Interview by Method’s amateur psychiatrist Dr Acworth
Yo, how you doing?
Good thanks Zebbe, how are you? How’s the Stuntwood shop, is Chriso [Method Bossman] behaving himself?
He’s alright. He’s taking all the candy and never buys us more.
Hopefully he’s not scaring the customers away?
Nah, we keep him in the back.
Smart. So I’m happy for this conversation to go in any direction, but I was hoping that we could start on the topic of race and snowboarding?
So there’s a few different terms out there like POC, which is your preferred?
I’d rather hear POC or people of colour. For me it’s not an issue if people say black or white, but there are so many different skin types that I feel POC is a good term. It’s pretty new, but I think it’s a nice term to use.
Ok, just want to make sure you’re down with the language being used, because language definitely plays a big part in this.
Yeah exactly. For me it’s difficult because I haven’t really thought about it in that way. And I haven’t been in too many situations where I’ve felt that someone said something about my skin colour in a mean or racist way.
That’s good to hear. You’re from Sweden, how are your day-to-day experiences there?
For me, it’s pretty easy and mellow. But that’s just me, and not necessarily like that for everyone. I grew up in a very small town, maybe five or seven thousand people. For sure you were a bit different, but definitely not alone. You always meet people with different thoughts than you, but in general it was a good place to grow up. Not too many skinheads. Some for sure, but they were also children, I would say. Just trying to figure out where they fitted in.
When I first hit you up about this you said that you were going to do an interview with Snowboarder Mag, and David Djité mentioned that he’s suddenly had a lot of requests to write as well. How do you feel about snowboard media suddenly reaching out and wanting to talk to you? I guess it would have been good if we’d done it earlier?
I guess, but then maybe this wouldn’t have been the topic of discussion. I think it’s good of course, everyone deserves to be noticed and we should take this time and be humble about it and appreciate it. If we have something to say, then this is the time, because people are listening. You can’t really say that it’s too late, I think it’s good that people are doing interviews in magazines and videos because that gets people aware of what’s happening and aware that we are growing. Likewise with you guys, running your first female cover. Sick that you’re doing it, and hopefully there will be more. Not like you haven’t done interviews with ladies before, but it always takes some time for these issues to gain more recognition. I feel like it’s good that you’re taking notice and learning from what’s been done before. It’s cool that you’re thinking about going further with it and talking to people about these issues.
We’re still feeling it out, but just trying to use our platform with the mag as best we can.
I think you guys are all doing a great job. It’s really unfortunate that it took a person being killed to bring this issue to people’s attention, but now we’re here, you gotta keep looking forward instead of looking backwards. You have to learn from your mistakes, that’s the whole point. Everyone is going to make mistakes, there is no perfect person. You can only learn from yourself and hopefully go forwards.
Very true, very wise. How are you feeling about how snowboarding has been reacting to this issue?
I feel it’s been really positive. Lots of people are getting in the spotlight who should have been there a lot earlier. I feel that a lot of people are backing it, there’s a really good positive vibe through it all. Through this sad experience, everyone is being positive and grateful for where we are. From my experience, no one has ever seen me as someone different. I’ve been to the US a lot and travelled a bunch, and I never felt like I didn’t fit in because of my skin colour. I feel like the snowboard community has always been very open, but when it comes to putting out content, POC haven’t been focused on as much, even though their abilities are as good as anyone else’s. So I still think it’s a positive outcome, and I think that a lot of people have had their eyes opened to this issue, if they didn’t see it before.
When it comes to media representation there’s definitely a pretty huge imbalance. So as a magazine we need to work harder at bringing more diversity onto our pages and hopefully, brands will also do it with their ads.
Yeah I would say that. That’s maybe the biggest issue. If there were more POC in ads, then more POC might be getting into snowboarding and feeling welcome. It’s hard to see that when you’re already in the community and feeling part of it. But maybe you’re not in the spotlight. You’re on the set, but not the main shot, if you know what I mean?
Russel Winfield said exactly the same thing, that he was riding with the right people and at the same level, but he was being passed over for pro models and stuff like that.
Exactly. It’s sad that it took so long. He was in the right place and ripping. He was with everybody but no one wanted to put his name on a board. Right now it’s early, but things feel like they’re moving in a good direction. Let’s see. It will take years to see that this isn’t just some wave going by, but that the change is here to stay and that we’re evolving to a new type of normal.
Very nicely put, we hope so too. I guess we forget that snowboarding is pretty young, but maybe it’s finally growing up?
Yeah I think so too. I’ve been snowboarding for so long and it’s interesting to see how media and snowboarding itself has been changing. But mostly the change has been with women's snowboarding being taken more seriously, if I can say it like that? And that’s a really good thing. It’s weird that it’s been so hard for them to get coverage and not just be used for catalogue shoots. I don’t understand how it got to be that way. You still need to sell snowboards, right? So why not give female riders more coverage, and therefore sell more boards to the women's market?
I’ve been told that our readership is something like 80% men and 20% women. But of course, if we feature more women's content, then our women's readership will grow.
Exactly. That’s what we’re seeing in the store. It’s so hard to sell female outerwear, which is sad. I know there are lots of women riding, but it’s tough. But if you don’t have a lot of stock, then you’re not going to have ladies coming in and buying things. It takes time. You have to put in the effort and maybe spend something on it yourself at first. It might not all sell for two or three years, but then eventually it will work and you’ll be able to offer more.
Well hopefully media can play a role in balancing things out. If we can do our part, and others can do their part, then collectively that’s a difference, and that’s something that can start to change opinions.
So I didn’t actually ask what your plans are for this winter or what your mindset is towards snowboarding at the moment. Are you shooting anything, or is the shop a full-time gig now?
Yeah the shop is a full-time thing. I’ll still get out and ride as much as I can, but it’s more selling boards now, instead of only riding them. If we get snow in Stockholm I’ll for sure get out and try to ride some rails. I’m also getting more and more into splitboarding, trying to head more to the mountains this year.
Same plan for me. Never done it before but have been meaning to for a while. Now I have a board, so no excuses! I guess everyone else is going to have the same idea this winter.
Nice. That’s good though, it’s a learning experience. I went for the first time two years ago with Jakob [Wilhelmson] and Hampus [Moseson] and it was a really good experience with a couple of legends. Just need to get out more.
Ok Zebbe I think we can leave it there. Any closing words?
Thanks to you guys for doing this and moving forwards, and letting people speak up about things like this.