Kevin Backstrom and Tor Lundstrom are closer friends than any two people I know. They went as far as to claim their girlfriends could potentially be jealous of their relationship. They have both made their names popular in American snowboard culture through their acclaimed web series BYNDxMDLS. The Swedish duo are covered in tattoos and despite what they say, are clandestine celebs of Sweden’s socialites. They are no strangers to partying and business alike, and in this conversation we discuss the balance between the two, running a contest, missing flights in Australia, and other varying degrees of fuck-ups.
So where are we now, exactly?
Do you think this day off is going to help us or hurt us?
Tor: I was thinking about that earlier. In the end, I think it’s going to help us, but it can be harder to get back into it.
Tell the readers how you spent your day off today.
Kevin and Thor: In bed!
T: I don’t feel bad about it at all.
Could you describe this room to me?
T: This hotel is very cool actually. There are seven gymnastic rings hanging from the ceiling, and nine lamps hanging randomly in between. It’s not the perfect setup to really use them, but they look cool.
K: We tried them out. They work, Ulrik sent it into the window yesterday on them! [laughs]
T: The walls are also pink. A really nice pink though.
K: It looks like the color they paint the walls in mental rooms, Stan I would think you would know that.
"I pretty much just spaced our flight out of Australia laying in bed last year." — Kevin
The walls are certainly helping me feel better. Colors are great. Speaking of color choice, how did the BYNDxMDLS clothing line begin?
K: We had been wanting to do a clothing brand for so long, so this summer we contacted our homies from Gothenburg who have their own brand.
T: Yeah, we pretty much asked them if they could help us produce clothes. They know the producers and factories in different countries. So instead of trying to do it all ourselves, we got to do it with some people that have experience with it.
Kevin, you did the graphic design?
K: Yes, I made the images on my computer, but we work on it together.
T: Mostly I sit next to him while he’s on the computer and then I’ll say “Oh, that’s cool.”
K: We are working on a collaboration with Dayze as well. That’s the next thing, Dayze is a sick brand. We’ve met them a few times, we are super stoked to collaborate with them. It will be a jacket and maybe a sweatshirt.
Is it hard to build a brand in which your marketing strategy is photos from your real life?
T: Is it hard? No. It’s fun. [laughs]
Is it harder to market a brand, or yourself in snowboarding?
K: I think a brand can be harder. Because marketing ourselves is easy. We do what we want to do. Instagram, web episodes, whatever. With a brand it can be harder to market. In a lot of ways it’s almost the same thing though, when I think about it. We are the brands in a certain way, especially in the case of our brand.
The amount of hours you two have put into your contest in Sweden, the Ale Invite, has shown me a completely different side of you. I hosted the live webcast, and I noticed you two were all business, very professional. Is it easy to turn that on? The business side?
T: We had kind of always said that if we party hard we have to work as hard, and actually do shit. But also we enjoy it. It’s one of the coolest opportunities we have gotten and need to make the most out of it. Not everyone can have the privilege of starting a contest, so we really try and do it right.
K: You learn so much from it too, working with so many cool people.
What has been the biggest challenge in putting an event on of that size? It’s broadcasted live on Swedish television, as well as the internet.
T: The first year wasn’t as big as the second, but as it gets bigger it also gets easier because you have one group of people that will take care of certain part, and another group with a leader that will take care of another. The first year it felt like we had to take care of everything. As it’s getting bigger we can have people that we trust that are doing their part, so we don’t have to shape the jump and talk to the volunteers, and do whatever other random thing needs to be done.
K: We still oversee everything, and it’s stressful to do it because it’s really warm in Sweden so we really can only do it during February. This year it was raining right up to the event so there was practically no snow.
T: The first year we had to drive in snow with huge trucks. Like ten huge trucks for two days straight, going back and forth all day. There is so much going on, and it is so real, that there are times where we have a major problem and we just have to figure it out.
K: Live TV is happening so saying, “Sorry, we couldn’t get any snow for the event” won’t really work out. It was a stressful few months but it’s always worth it in the end.
The contest is part of the World Snowboard Tour, correct?
K: Yeah, we just knew those guys from doing so many contests when we were younger, so we asked them if they were down to include it. Turns out they were.
T: I think they are called “elite events.” They use the points to help calculate top riders in elite events, it helps you in the global ranking, and those points help you qualify for bigger contests in snowboarding.
