Meet Vischan Stix, Your Not so Average Skate Brand
Out in the depths of Northern Sweden lives the independent skate brand Vischan Sticks. Like most skate businesses, it began with the intention of bringing something more to its community, in this instance, rural Sweden. The team is constantly hunting for new spots to shred to keep young skaters empowered and inspired. We spoke to Founder, Bo, to learn more about the skate scene.
As a skate brand from Sweden, what is it that you do next to produce sick equipment and skateboarding?
Skate and spot scouting, haha. And we are always looking for projects—fun collabs and stuff to keep us moving. The most recent collab we tried to get cracking was with Sweden's largest axe manufacturer to make a Vischan axe. Unfortunately, they were not feeling it. Pricks! Your homepage says business in the front, party in the back. That's a dope motto! How does it look in practice? Well, have you ever seen a mullet in real life? It looks dope.
Can you tell us something about the whole team behind Vischan Stix?
So far, we're just a bunch of friends. Most of us live in Norrbotten (or north Bothnia county), a province located in northern Sweden. But Jesper (Ferrari) lives in Malmö, and Jonas (Toolanen) lives in Stockholm. Except for them, it is Emil Edström, Erik Gato Forsell, and Bo Sörensen. We all live on the up-north east coast.
Coming from the very north of Sweden, what has been your inspiration for founding a skate brand?
I think we have a different outlook on things from where we come from. However, being in the periphery of the skate scene has truly given us strength, and I believe that a skate brand located here can inspire younger people to start their own stuff in the future.
There is an entrepreneurial spirit here. People are used to creating stuff from nothing, and I really hope that it will show more in the skate scene. You can see that stuff is happening and that people are not moving south to the same extent anymore. But we have a long way to go. We ain't going nowhere, though.
How does being surrounded by nature influence your skating and also your brand?
I think nature is part of our identity whether we want it or not. It's where you recharge and collect inspiration and energy. Visiting bigger cities like Malmö and Stockholm can be fun for sure. But you are always longing for home in some way.
I remember trying to get lost in a nature reserve in Stockholm. We went off the trail and walked right into the bush for a long time. Finally, when we thought we had found a place away from everything, we put up the tent and got ready to relax. Then everything was disrupted by the sound of an ice cream truck, haha. That can't be healthy.
Do you have a hard time finding good skate spots, or can you get creative within your surroundings?
The cities up north have really sick spots. Luleå is one of my favorite places to skate ever.
But out in the boonies, there are no good spots. But bad spots are the best right?
You can find really cool spots if you like the weird and rough stuff, but when you say good spots, I think you are referring to something else, haha. If you want to go skate the countryside and villages up north, you have to have time. The distances between the spots are large, but there are always cool places to camp and stuff.
I saw on Instagram that you are dealing with a lot of snow throughout the year. Is snow skating an option, or do you have good indoor skate parks in the north of Sweden?
Yeah, there is a lot of snow. This year it was crazy. It hasn't been this much snow in 40 years. At least here on the coast.
Aw, you saw Jesper ripping his John Cardiel snowskate. Yeah, we try to keep our team focused in the winter. But, if we are facing a new ice age, we don't want our business to die.
In general, how do you deal with skating in the cold? Anything special that you do, like skating in thermal underwear, thorough warm-ups, or anything like that?
The coldest I've skated this year was below 5 degrees Celsius. We shot an ad for Lemmelkaffe and got the pic. It was worse for Johan (Nilsson), who was standing still with the camera. I don't like thermal underwear, really. Keep moving and bring coffee.
Sweden has a growing skate scene; Malmö is especially famous as the skateboarding capital of the country. How about the rural areas of Sweden? Is skateboarding as popular as in the cities?
Around here, it's kinda weird. It feels like there are mini ramps everywhere. And the village next to mine has a basketball field with a bunch of obstacles and a mini ramp. So there is potential for kids to start skating. Of course, it's harder if there isn't anything to skate at all. But no, I mean most people move to the close-by cities as soon as they grow up.
But we can see a huge increase in female skaters in the cities around here. In all ages. That makes me so happy. More female role models will help the scene grow immensely.
How does the skate scene differ in the rural areas from the bigger cities like Malmö, Stockholm, and Göteborg? What are your perspectives of Sweden's skate scene, having riders in the urban but also rural areas of the country?
Well, people over here are much less spoiled. As I said earlier, there is a spirit of building stuff from the ground. But of course, we as skaters are similar in that sense but coming from municipalities that won't put a penny into skateboarding shapes you. Things are way better now, but there's still a feeling of working in headwinds.
The rural politics of Sweden has always been messed up. That is contagious and spreads to the skate scene as well. Stockholm has always been in the center, and the rest is periphery. I think the Swedes are the people that know the least about their own country in the world. We are such a small country, but most of the people in the south have never even traveled to the middle of Sweden. And that is not their fault. It's on the schools, the media, and the politicians. Not everything can be reported from a metropolitan perspective. That is gonna put horse blinders on people and make them stupid.
Tell us why you hate Stockholm.
Well, we don't necessarily hate Stockholm as a city. We all got family and friends there, and skating is cool.
But you can't NOT talk about Stockholm's role in Sweden. I mean, it all goes back to the 1300th century when the colonization of "Norrland" began and still goes on to this day. It's really hard to love the bully that steals your lunchbox after eating his own.
You have a video coming out this year. When can we expect the video? Can you give us a sneak peek of it? Who will we see skating, and what spots did you hit up for filming it?
You will get to know Vischan a bit more. You will see our team and friends in our natural habitat. The good times and the surroundings are gonna make you wanna travel up north, but the shitty spots will be your box of excuses for not going.
Any future plans with Vischan Stix that you want to share with us?
We would really like to get this Vischan-axe collab going. Hit us up!
Photographers: Johan Enhet Nilsson, Elias Bergqvist, Karim Arfaoui