Photos: Max Cassagne.
A few months ago as I started to think about 12 years of Flatmattersonline, and what I could do to celebrate, I began to think about why I do this, and get to the core of what my motivations are and actually what I enjoy doing with the site. The main thing I go back to time and time again are the interviews, I enjoy picking riders brains and I think they are educational for you at home too.
A big part of FM is like I said on the FLAT ONLY COGcast, is trying to help riders that I feel deserve some shine. As I started to reflect on the 12 years, scrolling through the sidebar on the right side of the website I started to watch Pokemon’s videos, real name Stéphane Suini! (you can watch his Pokemon 3.0/3.5 Mixtape below!)
It hit me like a flash, I need to interview this guy, lets get into it! Welcome to the The Stéphane Suini Flatmattersonline Interview!!!
Hey Stephane, thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me. I have been a fan of your riding for what seems like years. So forgive me for the amount of questions. Let’s start with the basics as I realise I don’t know so much about you? Whereabouts are you from? How old are you now?
Thank you so much for this interview !
I was born and I lived near Paris until my 36 years old, and I’m almost 38 now.
Today I live in the south-west of France near the ocean, and Spain.
I don’t know where I’ll be in few years, now i am attracted to the USA for example.
What’s with the nickname Pokemon? Fan of the game or was for another reason? I was always curious about that?
I’m absolutely not a fan of this game! A rider from OPERA (older than me) called me like that because I was young, all riders laughed and that was too late… Simple and unfortunately permanent hahaha.
When did you get into flatland? I remember you kind of blew up on the opera scene in Paris, that seemed like it was 2003-07?
I started at 16 years old (1998) it quickly became a passion.
I grew up quickly from the start and that’s all I need to keep practicing it.
Yes my very best year of riding was 2003, I was single and I didn’t work too much.
All that until 2007 right and then I had a girlfriend, a son and a full-time job.
Then I was coming to Opera 2 or 3 times per years, and I didn’t grew up anymore.
You mentioned in a private chat that you were inspired by the KHE Cosa Nostra video when you were younger? Was this the first video you saw then??
I don’t remember if it was the first, but it is possible. I was just starting BMX and that was a very strong motivation for me. I watched this video almost every day. I discovered Martti, you, Marton and others but at one point the VHS tape was destroyed. I have never seen this video in all this time. Martti was already so strong! He seemed to come from another planet.
What’s the story with Opera it’s a shopping centre right? When could you ride there? What was the etiquette of the spot? What was that scene like?
Yes in the middle of a street in the centre of Paris.
If the floor wasn’t perfect, no one would have rode there. Too many pedestrians, motorcycles and cars sometimes. Between 2000 and 2010, OPERA was the place to be, we were 10 or 15 riders every weeks that was awesome, today the spot is almost dead, a lot of riders have moved to other towns or they stopped riding, it’s sad…
Were Matthias Dandois and Alex Jumelin locals at the Opera with you during that time?
No, Matthias was too young and Alex Jumelin had his place in Achères (Ninja Spin) we didn’t see them often at the spot. I really like Matthias, we did some demonstrations together for a main french sport store in 2007, that was fun.
For me you were one of the first guys in europe that rode brakeless and did tricks that typically required brakes but you did them brakeless? I think of that circle k jump to pedal steam!!! What inspired you to ride brakeless?
From 1998 and until I come to OPERA spot in 2000, I rode with brakes.
I didn’t like the style of my riding with brakes, not smooth and I hated taking tools and making adjustments. Finally it forced me to be more fluid, and I started to re-learn almost all my tricks with a different flow and constraints. Then it was too flat and linear, and I decided to took some height and did everything as if there is no limit.
Killik tag was the guy who used to document your riding, how did that friendship go down? Were you trying to film videoparts or just riding? There’s a lot of single clips on his channel for example.
Kilik_Tag was a friend of another rider and he came to see what it was.
