on surf and style
Kassia Meador rides with style and has been manoeuvring the board since her early teenage years on Malibu’s beaches. We sat down with her a few full moons ago on the beaches of Hainan and realised how her magic transcends from water to land. Today she shines and leads the way for many young girls that aspire to ride waves and have the full package. She believes in owning your temple and nourishing yourself with light. Meeting her was like diving into fresh waters.
So how did the ocean draw you in ?
I started surfing when I was about 14. I lived about 45 minutes away from the beach, so it wasn’t until I had friends with cars that I started going more often, and then it was epic!
The first year I really got into it, I was on the beach learning all about the ocean. Plus, I had the excuse of being a lifeguard so I could be there all the time… It was insane, we could all call our parents and lie and tell them we were sleeping at each other’s house… There’s this cave in Leo Carrillo. We would have older people buy us beers and burritos and we slept in the cave. We were beach rats all summer long… that’s how I got into it. It wasn’t a sport. It was a lifestyle - a way to say fuck everything!It was a way to be like the “Lost Boys”. I had found the reason for being on this earth...
School was never the thing for me. I like art, but I couldn’t draw and I wasn’t good with my hands so surfing was my way to express myself.
Does listening to music get you pumped up before a session?
Personally, I take a mellow approach… it relaxes me. I just want to listen to something groovy like some jazz. Today I didn’t listen to any music specifically, just something that gets me in the mood for longboarding.
Is there an obvious connection with the girls on the same circuit?
Some of the girls follow girls from the other events because they are couples more, but this is the only contest that really matters for longboarding. But I’m not really a competition surfer…I just do this event because I think it’s important. It’s awesome to get together and share a common passion. I don’t get to see most of the girls until this event. I surf a lot with boys. I love hanging with the boys!
Developing your style …
Style comes out when you start surfing - it’s inside you. You don’t think about it. It just comes out. I definitely had a couple of people that I looked up to... People like Miki Dora, Mike Hynson, and even my shaper and longtime friend Donald Takayama. These people came at a time when they were riding boards like Johnny Fain. They were like the punks and misfits like Joel Tudor – he was one of the hugest heroes of all time. The people with a “fuck you” attitude inspired me. I think style wise too they were all classic surfers that rode specific surfboards that had modern twist to the retro boards. That’s the aesthetic I’m drawn too.
What I love about longboarding is the throw back with a modern twist… Just like the way Joel Tudor surfs… I get my style from the people I like to watch.
It's about how you see it and how you digest it and put it out there. Like artists with their references… Surf is a way to express yourself and be creative. It’s much more than a sport.
When you’re not in the ocean you express yourself through photography… How did you make that your outlet during your down time?
It came to me while traveling for surfing. I wanted to remember my trips. My mom pointed it out to me. I was going to all this amazing places and she wanted to see, so she bought me a camera for my 18th birthday. I started shooting more and more, and made a calendar of my travels for everyone. I was really passionate, and I had found a way to show my visions of the world in another medium.
I wanted to catch the moment, and through photography you are showing and sharing your vision of the world.
Tell us about your last exhibition?
I played with double exposure for my last exhibition. It came to me from the thought of the essences of time travel. Time travel totally exists!! You can wake up in one place, then take a plane, and travel to a whole different day and time within hours. I can go to sleep in Mexico and wake up in Haiti.
So I started shooting a role on one trip and reshoot that roll on the next leg of my trip. Those images reflect my ideas and feelings I have when I wake up and I don’t know where I am.
What does the Ocean mean to you?
To me ocean really means ultimate freedom, no one can get you out there. It’s just you and the water. It’s the only time you can really detach from all the noise of the world that takes you away from yourself. So I think that’s why I surf. I don’t have to answer to anybody but myself. Because usually you always have to answer to somebody you know in some way, but in the water it’s just you and the ocean.
What’s on the horizon?
For the most part, if you live in California, you always need a wetsuit. It’s very seldom that you are just in a bathing suit. What we wear on the beach is our personal style, but in the water is our true surfers’ style. I was always interested in wetsuits, and I hated that we all looked like seals in them. Surfing is a sport of individuality. It’s a subculture… especially longboarding.
I kept insisting on how wetsuits should look and they (Roxy) finally asked me to take over, so I designed some and I loved it. I have done new projects with Swatch, and I’ll launch my collection later this year.
Now that she has seen the world and what it has to offer, Kassia Meador is now giving in return by creating her own women collection. She has turned on the light for women suits, and it’s not just about the look, it’s about functionality. We look forward to see her future collaborations with Swatch and her new label.
Interview & images by Marchi Marchell taken at the Swatch Girls Pro China / ASP Women's World Longboard Championship