Bristol’s finest on his move to Barcelona in pursuit of sun and skating.
Dan Wileman is synonymous with Bristol. A product of the same hothouse scene that produced Danny Wainwright, Flynn Trotman, Matt ‘Stalker’ Keal, Korahn Gayle, Zak Pitter to name but a few, he is one of the best- known, and certainly best- travelled faces in the current British skate scene. We nabbed five minutes of his time at work in Barcelona to chew the fat with him.
Morning Dan- how you doing? Been up long?
All good, all good. I’m at work, man. I have to come in for a few hours to take in deliveries…
You're a chef- how did that come about?
I’m a chef in a Belgian restaurant here; it’s Belgian, but it also does tapas. It’s quite funny actually. I saw Stalker become a chef when I stayed with him… and then slowly I started liking cooking for myself. I’m self- taught.
So is this a new career for you alongside skating?
This job came about through my friend Maria who is a professional chef herself. I came back from Puerto Rico to Bristol, I think I lasted about... four days... before the weather got to me and I just headed for Barça with no real plan what to do, money-wise.
So Maria helped me, I had a two-week trial here and, yeah, seven months later and it’s plain sailing, really. I think a lot of people could tell you I have been pretty into my cooking lately! Thing is, here all the good stuff you want to eat is cheap and accessible, so it’s really easy to have crews round… it’s just fun, really. You go out to get a bite to eat and pretty soon you have 20 people round for roast dinner in a little Barcelona apartment.
Can we back-pedal a bit to Puerto Rico then? What made you decide to up sticks and move there for three months?
That happened through my girlfriend, really. She’s half Puerto Rican and she had a six month spell doing a non-profit art foundation out there. I had met a skater from there out here so I knew there was a scene and, well, you can’t turn down something like that, really. It didn’t take much to convince me.
Tell me how it went. Is it a dangerous place?
Puerto Ricans are the friendliest people I have ever met; the Caribbean lifestyle is really reflected in them. I didn’t have any hand to hand incidents of trouble, and I never felt any danger whatsoever there, but… it’s such a small place that you hear about what goes on. Where I stayed was in the nicest part of the island, but down where the bowl is there are a lot of favelas and drug activity. Some guy got shot by a 14-year-old at a street party right by a street spot three roads away from where I stayed. I had left half an hour before, heard about it the next day.
So is this you out of the UK on a semi-permanent basis?
I am back at least once every three months; in the summer I can stay for the whole time. Bristol is my favourite city, but when it rains it really gets me down. When it rains there is nothing to do but party every single night and I’m a bit over that now. Grown out of it a bit, I suppose.
So what do you do for product at the moment? In 2010 you won best trick at the Euro Champs, [heavy scene video] Bristol’s Finest came out, but then the crisis really hit skating…
I’m lucky in the sense that Danny (Wainwright) hooks me up with Vans shoes now and again, a lot of people have it much worse than me. But I haven’t had anything steady on the shoe front since… probably 2009.
A lot of people said to me “Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of offers” after Basel and the [Bristol’s Finest] video dropped because I was getting plenty of coverage at the time but it never really happened. I’m just skating, you know? I will only chase it to a certain point before I’ll think ‘What am I doing?’
Shiner (distribution) look after me for all my hardware through Sk8 Mafia, Autobahn and Venture so the shoe thing, I don’t really let it bother me. I still skate every day regardless. I’m only 27, I just want to skate every day and film, even if it’s just for myself. People say Barcelona is tired and all this but there is so much still to discover here, so many different styles of skating… East Coast lines all through this city.
Thanks very much for your time, Dan... and look after yourself.
No problem at all, thank you.