If you’re the daughter of legendary style master and three-time world surf champ, Tom Curren, it’s not a big surprise if you’re both a surfer and a musician. (And it makes sense that you would do both of those things ridiculously well.)
Lee Ann Curren is a global professional freesurfer. She surfed the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) and became the youngest European to ever qualify for the Championship Tour (CT) in 2009. But the 29-year-old is now more comfortable chasing high lines than qualifying points and, much like her father, riding a variety of different types of surfcraft that diverge from the standard thruster. Not to mention that Lee Ann has also carved out a pretty good music career as a guitarist and vocalist.
“I grew up in France with my mum, and my brother Nathan and I would come to California once a year for the holidays,” Lee Ann tells ASN. “We would spend time in the water with our dad and our little brothers Frank and Pat. And there’s every instrument you could think of in my father’s garage, so we spent a lot of time jamming together there.”
She has a distinct memory of being at one of her father’s concerts as a little girl. It was held in a church.
“I was backstage laying down and falling asleep, I remember the two female singers of the band having amazing voices and it was so comforting listening to them,” she says.
Today, she spends here time between California and France, finding inspiration in the moody weather and landscapes of the Basque Country, and the sunny coast of California inspiring in a very different way.
“Having absorbed cultures from two countries makes you notice little things about peoples’ habits that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” she adds. “It's a way to step back and see things from another angle.”
But most recently, Lee Ann wrote an original score for “Listen to the Eyes,” Vans’ first all-women snowboard film shot entirely in 16mm film by Jake Price. The film features Vans Global Snow team riders Hana Beaman and Mary Rand, as well as Canadian snow team rider Leanne Pelosi. It’s a classic move on Vans’ part to cross pollinate across the sports in our shared cultures. To anyone's knowledge, Tom Curren never scored a film. This is brand new territory for a Curren … and she loves it.
“I have scored a few sections of other films,” she tells ASN. “I did four tracks for ‘Surfers Blood’ by Patrick Trefz, two for ‘Spirit of Akasha‘ by Andrew Kidman and soundtracks for other internet clips. But ‘Listen to the Eyes’ is the first full soundtrack I’ve made from A to Z.
“It’s nice to make music to help support someone’s piece. Sometimes that approach brings the best out of me as a musician, because the music isn’t so self-centered.”
Lee Ann had yet to meet Beaman, Rand or Pelosi, but watching “Listen to the Eyes” on repeat enabled her to enter their word a little bit.
“I was so impressed by the way they took these beautiful lines so effortlessly. The footage made me travel with them in a way,” Lee Ann shares.
The film chronicles the women playing in crystalline powder, running three at a time through untouched backcountry before delving into each riders’ parts. It’s inspiring to watch how the pair of 2000’s comp regulars and the East Coast street rider have adapted to big mountain riding. And Lee Ann Curren’s haunting indie sounds and chilled electronica perfectly compliment the texture of 16mm film, creating a result that combines today’s best performance riding and whimsical fairy tale moments with a timeless look.
“Scoring it was a trip of its own. The project took about two months from conceptualizing the first ideas to mastering,” recalls Lee Ann. “I worked on some while in Australia and the rest at my studio in France. Jake Price had some references and wanted the soundtrack to be unexpected, unique, cool, weird, and surprising, so I tried to keep all of this in mind.
“I watched the film over and over and played the film at the same time to find grooves or riffs that suited each part. There was a lot of work on each track until I felt like I was getting there, and a lot of starting again from scratch if it didn’t feel good enough.
“I didn’t settle with a track unless I felt the right emotion hearing it alongside the footage, so it was tricky to get that over 12 minutes. But going back and forth with Jake’s feedback was very helpful and I brought some good friends in to collaborate with to keep things fresh.”
You can watch the full film at TransWorld SNOWboarding. Lee Ann Curren played live at the film’s premiere in early November. This winter, she has plans to travel and film with both Vans and Roxy and spend some time studying the art of board shaping. Also, her new EP drops in March, so keep an eye out for that.