2020 with Maité Steenhoudt

Uma Landsleds hit skateboarding this year bringing together Evan Smith, Cody Chapman and one of my favourite skateboarders Maité Steenhoudt. Hailing from Belgium, Maité has made a name for themselves with consistent footage with adidas, Carhartt, that Element part and a powerful interview with the good people at Free Skate Mag.

It's been radical to see Maité turn pro for Uma and I'm stoked we got to put this together whilst on the way to Holland to buy Chess enhancing cakes. 

Uma Intro

Where are you right now?

I've just finished at the skate camp here at the indoor in Gent, it starts in the morning then after noon I get to skate the park for free. It's getting really cold here. If you eat shit you really eat shit.

You feel it in your bones.

You eat shit into your soul, it hits deep.

So we're doing this because I'm stoked on Uma Landsleds, Thomas Campbell's artwork and I was stoked to see you had a pro board straight away too. 

I'm stoked you're into it, I'm so happy and it came as somewhat of a 'surprise'.

Was it more planned, you decided to ride for Uma knowing you would be turning pro?

Evan (Smith) reached out to me, 'Yo Maité', do you want try out some new boards?'. He was on Element too. When he left I'd heard a rumour he was going to start something new. The surprise really was that he was asking me? It was super weird! A lot of people left Element, the rumour never came true and yeah I get the call! 

Seems like you were caught up in a 'trumour'.

I was in a Uma rumour trumour for sure haha.

When you were told about Uma, were you even told what an Uma Landsled was?

At first I didn't know about the 'Landsled' part. All this happens on the other side of the planet whilst I'm in Belgium so the details weren't all told to me. Here in Flemish Uma means Mother, so I can tell people I'm sponsored by my mother!

I still feel like I am sponsored by her in some ways

That's so rad, I told my Mum that we were doing this interview. Her first response was 'Is he any good?', she still doesn't get the whole skateboarding thing. What's it like with her and you having skateboarding as a 'career'?

She knows that it's definitely more serious that when I was kid for sure, but it's not really 'serious'. 

When did that 'serious' point start?

When I first got some money I think. At first it was all flow deals like with adidas Skateboarding for example it's 'serious' when you sign the contract. You're hanging out with your friends skating then the next thing you're signing a contract to get paid to skate but, you know what? It's all still hanging out with your friends and skating. You can't start making skateboarding serious by offering people money. 

I don't know how it will be going to be in 10 years time, I'll have to get a job instead of getting paid to skate.

Riding BMX might come back or even rollerblading, make a punt at that?

Is this a test haha? I hope I'd die at that point in time, I'm not going to make it if I'd have to do that haha.

That's possibly the best answer. How about this year instead, what was your 2020 like?

Actually pretty chill, a pretty good year. It was very productive. The first lockdown I focused on my Kickflip haha so now I do them chill. I skate transition and you couldn't skate any parks. So I said fuck it lets get this flatground up. 

This Summer I was on a whole trip, firstly Paris, then almost a month in London and after that Biarritz and Bordeaux for two months. It was such a productive two months. I didn't have a return ticket anyway so I kept it going.

How was your time in London?

It was all about Stockwell, Stockwell is sick. I basically watched Hackney Bumps change over a month too. The first day it was just a bump, they had just built the built wall and by the last day they had built the pyramid and the wall ride we were so lucky. 

I got to skate with so many people including Jordan Thackeray and filmed a bunch with Jackson Davis.

Did you meet J-Thaxxs through the Olympics qualifiers?

No, we had met way before then at the Swiss contest Team Trouble Ax. Lovenskate always win that comp, we were almost in the finals last time, we were so close to beating them haha.

I don't do the Olympic stuff anymore, I hated it. I loved the people - Alex Hallford, Jordan and the GB crew. Everyone would party after the qualifiers but the next morning though was tough, the Women's events were so early in the morning. I never made it to the Semi's, I'd get smashed the day before with all the men and feel super drunk and hungover. I still skated better than I did before, I didn't have the bowls planned out properly and I preferred to just do whatever and never do the same run twice. 

Is it the case that the Women's is on earlier to give the Men more time? Is the Men's event getting taken more seriously?

No, I don't think that is the case. The prize money is equal across the board but the Women's stuff is always in the morning at 8am! I don't know if they can spin a 540 at 8/9 in the morning but fuck I could barely 50-50, I was still sleeping. They never flipped the times and events around.

You definitely don't want to start spinning after a night out.

Especially out there, every night there is a party and I was always the only girl at them. I was the only person from the Women's competitions partying so I was constantly putting myself at a disadvantage haha. 

It would have been sick to have been at the Olympics in Tokyo holding a beer before my first run though.

I guess the age brackets at the qualifiers were different so you were the only person probably able to do those things?

There's a lot of young people for sure but it's more like they are different skaters and that's skateboarding for them. It's not the people from the videos or the biggest names. I do feel like if you put them in my local spots and skateparks they would find it hard, out here they are rough, they all skate the smooth skateparks.

It's a different kind of skateboarding. They're not all Oski. He can do both. You can get sucked into the competition hole but it's not for me.

Was there a weight on your shoulders to skate differently and do well at the events?

