Denny Pham Interview

© Daniel Wagner

The German tech-wunderkind talks about his new life as a pro skater.

23-year-old Denny Pham has a packed schedule these days, living the life of a professional skateboarder full time. From travels through Asia to putting together video-parts and shooting interviews for magazines – Pham is cranking it out. Now is his time- to find a fresh approach to travelling, to the job before him and to the life he set out to live.

Hi Denny. How have you been over the last couple of months?
There‘s been a lot, really. Last month I’ve been to three contests, we filmed this interview clip… I didn’t have spare time at all and I’ve been going for it every day. When I wasn’t out skating, I’ve been swimming or in a sauna for recuperation, you know? I don’t feel like I used to when I was 17 or 18 and swimming helps to lubricate the joints. Otherwise I get cramp.

You’ve had a lot of coverage recently…
You think? It was okay, I suppose. I didn’t really put out too much, I try and keep things balanced. I am working on a video section for Nike scheduled for November. I want to release it right when my Kingpin interview drops. So yeah, I hope it works out, that‘s is what I’m trying to focus on right now. Works pretty good.

So you’re trying to be a professional skateboarder now, getting paid and everything.
Totally. This is my job, I pay taxes and work full time, kind of. I mean, the few times I’m not out skating, I arrange everything else like trips I want to go on, that kind of stuff. There’s a lot coming from my end late 2013 and 2014, too.

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Denny Pham, Switch Heelflip
Denny Pham, Switch Heelflip© Florian Hopfensperger

You have these new sponsor deals with big companies now. Did your approach to skateboarding change? Do you feel the pressure?
Well, you know, the pressure… sure, there’s a certain amount of pressure and there are stretches of time where you look at your cramped schedule and go “How am I supposed to do it all?“. But, I always feel relieved when I get a photo or had a couple of good runs at a comp. So, it’s all manageable.

You grew up in Rostock, close to the Baltic Sea and moved to Berlin two years ago. Why Berlin?
Life in Rostock feels like you’re living in a village, even though the city isn’t even that small. In Berlin everything is in motion, it’s way easier for me to work on my “career“ as a skateboarder. Berlin motivates me a lot, life is faster here.

You have to try to keep your eyes open, see the world beyond skateboarding.

Have you ever been to Vietnam? Do you have family there?
My Dad is Vietnamese, he’s from Hanoi; unfortunately I haven’t managed to make it there (Hanoi) yet. I’ve only been to Vietnam once when I visited two years ago with Patrik Wallner on the “Mandalay Express“ tour we did. We travelled through Asia for a month – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. It was my first time in Vietnam and I liked it a lot, so I really wannt to go back.
I actually have quite a big family there. I see my father more often, now that I’ve moved to Berlin. We never had the best connection really, but now that I’m getting older I‘ve started to develop more of an interest for these things. My father has eight brothers. He’s the only one of them who went to Germany as a migrant worker, and originally he was only granted a four year stay. But then he managed to stay longer and keep working here to support the family back in Vietnam. My Mum is German, they’ve been seperated for a long time now but they’re still cool. They lived through a lot together, you know, they just have a special bond- it’s pretty great. She stayed with him and all the other Vietnamese workers in their quarters, went with him to the authorities, helped him out wherever she could.

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Denny Pham, Backside Flip
Denny Pham, Backside Flip© Daniel Wagner

We went on a trip to Barcelona together in 2007. Wasn’t that your first tour ever? What has changed?
Yeah, that was my very first skate trip outside of Germany. That was a pretty good start, travelling to Barcelona with Alex Mizurov, the robot (laughs). I also flew for the first time back then, everything was so flashy and exciting. I was 17, travelling to a city packed with spots. Everybody talked about Barcelona, everybody wanted to go there.
But today… to be honest, the feeling goes away. You live this crazy life, travelling around the world as a professional skateboarder, new locations, new impressions – basically too much of everything to really process it all. It doesn’t stoke you as much as it used to, which is a little sad, actually. You know, for me it’s like “I’m on tour for two to three months?“
Alright, then I have to pick destinations that really interest me or I’ll turn into this totally dull dude. You have to try to keep the eyes open, see the world beyond skateboarding. I think my perspective definitely changed when it comes to that, yeah.

Denny, thank you for the interview.

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Denny Pham, Portrait
Denny Pham, Portrait© Henrik Biemer