Catherine Marquis – Issue 38 Interview


Last week we were stoked to be able to share Catherine Marquis’ ‘Pinguin‘ part with you, so to follow up we thought what better thing to throw onto the web than her interview by Jono Coote which featured in issue 38 of the mag. Life in Stuttgart, the pros and cons of California, van conversion, penguins and more await below.

Introduction & Interview by: Jono Coote

Photography by: Juan Ayala, Hannes Mautner, Christian Pelz & Dennis Scholz

Portrait by: Juan Ayala

In the Werner Herzog documentary Encounters at the End of the World, set around a research centre in Antarctica, a particularly memorable scene follows one penguin then another as they leave their colony and, instead of following the avian instinct which should draw them toward a feeding ground, head for the mountains, solitude and certain death. It is one of the most existentially disquieting moments in the cinema of the natural world. Whilst I’m sure Herzog would not approve of anthropomorphism, I often find myself identifying with these disorientated creatures when faced with the sheer volume of skateboarding thrown at us by the internet. The metaphorical mountains here are merely ‘not the internet’, rather than the polar wastes, but they do keep me from being as on top of what is going on in the world of skateboarding as I once was. 

This can work in my favour in the form of being pleasantly surprised, as I was when doing my research for this interview with Catherine Marquis. Stumbling across her SOLO part was a reminder of why it might pay to have my ear closer to the ground, and I was equally stoked when she sent a new video part as accompaniment to this interview. The part is held together by a penguin motif; but, in this case, acting as metaphor for Catherine’s social approach to skateboarding, whether that means exploring new places with a global network of friends or working communally to help build DIY spots closer to home. Get an insight into her on/off nomadism below, alongside the photographic fruits of her travels, and start planning those summer skate trips.

Catherine Marquis ~ Invert To Bank ~ Photo: Hannes Mautner

You’re originally from the Swabian Alps, right? Can you tell us a bit about growing up there snowboarding before making the move to skateboarding?

First, we need to clarify here that it has nothing to do with the German Alps but it’s somewhat close; it’s called the Swabian Alb, a region in southern Germany with a beautiful landscape of small towns and villages. When I was 12 or 13 I found out about skateboarding and thought it was the coolest thing. It also was pretty uncommon for a girl to skate, so my mum did not want to support it. I kind of gave up on it, but at least I was allowed to change my skis for a snowboard once a year on our winter vacation and I fell in love with that. I longingly waited for the winter’s snow to build obstacles in the backyard and learn tricks. My mom disliked this too, but I was unstoppable. I somehow got kind of good at it quickly, to the point I even had some first gear sponsors, but around the time I turned 19 it was getting frustrating. I still couldn’t snowboard as much as I wanted, I needed to progress further and I figured that skateboarding could be good for the off days. I fell in love even more and here we are.

Was it skateboarding that brought you to Stuttgart? I see you also have a van you converted to travel around and sleep in. How long did the conversion take and how did you go about learning to convert it? 

Actually I needed to move to the city to study Graphic Design, but it did hold more and better options for skateboarding, especially in winter. The van already came with some basic stuff the previous owners had built, so it was kind of ready and I just replaced and improved things as time went by. I have always had a natural understanding of technical stuff and my grandpa showed me how to use tools and build with wood back in the day, so it was easy to build what I needed. Once I got used to sleeping in a van it felt like I could do it forever. There’s a sort of freedom in only having the simple things but all you need, and being out in nature or doing skate trips cheaply without paying a lot for hotels. Right now I feel like I‘ve grown out of my hippie era though, I’m even thinking of selling the van. I‘m enjoying the comfort of a home with space and my dream is to drive a big Dodge RAM truck.

Catherine Marquis ~ Layback Rollout ~ Photo: Hannes Mautner

I guess when you’re on the road a lot like you seem to be, it’s nice to have a base to return to. You surprised us with a banging part to accompany this mag coming out, filmed in Barcelona and Los Angeles. How did that come together, and why the penguin motif?

You’re right about having a base. I want to travel further abroad because I’ve seen a lot in Europe already. With the video part it all came together pretty loosely. I was travelling to the States in April 2022 and Vern (Laird), my Bones TM and the main filmer of the project, just wanted to collect some footage while I was there. We took the VX1000 because all I had at home to film more on was a VX. I ended up extending my stay from 2 weeks to 5 in total and Vern linked me with other filmers to keep going while he was out of town. Later we met up in Barcelona for a spontaneous 6 day trip, then I went back to LA for winter 2023 where we filmed the rest. I cut it all together but I couldn’t find a song I liked that fitted the vibe of the clips. My friend Børge AKA Sorian Filbereisen gave me this unreleased track he just finished, I put it underneath and instantly felt it. It’s a German text which goes, “I wish I was a penguin, then I could spread my wings and be there. Without ifs and buts and a lot of chatter I’m flying through the galaxy. Over sea and lake I’m gonna take my laps, because I’m in paradise…” It’s ironic because penguins can’t fly, I loved that and I want to fly through the galaxy haha. 

