Sebastian Hejna has been a big name in the BMX world for over 20 years, as both a rider and an event commentator, and he is returning to NASS this summer as an MC for our BMX contests. We spoke to Seb about his memories of NASS Festival, the Olympics, BMX culture and heaps more in this Q&A. Welcome back Seb! We can't wait to party with you this summer!
You’ve been involved in BMX for over 20 years, how has the scene changed over that time?
A lot has changed over those years. It’s hard to know where to begin. I would say there are far more people riding BMX now than ever before. As an older rider, (and I will consider myself a rider forever) it’s hard sometimes for the older generations to accept change and understand the different directions BMX now has. When I was young, it was somewhat of an underground sport with a real subculture mentality, which meant it was a really close community. But now, it’s a far wider diversity of people and cultures doing it, which inevitably brings a lot of different styles, opinions, and ultimately, change. This is of course fuelled by social media etc. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s changed since I was young, but hell, so has the world, nothing stays the same, so I welcome it. It’s exciting to see what’s happening and to think of where it goes moving forward.
How have you seen NASS change over the years?
I've been attending NASS for over 10 years now. From athlete to MC. There have been many changes over those years, and things develop and evolve, but one thing that's been constant throughout, is the party vibe. From the BMX and Skate to the Main Stage and all the other music arenas. There's plenty of fun to be had, and I'll make sure that once again this year, I'll be having my fair share. Work Hard - Play Hard!
Now we’ll get into the nitty gritty, what’s your view on BMX Freestyle in the Olympics?
This is exactly one of those exciting changes I was talking about. I think it’s a great thing that it’s reached this level of appreciation. It’s not easy for the IOC to accept these very unconventional sports; they need it to be relevant now. I mean, running into a sandpit and jumping far is great, but again, the world has changed and there are other measures of athleticism now, which is far more exciting for the younger generations. Some people feel BMX should stay a bit underground, but I think, BMX can be to the individual, whatever they want it to be. But for bringing new eyes on the sport and into it, it’s a good thing. The difficult part will be ensuring that it’s represented correctly - but that’s a whole other issue.
Looking at our NASS 2019 line-up, who would you listen to whilst riding?
All depends on my mood on the day. But Cypress Hill I’ve listened to since I started riding. But Rudimental and even Giggs would also be on my playlist. That’s without even going into DJ Hype, or Grandmaster Flash. I still listen to a lot of different music; it all depends on my mood when I’m riding.
What makes a good host/MC?
I remember back when I started, it was all about being loud and trying to be funny. But it’s become a far more professional thing nowadays. You might have 150 riders in a day, with thousands of tricks being pulled on different parts of the course, so knowing riders and keeping up with trick combos is a necessity. I like to get amongst the riders, see how they’re doing, go out and have drinks with them after the riding is done. Just so you’re really recognisable to them, if they feel you know them and they know you, it creates a good start. Then, it’s just working the crowd, which is probably the most fun and equally difficult bit of all. But it’s massive fun, I love my job and I’ve travelled the world doing it.
Advice for someone wanting to get into BMXing?
Just have fun with your mates, try not to take it too serious. Even if the Olympics are your goal, it has to start with fun. All of the best riders in the world I’m sure would agree. It’s the thing that sets us apart from the other sports, fun first.
Your top 3…
BMX spots in UK
- Clissold Park bowl, London
- Adrenaline Alley.
- Woodyard trails. (Not that I’ve ridden there much at all. But I love the vibe there, and what all the locals do, it’s next level).
BMX shops in the UK
- The Source
- Custom Riders
- Tabletop. Ideally in a 360.
- A tailwhip on anything.
All-time favourite BMXers
- Mike Aitken
- Dave Mirra
- Ben Hennon
Favourite things about NASS
- Partying with riders I’ve not seen for a while.
- Partying with skaters I’ve not seen for a while.
- The music at the Party.
Reasons to get out of bed in the morning
- Because life is rad.
- To get outside and have fun.
- The partying.