He was illustrator and internet specialist. One day, he took a camera, came to film me and he liked it.
We just rode, but sometimes we wanted to take ride without the camera, it made me angry sometimes. If you watch closely, you can see that in my videos, I hate camera pressure hahaha.
You were in Paris the time Cream magazine was around? Was it an inspiration for you having the best magazine on your doorstep?
From 2006 I spent my time at the CREAM office who was just above the “La Crèmerie” shop. i have very good memories of this period. I rode with Chase, Jesse, Nathan, Yanmar and I have been drunk with Hiro at the office, because we played Drinking games, so really good vibes… I wrote some articles too, and met many good guys. At this period, I didn’t have a job so I rode more than usually would.
You were never much of a contest rider right?
I hate competitions, it’s important, but it’s too much stress.
I never ride for that, there are guys who do it really well. I prefer to practice skills and share in another way, through videos, cool jams… Without KILIK TAG nobody would have seen me maybe…
Talking about video riding, What is flatland for you?
I see it as a piece of art that we never finished. We can always do better !
We must show ourselves to transmit our passion, but above all it is a personal balance in our minds.
Who were the locals at your spot growing up? Was Opera the local?
I was driving through Paris to go ride, that’s why I rode 2 or 3 times a week, no more. I didn’t live in Paris, but there were a few guys who lived nearby.
There was Romain, Manu (Terra), Michael in this period (2000-2007).
You quit for many years right? What’s your story, lost your love for riding, injury or something else? Did you just start riding again?
My story is that every time I had a girlfriend, I slowed down my training hahaha.
it’s funny but it’s almost true. In 2007 I met the mother of my first son and in my head I didn’t have time to ride. I had a full-time job, no spot near my home, I lived even further from Paris and the years have passed…
I never forgot BMX, but the few times I was going to ride it was not pleasant, falls, pain….
It was to see friends finally. With time I think it’s a shame, time flies faster and faster. I am currently very motivated to really come back to the best possible level. I still have things to demonstrate.
Can we expect a video part from you next year? Maybe a FM exclusive too?
I hope, I need to get used to my new pieces, practice the basics because
I don’t know why, difficult combos are simple, but mccircle and steam roller are hell hahaha.
For me you are the main media of BMX Flatland, and it’s with pleasure that my next video will be a FM exclusive.
I noticed from your Instagram that you no longer live in Paris and you work as a graphic designer. I studied typography at university so this interest me. I see a lot of similarities with graphic design and flatland, what are your thoughts?
From 2000 my parents was sick and we wasn’t rich, my father died in 2003 and I couldn’t stay in school, so I don’t have any diploma but I always need to learn many skills.
Over the years, I have managed to be 3D graphic designer, programmer (games & web) and now independent illustrator/graphic designer (cartoons, comic strips, logos…)
Finally my mother died in 2010 and then my grand mother in 2017.
So I no longer had a family in Paris and needed space and peace. I quit my job and went to the south west of France. I love nature and good things so I am now at peace.
Like I wrote above, yes I think flatland is like a graphic creation!
It is a graphic creation for sure…What’s your bike set up these days? Has it changed much over the years?
No my bike has not really changed, I think some parts are same since 15 years.
I change parts when it’s break, I’m not a tuning man, my bike is just for ride, not for other reason. I just ordered a new longer frame (Heresy) and new handlebar (Autum) that’s it, I’m waiting for it now. I don’t know the parts well, angles, sizes I preferred to ride.
How’s the new bike and set up going? Your set up is completely different, higher bars and longer frame right?
Yes, completely different absolutely, I never had that kind of parts. My frames have never exceeded 18.8 on top tube and I have 19.5 with the Heresy. The handlebar have 12° of backsweep and is so high. My seat is a lot down. I went to try it this morning, I was afraid to regret it but…. I was surprised, because I have a better ride than usual, I am more stable and I have more control. This is exactly what I needed, and it’s great. I have to be careful for the big jumps over the handlebars but it seems okay. I am confident for the future.
