An AllSwell Music Interview
By Laura Rubin + Glen Walsh
We all know ladysliders, those longboarding mermaids with enviable style in the water. But how many lady shapers do you know? A woman that can plane as well as she rides, creating a living out of her craftswomanship. (Is that a word? It is now.) Ashley Lloyd has been quietly making beautiful surfboards for nearly 20 years for everyone from WSL announcer Joe Turpel to women’s longboarding world champion Kristy Murphy to pioneering big wave surfer Frosty Hesson of “Chasing Mavericks” fame.
Surf meets music for this Santa Cruz shaper, who also fronts a band (appropriately named The Shapes with her husband and glassing partner. We hit her up between gigs and stints in the shaping bay to talk music. Read on and listen in to the playlist DJ Glen Walsh created based on her roadtrips with Julie Cox and gigs in the redwoods as part of the series of interviews created in conjunction with Whalebone Magazine.
Do you listen to music while you create or do you consider that a distraction?
Music is an important part of my process. When I’m making a surfboard sometimes I ask the client what they’ve been listening to. Helps me get to know them and introduces me to a lot of music.
I recently shaped a board for my father in law and asked him what music he wanted me to listen to while I worked on his board. His reply: Lita Ford, which I plugged into Pandora for about half an hour. I put on Booker T and the MG’s for the rest of the time, though so that energy went right into his surfboard. Balanced it out.
Do you have certain music that puts you in the mood to create?
My friend Eden King taught me how to glass. He used to glass for Yater in Santa Barbara. He’s a big part of how I got into making surfboards and has also been influential in terms of what music inspires me. He was living in a glass shop in the middle of downtown Santa Barbara, making surfboards all by himself. Kind of underground. He had a huge record collection - soul, Motown, funk – stuff that makes you want to dance. One particular song sticks with me. For 17 years this song has been in my head, “The Nitty Gritty” by Shirley Ellis. Diana Ross also covers it but the Shirley Ellis version is where it’s at.
What’s your go-to first listen of the day?
I start my day listening to music, jumping in the car with my coffee on the way to the shaping room. Lately it’s been a band called Lisa and the Breeze. She’s also in our band but these are her songs and it’s the freshest new music I know. It’s cool to discover a new part of someone.
Speaking of jumping in cars, we love a good roadtrip. What musical memories do you have from roadtrips past?
It’s a tie between two trips.
Traveling through Australia and New Zealand with pro surfer girls Julie Cox and Jenny Flanagan. We were traveling the world together, becoming best friends. We had a mixtape that became the soundtrack to that trip, listening to it over and over. It included The Be Good Tanya’s, Norah Jones, “Orange Sky” by Alexi Murdoch and “Mushaboom” by Feist.
The other one was earlier. I didn’t even drive yet. It was my first roadtrip to Santa Cruz, where I live now. We were listening to Ben Harper, Tracy Chapman and Sublime. It’s a special memory because it was all new to me at the time but ended up becoming my life.
First concert you ever went to?
The Pointer Sisters in Las Vegas. I was probably 9. I don’t remember much from the gig except they were wearing neon glow in the dark dresses and multiple costume changes.
A good costume change is underrated. Top live music moment?
As a musician, when I went to Japan for Patagonia. The audience participation there is incredible. They were so into the music, closed their eyes and sang along even though they didn’t know the words. It was pretty amazing.
As a member of the audience, recently seeing The Shook Twins open for The Wood Brothers. These two gals did all this looping, they were folky and played with a bass player. Pure sound for such a small group, it was captivating. And seeing two sibling bands back to back made me want to make a sibling for my son Odin.
Cue the sibling segue: do you have older siblings? How did they or your parents inform your taste in music?
My older brother, Tim, was into hardcore punk music, blowing my ears out. I enjoyed it at the time but it was pretty intense.
My dad introduced me to obscure old blues, establishing the 1-4-5 chord progression deep in me. He taught me to listen to the bass line, which helped me a lot when I studied music at school.
Best lyricist? Barry Manilow to Solange, nobody is off limits except Springsteen and Dylan. Too predictable.
Alex, my husband, is the first person that comes to mind. Is that cheating? I love his lyrics and I’m always amazed sitting in the living room listening him to make up songs for our son. Usually it’s pretty folky but he will bust out some hip-hop out of nowhere.
That’s not cheating. That’s adorable. Favorite music venue?
To play? Three gigs stand out: on a farm in Santa Barbara, in the redwood forest and at a private concert at a world class surf break (which I won’t name here) with Jackson Browne and David Crosby.
Farm, forest and Crosby. That’s quite a trio. Quick: Vinyl, Cassette or Digital? Don’t think just answer.
Vinyl, because it sounds so good and you can feel the vibrations differently.
Catch Ashley in the film “Women & the Waves” by Heather Hudson or check out her designs, including green-certified surfboard using an eco-friendly resin, at @ashleylloydsurfboards.
Photo credit: Annabelle Shuman & Wetfeet