Digging beneath the surface: Matthias Dandois interview!!

I guess a lot of people reading this blog wont expect this interview, which is kind of interesting enough reason to do it. Matthias has without a doubt been a contest machine the last few years, I wanted this interview to dig a lil bit beneath the surface of one of the most talented riders on the globe currently. Read on.

Everyone knows you’ve had a great year practically winning everything, I guess the first question is, how do you motivated when you are always on the road?
Being on the Road is my main motivation actually! When I go on trip I always manage to stay with the local riders and this is so good. I was with the Pralex team in Canada, Ucchie Team in Tokyo, Terry Adams and Scott O’brien in New Orleans, Adam Kun in Hungary etc etc… So when you hang out and ride with the right person, now it’s motivation! ๐Ÿ™‚

This last couple of years you’ve been full time pro, I read on your blog that you recently went to sports college, sounds fun?
Yeah, after I graduated High school 2 years ago I asked my parents If I could live a full time pro life. They gave me a chance and they let me move to Paris (Living with Raphael Chiquet) and ride everyday. It was very funny but this summer after I came back from Hungary, I didn’t feel doing another year like this. It’s just to boring during the winter, when It’s raining and you don’t have any spot to ride, all of your friends are working… So I decided to go to college but I wanted something fun. I’m really into sport so I took a sport college. Basically I do a lot of different sport during the day (It’s like 4 or 6 hours of different sport a day) and then ride 3 hours at night at the Opera Spot. I tell you, Nowadays I’m in my bed at 11 p.m, DEAD! ๐Ÿ™‚

What sports are you doing? I gather you are getting much fitter, this will help your riding a lot and then the contradiction is at contests you always hungover, but still ride well? I guess you are still young…
Ahahaah Good one!
I’m currently doing Gymnastic, Tennis, Athletism, Boxing, Handball and Swimming. I’m really really fit right now and it helps so much for riding!
I’m kinda done with getting drunk every night actually, I really wanna push this sport (BMX) forward in the next years. But when it comes to contest, All my friends I haven’t seen for ages are there in the same place, so we always have a little party. But I know my limit that’s why I still do well at contests…
The only contest I didn’t party the day before was Fieldcontrol in Portimao and I got 2nd Place (Which is lame ahaha) so I better drink I guess.

The drinking maybe takes your mind off riding? So psychologically helps you? Maybe that works for you. But another angle what about all the kids that look up to you? Do you feel any responsibility to how you present yourself?
You’ve got to be 18 to get into a party, when I’m drunk I’m actually in a party, so Kids under age can’t see me. The following morning I’m just as normal as usual. You’ve get to drink a lot of water before going to bed and have some Red Bull in the Morning and you are brand new. In this way, I don’t have to care how I look, I look good!

Tell me about the attitude to bike riding in France, what I mean by that is that it doesn’t seem to hard for you and others to get indoor spots to ride.
Yeah yeah we have a pretty big scene in France and people try to make the things move forward. We have three clubs around Paris! Alex Jumelin’s Flatland school in Acheres (50 Km from Paris), The Flatland club in Servon (30 km from Paris) and My Indoor spot and club in Ste Geneviรจve des Bois (25 km) so I guess this is pretty cool! I can ride 3 days a week indoor!

That’s great for you and the scene there. Over the past few years you have been and are at the top of the contest scene, the rivalry with yourself and Sam Foakes is well documented, I got the feeling this year that you missed that rivalry, would that be a fair comment? And also as following question, who do you think is coming up that could pose a threat to you next year?
I didn’t feel I had any rivalry with Sam. I just battled him in Japan for the last round of the 2008 world circuit and I won. I also won the world circuit the same year. Afterward Sam didn’t reappear on the contest scene….I really miss him as a person and a rider because he always came up with new tricks and was cool to hang out with. Since there were no Rivalry, How could I miss him as a rival? The “new guys” who will be REALLY hard to beat at a contest in 2010 will be Martti Kuoppa, Alex Jumelin and Adam Kun. Definitely.

You mentioned you wish to help the sport grow, for me it seems one of the major developments this year has been rider blogs, now there are blogs updating daily, motivating riders worldwide, which in turn is good coverage for pro riders like yourself.
Yes, I really wanna Flatland to grow in the right way. That’s why I put daily news on my blog. Here is my vision of flatland today (I know a lot of people will hate me for this): We wasted too much time with Weird bikes (crazy high seatposts, complicated frame, ….) and weird thoughts like “we need to stay underground”. If we don’t do things in a way to grow the sport (big contests, big sponsors, new style of tricks (Air tricks, quick routine, street oriented) I mean getting kids pumped when you watch Flatland, The whole thing is going to die slowly. I think the past year has been really positive for flatland, so many contests, new style of tricks, we need to keep on doing this and keep looking forward, live in the future, not in the past!

