Words: Miljan Milekić / Cover photo: Katja Pokorn
Sometimes, you don’t have to look far to find inspiration. Just a quick look at your friends will do it. Marko Fogy Žumer is one of them. One of those who live, breath, and bleed skateboarding, he’s done it all. He’s been on both sides of contests, the one with the board and the one with the pen. Both sides of the lens in skate photos and videos. Both sides of the dancefloor. And that’s only the beginning. Tune in below for quite a few stories, including his brand new podcast ‘TI, POSLUŠ!’ which just launched episode #2.
First of all, congrats on launching your new podcast ‘Ti, Posluš!’. Can you tell me more about it, and how did it come to life?
Fogy: Oh, thanks, man, I appreciate it. I got such a good response from everybody in here. I never thought I would be working on something like this, but you know, people talk. Skateboarders talk. Skateboarders have stories and plenty of them. And you can’t deny it – everybody likes The Nine Club podcast with Chris Roberts as a host and other pro skaters involved. Well, I don’t wanna copy anyone or anything, but I guess that was a thing that made me say – “We should have something like that, too.” Slovenian scene has a pretty good and interesting history, so why not? I talked to a few guys before, but it simply didn’t work out. Time, finances, filming, editing. Without any sponsors, you can’t do anything.
So, just out of nowhere, my boss at work and I had a nice talk, and he told me he feels I have some type of potential of working on something I would love to do or create. Just that eye contact during the conversation was enough, so he gave me two days to present my plans. And to be frank, I didn’t have anything planned. It was just an idea in my head, without a proper name or image, and I didn’t feel like talking to anyone about what I would love to do. So all of a sudden the name, ‘TI, POSLUŠ!’ – which can be translated as “LISTEN UP!” or “PAY ATTENTION!”, came through my eyes. That made me start really thinking about my own audio/podcast show. So now, yeah, it works, and I am happy about it. So far, I have recorded and edited twelve episodes with 12 different guests. Too bad for you and all the readers that don’t understand the Slovenian language, but there might be some in English after season 1, who knows? But so far, so good.
So, let’s get back to where everything started – skateboarding. How did you get into it, and how did your beginnings look?
Fogy: As far as I know, I saw some dude on the street pushing down the road. I guess that was in the mid-80s. For sure before the 90s. And I wanted to try that. Of course, I didn’t even know what that wooden thing on wheels was, so my neighbor at the time cut some pieces of wood and screwed some wheels on. It felt so weird and yet so pleasurable to stand on something that moves by itself. Then later, those plastic boards were available in Italy. Something similar as hipsters use right now to look cool. Penny boards, some would say. My dad brought that pinky thing when I was seven years old. I had my leg in a cast when I got it, so it was just perfect timing. (laughs) I was pushing up and down the street with that thing for so long. And then, the legendary movie ‘Thrashin’’ came out on all the TV channels, and I was simply fried. I wanted to be like everybody and everyone in the movie.
You have been part of the scene for quite some time now. Can you tell me more about the skateboarding community in Slovenia nowadays, compared to when you were first starting?
Fogy: Dude, when I started skating, we had nothing! Two stairs, and later the plastic skateparks, which we loved. Simplicity is what made us respect everything. I guess it was the same everywhere else. Starting from scratch and keeping things grow up nicely. Now skateboarding is becoming big. It’s a sport. Well, not for every mindset, but it is. It’s a fact. Either you love it or hate it. But let’s not hate skateboarding. We know why we started skateboarding in the first place. It’s all love, man. It always was and will always be.
Anyways, there is so much happening everywhere. Pretty much every city that means something and has some kids is trying to work on their community. Working with, and for the youth. You gotta keep kids busy with activities. Fuck smartphones, computers, fast food, shopping centers. Be outside, enjoy the outside. So pretty much every Saturday is a skateboarding day with all types of events. During winter times – there are bridges, during the season – there are outdoor events. Competitions, sessions, art exhibitions, video premieres, you name it. I am glad I am still involved after all these years.
I got to know you through Monster Energy, along with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. How long have you been part of the setup, and how did it happen in the first place?
