Huck x Vans — Pro surfer and musician Lee-Ann Curren is coming of age in a world where her two passions feel inescapably connected. But as the offspring of big personalities who felt the same way, she’s determined to carve her own path. As part of Parallel Stance, a new series by Huck and Vans about converging passions, the 28-year-old shows us how she does it.

It’s always a good time to make music,” says Lee-Ann Curren. “Just like it’s always a good time to surf. It’s all intertwined and, for me, one doesn’t exist without the other.”

The 28-year-old is not the first Curren to think in those terms. Her father Tom is the era-defining three-time World Champion of the 1980s and perhaps the most-loved pro surfer of all time. Her grandfather Pat, meanwhile, was one of the original bohemian pioneers of Hawaii’s North Shore and a living legend. Her uncle Joe is a well-respected photographer and a highly accomplished surfer in his own right.

Lee-Ann, however, has blazed her own trail. Growing up in Biarritz to a family of Californians, as well as being a woman in a male-dominated industry, has allowed her to develop an adaptive presence.

“I feel as if I have a real mixed identity,” she says. “Living here in the Basque Country, there’s a strong culture that I’m influenced by – but of course my nationality is French and a whole side of my family is Californian. I feel that when I finally learn the Basque language properly, I will be able to say that I feel Basque.”

Although Lee-Ann also shares her father’s passion for music, her approach remains distinctively intuitive: forming structures based on melody or the feel of any given instrument. It’s why she uses her sound recorder like a camera, keeping it on hand just to capture any given moment.

“A lot of times I’m surprised by where the sound goes,” she says. “It feels sometimes like I have no control. I just try to save those moments that are special… It’s a lot about what’s going on out there in the world. But that’s always contrasted with the beauty of the ocean. I want that to be reflected in the music too.”

When you watch Lee-Ann Curren surf closely, you’ll notice a low-bottom turn with a hint of hand drag. You’ll spot the stall as she comes off the top and settles into the pocket. There’s a softness and subtle quickness about the way she rides. The same sensitivity is in her music: an acoustic lightness of touch augmented by digital tech.

“Sometimes I wonder if there are similarities between the way we surf and the sort of music we like because I grew up surfing with my dad, and playing music together,” she says. “I wonder whether it’s a genetic thing or if I have unconsciously copied what he does. It does feel kind of natural when I do that bottom turn like him… It feels as if I’m inhabiting his style.”

Is there such a thing as genetic memory? Can experience be passed down through generations? Did the weight of her heritage, both in terms of surf and music, feel like a weight on her shoulders?

“I was always conscious about who I was, and that kicked in when I scored my first sponsorship deal at 15,” she says. “But now I feel as if I have defined myself differently and that I have been able to gain respect outside of what my family has been.”

Science is uncovering new insights about inheritance all the time. But whichever kind of journey has led Lee-Ann Curren to the present moment, be it a force of nature or nurture, she is in control of her own destiny.

“I feel that in the water, like in the world of music, in order to gain respect you have to understand the rhythms,” she says. “If you can get waves, then you’ll gain acceptance and respect. It’s the same with music. That applies whether you’re a woman, an older person or a real youngster.”

Find out more about the Vans UltraRange Lee-Ann is wearing, now available online and from Vans retailers everywhere.

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now