This is the first part of the Chronicles of one of the most traveled skaters in history. A true adventurer and beautiful human. Learn about the sacrifices our sister made for the love of stoke.
Hello Ishtar, where are you from?
Hey, I’m originally from Malmö in the south, 3rd biggest city in Sweden. But I moved to Stockholm when I was 16 with my mother, went to high school there.
Where did you start skating?
In Stockholm. Around 4 years ago after dreaming of it for 5 years.
Why did it take you so long to wake up?
I played under water rugby for 5 year or so before that. That was my life, playing every single day, I even joined the national team. But then I saw this movie – Lords of Dogtown.
What happened when you watched it?
I loved the movie, its epic and so inspirational , not because these dudes were crazy good at skating or rebels, but because of the friendship, the brotherly bond between these guys. It touched my heart and I wanted the same thing. And of course I wanted to be a rad girl skater.
What was the next step?
After I saw the movie and moved to Stockholm, I had no friends as I had stopped playing rugby and I left my team in Malmö. I had a lot of time on my hands, I had a skateboard so I thought “what the hell, I have nothing to lose” I used to pass by the Kahalani Board Shop everyday, looking at those chill, rad, cool skaters that would hang there everyday and I’d wish that I could be a part of that. One night, I got the best excuse. My board was fucked and I couldn’t skate in the bowl that was next to the shop.
I walked in and met one of the brothers that owns the place, Mikael Åhlström. I told him that I had a problem with my board and he asked me –
“Do you have time?”
“Yea for sure!”
“Are you sure you have time?”
I wondered “ shit this seems serious.” And he told me my bearings were fucked, but he knew I was young and that I didn’t have much money so he’d help me clean them and so we did for like 2 hours. He told me about Downhill skateboarding – something I’d never heard about before then invited me to an event that was gonna be held the next day at the local hill. When I saw all the skaters, the vibes of the community, I fell in love and I was hooked!
Tarma Race, Peru
I would come in to the shop everyday and get new friends, I started to feel alive again! I got my first Kahalni King of the hill longboard, (a Christmas gift from my grandmother) and me and my little gang of boys would hit up the local hill everyday. After 5 months of riding, the boys talked me into joining them at Eastbourne in England, that would be my first IGSA competition. I had the best time, we were only 3 girls in the competition, but I got second after Dasha Kornienko (I love that girl!), Kim Edwards was third.
When did you skate outside Europe?
My last year of high school in 2010 was hectic, I was doing my final projects, I had an exhibition coming up in the modern museum of Stockholm, and I was working at this little cafe next to the kaha shop. I’d come in before school and work after school, save every single penny. I graduated in May 2010, And the day after I was out of my house!
I had a ticket to Seattle, a paid fee for the Maryhill race and a ticket out of the states two months later out of NYC. But I didn’t know a single soul. I had some goals: The race, I wanted to visit Cali and somehow get to NY. I had no idea how I was gonna do this though. A friend and really cool guy from Stockholm, Fredik Lindström, had been to the Maryhill race before and he helped me to get in contact with Tad Drysdale (a really cool ‘’older’’ guy in the north west). I wrote to him and immediately I got a stoked response back. He hooked me up with the Motion team from Seattle and so the journey began. Maryhill, Washington
Maryhill was epic that year, not only skating the awesome hill, but the camp site was literally on fire after the crazy fireworks battles that were held there every single night! I told my story about just being on the road, not knowing where to go and I got invited down to stay at the SkateHouse in LA. Drove down with a funny crew led by Andrew Mercado in the Madrid van. It was EPIC getting to LA and skating the Dogtown streets. It was really great and so meaningful! Venice Beach (LA)
I later headed to San Fransico and stayed with a rad guy, Georges Siddiqi. Got to skate my favorite hill of all time “Bofax” and I met more rad wonderful friends. I had the time of my life! James Kelly helped me get in touch with Mike Dallas in NYC.
I flew over there and met up with my new family, the Bustin crew! I’d help out in the shop and push around the city with all the dudes.
I loved pushing in NYC, I get the same adrenaline rush pushing in the city and skitching cars as I would when going down a hill. I loved it, we had so much fun. I lived with Mike Dallas and his then pregnant wife Ana, (man I love these guys so much!) there are not enough words to describe the feelings of sincere gratitude and appreciation I have. It was one of the best 2 months of my life, and it hurt to leave Brooklyn that last summer day. But I promised to come back.
That summer had just been a little taste of what was waiting around the corner. If I worked hard I could get it all again!
I met up with them in Puerto Rico in the end of the summer last year, we did the Adrenalina race, which was freakeshly exhausting!
And so I did, I flew home, stayed there for 3 days and then repacked my bags then headed towards Norway where I knew I would be able to make money. After my first week, I’d gotten 7 jobs. I was working 14- 18 hours a day. Working in several mental institutions, nursing home, night club. Basically no social life, but earning a lot! I was saving everything as I lived in an attic that I rented from a crazy Bulgarian family (the mother would scream all day and night long!).
Once I came home from the club, had 3h before I had to go back to work and it was winter time I was SO tired and I get into my room, and the mother had turned of the heat! It was FREEZING cold! Man I was so angry.
8 months passed, I’d saved up enough money to last for a good while. and I started living my dream!
I bought a one way ticket to Barcelona, and the same day I arrived, I met a girl, Coni Stutz on the street with a longboard. I’d never been in this country before and I didn’t know anybody or where I’d go. So I asked her if she wanted to skate with me, and she did! We ended up living together for a month!