It looked like you returned to flatland in summer 2020? Is that right, tell me about your journey.
Since I arrived in the south west of France, Maxime Cassagne pushes me to ride and gave me back the motivation I needed. He lives in Toulouse (300 km / 150 miles) so I have to find the motivation myself too for riding by myself. All guys in Toulouse are very motivating and recently, Renaud Laspeyres from Paris is arrived to live in Toulouse and it’s really good. I have a strong need to ride, before that’s too late.
I feel that Stephane, has the COVID pandemic affected your life much? Tell me about this, what have you learnt from this testing time?
It doesn’t affect me too much, because I live in the countryside, I work from home, I have a garden and a swimming pool, I am lucky to live like this, in the big cities it is less funny.
In France, government decisions go too far. The atmosphere is heavy, people are afraid and go crazy. Normally I shouldn’t go riding because these farther than 1 km/ 0.6 mile from my home but I’m always alone, no contact with other people (go too far). In my countryside I had never view police patrol, it’s relax. I hope it will stop quickly, I want to go to Toulouse, receive at home and travel to One Love Jam. I want to go out and buy potatoes without a police certificate that’s what everyone wants…
Yes, the Toulouse scene looks good. Lot of jams with many great riders in France? Are there many new kids coming into flatland where you live?
Many riders comes to live in Toulouse recently, it’s the place to be. Maxime Cassagne do a lot for jams and BMX overall. Where I live, there is nobody who does BMX, I am alone. By riding more maybe few kids will be interested in it, we will see, I’m not a great teacher, but I can try.
What for you is the difference in riding between the early 2000’s when you were blowing up in the early years of the internet, and now in 2020?
In the 2000’s we rode for us, for our friends and when we made a video it was a surprise for the rest of the world. Today I think there is no surprise. Lots of people share videos every day, every hour without video edit and fixed camera. Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I love good things and I prefer when there is a soul in the final creation.
So do you think apps such as Instagram are spoiling the impact of riders creations as we see them so quickly?
Yes certainly, but nothing can be done about it, but I would like us to take more time to make real creations with new things that we haven’t seen 1000 times. I like to watch instagram videos, but keep some skills to amaze the minds more. I love beautiful images, and I think it a shame to put the camera on the ground to film your trick of the year, it’s too important to be thrown like that. Unless you don’t have a friend to film you of course. That’s my opinion.
Similar question, which riders were you stoked on around 2004-07 and who are stoked on now?
In 2000’s Martti (the boss) Kuoppa as always, Yanmar, Hiro and Viki of course.
Now I really like Moto Sasaki and Jean-William Prevost they are awesome to watch.
Today a lot of people have the same style. I maybe wrong, but I have the impression that before we had more heroes (like video games) with their own identity and skills.
That’s maybe normal, a lot of tricks or combos have already been invented and that’s it.
If I were to show one video of you with this interview what would it be, and why?
Pokemon 3 for the mood, I came back from vacation, I was tanned and I was progressing a lot. it was really the best time of my life, my son being born in August 2020 was such a great memory, and all the guys who motivated me to come back. See you soon guys …
What music you into Stephane?
I can listen almost all styles of music but i love US rap 90’s and 2000’s, not today’s rap.
Recently i like to listen some “synth wave” (Perturbator, Carpenter Brut…) I really like the mood of this music. Heavy rythmic with 80’s synthesizers.
Rad man, this has incredible to catch up Stephane and get to know more about you, any final thanks before we wrap this up?
Firstly, FWS with whom I started and who taught me a lot of things, Michael and Kilik Tag for fun and videos. Maxime Cassagne for pushing me to ride, Renaud for coming to the south of France. My girlfriend who gave me a son in August 2020 and all the guys who motivated me to come back. See you soon guys …
Merci Stéphane, this was truly amazing! Mad respect for your riding over the years, stoked you are back behind bars!!!