Brazilian Wunderkind Luan Oliveira Joins Oakley Skate Team || Interview
A skateboard and some ingenuity carried Luan Oliveira a long way. The setting has changed – from the streets of Porto Alegre, Brazil to the bright lights, big paydays and raucous crowds of Street League – but the passion for having his feet on a skateboard are very much the same. Despite the drastic lifestyle changes, Oliveira remains a giddy, good-natured kid at heart who wants to skate fast and stomp tricks. He still finds himself gazing at his surroundings with disbelief, be it on a trip with some skate legends or in the X Games gauntlet, but he’s earned every bit of good fortune that’s come his way.
Oliveira is the newest member of the star-studded Oakley Skate Team, so we took a few minutes during his first visit to the Oakley Bunker to rap out with the guy.
First of all, welcome to the team.
Thanks, man. I’m so excited.
Tell me a bit about the skate scene in Brazil when you were growing up.
It was hard, for sure. Where I started skating, there were no skate parks around or anything. We had to build pretty much everything; like make a ramp, get a rail, had to build everything. It was definitely harder than it is today. You’re just skating down the street, trying to find anything to ride.
Your part in “Extremely Sorry” (2009) sort of launched you onto the skate scene. How’d that come together?
I was supposed to come to American when I was 15 but I was really scared to fly. Like, I hated airplanes. It took me 2 to 3 years to realize, okay, I have to go, this is my dream, I have to be in the USA. I remember when I won this like Street League thing, like three stops, I won them all and I got a ticket to America. That was pretty much it. I came here, started filming for a year, maybe 10 months, and that’s how the part came together. Traveling to Europe and filming here as well.
Where’s the focus in your career: is it on filming parts, competition, where’s your interest?
Anything where skating is involved. I just want to skate. Demos, competition, filming, whatever, I’m always down for anything, I’m always down to skate anything, anytime, wherever. I’m always down. That’s how skateboarders should be, you know, down for anything.
What about the growth of Street League? What’s that meant for your career?
That was good, it’s great. There are so many rules in it; I’ve never been apart of any other contest with so many rules. In skateboarding, there are no rules, you just have to skate. But [Street League] is cool. It’s fun. I love it. It’s a different vibe for sure, different from other skate contests, like too much pressure, of course. I’m the only Brazilian on it so there’s definitely some pressure on my back, but it is what it is. You gotta do it.
On that point, the X Games/Street League stop in Foz do Iguaçu last year, what was that like competing for you on that stage in front of your countrymen?
That was insane. I never thought I had that many fans in my life, never, like never ever. Like, okay, I have some people that like me, but I never thought it was that crazy. And then it was too much pressure, I couldn’t handle it. (Oliveira ended up 4th.) Like, it’s not going to happen, not this time. But it was fun. It was good to be home and to see that beautiful crowd.
Who were the guys you looked up to when you were growing up?
P-Rod (Paul Rodriguez) and [Eric] Koston, Cesar Gordo, a Brazilian skater, Milton Necen, that’s pretty much it.
Pretty weird to be competing with some of those guys now?
It’s kind of weird to be going on trips with them. Like, whoa, that’s one of my favorite skaters right there. He’s like sitting next to me. That’s insane. But they’re all cool.
Plans for 2014?
Just keep skating, dude. Just doing my best, trying to represent my sponsors and do my best. Skate fast and that’s it. Try to do every contest, demos, street skating, whatever.
Yeah, I’m working on a video project for Flip and Matriez Skate Shop, so we’re going to do a collab and video premiere in Brazil and after that, I want to get two video parts out, something like that.
And what’s it mean to you to be joining the Oakley Skate team?
It means a lot, because I have my favorites on the team, I have Sheckler, Koston, Curren – I’ve known Curren for like five years – Rune, it’s just so sick. It’s just like another dream that’s come true. I’m stoked. Just happy.