An Interview With J.B. Gillet

Intro & Interview by Frozen in Carbonite
Collage by Requiem For A Screen with photos from @scalpfoto + ?

Summer of 1998: I had just moved into a closet on W 124th Street. The only video I had was Rodney vs. Daewon 2. However, I did not own a VCR, so I took the train down the The Wiz across from Union Square, purchased one, and lugged it uptown in a backpack. As I digested the video over the next few days, J.B.’s trick selection, previously-unseen Euro spots, speed and precision with which he attacked everything (e.g. that one nollie frontside 180 flip) [Ed. note: nollie half cab flip*] made it seem as if the dude came from not another continent, but from another planet. Planet EuroTech.™

ANYWAY, here we are twenty years later, checking in with him on the Quartersnacks web site. Circles, bro, life fuckin’ moves in circles.


Yo, what have you been up to lately?

I’ve been in France, just skating but taking it easy. I’m supposed to film for Hélas with a filmer in Lyon, but it was so hot this summer; we didn’t really do shit. I’m going on holidays…taking a break in Hong Kong and Bali.

Do you have some kind of exercise or health regimen that keeps you skating at a high level?

I’m drinking a Heineken now [laughs]. I try to eat not too crazy, but I’m not too radical about it. With age, there is no secret; you have to stay a little healthy and do a little exercise. I go in at the gym a little bit sometimes. It didn’t matter before, but now I see the difference — so fuck it.

One of your last clips was filmed all in San Francisco. How has the city changed since you lived there?

It was kind of different, eh? There is no more Pier 7 — no more plaza skating, really. There are some new kids, but then you still see the old guys, like Chico is still there, and the guy from FTC, Ando. It’s like the GX guys doing their thing over there. I stayed only one week and it was pretty short, so it’s hard to tell, also.

A year or two ago there was a push on the skate internet to save HDV. What is the status of that movement and the spot in general?

We had a meeting at the city hall because they saw that a lot of people signed the petition, so they had to hear us. At the end, the people didn’t even know about skating. For them, it was just like kids playing. They didn’t even know that there was a culture around it: an industry, people doing art for skating, and people coming to Lyon just to skate that place. At the end, they didn’t anti-skate it, and they’re supposed to re-do it next summer. It’s supposed to be brand new, but the same. It takes a long time, though. I wish they did it before.

Along those lines, how is the current scene in Lyon doing? Who are the young up-and-coming rippers?

Flo [Mirtain] isn’t young anymore, but he films everyday. He’s like a machine…producing, producing. There are some kids from Hotel De Ville — Quentin Boillon, Aurelien Giraud, Enzo — younger kid, like fifteen years old. There is a new generation for sure coming.

What’s your take on all the new European brands that are out there, like Sour, Yardsale, etc?

I like some of it because they are really bringing something to the table. There are so many brands that sometimes it’s confusing; I don’t really know what’s what anymore. But yeah — Polar, Sour, Palace — they are not trying to imitate another American brand, so I like that.

What do you think about all the coverage Paris has been getting the past couple years?

It’s crazy — I mean it’s good, but all the spots have been here for years and years, and I don’t know why for some reason now it’s, like, Paris is hot. Everybody wants to go to Paris.

It’s kind of hard to skate sometimes. It’s a big city, and you need to drive or take the train. Lyon is like a small Paris where you can skate from spot to spot. It’s more laid back.

You’ve had very distinctive #musicsupervision in your video parts. Do you usually pick the song or no?

Usually I pick it, like with Deca and World Industries. The only one I didn’t pick, but gave an idea for was the Bon Voyage video. I just used some French African music. I said that it would be sick to use it, but I wanted something else, like a French Montana song from a mixtape. Malik, one of my homies from when I was young…which one did he pick? The one in Freedom Fries, “The Mexican.” He was like “Yeah, you should use this.”

What are some tight French rap artists that readers should check for?

The same as skating: it’s like too many. I still like Booba, the same I used back in the day and in the last video. He’s old school, but he’s not sticking to the old school rap, you know? There is this one PNL who are very famous in France. It’s hard to pick out one artist. Like, back in the day you’d listen to the whole album. Now it’s like, two songs are good here, two songs are good there.

What’s the deal with your board sponsor situation?

Yeah, something is in the works. I can’t tell right now, but it’s coming out February 2019.

Hélas has a really unique brand narrative. Do you have any creative role with the company?

I’m just friends with them. I don’t do anything at Hélas really. They call me, we have beers, and we do a photo shoot [laughs].

Out of your whole career, what video part are you most proud of and why?

I think the rookie one. You know the one that came out with 411 with the French rapper Lunatic? Because I really picked everything. I did it with Socrates [Leal], so we picked the song. I remember the album had just come out. It was before the internet, so my friend sent it to me, I got it, and I had a few tracks I wanted to use. I made the people who didn’t speak French pick the track because a lot of people weren’t going to understand the lyrics. I chose all the footage too, and edited it with Soc. I also like how my last part came out because it was the same kind of process with Vincent “Bist” Jugnet: filming, editing, picking the track.

Any thank-yous or shoutouts?

Thank you to Quartersnacks for this interview. Also Nike SB, Hélas Caps, Venture trucks, Andale bearings, and Wall Street Skateshop.


  1. [Ed. note: nollie half cabs don’t exist*]
    [Readers note: short but still good interview*]

  2. JB is a legend. J’ai bien aimé le « two good songs here, two good songs there » tellement vrai. Y’a plus de bon album maintenant.

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