Yeah, I was happy when I stopped doing it. It was an intense call with the Olympic committee but the coach is a friend of mine and was supportive of my decision. 

Going back to Uma, how did you feel when Evan contacted you. Was that a big space to fill?

It came at the right time for me, I had my thoughts about Element. I was never going to stay with them for the full ride, it wasn't the same as it was before. I love everyone who works at Element Europe. The TM Alex is the best, he put together the best people but it's not like he could control all the other 'behind the scenes' stuff. 

I'm happy how it all came about.

Do you have a team mate you're stoked to go on trips with?

Heitor Da Silva is sick, we smoke and chill together. You have to have a smoke buddy. Gustav is amazing he might only say 10 sentences on a whole trip but you get to see the magic live, he's a magician.

I'm looking forward to meeting Cody Chapman, we haven't met yet but we're both on Uma with Evan.

People have been going mad for skateboarding this year, I guess turning pro for a new brand is going to work out!

Hahaha indeed. You can't skate but people are making and buying your board, but I don't know I just signed my contract for Uma and everything. We'll see though haha.

You've got the 8.25" and the shaped 8.6". Surely you're going through those 8.6" more than anything?

Actually I'm skating a different shape, the next shape. The pool shape is a little bit like a shovel but I'm skating a Lovenskate shape that I stole haha! My best homie Donald rides for them and he got me one. Before I went on the Summer trip all I had was these super weird Element shaped boards with pointy noses. 

Aaron Wilmot gave me one of his, I skated it until the whole board was fully done. It's up on the wall at home.

I don't have any boards left now though. I gave most of them away and I kept three for myself. 

Do you normally skate a deck until they're dead then?

Yeah for sure but If I don't like a shape I'll only skate it once or twice, I'm a bit of brat with shapes haha.

Thomas gave me this amazing hand-painted board and I skated it once because the nose and tail were like toothpicks, it was still wide but just not quite right. I felt so bad, there wasn't any Uma boards yet and I had already asked to change it up.

What shape do you skate?

I just skate 8.38" but I've got this mad Star Wars x Santa Cruz 10.75" which i'll never skate.

Oh man, I love Star Wars. Element did that Mandalorian collab just as I left. I would have asked for one but I don't want the Element logo up on my wall hahah. I'm over it.

It's pretty gnarly everyone at Element knows that logo is pretty shit but you can't just get a new one. It's such a big brand. 

There's a real disconnect with Element in the US and Element Europe, everyone seems hyped on the Euro side, why do you think that happens?

It's the team manager Alex. He is the best. He is the fixer. Jaako is there and Etu who is new new kid from Finland. He is magic, I went on a trip with him once in Paris, he's really insane. He lands everything and more importantly he has a great style.

So if Thomas offered you a Star Wars graphic-esque which character would you go for?

Oh shit! That's hard, I'd have to think about it for at least two months and do all those 'Which Star Wars Character Are You?' tests. Maybe Chewbacca, Chewy is chill or Baby Yoda. 

That's the seller.

Yeah if he drew it super weird and sketchy, all ugly monster baby. That would be sick. Shit, we're talking business already ha.

Would you like to get involved with doing your own graphics?

That would be cool, it would probably take me a year to do one though. Besides skateboarding I'm a very slow worker. I read super slow too and I tend to mix up some of the words so it just becomes not fun. 

I've been reading about the shit i'm interested in though, at the moment I'm reading about Chess.

What are those interests outside of skateboarding?

I play Chess intensively and i'm trying to learn all about it. I'm drawing a lot but I just want to skate as much as I can. I watched that Queens Gambit on Netlix but I already understood and played Chess. All the skaters in Antwerp play chess, all my homies we all play chess. Some of the POP guys are really good especially Alex and Wallum. We all want to do a Chess tournament when the bars start opening.

I would have played at school if I wasn't always on trips, I wouldn't be a very reliable team mate for a Chess team.

What if Chess was in the olympics?

What that would be so sick. Drop skateboarding and get Chess in. I was kind of against skateboarding in the olympics when it first started, I was against it whilst I was doing it and I've not changed my opinion. 

Then again, you get to see all these different people skateboarding. The team for India were sick, they just dropped in and cruised around the bowl but then that's because their country isn't equipped for it yet. The richer countries are going to do better like most things but, fuck it I'm out of it now.

That's 2020 done with so what about 2021?

There's so much to look forward to, I've been working on a lot. Hopefully I'll hit up London and Paris again for more footage. Then an Uma trip would be mad. I'm curious to see if it will be in America or here.

I'd prefer to travel in Europe, I'm not a fan of the food in America. You could hit up Italy and skate the roughest spots ever but then after you can get the best food. Eat shit skateboarding and get good pasta.

Okay one last thing how good is Ata Kak?

Oh wow yes! He's the best I got to see him live last year. The whole concert was nuts, this guy gives you everything. He's like skateboarding his recorded songs are great and you see him in real life there's just some energy you can't get on video. You should check out the Japanese artist Shintaro Sakamoto and his band Yura Yura Teikoku.

Angrily Assembled by Fraser Doughty

Follow Maité HERE 

Check out Yura Yura Teikoku HERE

Shop Maité's Pro board and Uma Landsleds HERE 

More from Uma Landsleds HERE

Free Skate Mag's Maite interview HERE