Fogy: I might be wrong with this one. When Monster Energy officially came to Slovenia, it came through ARC d.o.o. distribution, and at that time, Andrej Pečnik, also known as Medo, was working there. I think it was all his idea. So, he gave me a call and explained his plans and expectations. I think that was back in 2013. Dude, it sounded so good and so right that I had to give it a try. I am pretty sure I was the first person he called and offered a job. Nothing but pleasure and respect!
You know, it’s all about events, being there, enjoying the day with action, action sports, music. So the first event was skateboarding, and we went there to work. Working on a skateboarding competition felt weird, yet so normal. But I wanted to skate so bad, and so did the rest of the dudes who organized that happening in Žalec, Slovenia. Well… at the end of the day, I won Game of SKATE and placed 2nd at Best Trick. Kids were happy, I was happy, and Medo was happy, so I guess that was the start of my job at Monster, which is on hold for me due to the Covid-19 situation. Once life gets back to normal, I am pretty sure I will be back on track with those guys. I miss them all, and working at events is still thing something I love to do.
Your skateboarding got you some unusual opportunities, including TV reporter slots for contests like X Games and even Olympic Games. How did that happen for you, and how fun was the experience?
Fogy: Damn, dude, I hate my voice. I really do. I canceled so many events where people wanted me to be an event coordinator, speaker, or whatever. But on the other hand, you know, as a skateboarder, I did so many things, and there are always new challenges. So when Aleš Stadler (known as Guma), who works at Obsešen Shop and on Sport TV, gave me a call and asked me to be an expert co-commentator for X-Games, I needed to say yes. Adrenalin started to pump when he told me it would be live. But I knew it would be good. The same thing happened with commentating skateboarding at the Olympics on Slovenian national TV (SLO2). It was a challenge, and I love challenges. I never bring any papers or any other information written anywhere. It needs to be spontaneous, and it always turns out the way it should. Super fun and I’m extremely grateful for those opportunities.
You also had a chance to do what I find one of the hardest jobs in the world – judging a skate contest. How does it feel to be on the other side of the skate course and be the one to rate other people’s skating?
Fogy: Man, judging is hard. But judging local skaters on the local scene at local parks is fun and pretty easy. Sometimes it can be challenging, but let’s say you always need to have your own reasons why someone was better than the other. It’s all about arguments and agreements with other judges and the head judge. Now, when I’m turning 40 this year, I wanna be involved in skateboarding as much as I can be. I try to find time for events and be there for the community. DJ, speaker, judge, filmer, editor, it doesn’t really matter to me.
But I guess I ended up being judge for the first time during an injury. There’s always something to do for a skateboarder while he is injured. I have no idea how many times I did that, but I am glad Iztok Šumatič (Ico) saw the potential in me. I judged World Cup in Graz, Austria, three years in a row, the International Flowgrind contest in Nova Gorica, the Slovenian national championship in Koper, and plenty of other local events. Those things were harder, but in the end, I think everybody always agreed with final decisions.
So, apart from skateboarding, I know you’re a massive music fan. What came first for you?
Fogy: Dude, music was waaaay before skateboarding in my life. I never wanted to explain to anyone I am a skateboarder. Even now, I am… mixture of everything. When I was 10, I was a huge Sepultura fan. Max Cavalera is still my hero. I started to visit all types of metal concerts. After seeing the original Sepultura lineup live back in 1992, my life changed. So did after the Nirvana show in 1994. I was combining music and skateboarding at that time. Buying cassettes, CDs and later selling all of those since I needed money for skateboarding equipment. I was in a few bands also, but it never ended up something big. It could, but my injuries moved me in different directions. All those years later, I still am a huge music fan, and I still skate when I find time and when I am not injured. Right, I am counting days – 3 days left – to another ACL reconstruction and long, long rehabilitation process. I guess I will be more into music again (laughs).
Do you feel that skateboarding influenced your taste in music, and did it ever happen to you that the music you’re listening to influences the way you skate?