Interesting points, so how do you think the contests progressing beyond just battle format or three minute run, both have been used to death. Maybe a battle format is easier to understand for the audience?
I think 2min30 runs for qualification is perfect. For The final, of course battle are the best to entertain the crowd. There is no point to find another crazy complicated system cause this one just works fine…

You mentioned two of your good friends Alex and Adam as competition, what’s that like competing against a close friend, can’t be much fun? Or maybe it is fun, no pressure?
The thing is, the professional world of flatland is so small that everybody is good friends basically! That’s why there is such a good friendly vibes in contests! But I’m very competitive in general so friend or not, it’s the same when it comes to contest! But remember the battle between Justin Miller and Martti Kuoppa at Flatring 2006 , they were obviously not friends ๐Ÿ™‚ and there was a real “battle” between both of them which made the thing so interesting for the riders, and for the crowd, because people can feel that! To conclude I’d rather battle someone I hate so I’d get more motivated to pull crazier tricks than him and just kick his ass! THAT’d be definitely fun. I’m gonna try to hate Alex or Adam in 2010 so it gets more interesting for you guys! But I can’t promise anything ๐Ÿ™‚ ahaha..

Very interesting what you have to say, I agree with what you say about the Martti and Miller battle at Flatring, that did an extra spice, and rivalry to the already existing contest tension, something the audience can take sides and get involved in, thus making flatland more appealing. You mentioned that you are very competitive in general, I noticed at nearly every contest that ive been at, you don’t really ride that much during the practise time, but seem to just step it up in the contest, is that like a deliberate decision on your part not to ride in practise?
It’s crazy you noticed that! hehe Yes It’s a deliberate decision, I just fuck around with easy tricks during practice and I don’t try the tricks I’m gonna do during my run. It’s just superstition: If I pull my tricks at practice I may not pull them during the contest time. you get me? It’s just a mind problem ๐Ÿ™‚ Moreover people always watch practice and If you do the tricks you gonna do in your run during practice, there is no surprise you know?

Of course I notice haha… Thats good point that if you do tricks in practise then theres no surprise, thats one thing that I think is great with park and vert contests, you never know, the problem i found with flat, is no one ever goes away from the contest talking about “big” tricks, its kind of like a big selling point missing from flatland, I guess with your outlook on it you are trying to approach contests a lil differently.. In order to be that confident, to not practise your tricks in practise you must practise a lot? Any kind of routine to your training?
Yes It’s stupid to drop bombs tricks in Practise… You can injured yourself and it doesn’t get you any point for the contest. Worse: If you pull your “banger” first try in practise with luck, and let’s say it takes you 3 tries to pull it during you run, Judges think you are screwing up and give you bad marks…
I don’t practise my routine much at home. Actually I have what I call “Pieces of combos” nearly 50. Separately I can do them eyes closed. When It comes to contests, I just build my combos with theses “pieces of combos” in different order everytime. It’s like a “controlled freestyle” ๐Ÿ™‚ people never know what I’m gonna do.

Thats a very different technique than what most pros use, but seems to work for you. Video riding requires a total different approach, what is your approach to a vid project, such as the infamous Sevisual edits?
I really hate filming video parts. I go really really crazy if I don’t pull the tricks I want in a short time, so I never made the effort to pull really really wild stuff that takes hours. I’m never happy of what I pull in videos. Actually I have a part comming up in the next SOUL bmx dvd I’m really happy about. It took me a long time to film it… make sure you’ll check it out!

Video riding and contest riding are as you know two different things entirely, i’d imagine your pretty used to pulling stuff within a couple of tries. So its totally alien for you to be trying combos for hours. I guess going back a bit now, what got you into riding? I heard somewhere that Carlos Leal played big part in your earlier years
Yes, Carlos Leal has been my teacher for my 3 first years. He taught me everything. The really cool thing is I learned ALL the basics (squeaks for exemple). It drives me crazy to see some pros today that can’t squeak! the fact I learned all the basic stuff definitely helped me out because I’m not locked by a technique I can’t do you know.

What is flatland for you?
Flatland is my Passion… I’m addicted dude, It’s fucking weird!

Do you live purely off flatland? If you do, describe as short as possible, how you made this happen?
I purely live off Flatland, and well I’d say. How I make this happens: 8 letters: S.P.O.N.S.O.R.S.

