By: Philippe Lajeunesse
About 10 years ago, when I dialed Dan Mathieu’s number on my parent’s residential phone for the first time, I already knew very well who he was. Even though he probably had no idea who was calling from this unknown number, he replied and agreed to meet me later that day at a spot to shoot a photo. Dan is a guy like that. Always ready to go on a skate mission. No matter who’s down ; young, old, black, white, guy, girl, Dan is also down. After producing Exposé Magazine from A to Z for 15 years in Montreal, he lately decided to walk on a new path. A path still filled with skateboarding, of course, but also with pigs, chickens and bees.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Mathieu.
Sup Dan ! For those who don’t know you, how old are you, where do you come from and what do you do in your day to day life.
My name is Daniel Mathieu and I am 44 years old. I'm a photographer, editor in chief and director. I currently live in the countryside of Ontario, but I come from Montreal. I grew up on the South Shore of the city, but moved to Montreal when I was 19 years old. I lived there for 21 years.
I saw old early 90s footage of you and your South Shore crew and you were ahead of the game skatewise. When and why did you decide to switch from skating to shooting photos ?
I started skating when I was quite young and by the age of 16, started skating with guys like Steve Cantin. Then those guys introduced me to Antoine Saint-Jacques, who was the only guy in Quebec to make skate videos at that time. From 16 to 20, I skated around the South Shore, met lots of boys, many of whom are still my friends today, and filmed video parts every year. It was around 19-20 that I began to mess around with photography. I borrowed my father’s old camera and started to take pictures of my boys when Antoine was filming.
How did you first get published ?
At one point, I broke my arm, so I started to shoot a lot more. Also, my friends were starting to get recognition in the business. They started to have sponsors and bust tricks that were close to the level we saw in international magazines. I kept shooting hard with my boys and eventually, I saw my pictures published in different mags, including some American names like Thrasher and Transworld. Max Dufour, founder of Premium Skateboards and professional skater, also bought a video camera for me to film and take photos of his team, which advertised in all the skate magazines and video magazines of the time.
Today, I can say that skateboarding indirectly allows me to make a living, whether it be for my photos, magazines or documentary direction (Dire Skate), I try to keep on gravitating in this world that I love.
Who is your favorite Montreal skater today ?
There are several, but Alex Gavin and Marc Tison will always remain my all time favorites. Antoine Asselin too. There are also plenty of other kids I love to see skate : Alexis Lacroix is one of them.
And what's your all time favorite photo ?
Two pictures in particular come to my mind. The first one is the the Double with Barry Walsh and Marc Tison at the Big O, which was the cover of Exposé magazine # 2. The other is a picture of Alex Gavin doing a fs heelflip on a roof gap at the Bonaventure train station. I like this photo for the story behind it.
Can you tell the story?
Well, the only way to get to the roof Gap, which Gavin had noticed from the station’s dock, was to walk about 100 meters along the train tracks of the station. We went there to try to shoot the picture, but we realized that the ground was gravel. When we started looking for a wooden plank, a security guard started chasing us. We had to run away along the rails and when we got to the dock, many people were waiting for their train and looked at us thinking we were fugitives. The same night, Gavin went back to the spot incognito to set up a wooden planks run up in front of the roof gap. We went back the next day and the rest is history.
How did you decide to create Exposé Magazine ?
That happened in 2002, there weren’t many magazines in Canada that covered the East Coast. Yet, Quebec represents a big customer pool for skateboard brands. That year, I just showed up ar the NSIA trade show and showed my project to all the skate brands who were there. Everyone was down. They all paid me up front for their advertisements and allowed me to start my own real magazine, which was published for almost 15 years.
How was the transition between SBC and Exposé ?
Pretty smooth. The industry has changed, Canadian distributions have less money for print medias. Exposé Magazine was a lot of work that I was doing almost by myself and, unfortunately, it was no longer very profitable. When Jay Mandarino, veteran skater and owner of SBC approached me for an editor in chief position at the reborn mag, I agreed. Some may be disappointed, but people generally understand the move. And Exposé is not dead, you just have to look at the new issue of SBC magazine to believe it.
Is your new job at SBC the reason why you decided to move to Ontario ?
Not really, but let's say the timing was good. When Aimee (Garett) and I bought her grandparents' house two years ago, I was still doing Exposé. Now I live exactly between Montreal and Toronto, so I can go and shoot skateboarding in both cities when I want to. I also have places to crash in both cities, so it's easy for me to go there for a few days, then come back to my quiet and peaceful farmhouse.
What’s The Real Farmacy ?
Real Farmacy is the name that Aimee gave to her small organic food business. At first, she sold eggs at public markets, but we got more and more orders from private individuals and today, every time we have eggs, pig or fresh vegetables, we sell out very quickly. Sometimes we don’t even have enough eggs for us. If you are inspired by free range farming and healthy food, check out their Instagram page.
Can you explain what’s your farming set up ?
Aimee always had chickens at home so when we bought the house, we got chickens. I also wanted pigs. We got two in 2016 and this year we got two more. We also have a huge garden, ducks, turkeys, some cats, a dog. Ah yeah, and we just got a bee hive.
A bee hive ?
Yeah ! The bees are in extinction right now so I thought it would be good to contribute to their reproduction. There’s around 20,000 bees in my hive. In addition, having bees makes our garden more efficient because of pollination. We also love fresh honey !
Have you ever been bitten by your own bees ?
Yeah, a few times. What I learned is you don’t want to get too close to the hive. In general, if you leave the bees alone and don’t disturb them, they remain mellow at all times. When I have to extract the honey or de-clutter the hive every two weeks, I put on a special beekeeper suit.
Hey, I might have a trick I’d like to shoot in Montreal, when’s the next time you’re in town ?
I'll be there tomorrow to take pictures at Osheaga with Vans Canada. I'll be there the whole weekend, but will be free in the mornings. Is 10 am at the spot good with you ?
Aight ! Talk to you tomorrow.
Follow Dan on Instagram : @danmathieu
Follow SBC on Instagram: @sbcskateboard_mag