Fogy: Maybe. I think I had other things in my life if we’re talking about influences. I was, still am, and will forever be a huge Beavis and Butt-Head fan. They were the coolest dudes with the coolest i-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. They listened to the best music from metal, punk, hip hop, and they loved skateboarding as well. It’s pretty stupid to be influenced by a cartoon, but that’s the way it was. MTV ruled at the time. TV was the best media when you combined it with VHS tapes. I learned so much from watching skate videos on those things. We always tried to copy someone or got hyped by some video parts or songs.
What’s in your headphones nowadays when you’re riding?
Fogy: It’s all about moments, you know. Right now, it’s past midnight, and I am listening to some mellow reggae. My favorite video part contains Annie Lennox and Eurythmics. 15 minutes ago, I lost my vocal cords screaming the lyrics to Caliban’s ‘Storm of Rage,’ and this morning, I drove to work listening to the first few songs from Eyesburn‘s ‘Reality Check’ album. I wish I could answer the last part of the question, but due to the injury, I have no clue when was the last day I was skateboarding. But I guess it was Moscow Death Brigade. I listen to their ‘Bad Accent Anthems’ non-stop.
For years now, you are heavily involved in the music scene as part of the DJ collective Everything Goes. How did you come together, and what keeps you going for this long?
Fogy: Oh, that’s a good question. Like I said, collecting music was more than just a hobby. It felt like a need. And I wanted to have this CD and that album. So when the digital era hit us, Napster was something I was downloading from every day. Kazaa, DC++, Soulseek, torrents, it’s like a never-ending story. I have a shitload of music on my hard drive.
So one night, I partied at Metelkova. I am sure everybody knows that part of Ljubljana, packed with alternative clubs. It happened that I went inside one of the clubs, you know, just for one beer. (laughs) I ended up as the last one leaving the place. And that party was called Everything Goes. I knew all of the DJs on the stage. Shit was mad wild! A day or two later, one of them, DJ Sunneh, contacted me and explained their crazy plan – 36 hours of nonstop DJ music/party, and they want me to be one of the guests too. I had no clue how those things work, but I wanted to try so bad. So the time came, and I found myself up on stage, the dancefloor was packed, and I didn’t do anything. I didn’t want to press a single button or stay alone on stage. But all of a sudden, it clicked in my brain. I understood everything I needed to understand at that moment. I think I played for approximately 45 minutes and didn’t want to leave.
Two days later, those guys told me they were looking for another dude joining the crew, and they wanted me to be that dude. Hell yes! Now Everything Goes is probably one of the longest-lasting DJ crews on the scene. If I am correct, I joined in 2013, but the story started back in 2009. Damn those numbers. However, the shit is wild, we provide all types of music to the people that want to dance, sing, scream, drink, stage dive. I love it. It’s different from other DJs or DJ crews, and I am really, really proud of how far we’ve come. I never thought I’ll be providing music at festivals like Metaldays, Punk Rock Holiday, pretty much all the clubs in Ljubljana, and plenty of other cities. Oh, I must not forget I played in Barcelona, too.
In recent years, you have had one more duty, probably the most important one. How do you balance all these different things and projects with having a family and raising a kid? Do you ever sleep?
Fogy: The last time I slept was probably 12 years ago. Dude, I don’t sleep well. I can’t remember when was the last time I slept 8 hours straight. I am sure it was not in this century, and I am not even kidding. My brain works 24/7, and so does my mind. And my kid rules! Her name is Mia, and she’s three years and a few months old. It’s been going great lately. We have kindergarten in the same building. After that, I go to work. I work 8-to-4 as a video maker/video editor in the studio, so my podcast is a part of my job, too.
I have to mention the Lip Ramps project too, as one of the things I do. I am the co-owner and we provide and build transportable wooden elements for skateboarding. It’s all about skateboarding, man. It always was and always will be. I love to be occupied even during my free time. When things work well, and when the time is right for everybody, everyone, and everything, life is good. Right now, it’s good, and 2022 will be great. Mark my words! (laughs)
Follow Marko Fogy Žumer:
TI, POSLUŠ!: open.spotify.com/show/77YnUrtcgxkznIJvEU4hHK
Everything Goes Facebook: facebook.com/Everything.g0es
Lip Ramps Website: lipramps.si
Lip Ramps Instagram: instagram.com/lipramps