The Female Curren

An Interview with France's LeeAnn Curren

The ever lovely Frenchie, LeeAnn Curren. Photo: Dane Peterson

Twenty-two-year-old LeeAnn Curren is all you’d expect from a Curren offspring. She plays music, she makes films, she gets barreled. She is quite the underrated talent factory. I recently returned from a trip with her and must admit I came back singing the gospel of LeeAnn.

So, let’s begin with the obvious starting point: Tell me about surfing with your dad in your early youth.
Yeah, I started surfing with my dad, and my mom—she surfs too. They taught me in Biarritz when I was probably 3 or 4. Surfing was in my life since I was born. First my dad would put me on his board and I would just lay on the front. After that I learned to surf playing with my brother in the shorebreak. Since I was little, my dad always gave us advice.

What kind of advantages did you have growing up the daughter of such a legendary surfer?
When you have a name that is already kind of famous you get more attention, even when you just start surfing—people hear about you and want to see how you’re doing. I spend a couple months a year with my dad, but my brothers who grew up with my dad in California got to surf with him everyday and watch him everyday and that’s really good inspiration and motivation. If you see him do his turns, you’re going to try to do yours the same, and I think that helps your surfing. My dad and I don’t have the same style, we’re definitely different, but I think there are definitely a couple of things that we all [LeeAnn and her brothers] took from our dad.

So you made the Tour in 2009. How did that go?
I was on the Tour, but I got a knee injury at the fourth contest so I missed one event. Then it wasn’t feeling that good for the last three events. I still had fun on the Tour and I hope I can make it again. That’s my goal for next year.

What about last year on the ‘QS—were you all healed?
I did the ‘QS last year and I didn’t do very well. I had an injury again last year, I was starting to feel better, but it didn’t work out well in the contests for me. I wasn’t even close to qualifying. Next year I’m going to try to re-qualify and hopefully I do okay. I also want to do some trips, and surf some good waves.

Clearly Curren. Photo: Dane Peterson

Will we be seeing you in the U.S. this year?
I’m going to spend some time in California and Hawaii this winter. I’ll stay at my dad’s place in Santa Barbara and surf Rincon, Sandspit, Ventura. I like all the waves around there. It’s nice because it’s a little warmer in winter—France gets really cold. And I can practice surfing pointbreaks, because in France we mostly have beachbreaks or reefs. The waves are really different. You never see really long rides in France—we have a couple, but they’re not really that good—so to see Rincon or Sandspit is pretty crazy. I surf all day when I go. After that I’ll go straight to Australia for the first WQS in Manly.

I hear you are also quite the musician.
I do play a little bit of music. I want to try to record something. I have a friend who I play with, and we want to record next year. I play guitar and sing, and my friend plays keyboard and sings. Right now we’re just making music, we don’t know how we would play if we were going to play live. For now, we’re just making up songs, and then we’ll see how it goes. We have a couple of songs, and we want to try to put together an album. I really want to do that—just at least for fun. We have so many ideas, we just want to make something that we can listen to and be satisfied about. I’ve done a couple little shows, but nothing very big. I used to be really shy, but I’m getting a little more comfortable now. When you’re with friends on stage, it’s fun, it’s fine.

How did you get into that?
My dad plays drums and guitar, so I got into playing music through him. My stepdad listens to a lot of music so he always had some really cool music I listened to when I was little. I’ve always been kind of obsessed with music. I play a little bit of everything, but mostly rock. I like creative stuff.

LeeAnn, one of the most underrated female surfers on the planet. Photo: Dane Peterson

Speaking of which, you also recently made a film?
Yes, my boyfriend and I made a film called Titan Kids. I went to visit him in Brazil in his home town, and life there is crazy, super different from where I live or most places in the world. And surfing is really important over there, so we kind of wanted to show how surfing can help kids in the favella over there and be something really positive for the place. It’s a 26-minute film, where we follow some of the kids’ everyday life, so it shows all of the problems over there in North Brazil. There are some big surfing champions over there—like Tita Tavares and Pablo Poblema—lots of really good surfers, so we just wanted to show how surfing affects them there. We got an award for it at the Anglet Surf Film Festival last year, so that was really cool.

Is film something that you want to get more into in the future?
I don’t know. It was something that just kind of happened in the moment. We were just filming stuff when we were surfing and we got some really cool images and footage and there were just some very interesting things to see if you’re not from there. So we did the first trip there and started filming, and then we showed it to my mom and she was like, “Oh, that’s so cool, you have to really make something with that.” So we went back and we filmed more. All the kids were really excited, and were having fun with it—they helped us film. We started a foundation called Surf and Hope and all of the money we make from the movie will go there to help all the local surf clubs. It’s going to be on iTunes soon. It was a lot of work, but really worth it. A great experience.