Matt Atreau Mercer

Posted May 31st, 2011

Steady chilling and always killing it. // Interview by Travis Knapp-Prasek.

Full name? Where were ya born? How did ya get into skateboarding?
Matthew Ryan Mercer Aka “ATREAU”. Born in Urbana, IL . Got into skating through friends in my 7th grade class, a kid Named Charles Zeigler… I had seen a few people skating, it looked fun so i starting hanging out with them and got a board.

What was the scene like where you grew up?
The skateboarding scene where i grew up was pretty cool and it also had it’s issues. I grew up in North Carolina, in a small town called “Asheville”. Kind of a hippie town. Known to many as the “San Francisco of the south”. But it’s far from that in the “open minded” area involving skating. We def got kicked out of everywhere. You can’t even ride down the street. The spots we had were mostly gaps, rails and stairs. I think we had one or two decent concrete ledges in the whole town, haha. Eventually we did get a temporary skatepark built and later a permanent concrete park. NC has a lot of indoor parks. Back home every one skated together, all ages, races ( though there wasn’t much diversity) types of skaters etc. Big uP North cack!

How young are ya and what have you done in your life to be able to rip it on a regular basis?
I’m 28 years young and getting younger each day! I don’t know if i understand this question but I’ll answer it anyway. Basically, I always had a lot of energy as a kid, and even now as an adult. I needed many outlets to spend that energy on I’ve always been super foot coordinated. Once I started skating I just skated everyday and watched a lot of skate videos, that helped me improve quickly. Also for the entirety of my life have chosen to abstain from drinking or drugs of any kind. I also noticed when you maintain a positive attitude and have as much fun as you can it comes through in everything else you do!

Where has skating taking you and where would you like to see it take you in the future?
Skateboarding has taken me to some cool places across the country. It’s taken me to cool jobs working with youth. It’s
helped me to further endorse a message of leadership, self esteem and positivity to the Youth in my community. In the future I’d like to have skateboarding take me to places outside of America to bring a message of love, positivity, leadership, and self esteem through skating and other arts like dance, art, multi-media etc. to the youth.

What words of advice do you have for the next generation of skateboarders out there?
To the next Gen: I’d say keep pushing, learning , growing through skating, but always make sure you’re having fun. Skateboarding is a great way to release stress. Great for exercise, self confidence building, and gaining focus. But if it loses it’s fun…whats the point right? It’s not ALL about being sponsored.

I know you have a ton of hobbies outside of skateboarding, what’s up with your dance skills? I’ve heard lots of peoples say you got some talent on the floor.
OUTSIDE hobbies- I’ve been dancing since i was a kid.. I B-boy (breakdance) hip hop, MJ and James brown Footwork, And Jamaican Dances. I also teach these styles to youth and adults. I collect sneakers. I love hiking and being outside in nature in general. Soccer, making costumes, finding multiple ways to create. Jewelry Design.

How has life been out in Oakland?
I really love living in the Oakland area, It’s an amazing place with so many creative, talented, diverse, righteous, versatile people. Our town gets a bad wrap because there is some violence in a few of our communities, but generally speaking with the exception of those instances… Oakland is a truly amazing place to be!

What made ya decide to move out to California back in the day and where were you staying when you first came out here?
Well I first came to the Bay when i was like 16 years old. i stayed in a house in the Mission with my friends older brother , who happened to live with pros Cairo Foster, and Elias Bingham. I stayed for the summer, loved it and kept coming back every summer. Then in 2002 i skated a pro/am contest in ATL where I took runner up to Pro Malcom Watson, winning myself one of those big ass checks for $2,000. I used that money and moved to Berkeley and stayed with my good friend Bryan Derballa in the co-op houses. I ended up broke and back after 4 months. So I got back to work in NC , saved up again, and moved back to Berkeley in August 2005. I lived with Diego Gamez, an up coming bay area skateboarding photographer, been here ever since.

Ollie on the rock to front shoves off – Rockaway Beach, CA – Photo by Mickey Marko

At this point I decided to contact Diego and see what was good.

When did you first meet Atreau?
I first met Atreau in North carolina thru you . I remember you said we were going to bridge rail in Winston Salem and we were gonna meet Atreau. At the time I was thinking “What the hell is an atreau” Then we met him and I was stoked. He was the first black skater I met in NC and had previously been to my hometown of Berkeley,CA, He had ill steez and ripped so I guess we just immediatly hit it off. We met up again at Tampa am 2005 and from there he moved into my house in Berkeley. Been friends since then.

What is the most unique thing about Atreau?
His not caring about what anyone thinks about him, does his own thing, stays true to himself. He just goes for it, on the skateboard and off of it.

Back to the interview with Atreau…

Backside Tailslide – Photo by Travis Knapp-Prasek

Who have you been skating with lately?
Lately been skating with Karl Watson, Andrew Wenckstern, Jonathan Perez, Diego Gamez and you! I ride for Funktion Skateboards, Satori wheels, Ipath shoes, Ace trucks, Roughneck hardware, and Push Skateshop (NC).

What’s your favorite spot in SF?
I think my favorite sf spot would be the metal loading dock ledges under the Bay Bridge. They were perfect.

If you had 3 wishes…
Hmm 3 wishes…
1. I’d wish for all humans to respect and love one another.
2. A billion dollars.
3. For all humans to take better care of themselves and the Earth.

What type of music ya dig?
I like a lot of different music, right now I’m feelin the new Tarrus Riley album, Beenie Man, Busy Signal. I like the Damian Marley and Nas album. I like the foreign exchange, shit I like the new Usher album, haha, seriously I’m all over the board with music. i like hiphop, r&b, soul, Funk, reggae, reggae dancehall, soca, folk, so from James Taylor to Kanye West hahaha I like it all.

Last words / thanks?
We are living in some pretty serious times, take care of yourselves and each other. When shit hits the fan we need to have a strong community. Thank you to Joey at Ace, George at Funktion, Rob @ Push, Craig @ Satori, Travis @ Satori, Matt Doston @ Ipath. Also sending love out to NC/Push crew, Bryan Derballa, Bay area Selectas. Big up’s to Karl Watson, Lucian Moon, Sehba, 510 Skateshop, P.E.A.C.E Fits, Ras Terms, Funktion Family, and Peacewall park players!

Front Blunt in Oakland – Photo by Travis Knapp-Prasek