This time we’ll start the interview differently. The one in charge of presenting PJ is Takafumi Okawa, Founder & owner of Death Label snowboards.
After some e-mail contact back and forth PJ joined the Death Label team as the first non Japanese rider in spring 2008.
I have spent a lot of great times together with PJ so I don’t know anymore how many times he has come to Japan. He enjoys the best powder every time he comes to visit and sometimes some crazy Tokyo party nights too. He has many, many Japanese friends now. Japanese pro riders and locals all love PJ, his character and his riding. He is always riding with beer in his backpack. Drinking beer while hiking up, at the mountain peak, when coming down and after riding.
He parties every night and ride powder hard everyday… It’s great fun every time with PJ!
He has visited Japan many times now and he likes to learn about Japan’s old history. Especially The SEX museum is one of his favorites! Next time I would like to go to Alaska together with PJ. Taka
Hi PJ, for those who still do not know you, introduce yourself, please!
Hi Xavi! Well…My given names are Per-Johan Gustafsson, but my parents started calling me PJ right after I was born, so it has always just been PJ basically. I think most people don’t even know my real name haha. Anyways…I live in a pretty small city called Kumla in Sweden. It’s about a 2 hour drive southwest from Stockholm. In the winter time Sälen Ski Resorts are my base when I’m not traveling. I have a cabin there and I spend as much time there as possible during the snow season. It’s a really great place that usually gets quite a lot of snow in the winter. I live with my three amazing kids and my wonderful partner. Love (2 years), Holly (6 years), Dylan (9 years) and Louise. They all love to snowboard as much as possible which is fuckin great!
Who are your sponsors?
My sponsors are Death Label snowboards, VANS, Modest Eyewear, Switchback bindings, Love Inc gloves, Smoketower.com and I get support with snowskates from Hovland snowskates. Thank you all for supporting my old ass and for having my back. It really means a lot to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
So how’s this season been for you? Any travels etc?
I have spent most of this season in my cabin in Sälen and riding there or in the near area. I also went to Japan to visit and shred with the Death Label family and some of my very good friends that live there. Japan is the best! I really love Japan and the nice people there. I try to go there every winter to get some good powder riding and quality time with my long time sponsor and good friend Taka, who is the founder and owner of Death Label.
In a couple of weeks I will be going to Mammoth Mountain in the USA to participate in this years Holy Bowly. Really looking forward to that and to see all the friends and riders that I usually don’t see that often anymore. So thanks again Krush and Snowboy Productions for inviting me for the 3rd year in a row. You rule!
When I’m back home from the US I will do some spring riding and shooting back home in Sälen. Then I will go to Hemsedal, Norway for Mikkel Bang’s event The Bang Slalom in May and after that I haven’t got anything planned yet…Drink Mojitos in the sun, spend time with family and friends and try and skate as much as possible. Sounds like a good plan? Haha
Once again you have your own pro model this season, thanks the snowboard brand Death Label. Can you tell us something more about Death Label and the way you designed your board?
Death Label is a 100% rider owned and operated snowboard company from Japan, that former Allian snowboards and Advance inc employee Takafumi Okawa started in 2007. The brand image and graphics is heavily influenced by skateboarding, punk rock, heavy metal and tattoo culture. No hip hop haha. I started riding for Death Label in the spring of 2008 as the first international and non Japanese rider. I have never for a second regretted that I started to ride for DL. The brand fits me like a glove, the boards are the best and the people behind the brand are some of my best friends today.
The board that I designed for this season is basically, just like last season, my all time favorite Death Label board model through the years, The Boneless, but with a graphic totally designed by me. The Boneless is a medium stiff true twin with rocker between the bindings and camber under the bindings. This season I chose to do a graphic inspired by my love for true Norwegian Black Metal and the legendary bands and people that started the true Black Metal scene. The top sheet graphic has a famous photo of Count Grishnackh (Varg Vikernes) from Burzum and a very Black Metal inspired Death Label text. The base has a pentagram in the middle and Death Label in a Burzum inspired font. It’s all in black and white. Very clean if you ask me. I love it and I have gotten a lot of great feedback on it. This board, just as my previous one with GG Allin, are limited edition models and quite hard to get your hands on. They are not meant to be for everyone. I am pretty sure that these are the first and only snowboards ever with GG Allin and Varg Vikernes graphics and I am very grateful and honored that I got to do this with Death Label.
For next season my 3rd board design for Death Label is inspired by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a Swedish twist haha…But the graphic is not as extreme as on my previous boards and it will not be a limited edition model, but instead it will be available to everyone.
We can see your skate style in all your pictures and videos. It’s something that always catches our attention. Apart from that you also own your own skateboard brand called Kaleidoscope Skateboard Co. Can you tell us a little about your brand and why you started it?
Thank you Xavi. I’m happy to hear that. That’s a great compliment for me.
I started skateboarding in 1988 and ever since I got my first skateboard as a birthday present from my parents, skateboarding has been my life and shaped me into who I am today. Having my own skateboard company, working with skateboarding and being my own boss has always been a dream of mine and in the fall of 2008 I started Kaleidoscope Skateboard Co. all by myself. My old friends Halldór and Eiki Helgason were the first guys that I put on the team since they are both amazing skateboarders. They were also the first to have their own board model that we called a “bro model”. They have helped promote Kaleidoscope a lot over the years and even though the team has changed quite a lot I am very happy that Halldor and Eiki are still on the team. They actually have a new board dropping this spring/early summer. It is part of a collaboration collection between them, Kaleidoscope and Horsefeathers clothing that I have designed. Check it out or you are blowing it!
Something else that really calls my attention and that I truly like is your punk style with that black leather jacket, balaclava, black jeans and no gloves. Do you feel like you turn some heads as you ride down the slopes?
I’ve been a punk rock kid at heart since I started skating basically. What I wear has always been some sort of statement but today I don’t think about it that much. I only have black clothes in my closet so that makes it really easy hahaha. I wear what I like and what I feel comfortable wearing and when it comes to provoking people and turning some heads I guess it’s just a bonus. It’s who I am and I don’t give a shit about what other people think or say when they see me. If I can provoke someone by simply looking the way that I do, then that’s totally fine. I get equally provoked by looking at all snowboarders and skiers riding down the slopes looking all the same and all the grown ups with their huge helmets haha. That is fuckin’ crazy if you ask me. Everyone dressing the same way…rocking the same style…That’s just lame in my opinion.
What’s your opinion of the snowboarding industry nowadays?
I have so many opinions about it that I could write you an essay haha…Let’s just say that the industry is pretty much fucked up and that there are a few companies still that are doing it right and for the right reasons. I just hope that more people will wake up and support those few rider owned and operated companies instead of the corporate giants and, god forbid, ski companies. Fuck all them ski companies that just keep profiting on snowboarding! Don’t support their shit kids! Give them the finger!
Since we are Spanish media we cannot wrap up this interview without asking you this question: What do you think about the Spanish snowboard scene?
I have to be honest and say that I am not super familiar with the Spanish snowboard scene, but from what I have heard it is pretty tight. I’d love to explore the Spanish mountains and the Spanish snowboard scene more that’s for sure. I love Spain and the skateboard scene you have is one of the best in the world if not the best, but snowboarding in Spain is still an unwritten chapter for me.
Any final words you like to add?
Fuck the police!