What motivates you now that you are at the top of the sport? Have you noticed a change in motivation since you began?
My motivation is bigger than before : Now I have all the basics I wanted to (street and Flat) I wanna learn tricks that nobody could think was possible on a flat ground.

If you could pick one what would it be- World champion or World circuit champion?
World circuit champion! Definitely more hard to win! because you have 3 round.

This year you did so many contests, I lost track, i’d compare this to being like a tennis pro, tell me your schedule for this year? How did you practise for contests always on the road?
I did about 20 contest this year ๐Ÿ™‚ which is a lot I tell you! I’m gonna be at every contest my body can take in 2010! That’s it! I’m not into contest practicing I told you 3 questions ago ๐Ÿ™‚ so I don’t have to worry about that.

What I meant more was this must so hard, away from home riding spot, sometimes away from home its not always possible to be on your home schedule (.i.e do what you like when you like), not to mention the travelling and toll it takes on your body?
ah Ok! Yes sometimes it’s hard but you know it’s the game. You can’t stay home everytime! It’s just too boring… But when I’m on trip I always hang out with cool people that bring me to good spot to Practise. And i’m like a 4×4, I can ride everywhere:) The worst when you travel is the toll that it takes from your body. Ask martti, I talked a lot with him about that.it’s “eating pieces of your body :)”.

Going back to sponsors, do you approach the sponsors yourself like how Terry does? Sponsorship deals are a lot of work, I think some kids think it just happens…
I really work hard with my sponsors. I try to stay in contact every week (I send news and stuff) as Terry does. And No, It doesn’t happen like this, you gotta promote yourself!

For sure travelling is a killer on your body, I know all about that too…As you mentioned riding on so many different surfaces must be a huge help when comes to the differing contest surfaces. When you are riding at home, where do you ride? Opera? Always looks like people walking past….
When Im at home I have 4 diffรฉrent spots. Saturday and sunday i ride my indoor spot in the suburb. Monday, Tuesday I ride at opera after 8 pm, so there are not much people passing. The rest of the week I ride in La Bastille (asphalt) or in Dupleix (marble) so yeah, the fact to have different surfaces to practice definitely help for contest riding!

Of all the travel destinations, which is the one you look forward to the most?
My favorite place in the World is Harajuku-Tokyo (japan) and my favorite spot is Ucchie’s underground spot in Tokyo. The floor is magic I think :).

How does your life differ in the off season?
I wish I had a off season….

I thought you would be now to be honest! Whats your next contest? Figured it’d be the Tokyo World Classic? I presume you mean sponsorship work you have to do?
I’m going to Zurich on friday to do shows, then It’s going to be V.U. in Pessac, Then I go to Australia for some reasons, then I go to another show in Italy… Plenty of stuff going on man… I’m always on trip so I don’t have really off season..

Thats good though, proves there is professional flatland life if you work hard enough for it!! I know you love flatland, but must be really hard some times when you are burnt out and need a rest?
Yes, That’s actually why I go to this sport school this year, not to get burned out. I also ride a lot of street now a days. It’s just so much fun. I learned 180’s, 360’s, Whips variation. I still need to learn bunnyhop barspin and then it’s gonna be fun. There are a plenty of way not getting burned out from flatland, so sometimes people, take a breath, go ride some streets or whatever;).

Ok Matthias lets wrap this up!
Multiple choice (pick one) after all those questions for bit of fun.

Paris or Tokyo. Paris for my friends.
Originality or style
Riding indoors or outdoorsOutdoor session for the summer, shirtless!
Fashion or Function
Summer or winter
Flatmatters or Global flatGlobal-flat because when I’m bored it’s just so funny to read the forums shit! keep on doing this guys!! ๐Ÿ™‚
The come up or Fat bmx
Martti Kuoppa or Adam Kun
Eddy Lookback or Sevisual. Two of my good friends and two really good video editors, can’t tell…
Ninja spin or KOG.Best contest of 2009!!

Thanks for your time on this interview Matthias

Photos from http://matthiasdandois.blogspot.com

6 thoughts on “Digging beneath the surface: Matthias Dandois interview!!

  1. Seems like a regular guy,(for a Flatlander ; ))

    Attack the whack, that's associated with Flatland then see it grow which noob BMXers can identify with!

  2. Am i reading that right trev? Flatlanders have to be nobs to identified with?
    Look for more interviews on flatmatters, really enjoyed the process of doing this interview with Matthias, lot of interesting view points.

  3. Great interview. Loved the "pieces of combos" and "controlled freestyle" perspective. Also the bit about luck and not hittin your biggest stuff in practice, seems so obvious to me now, but was counter-intuitive at first.

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