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February 28, 2017

Balance. An interview with Kassia Meador

Words: Dustin Strong
Photos: Woody Gooch and Sunny Smith
Video: Sonny Miller

The Greek word epoché is a philosophical term used to describe a state of being, where all judgments about non-evident matters are suspended and the value of experience can be truly observed.

RAEN’s resident flower child Kassia Meador has taken this idea of suspended reality and experience and turned it into a visually striking short film titled none other than, EPOCHÉ. With the help of Director Bruce Muller, who originally came up with the story and concept of the film, and legendary visual artist Sonny Miller, the three joined forces to create a whole new way of utilizing surfing as an art form.

Kassia is known for her style and grace on and off her surfboard and is widely regarded as one of the most stylish surfers of the second-wave of traditional longboarding. She has achieved recognition through her art, photography, and environmental awareness. Naturally she has struck artistic gold once again with her new film, taking on duties such as producing, acting, and audio recording for the film.

The abstract art film employs concepts from traditional samurai and experimental cinema to capture their vision and create a whole new spin on surfing as an art. The film also features some of the last footage shot by Sonny Miller, who was also a huge part of the art direction and cinematography for EPOCHÉ.

We had a chance to sit down with Kassia to pick her brain about the film and chat about some other projects she has in the works.

Can you tell me more about how the idea for the film came to be?

Absolutely, well the director of the film is Bruce Muller and it was his original concept and story that brought the whole project to fruition. About seven years ago I saw a music video he directed for a band called WARPAINT. I had a small blog and I wrote something about the video and he contacted me and was like hey I’m really happy you liked my video, I want to do an abstract film and asked me if I’ve seen Koyaanisqatsi or Life Out of Balance. It’s about navigating the different kinds of frequencies and it’s about transcendence and the journey. He was flying out to California and wanted to meet for an hour to talk about this stuff. Eight hours later we’re still talking. We decided we needed to do something kind of like an abstract narrative of navigating the world through a dream. The film is the product of the three-way collaboration between Bruce, Sonny Miller, and myself. Bruce had brought along this awesome concept and I knew with the creative direction that Sonny was so wonderful at that we could create something magical.

How does the combination of abstract film and surfing come in?

We were talking, and Bruce surfs, so naturally when we were talking it came up that his favorite surf movie was Searching for Tom Curren [by the late Sonny Miller]. I knew Sonny Miller really well, he was one of my mentors and I worked with him as a kid. Sonny and I had always talked about working on a film that was outside of what we were doing with surfing specifically so I thought this could be the perfect opportunity. The three of us met up and started working on this movie together.

Balance. An interview with RAEN ambassador Kassia Meador on her new film project Epoché

How did you originally fund the project?

It was basically self-funded by me. If Sonny had the RED camera for a few extra days we would shoot. It was just a passion project for the three of us to be working on so it took a while because our schedules would have to link up. That being said we were about 85% done with filming and Sonny passed away. It was just the biggest blow because he was a mentor and a friend. He was such an iconic person; everybody that knows and knew Sonny was like he’s the best dude ever. That’s why I was so grateful to work on this project because we’d be on a Roxy trip and everyone would be asleep and we’d be filming off the back of the boat in the middle of the night. He taught me so much about life and I was so grateful for him, especially with this project. I remember one of the times we were in New York filming a couple years ago. We were outside and it was nighttime, we were drinking a cup of tea and were just talking about life and about everything. He looked at me and I’ll never forget this, he said “if I die tomorrow I’ve lived a thousand lives and in life you can't be greedy.” It's something I still think about. It paralleled what we were experiencing with Sonny’s passing and the evolution of the film.

How did Scott Soens come into the picture?

Scott is somebody that filmed on the back of the boat with Sonny and I. He was someone who also loved and learned a lot from Sonny so I knew he was the person to help finish the project. He donated his time and energy and got it to a place where we could finish the edit and really be happy with it. I feel like more than anything it’s about getting it out because it’s some of the last stuff Sonny has ever shot and he was a huge part of the art direction, editing and general visual aesthetic of the film. We’re also very lucky to also work with Burke Roberts and his project Anarchy Films.

What is the main purpose behind the GoFundMe campaign?

We’re in the final stages of wrapping the film up and the donations would go towards some of the final technical things like mixing the sound score and making sure everything is done professionally. There are cheaper ways to do these things but with all we’ve put into it from day one we may as well make it as good as possible. We really just want to do it the right way for people who have donated their time and to show it in the right theatres and places.

Visit the Epoché GoFundMe

Balance. An interview with RAEN ambassador Kassia Meador on her new film project Epoché

On the Epoche campaign page it states the film is a DREAM, exploring six senses in seven movements. Will you elaborate?

The film is basically split into seven acts and it has these peaks and balances and the whole sound score goes to that which these two wonderful musicians are composing as well as some of my recordings of quartz, crystals, singing bowls and gong. There is no talking in the whole film, it’s a journey and we don’t want to be too literal because we want it to be an experience. It also took us seven years to complete and it’s a very interesting number in numerology and sacred geometry. The whole process of it all has a lot to do with it as well. It’s been a life changing and learning project in every way.

Was it difficult to portray Epoche, a non-visual act, visually? Epoche by definition means “the act of suspending judgment about the natural world to instead focus on analysis of experience.”

That’s where the sound is really important, with using different things like binaural and isotropic beats so to stimulate a feeling. Also through art, even though you’re having a visual experience to a degree, it’s where the sixth sense comes into it. So that’s why we wanted to take this non-literal approach. Instead of giving cue to a visual, we created space between the viewer and the visual so the viewer can have their own experience. Bruce’s concept fit perfectly into the ethereal thematics of the film.

What do you want someone planning on seeing your film to have in mind when entering the theatre?

Don’t have anything in mind! I want people to have their own experience and pull whatever it is that’s relating to them energetically and physically. Wherever the film takes you, it’s a journey and whatever you see it’s all personal, just like with art. If I walk into a gallery I don’t want to know what they’re saying about it because then my mind comes in instead of my heart. Just the simple quote, “I think therefore I am,” but I think it should be “I feel therefore I am.”

Balance. An interview with RAEN ambassador Kassia Meador on her new film project Epoché

Do you have any other upcoming projects or collabs you’re working on?

Of course! KASSIA + SURF just launched a wetsuit recycling program. We’re working with these awesome guys SUGA to repurpose yoga and changing mats to help keep things out of the ground and to keep people from throwing away their old wetsuits. We have our second wetsuit collection coming out soon. We’re working with more limestone-based rubber to make longer lasting suits and up-cycling every scrap we have to create tote bags or bathing suits. We’re also working on collaboration with a company called TWOTHIRDS out of Europe. That’s really exciting because we’re making clothing out of algae blooms, which cause problems in lakes, rivers, and things like that. I’m also doing a shoe with Vans which will be super fun and it’ll be my second collection with them coming out hopefully in the spring/summer time. We’re just stoked to make cool sustainable stuff with great people.

Last question, do you have time to surf anymore?

I haven’t surfed in a while. I surfed twice last week and that was the most in a long time. I’m currently moving out of my studio so I’ll be in Topanga full time and I’m looking forward to that! It’ll save me driving time, gas, and I’m just trying to live my whole life in a more sustainable way every day. Soon I will have more time to surf as well as more hours in the day and I’m just stoked to have a smaller footprint!

Follow Kassia on Instagram