K: Not that we care a whole lot about world ranking, but it’s nice to provide a place that gives the points.
T: And it’s cool that they trusted us to do it! [laughs]
K: We even got Brendan Gerard at a big air event. He broke his back though, [laughs] they had just salted and he just overshot.
T: And he claimed he was fine, and a couple weeks after that he started puking, like he still hadn’t gotten it checked out. Then went on a trip to Russia for like ten days, and when we went home from that he found out his back was broken. I think that he doesn’t feel pain. He rides around in jeans with no gloves.
K: It’s just sick to have a mix of people at the contest. Snowboarding is not all about the triple cork. It’s sick to have Max Buri there doing the sickest switch back 5. People need to see that too. And a lot of is that we just want all of the homies together. Party, race go carts, snowboard, and have a good time.
Tor, you still compete in a couple major contests, while continuing to film video parts. Is it important to have the balance, or does one support the other?
T. I don’t know. I enjoy doing like three contests per year, and I do my best to just get out there and scare myself. It’s nice to do that sometimes. If I get an invite to Air + Style I will definitely do that again. I’ve watched that contest since I was a kid and it was the biggest one to us.
Is building a brand and a contest your fallback plan for after snowboarding?
K: I don’t think so. I don’t think either of those things would get us rich or anything. It’s just nice to have other things to focus on.
Euros have been an integral part of US snow culture since the beginning. Terje [Haakonsen], Gigi [Rüf], Iikka [Backstrom], the list goes on. There are a handful of well known Euros for every generation of snowboarders. I feel like you guys are two of the current class, so to speak. What lead you to that?
K: I have no idea. And if it is like that, the way you say, that feels great. That makes me super happy. It can be hard to get into the scene in the US. I mean, we do have a lot of American homies, and I think that helps.
"He was saying something about having been at war, and that this was nothing. It was crazy." — Tor
Tor, What is kevin’s worst habit?
T: Probably that he snuses and leaves the used snus in the bed. He has gotten better though. [Snus is a tobacco product, popular in Sweden]
K: I can’t do that anymore, I live with my girlfriend. But it’s not that I just leave them in the bed. My top box just gets filled and then the lid falls off. I don’t just throw them in the bed.
Tor, What is your favorite trick to watch Kevin do?
T: It’s like a backside 3, then he brings it back with a frontside 180. He adds the sickest style to mellow tricks, it’s so important, and so sick.
Tor, do you grab method between the bindings or Euro-style?
T: In front of the foot, full euro. That’s how Terje and Nico and all those dudes did it and they were it. They were the models. I am not claiming I do a method like them, but that was the inspiration.
Alright, now we have kept the conversation pretty business oriented, but I know you guys can get loose as well. Let’s see if I can dig some dirt here. What’s the funniest fuck up you can give me? What about that Australian missed flight?
K: Oh, I pretty much just spaced our flight out of Australia laying in bed last year. We called Monster—our lifesavers—and they were kings. They yelled at us a bunch but they helped us get back. They have been in here since the beginning so they helped out huge. That was a big fuck-up.
T: God, the fuck-ups that are the best are the ones I shouldn’t talk about, and the ones I feel comfortable talking about, aren’t even worth saying.
Ok, well the time you were most disappointed in the outcome of your antics?
K: Alright, shit, I’ve got one on Tor. [laughs] Tor and Oscar were really drunk in the bar and ended up in the basement somehow. They were down there forever. So long that when they came back up they were locked in. [laughs]
T: Yeah, we were down there cruising around, it was a huge basement with all these rooms. We ended up with a bottle of something, and we came upstairs and the door was locked, and this HUGE dude came out from the kitchen and basically just started screaming they had security cameras and he started beating us down. It was like something from the movies. I’m pretty sure he was saying something about having been at war, and that this was nothing. It was crazy. He punched me in the face, kicked me in the belly. Everytime we tried to get up they would kick us down. And then they got the cops there, who thankfully just brought us back to our hotel. Stealing the bottle was fucked up, obviously a mistake, stealing is bad. That was a bad fuck-up.
Read about Kevin and Tor’s tour in The Art of the Win: A guide to winning a European premiere tour
Follow Kevin on Instagram
Follow Tor on Instagram
Check out the new line of BYND x MDLS apparel at beyondmedals.com