I got to know all her friends, and we became this huge family of all kinds of mixed nations and Spanish people hanging everyday in Barcelona skating and partying. I lived in an Ocupa (a worn down apartment that friends broke into and started living in). It was epic living with 7 other artists. I’d come home every night/morning and had to go through all the rooms to find an empty little space to sleep on!
After I left, my Barcelonian family has kept on following my travels, they are a huge support and I can’t wait to go back and see them again! This was the start of my now new life.
I lived in Hawaii, Honolulu for a month, with one of my favorite persons ever, Ethan Lau. This guy is unbelievable, His soul is so pure and everyday would be an adventure. I have a story!
During the time I spent working in Norway, I was not at the highest point in my life, but I had to do what I had to do. I used to watch this music video of Jason Mraz – ”I’m yours”. I love the song and the video is so beautiful. I’d watch it and think, one day, I’ll be surrounded by guys like this, have fun in the nature and just be happy.
Back to Hawaii, When I came there Ethan had just made this new friend Mich, a really cool guy with a BIG ‘’passion’’ for ladies!
My first weekend we headed to North shore with Mich, and while driving in his car I told him about this inspirational video I’d watched for the last 8 months straight. He looked at me and said, “Well in that case , you should recognize this car” “How come?” “I’m the dude driving Jason in the truck in the start of the video, where we are headed to right now is were most of the film was shot and the peeps are all my friends that you’re gonna meet tonight”
In Hawaii, We went to north shore every weekend, this night it was Ethan’s birthday, many of the “I’m yours” peeps where there, but most importantly one of my best friends Sarah and Ethan!
Yea, pretty heavy Eh!, My dream was literally coming true in that moment. And ever since I’ve been traveling. Drawing and just expanding my longboard family with great freaking joy! The community has been so extremely supportive, I’ve gotten to design board graphics for both Motion and Bustin boards. Wherever I’ve been, it’s been filled with love and support and I can’t stop this life. I love it.
That is an amazing account of two years lived to the FULLEST.
Anything is possible man! Right now I am in Cusco, Peru. As I’ve been writing this I’ve also had a pretty slow day in the bar at the kokopelli hostel where I volunteer work a couple of days, and nights of the week in exchange for free bed and sweet prices on food. Its a lot of fun, I’ve learned a lot about bar-tending and I’ve gotten friends for life haha! In just 2 weeks. But I guess time really doesn’t matter when there’s a good connection!
How has the skating been in Peru?
Epic! Man I’ve had the TIME OF MY LIFE hanging ot with Marisa Nunez, Rob and Maga McWhinnie. We have so much fun and Rob has been able to capture so many great moments on film. The whole crew’s coming down to Cusco in a week and we’ll skate all the gnar we find on the google maps around here. I think it might get Epic!
Ishtar Bäcklund and Marisa Nuñez ripping Mancora, Peru
Where is your next stop?
I have a ticket to New Zealand in the end of Feb, from Stockholm, I’ll get to stop by and say hi to my family for 3 weeks and then Its off to new adventures!
Do you have a crew in Stockholm?
My family is my crew, I love Kahalani, and I owe them so much. I dedicate a lot of what I do to them. One of the most important things they gave me was their saying, Riders to Riders. And it’s all about that! I had a rad crew to start with. We called ourselves “Team söta pojkarna” when we started (team cute boys). But after England things kind of changed, sponsors hit many minds and I didn’t want to be around that constant… I don’t know what to call it, (pressure?) but skating with them was not that much fun anymore. So I found this really rad guy one day at the hill and we became really good buddies. Björn Ryrlind was his name, and then others would join us and just skate for fun. It’s all about skating for fun!
Any plans for after New Zealand?
Australia! With my dear sister Marisa, and the rest of the ozzie crew! SO stoked it hurts! And I really want to go to Canada in the beginning of the summer, and then the Maryhill girls freeride!
Any plans to skate in Europe this season?
Plans no, Dream? Yes! Ill see what happens. Anything is possible and I’m really hoping for it! Time will tell. Voss is the same week as Maryhill – that sucks. I’ve heard great things about Kozakov. Oh it all seems like so much fun. I’ve definitely been inspired by all the riders that have done the Euro tour, and it is in my dreams to do it as well, some day!
Is that who you ride for?
Well it seems like I’ll be riding for Daddies and Kahalani ALWAYS has my back! They are family. But no matter if I’m sponsored or not, I’ll still have fun. I love Bustin boards and Rayne for all their love and support!
What do you do when you’re not being an adventure seeking skate ninja?
Hmm, I draw.
What do you draw?
I don’t think when I draw, it just flows. I love it. I’ll start and the turn the paper around a couple of times maybe and then when it feels finished it is. It’s relaxing. And the interesting thing has been how my travels inspired my drawings. My style develops a little bit sometimes after I’ve visited a new place. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. Combining this with skating. Getting to a skate sesh, and someone is rocking my graphic on their boards, man its unbelivable! Puts a big Smile on my face!
What boards have you designed so far?
The first omen board by motion longboards and a custom maestro and custom robot by Bustin Boards. Hopefully more to come! Bustin Boards Ishtar Bäcklund Limited Edition
Where can one find your work to admire/purchase?
www.ishti.tumblr.com please take a look! If you like what you see, just write me either an email, ishtarbe [at] hotmail [dot] com or write me on Facebook.
It has been an absolute pleasure speaking to you Miss Ishti. I wish you all the best in your travels. Skate soon hopefully!
Thank you so much man, haha the pleasure was all mine! Super cool what you are doing and for sure Ill spread the word and stoked about it! Riders to Riders man!
And thanks to my sponsors