The route from outdoor to urban is not an unusual one to take. It is something a lot of us can relate to. And just as many creatives shift their lifestyles to be based in cities such as London and Stockholm, so Peak Performance is now giving a more stylish touch to their functional designs. Because they want to follow such people on their journeys. And they want people like them to follow their brand.
Cousins Anna and Thure Melander are currently pursuing their respective creative paths of music and tattooing. They have made similar journeys to reach this point, journeys that started among the fields around the Swedish ski resort Åre, where they have been going to ski with their families every season since their the start of their childhoods.
Based in London, Anna Melander is studying and producing music. She goes by the artist name TO and is just about to release her debut EP, I Am, which she wrote and produced herself.
In the process of shaping songs, Anna draws her inspiration from fragments of her surroundings – phrases or rhythms – which she then transforms into her own signature sound. She is influenced by artists such as Karin Dreijer Andersson, Joy Division and Massive Attack – “Artists who embrace imperfections and have a kind of punk attitude towards music that makes you feel like you can create it yourself,” she says.
Music has always been a part of Anna’s life, as has skiing. Born and raised in Östersund, in the north of Sweden, she pretty much grew up among the ski slopes. Her grandmother still has a cottage in Åre, the Swedish ski mecca, and she has been going there with her parents and siblings every year since her early childhood. This background has given her a strong connection with nature, which also shines through in the ambient soundscapes of her musical output. The move to London from Sweden was a way for Anna to break new ground, by challenging herself and facing her fears of the unknown.
Anna explains that, for her, in addition to bringing her close to nature, skiing has always been a lot about being with friends and family. She also likes the physical strains that skiing poses on her, such as going down the slopes in crazy weather conditions, even when it’s -30C. “It’s painful, like diving into icy water,” she says, “but it gives you an adrenaline rush – just like when you get up on a stage. Performing your own songs can be a similar experience.”
Even though Anna no longer skis on a daily basis, which she did throughout her childhood during the winter, skiing is still present in her life, only in a more subtle way: “I associate it with a strong feeling of togetherness and freedom, which I also have in my current city life as a musician.”
Today, Anna’s focus is to start doing live performances in London and Stockholm and writing more material, as well as working on new musical collaborations. In between, though, she will now and then pay a visit to Åre and her grandmother’s house, to go skiing with her nearest and dearest. “The community there and the closeness to nature – it instils calm in me and helps me gain new energy.” When she’s back in London, Anna experiences the same sensation on a smaller scale by strolling around the many parks of the city – Primrose Hill in north London is her favourite.
A Stockholm-based tattoo artist, Thure Melander has always gone his own way and followed his heart, rather than doing what society expects of him. He grew up among a family dedicated to downhill skiing and so spent a lot of time at their holiday home in the iconic Swedish ski resort of Åre.
Thure’s first words were “I decide for myself,” which he has continued to do to this day. As a child, he would sometimes insist on staying at home so he could draw instead of going skiing with the rest of the family. The drawing eventually developed into tattooing. He got his first machine at the age of 15 and from there the art grew to a passion and then a profession.
Rather than following the traditional path of apprenticeship and step-by-step learning, though, Thure took an alternative, “more artistic” approach to his tattooing education.
An autodidact through and through, he started out working from his home atelier, in a small house in sprawling countryside outside Stockholm. Today, he is to be found in a more urban environment, his studio being located inside a restaurant in the city centre.
While Thure says that he was “born on a pair of skis” and is “like a fish in a pond when on the slopes”, he has never competed or skied professionally, unlike the rest of his family.
For him, skiing is all about the freedom you have out there on the mountains and the unlimited playfulness you can allow yourself when hurtling down the slopes.
There are many parallels to be drawn between his love for skiing and his tattooing work. Regarding both, he talks of “something quite weird that grows into a strong feeling of being able to do whatever you want”. When he’s on a pair of skies he becomes at one with the mountain; with his tattoo machine he is a visionary, creating images that mean the world – or nothing at all.
Like most skiers, Thure feels a strong connection with nature and also a responsibility to protect our environment. And just as it was nature, or “the mountain”, that taught him to ski, it is nature again that inspires him daily when he’s designing his artworks.
“Standing on a pair of skies is a strange thing to do, but at the same time it makes you feel larger than life,” he says. “Being out there with the mountain makes you feel whole again.” He explains how he tries to express some of these sensations in his tattoos, perhaps as a way of creating awareness and of saying thank you.
Åre has been a second home to Thure for as long as he can remember – and even before that. Today, he goes there not only for the skiing, but also for the the growing creative community of the area that he has also become increasingly involved in. His work as a tattooist has helped him get to know several artists and professionals there.
Again, a strong connection between sport and creativity can be found – “If you love the liberty of the mountain,” he says, “then often you will want to choose a freer, less-restricted path in life, such as an artistic profession.”
Special thanks to Peak Performance
1: Supreme Megeve Jacket and Heli Backpack by Peak Performance
2: Phoebe Coat and Heli Mid Tights by Peak Performance
3: Supreme Megeve, Frost Down, Montano and Cole Jackets, Tech Trousers and Helium Sock Slippers by Peak Performance
4: Supreme Megeve Jacket (inside out) and Trackis and Tech Trousers by Peak Performance
5: Tech Hoodie by Peak Performance
6: All by Peak performance
7: Elevante Trousers, Warm Socks and Helium Sock Slippers by Peak Performance
8: Frost Down Jacket, Golf Ace Sweater, Merino T-neck, Heli Mid Tights and Helium Sock Slippers by Peak Performance
9: Golf Temple Jacket, Adele Shorts and Warm Socks by Peak Performance
10: Levin Gilet, Heli Mid and Pender Tights by Peak Performance