As someone who does spend a lot of time on the road, how do you go about organising these trips? 

To be honest I never really plan or organise much, most trips I book the day before the flight haha. If possible I’ll crash at someone’s place and offer them the same in return. When there’s no space I’ll look for my own room or apartment and see if I can find anything affordable, or I change my trip dates. Most of my trips are also self-organised to make myself skate more and be more productive with it, while at home I get easily distracted with other projects. Usually I travel to places where I already have connections and friends. I’m mostly travelling alone so this holds some comfort, if something doesn’t go as planned I know someone’s got my back. 

Catherine Marquis ~ Wallride Nollie ~ Photo: Juan Ayala

Having done some travelling to and from the USA recently, what’s the most hectic thing you’ve witnessed there in terms of both skateboarding and day to day life? Would you ever consider living over there? 

The most hectic thing is that people fucking can’t drive their cars properly. I almost got killed as a pedestrian this past Christmas. In terms of the weather, the spots and the gas prices I would definitely move out to California if I had the chance.

You’ve skated some pools over in the States too, right? They’re a rare sight in Europe, how was that experience and did you find that the transitions you rode compared to anything over here?

Pools are super exciting, they are way more gnarly than you can imagine. I mostly liked that you had to find them and they come with that tense abandoned house feeling.

I always think it’s odd that the kidney pool was first designed in Finland by Alvar Aalto, but they’re almost impossible to find over this side of the world – I’ve managed three in the UK ever. Have you ever found a legit ‘not made to skate’ pool in Germany?

To be honest I don’t have a clue about the pool scene, but we have a crusty kidney bowl at my local park. I learned to skate there and that’s probably the reason I skate transitions too, but I like ledges and small rails probably the most.

You do seem like you enjoy a street transition, though. Do you ever worry about the fact that that sort of architecture has fallen out of fashion and new ones aren’t being built? And can you give us your top three street transitions that you’ve skated?

I don’t know if it’s really out of fashion, they just recently built a whole new plaza with different banks and transitions at a real estate company in Darmstadt, Germany. It’s just a super crazy thing once you find them, they are kind of rare compared to ledges and rails. My favourite ones are the San Bernardino volcano at the abandoned carousel mall, the LA downtown brick quarters and probably the Landhaus plaza in Innsbruck, Austria. The whole plaza is just so much fun for a sesh, with perfect flat, ledges and gaps too.

Catherine Marquis ~ Madonna to Tail ~ Photo: Hannes Mautner

You were recently in the van for Irregular Magazine’s ‘We Live Here’ tour, do you have any good tour stories/highlights from that? Who was the trip MVP?

That project was just a year of several meetups to film in different locations, everyone who had time crashed by pretty spontaneously. I only joined the gang in Luxembourg, Vienna, Linz and Stuttgart. My highlight was that in Luxembourg I randomly discovered a legit double sided curb on the way to the original spot, slightly hidden in some industrial lot. It was untouched but, with a little wax, it went like the Californian ones. Sorry, I can’t reveal the pin here haha. The MVP for sure is Nico Uhler, with the endless motivation, energy and passion that he put into the whole project; organising everything, patiently filming and editing the video and just being hyped with good vibes all day long!

If you were to give someone a tour of Stuttgart for the first time, where would you take them for the day?

I would take them to Gaziantep, a Turkish bakery at Marienplatz, for the best breakfast in town; you are literally fueled for the day. Then I’d take it to the city for some of the main spots, Paulinenkirche first and then further to Landtag, as well as going in search of some Aperolis at the luxurious restaurant located at the spot. There are some great museums in Stuttgart too. I had to take a homie from the US to the Mercedes Benz Museum when he came over. There’s also a Porsche museum. We probably would end the day at the Party District we just call “The Bermuda Triangle.”

Catherine Marquis ~ Frontside Smith Stall Melon Grab ~ Photo: Juan Ayala

To finish up, what have you got coming up in the near future?

I’m still not fully healed from when a car hit me last December, so I’m taking it easy, focusing on recovering and trying to get back step by step while securing my bag haha. The weather is still bad in Germany so I booked a little vacation to Barcelona for next week, also somehow with the hope of being able to skate again. 

Thanks for having me here, thanks to my sponsors (Welcome, Bones, Adidas Germany, Kingswell) and all my supporters and friends, you guys are the best! Of course I also have to say a big thank you to Vern, who made so much possible. The last few years have been a dream!

Catherine Marquis ~ No Comply Tailslide ~ Photo: Dennis Scholz