gonna help grow and promote skateboarding and inspire some kid who’s lost to pick up a skateboard, that can only be a good thing. It’s still the biggest sporting event in the world so I think you’d be a fool not to do it.
Exactly dude. And to be honest with you, what I felt most after the Olympics was that general health and wellbeing is in an extremely delicate spot. We have kids, grown ups, elderly people, all kinda disconnected to what health really is and what a good quality of life really means., So for me, what the Olympics made me realise in the skateboarding world was like, we do have a culture and we do have something that is core. But the culture of skateboarding isn’t just getting drunk and getting high. That’s just something that we also did at a time. But what it’s really about is you having a lot of courage in life, and going for shit. That’s what the real essence and the culture is about. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big hill in SF, or a huge rail downtown, or a huge ditch or a ramp, you go for if you’re a real skater because you want to feel that adrenaline hitting your body. And to be honest I feel like any skater or surfer who’s surfed big waves or whatever; anybody who has put themselves in these situations of extreme gnarliness and risk, they realise that no drug in the world brings that level of excitement. It’s something that is really, really, really unique. But it’s something you need to be dedicated to and something you need to have discipline for. So going back to Florianópolis, it’s a place where I can be really close to a lot of professionals in this area, that help me improve my knowledge into what it is being a healthy being. So that has been my biggest goal. So I can try and be in the best state possible going into Paris. And just in general life too because I’m 28 now and I’ve been doing this for a while. I just feel like there’s no more time to waste. We got to make the best of it now, because we don’t know how long this shit can last. So I’m really in that moment where I came back home because home is where everything started for me. And I’ve been dedicating myself a lot to Brazil, because I believe I can work my being into my best self and I can give back to the culture here and to the local scene. So that’s kinda my goal, but I still have that area in LA because it’s always really important to be going there a couple times a year, just to skateboard and have fun and see my friends and enjoy this culture that is so vividly alive in the U.S. and California especially. You go there and you can see this thing just happening on another level. So that’s pretty much what I’ve been working on. Growing the community. Trying to build and grow the strength of the people around me because I realise the impact that has on the whole ecosystem y’know?
So I think that’s pretty much the big goal. What I realised in the Olympics, was that I’d never seen a platform where the story you’re telling is so heard. When I went to Tokyo it was crazy, you could feel the energy of the people really paying attention to what we were communicating y’know? To what skateboarding and surfing and these new sports are communicating. So that’s what made it so important for me, for us to work to our best ability and communicate the best message possible. I mean, we don’t really know what the message is gonna be one year from now in Paris. But I feel like that’s the biggest goal y’know? It’s not about the medal or the result. It’s about what message are you going to send to the world when you’re up on that platform? So yeah, that’s the goal.
Dude that’s really amicable and it’s really good to hear you’re in such a positive headspace. Looking forward to catching up in Rio this week.
For sure dude! It’s gonna be a blast! Catch you tomorrow!