My name is Leo Valls and I'm from Bordeaux, France. I'm 27 years old.
You were the first person to be asked to join Magenta, what's the story behind that?
I've been friends with Soy and Vivien for a long time. The first time I came to skate Paris, when I was 17 or so, I stayed at Soy's apartment. I was really impressed. He has been a big inspiration for me. He was one of the first French skateboarders, I remember, who would cruise around a city using his environment and doing simple tricks more than practicing at a skate spot. It was really refreshing. He was all about style and creativity over competition. I met Vivien a few years later, and we naturally became good friends. 4 years ago, I received a phone call from Soy, telling me they were working on a special project and they wanted me as their first rider. I was so honored and enthusiastic. At the time, I was skating for Metropolitan, but I knew I had to follow Soy and Vivien in their new project, which i did, and I couldn't be happier today.
You're from Bordeaux but you live in San Francisco half the year. What are the main differences between Bordeaux and San Francisco?
I went to San Francisco for the first time 5 years ago. I met the girl that would become my wife and we've been spending a lot of time there since. We pretty much spend half the year in SF and half the year in Bordeaux. I still don't know how we manage to do it, but it's working great so far. San Francisco is great for many reasons, one of them is that it is a main American city where you can still enjoy a European lifestyle. You can get pretty much everywhere by pushing around. The city has very unique architecture, and is amazing for skateboarding. It also has one of the strongest skateboarding cultures. I particularly cherish its hills, maybe because I grew up in Bordeaux, which is a very flat city; but learning how to skate the hills of SF felt like learning to skateboard again. It's all about speed and control. I believe downhill skateboarding is the closest aspect of skating to surfing; I love it. Bordeaux is my hometown and is quite different, but is also an amazing city. My friends and I saw the city expanding year after year. About 15 years ago, they started rebuilding downtown and putting marble everywhere. It became amazing for skateboarding and more and more people would move there while local kids would start skating. Today, Bordeaux has one of the strongest skateboarding scenes in France.
You bring a particular style in skateboarding. What's your vision of skateboarding?
For me, skateboarding is one of the best tools for self-expression. I've learned a lot from it and tend to see it a certain way. I'm not trying to be the best or win anything. I want to be myself, progress, create, explore, travel and connect. Do my own tricks, skate stuff that are not necessarily skate spots, and inspire people. That's how I feel. I think we all start skateboarding because it is different from anything else. Street skateboarding is my favorite part of it; It makes you discover cities and interact with all kinds of people, traffic and life. Being outside surrounded by people or knowing that you could get kicked out at any moment is an adrenaline rush and a great source of motivation. As for now in skateboarding and how I see it, progression comes with self-expression and developing your own vision rather than competing with others and doing the hardest tricks. Just be yourself as much as you can.
You've been traveling around the world and connecting with different underground skateboard crews. How do you manage to do this?
Traveling is one of the most amazing parts of skateboarding. You can go to pretty much any big city and find people to skate with. Right now, there is something amazing going on with many underground scenes all over the world doing cool stuff on their own. Even without being shown by big media, you can see it happening via the internet. I've had the chance to travel a lot through Magenta these past few years and meet some amazing people. We have to keep connecting with underground crews and work on projects with them. It is one of the main goals of Magenta: to connect and push the underground. Worldwide underground skateboarding!
What's your best trip memory with the Magenta team?
There are too many trip memories to just say one. Everybody on the team has different personality and we're all really good friends so it's always fantastic to be reunited on a trip.