Surf Siren Kassia Meador

“When she wants to she can dance like Ginger Rogers on a surfboard. And when she wants to she can drop into heavy Moroccan bombs like one of the ocean’s top athletes that she is. Kassia Meador rules.” -Anthony Kiedis.

At age 15, Kassia Meador competed in her first contest in Costa Rica. Today, at 30, she’s one of the most revered—and enthusiastic—longboarders of her generation. We talked to the surf siren here:

You’re based in Venice, CA, but have been coming out to Montauk for years – when do you first remember visiting?
I was going out to Montauk probably as early as 2003; and now every summer and fall since. I stay at Danny DiMouro’s house or Mikey diTemple’s. I’d stay at Surf Lodge when they were first building it. I have a lot of friends that live out there so I’m always on couch patrol.

Where do you surf in Montauk?
Ditch Plains; Dirt Lot; Poles; that wave, Alamo. There are so many little spots in and around Montauk that are rad. When Montauk is good – in the fall, particularly during hurricane season and you get a good swell – it’s some of the best times ever. I’m a goofy foot from California – the land of rights – so it’s always nice to go to Montauk and surf lefts. I also really love that it embodies the whole lifestyle of surfing. I fell in love with surfing through “Gidget” movies back in the day and it was about the vibe – it was about every- body hanging on the beach playing music and having a bonfire at night; in and out of the water everyday. The sport side of surfing doesn’t really exist in Montauk, it’s all about the lifestyle. That’s what I fell in love with the first time I visited.

You first started surfing around age 14. how did you learn?
My dad would take me to the beach because he surfed but he’s the kind of guy that’s like, ‘here’s a surfboard, I’m going to be out here with my friends and I’ll see you in a few hours.’ So I kind of taught myself just by watching people, and then hanging out at Malibu. Pretty much all my favorite longboarders were there all the time. I’m a very visual person and you learn a lot by watching: technique and the way somebody does something and then translating it into your own.

Your first contest was in Costa rica at age 15. What was it like being in a high-stress situation at such a young age?
For me, going to Costa rica was just a chance to go out into the world and find other waves and spots that brought me to that blissful place, and meeting other people that shared the love of the ocean and surfing like I did. You travel and meet people from all over the world that share the same passion as you – that’s what it was more about for me. The contest aspect didn’t really phase me at the time because I was just having fun.

Surfing is largely a male dominated sport. In the beginning, did you feel like you had to prove yourself?
I actually felt like there was so much support. There weren’t many girls when I first started out. Obviously 15 years later there are a lot of girls in the water, which is fantastic. But I feel like I was lucky to be around people that were really stoked about having girls out in the water. When it’s a bunch of guys out there, there’s a competitive aspect; but when a girl paddles out, it instantly makes the vibe mellow. I feel like the guys are stoked to have another girl in the water as long as she’s respectful of everybody.

How did your relationship with Roxy develop?
I was like 16 or 17 and I was in Australia at Tea Tree. Jeff hakman, who was a big part of the Quicksilver/roxy family and also one of the most legendary surfers in the world, was there with the shaper, Donald Takayama. Donald started shaping surfboards at a young age, and now makes some of the best boards in the world. Those two were with Joel Tudor, whom I knew from Malibu and who was my hero. I love Joel Tudor’s surfing more than anybody. Joel said hi, I caught a couple of waves, and basically Donald turned to Jeff and said, ‘If you get her on roxy, I’ll make her surfboards.’ So we came back to California, Donald gave me a board and I competed in a roxy event in Ventura that I won. Then the people at roxy asked me to be on the team. Ever since, I’ve been working with the company. It’s a great story because I’m still riding Donald’s boards and still with roxy. It’s more of a family than anything.

You’ve done a lot with them. You’ve photographed their lookbook and have even designed a whole line of wetsuits.
It’s been so great. roxy made their company with Lisa Anderson – she was the face of Roxy and a shortboarder. The world of surfing had all their attention to shortboarding and I was a longboarder. I rode single fins, which weren’t progressive at all, it was more like a throwback to the beginning of surfing. So for them to support me then and really just let me follow my bliss and what I loved about surfing, even though it wasn’t the biggest commercial seller at the time, was awesome. Since then, it’s grown a lot and they’ve started doing events and there are more girls, men and little kids in the water longboarding. I think longboarding is beautiful because it pays homage to the history of surfing. It’s also something that people can actually see themselves doing: it’s a little easier to get up on a longboard. You don’t have to be the most ripping surfer out there, it’s just about being in the water and having a good time.

You were recently Lindsay Lohan’s body double in artist Richard Phillips’ new art film. Tell me about how the collaboration came about.
I have a friend who is an art dealer and knows Richard. She called me and said he’s working on a project and needs a girl surfer. It sounded like a lot of fun, and I was just hanging out in California. So I went out to Malibu and went surfing for a couple of days. We were basically in my backyard, but I had never surfed that wave in my life. Lindsay was super chill. She was super excited about surfing, and got up, and she wanted to go surfing the next day. She definitely got it right away.

You’re an artist and photographer yourself. Do you look at any other photographers as inspiration?
All the time. herb ritts, who uses a lot of light and Matt Levine. But I look at everything as inspiration. Life is inspiration.

Tell me about your tattoos.
I guess tattoos are just life and little moments along the way that get recorded. I have one in my lip, which is kind of a joke. It says truth, but you can barely see it anymore. Now you can see a T…r…U, so it’s more like “TrU.”