Ishtar Backlund: Inside The Making Of “Ishtar X Tussilago”
When I think of someone who has led their lives through their passions, Ishtar Backlund definitely come to the top of mind. Not only is Ishtar one of the most unique individuals I have ever met, she is one of the most well-traveled, having traversed virtually every continent in the pursuit of happiness through art, longboarding, and community. Through her journey, Ishtar has learned so much about herself and gained endless insights into what it is that makes life so magical. (Check out my 5 Lady Skater-Artist article for more on Ishtar’s art!)
Earlier this year, Ishtar collaborated with Maceo Frost to create a short film for the band Tussilago, to share her message of following your dreams. Since its release last month, ‘Ishtar x Tussilago‘ has been viewed over 400,000 times, become a Vimeo Staff Pick, and featured on high profile mainstream media including EpicTV and most recently, National Geographic!
Ishtar graciously interviewed with Skate[Slate] to give us an inside look on the making of this breakout project.
How did you end up collaborating with Maceo Frost and Tussilago band?
Maceo has been one of my best friends since I was a teenager and we’ve been talking about working together for many years now. He is an amazing creator and director, so this was truly a dream come true. He has worked with Tussilago before, and I got a preview of their new album ” Holy train” before it came out earlier this spring. I was living with Maceo at the time and one night when going through the album, we finally got a clear vision of what it is we wanted to create. It all came to us in an instant, and we saw the whole thing play out In front of us. All we had to do next was to make it happen :)
What was the filming process like? How long did it take? How were the locations decided? Were there any new filming techniques you experienced?
As I said, the location came to me during that night when we were grooving to the tunes, I knew exactly where I wanted to take him, it’s one of my most favorite places on earth. The scenery is mind blowing and sooo peaceful, and the skating is pretty gnarly, suuuper fast start and never ending hairpins all the way down!
I dislocated my arm on the very first day!! Insane! I was hella scared to skate the rest of the time but I could not let this come in the way of our vision and dream, so I just bit my lip and went on. Thank god, Maceo was very understanding and made it easy for me. We had less then a week to film and finish it all up so we started out with more scenery shots in the beginning while I was working up the courage to skate again. I learned a lot during this process. I noticed how my fear of getting hurt again led me towards my fear more, and I had to learn to let go as much as I could and recover mentally from the trauma as I was skating. It was very intense but because I had an amazing team with me, and the vibes were so loving, I trusted in the greater good that I would be alright. I know he is good with what he does, but I would never imagine the outcome to be as great at it has been!
This short film offers a glimpse into the profound feeling of believing in yourself and living one’s greatest dreams. Why was this message important for everyone involved?
Since the day I finished school and was allowed to run my own life, I have been living with this philosophy. It has never been about anything else than following what rules my heart and passion the most. Ever since I met Maceo and all the other friends involved in this production, growing up dreaming about traveling the world, and making big films has been the main topic that fueled us. This belief is why we know each other. It brings us together and the shared perspective emphasizes our reality more. It is our truth, and of course, it is our message as well.
What has believing in yourself and chasing your dreams helped you accomplish in the past few years?
The day after I finished high school I packed my bag at headed to America for the trip of a lifetime, I was met by the greatest community I’ve ever experienced and I finally felt like I had found home. I worked hard, saved up cash, and lived off of one way tickets to wherever I could get connections within the community of longboarders. It became my life for the following 4 years. Competing on the world circuit, hanging out with locals in all parts of the world and noticing how the community was growing bigger and bigger for each year gave me a feeling that I was part of something bigger and important. I could feel the revolution as it was in motion, which has always been my dream, to be a part of something greater than myself. The love was unconditional and driven by stoke! I’ve gained so much knowledge and wisdom through this, and grown into the woman I am today thanks to all the shared experiences and lessons. I don’t know how to ever pay back the amount of love I’ve received but hopefully this video can be a little way to start. :)
What would you say to anyone looking to pursue their dreams but might not know how to do so?
It can be scary to go for it, but when you know, you know. I’m noticing with the rapid speed of how time is passing and things are changing that this is the time, more now than ever before, to truly follow one’s heart and dreams. The universe will show you else if you decide to ignore your own truth. I am not saying that change has to happen overnight, but it is very important to stay true to oneself, and to notice the recurring messages that you get if you are feeling stuck in a situation. What ever ideas or signs for change might be the path that is calling so that you can move on. If there is anything we all can agree on then that is that life is energy, in constant movement and change. Trying to stop change from moving forward and evolving is going to result in stagnation of energy until it explodes, which can unfortunately be unhappy and cause hurt sometimes, but this is also a way for us to learn our lessons here on earth.
I believe that this is one of the greatest times to be alive, and we are so lucky to be living on this earth right now where possibilities are endless and dreams truly come true through the laws of attraction. We are here to learn about ourselves and the greatest way to do so is to listen and acknowledge our own voice.
You’ve been a part of longboarding media in so many countries around the world including Israel, Australia, and Peru. What was it like finally shooting in your home region?
For those who don’t know, I’m Swedish, but we shot the video in Norway. I’ve always been attracted to more foreign parts of the world, and to be on home soil feels special. I can appreciate it more now once I’ve settled a bit more after I’ve done a lot of the things I’ve dreamed of. Norway is amazing! This country has one of the most beautiful natures I’ve ever experienced and I am so happy to be able to show this to the rest of the world, and welcome them to take part of this as well! :)
What’s the longboarding scene like in Norway?
It’s big! I was so surprised as I just spent my first ever season back home. The scene in Scandinavia is very established and they’ve got their own tour and championships. And the people running the show do it for pure stoke and love for the sport, it’s amazing to see! I also feel that it’s nice cause the hype is not as big as in many other places, and the vibe at races and events reminds me of how it use to be at skate events back in the day. I love that!
What are your plans for the future? More skating, more art, more travelling?
Right now I’ve got some pretty ” big girl” plans going on, I’ve always loved traveling and I will always love it. When ever I have Time over I try and pack a light bag and cruise somewhere unknown to explore with my board, and this will probably never change. But I also feel that after four years living on the road as a nomad with no real stable ground, I am now seeking to reconnect with my roots. I’ve got amazing friends back home that I’ve missed for years, my family that I love beyond anything else and also I’m longing to get back to school and focus more on my art. I know the possibilities are endless and it’s exciting to see where I can take my own creativity to. Trying to find a balance between having a solid home base where I can feel loved while also keeping all doors open for more adventure.
Finally, who or what inspires you to continue believing and chasing your dreams?
Life. By this point I can honestly say that I have touched the highest of high and the lowest of low. I’ve been in states where I wished for no tomorrow and I have also wished that now would never end. What keeps me going is the unknown, and the fire that I can feel burning for something greater at all times. It’s so exciting to be alive and follow the progress of myself and to see how my perception changes. How often I can surprise myself and feel like I don’t know shit when I think I do. I love it, learning all the time, growing more and more until hopefully one day I can be so simple it all just flows like a river.
Any shoutouts or thank yous?
Sending mad love to my best friend Mace! Love you unconditionally until the end of time! And to all the amazing people that surround me today and makes life feel like it’s never been more exciting to be around! And to everyone around pursuing their dreams, keep working hard! Surround yourself with people that lift you up and don’t compromise your happiness for less! Love! :)