Surfing, Skateboarding, Music, Photography, Travel, Culture and general antics of the youth on the run.

Conversation with: Mele Saili Sunny, stylish surf royalty and the best competitive philosophy we’ve heard yet

what youth mele interview

We recently met Mele Saili through our friends at Crap Eyewear. She impressed us right away with her outlook on wave riding. And how she’s managed to evolve such a unique style both on and off waves. Our own Drew Eggers picked her creative brain for us, which you’ll find below, illustrated with imagery by Luki O’Keefe.

WHAT YOUTH: Being a descendent of Larry Gordon, did you choose surfing, or did being thrown into the lineage of a surf legend nudge surfing to choose you?

MELE SAILI: I’ve been fortunate enough to be born into a family that has created an identity through surfing. With my dad being a shaper and Larry Gordon of G&S Surfboards as my grandfather, it has really given me a foundation to be involved with surfing from an early age.

Did the boys hassle you in the lineups growing up? Do we have to beat anyone up?

The world is male-dominated, so surfing is actually no different than anything else. My experience was actually the opposite any way because everyone knew my family, especially my dad, who everyone loved but most importantly feared. So I didn’t have any issues getting waves early on.

I understand you only surfed for a year before entering your first contest where you ended up placing third, would you mind telling us what sorcery allowed for that to happen?

I’m not quite sure but most likely black magic.

Despite seemingly instant success, how have you been able to stay true to your roots?

Sometimes you have to branch out in order to grow, but there’s something about being raised in south San Diego that you learn to never lose respect for your roots.

If surfing never came into your life, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be a less tan, more productive version of myself. Finding some other excuse to travel and make even more weird art than I do now.

Who keeps you motivated to get in the water?

Knee High Surf Club — my local surf cult.

Usually, our outfit envy lurks on land, but you’re a curious case. You seem to have an eye for serious style in and out of the water, what do you have to say about fashion v.s. function while surfing.

It’s always been a struggle to find a suit that doesn’t fall off in the surf. Most suits are created for women to be the surfer’s girlfriend on the beach as opposed to the surfer. That’s why I always appreciated ‘Seea’ in particular for solving all my problems and combining the ideas of style and surfability when no one else was doing it. Between them and Axxe Wetsuits I’ve found all I need to do my thing.

Most memorable surf trip?

Probably the time I got invited to the Deus 9ft & Single in Bali. The surf was big that year and it turned out to be my first heat ever surfing with all the queen legends like Kassia Meador, Erin Ashley aka ‘Worm’, Jen Smith and Leah Dawson. I ended up placing 3rd and couldn’t believe it. It was the most memorable because Worm and I tried to be over achievers and ‘win best shared wave’ but I ended up accidentally running her over like a durp. Thankfully she survived, then we all really cut loose at the closing ceremonies.

Do you enjoy competing?

For me, contests are nice because you get all fired up on what everyone is doing and maybe even drink a beer with good friends on the beach. That’s my secrete for nailing every contest I enter.

How did you and the CRAP Eyewear crew first find each other?

The Crap forefathers were actually good friends with my older brother growing up. So I’ve been familiar with Crap since their early beginnings. I’ve always admiring their sense of style and forever worshiped their not so sorry attitude… which makes me proud to be a part of their Crap empire.

Where can we expect to see you next?

As of now, trip planning is pretty spur of the moment. There’s talk of Portugal at the end of this month for the ‘Gliding Barnacles’ festival followed by a cold water adventure to Canada in October.

