Because I came late to skateboarding, I wasn’t tied up with this common image of Ray Barbee as a ‘cult’ skateboarder, a legend from the Powell days. Truth is, my mental image of Ray, prior to meeting him, is that one no-comply over some trash can in some Transworld video. Period.
And of course the music, which I discovered by avidly looking for whatever was related to Tommy Guerrero‘s production. It would be amusing if not shameful to say that my knowledge of Tommy is along similar lines.
Interview and photos by Hern.

Ray Barbee / La Fontaine

Anyhow, I know of both Ray’s public sides, or only one actually, as he would tell me when I met him and tried to arrange for a chat (I don’t like the word “interview” either, bite me). It happened after being smashed in the face by the performance he and his three friends (the Mattson 2: Jonathan & Jared Mattson, and double bass player Aakaash Israni) pulled at La Fontaine after the projection of The Present at Grand Teatret on the 28th of November 2009. That was a double smash: first the movie (which includes some of the same musicianship as the soundtrack) and then the show. The show lasted until about 2am and the next day. I was not very fresh at work, nor in this little café where Aakaash, Ray and me enjoyed some drinks and cake while a ninja was stealing Aakaash’s money and phone. The crazy thing was that we were in an almost empty café, and none of us realised a thing! Talk about Copenhagen being a safe place to live.
Anyhow Ray and I discussed many different things like being fed up being seen as a skate legend, his interesting musical path and many different things. We also talked a lot about photography as Ray also happens to be a talented photographer, doing things the old fashioned way with film and chemical empowered might in the darkroom. Adding to that, we got the chance to hear them again at the V1 Gallery the next day as they play another powerful show during the opening of UMMMM, an installation/exhibition by Thomas Campbell (see the Bitchslap Thomas Campbell interview here, he is also the director of aforementioned movie “The Present”. It’s all connected). Whatever the place, a small jazz club or a big white gallery made out of some slaughterhouse building, the energy these guys develop is contagious.
The full chat will be printed in the next issue of Bitchslap so don’t miss it. In the meantime here’s a taste test and a few pics of the man.

Ray Barbee


Hern: So now with all the activities you’re involved in, do you still consider skateboarding the most important aspect of your ‘self’? Are you fed up being called a skate legend?

Ray Barbee: Skateboarding has given my the opportunity to really do whatever I want. It showed me through the very nature of it, of how much work you put and invest in learning tricks that just become a part of your approach to life, in anything that you want to do. You approach it from the stand point of the tenacity, that aspect of “I’m going to figure it out no matter what it takes” and hanging in there when maybe most people would quit. Skateboarding, the very nature of learning the tricks… You know, it took me almost a year to learn how to ollie, and in skateboarding everything comes from the ollie. You can do tricks but, in street skating, the ollie is like learning to talk, you cannot express yourself until you learn how to make a sound out of your mouth. Ollie-ing is making that sound. All the tricks derive from the ollie. It took me almost a year just to learn that. And that drive, that ability to hang in there and get over the learning curve gets applied to whatever you do in life. So, I realized that the ability to endeavour in other things really derives from learning how to ride a skateboard.


“I realized that the ability to endeavour in other things really derives from learning how to ride a skateboard” – Ray Barbee


Hern: Is it as hard to be a musician as it is to be a skateboarder?

Ray: Yeah sure. When I first started I remember my fingers killed. It took a while for me to get calluses, I remember having blisters. It’s the same thing, basically nothing worthwhile is never easy.

Ray Barbee / La Fontaine


“Nothing worthwhile is ever easy” – Ray Barbee


Hern: So you shoot a lot as well?

 

 

 

 

 

Ray: Yeah I shoot a lot, I also print black and white. I got a little makeshift laboratory at home. But also I go to my community college. I do all my films at school, RC paper I do that at school. But if I want to do fibre paper I do it at home. Or if school is dead and I know it’s just going to be me in the lab then I’ll do fibre. You always have these new students who don’t know the difference between fibre and RC. And they can grab your fibre and put it through the squeezing machine. And it just confuses them so rather than confusing them I do that at home.

Ray Barbee


Check the full length interview with Ray Barbee in Bitchslap Volume 2, issue 1 dropping June 11. In the meantime check out Ray’s part from Ban This!