—Interview by Drew Eggers

Conversation With: Susan Plus the premiere of their new video, “Somebody New”

Susan is a band, and we’ve been in love with them ever since they let us use their song “Windows Down” in Episode 1 of 4 Cities with Ozzie Wright (by the way, watch that). Comprised of Jessica Owen on guitar, Beth B on bass and Katie Fern on drums, Susan mixes elements of pop…

conversation with yung

Conversation With: Yung Because we’re obsessed with this band

We told you to listen to Yung a couple months ago, and not only are we taking our own advice, but we’re still basically obsessed with them. Their debut album, A Youthful Dream, has been dominating our eardrums since we first hit that play button. So read our interview with the band below, and keep…

Conversation With: Audacity Plus the World Premiere of their new video for “Not Like You”

Orange County’s staple garage-punk band Audacity is pounding on your door with another ruckus album, and you’re bound to fall in pop-punk-love with it. If you haven’t had the privilege of growing up with Audacity records through your punk rock teen years, or had the chance to get high off their endless energy at one…

kera and the lesbians hood on

Conversation With: Kera and the Lesbians Elvis, that name and their new record

Kera Armendariz, the frontman and lead singer of Kera and the Lesbians, is, and ignore my cheesy cliché, in it to win it. “I see myself as a longevity artist,” she says with calm confidence. She’s been writing and playing music since she was young, when she discovered what would become a lifelong love for…

what youth conversation with robbie simon

Conversation With: Robbie Simon “If you’re happy where you are, every step along the way was right.”

Robbie Simon, the Los Angeles-based artist, is modest when speaking about his talent. “If you would’ve told me even three years ago that I would be having a show of paintings, I wouldn’t have believed you.” He’s most recognizable as the designer for Allah-las posters and flyers and merchandise, essentially their contributing art director. But…

what youth issue 13 william strobeck

Conversation With: William Strobeck Filmmaker behind Supreme’s Cherry, Joy Ride and more

William Strobeck is a filmmaker. And he’s the kind we need. A creative mind so rooted in the world he documents that he cannot help but document it exactly the way it is. With an attention and attraction toward the colorful world it exists in. Unfortunately, this is a rare thing. He wants you to…

what youth night beats music

Conversation With: Night Beats “We’re just playing music that makes us feel good”

Danny Lee Blackwell, singer and guitarist of the soul/psych band Night Beats, chooses his words wisely. He speaks softly, humbly, almost like a musician who’s been asked the same question one too many times. And with good reason. The band he formed with drummer James Traeger back in 2009 has been incredibly busy lately, and…

Conversation With: Billy Changer Salty mutant pop from the bassist of Corners

We’re big fans of the dudes over at Crap Eyewear. They make great shades, sponsor our parties like a bunch of bosses and have great taste in music, which, for me, is a major turn on. So when Brand Manager Tony Accosta sent me Billy Changer’s album, I couldn’t wait to swallow the jams. Billy…

Death Valley Girls, Music, Conversation With

Conversation With: Death Valley Girls “Rock ‘n’ roll is how you say I love you.”

Death Valley Girls look like they moonlight as a biker gang and sound like a combination of riot grrrl attitude mixed with Link Wray fuzz appeal. If it weren’t for their contagious smiles and supernatural predilections, I probably would’ve been too scared to even talk to them. Just last year, the band – currently Bonnie…

Conversation with: Javier Mendizabal Catching up with European skate royalty

Javier Mendizabal is European skate royalty. He’s been appearing in Cliché and Quiksilver ads since the beginning, and we recently had the pleasure of traveling with him during the filming of our short film Postcard Oregon. He’s a wealth of knowledge and we wanted to share just how legit the man is. WHAT YOUTH: Javi!…

Conversation with: Meatbodies On Sabbath, Opera, Martinis and more with a good rock band

 Chad Ubovich has been a musician almost all of his life. He grew up surrounded by instruments – his father was a music teacher – and by the end of high school, had battled in Battle of the Bands and found his way in the LA music scene. He’s toured with Mikal Cronin, Charlie and…

what youth conversation with jamie brisick

Conversation with: Jamie Brisick Author of Becoming Westerly talks about his new book on transgender surfer Westerly Windina

I’ve always loved Jamie Brisick. For many reasons, but one important reason being that along with Derek Hynd and us, he considered surfing to be one of the most conservative, uptight and close-minded of all the sports. This should sound baffling, because surfing was born of rebellion and outcasts and characters, but it’s changed.  A good…

Sign up for letters from What Youth

By enabling this page, you are acknowledging and accepting our privacy terms and conditions.