Catching Up With Tristan Prettyman

Tristan, you’ve been impossible to track down–you’re blowing up!

Yeah, it’s been crazy. It’s funny, though, when the label told me out about this interview, I was like, “I used to work over there. Nice!

Let’s talk a little about where you’re from…

I grew up in Del Mar, California and joined their surf team in high school with a bunch of girls, and the music thing just happened by accident. I picked up my dad’s guitar and just started playing around and got invited to do a song for the soundtrack of the surf film, Shelter. That kind of sparked things–I got invited to go on tours, and the rest is history. I’ve done a ton of touring and things started rolling. Then recently, I got the record deal.

How did you first get into surfing?

It was offered as an elective at junior high school, but not a lot of girls were really doing it. I always tried to do things that kind of set me apart from what’s cool or what everyone else is doing. At the time, there weren’t a whole lot of girls in general who were surfing, so I told my parents that I wanted to try out for the surf team.

Did you ever consider competing more seriously into and after high school?

I wanted to at one point, but I hated the pressure and idea of competition. I was just over it after a while. I thought it was such a beautiful sport. I didn’t feel like I should be competing over who is better.

How did you get hooked up with Roxy?

They actually came to our high school and met with the girls’ surf team. They were looking for two girls to be models for them. Me and this other girl got picked to do it, and we did things like photos for ads and came in to model their new lines of clothing for catalogs and sales meetings and stuff.

It seems like being a Roxy girl would be a dream come true for tons of teenagers out there. Was it a good experience for you?

It was really fun, but also funny. There was always a new girl that they’d bring into the photo shoots. I’d always be all excited to be doing something, and then they’d have this new girl there that they discovered, so I would always be kind of worried that I’d get bumped out or something (laughs)!

What steered you away from getting into a career as a professional model?

It’s cool when you’re 15 or 16, and you’re all in the high school clique thing, and everyone’s trying to be cool—it was good back then—but once I got older and I was signed with a (modeling) agency in La Jolla, it became a little crazy. I remember having to drive to drive up to L.A. one time on a Friday afternoon and the waves were perfect. You know, I was like, “I don’t want to be sitting in traffic. Screw this, I want to go to the beach with my friends!

There was another time when I went out to Europe and ate everything in sight out there, I came back and they were like, “hmmm, maybe you should take a break (laughs)

When did you really start getting into music?

I found the guitar around the same time I started learning how to surf, when I was around twelve, but I never really took it seriously. I would pick up a guitar every couple months or so at first. It wasn’t until after a year or two after high school, when I was 19 or 20, that I really started writing more songs, playing at people’s houses, and it quickly picked up from there.

Do you think there’s a specific relationship between music and surfing?

I definitely think they’re both outlets. Surfing and music for me were the only two things that I ever really stuck growing up because I think they are such amazing and personal creative outlets.

What were your first performances like; I remember we worked with you early on for a TransWorld event, right?

Yeah, actually, that was one of the first shows I ever played.

That was at our booth at the MAGIC fashion tradeshow, right?

Yep, I had only played like one show before that.

How did that opportunity come through r you to get a song on Shelter?

The Shelter thing was crazy. Joe Gugulielmino was a roommate of Benji Weatherly’s and was working on the soundtrack for Shelter with Taylor Steele and the Malloys’ at the time. I was over at their house a lot because we used to always surf together, and I used to just play guitar on the floor of their place. Joe came home one night and was just like, ‘Who is this girl playing guitar on the floor? Where’d she come from?’ They had all these guys who’d done songs for the (Shelter) soundtrack, and I guess they really could’ve used a song from a girl. So he asked if I’d come down and record something. Brad Gerlach was involved with that as well. He recorded me on a mini-disk one night when we were having a barbecue over at his house. He gave the recording to Chris Malloy, so the whole Shelter thing kind of came about from two angles. Both Chris and Joe had these recordings and brought them to Taylor.

How did Taylor react?

In the beginning, Taylor was really skeptical, he was like, “I don’t know about this girl. Where did she come from? But he took a chance, and when the movie came out, it got so much response, it was amazing. People were emailing me, asking for my CD, and asking where I was playing next. I wasn’t even thinking about any of that at the time.

Who did you turn to for guidance after you started getting all this attention from Shelter?

Joe called me to tell me, “You’ve got all these people asking for your CD. We’re getting all this crazy response. He kind of took me under his wing and was my manager for a good two-and-a-half years. At one point, he told me, “you should call Jack (Johnson). I’d met Jack before, so I called him and told him, “I don’t know, what do I do? What did you do? Who’s safe to talk to? I just want to take it slow

He ended up giving me a lot of great advice, he told me, “Just do your thing. If it’s meant to be, it’ll all fall into place.

I know you’ve toured and collaborated with G Love. How did that come about?

I just got a call randomly, out of nowhere one day, from Joe asking me, ‘Hey, do you want to go tour with G Love for a month?

How did your collaborations come about with G Love and Jason Mraz?

The duets come up really naturally. It was the same thing with my duet with Jason (Mraz) on my new album. When you’re on the road, you have a lot of downtime, because you really only sound-check from around 5:00-6:00 and then you’re playing your show and that’s really it. While we’re all just hanging out, I’d be playing something, and both times I was playing something new, and they would ask me, “Hey, what is that you’re playing?

I’d tell them, “I dunno, it’s new! They’d jump in, and we’d just start writing those songs.

Any memorable stories from touring you can share?

I’d have a lot of weird stalker-guys–they’re always fun (laughs). We had to kick a guy out of a show one time because he was really creepy.

Didn’t your album go straight to the top of the charts in Japan?

Yep, it’s the number one album, single, and on TV–it’s really crazy! I sold more CDs over there in one week than were sold over here in the States.

What do you have going on with Volcom right now?

I’ve always had some stuff going on with them. (Volcom rep) Lenny Jones has been a really good friend of mine forever. He was kind of like my mentor when I was growing up. I actually worked for him for a little while before I came over and interned with you guys at TransWorld. Lenny suggested I contact some people at Volcom, and when I did, they were very supportive.

Were you a big Volcom fan when you were growing up?

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been obsessed with Volcom. For the longest time, it was so hard to get a Volcom Stone sticker. We used to go up to Newport (Beach) and peel them off street signs because you could never find them!

What’s going on with Nixon?

It’s the same kind of thing with Nixon. I’ve known (Nixon founder/president) Chad (Dinenna) for a long time. They started making limited edition watches using materials from rock stars leather jackets and things like that. Now he’s doing guitar straps from crazy people. Chad’s a huge music lover. He supports musicians like White Buffalo and lot of the guys who I grew up with doing my first shows and stuff. Plus Nixon is right in Encinitas, right near my hometown, so it kind of all makes sense.

Where are you at now? What’s next for you?

I’m in New York right now, just doing a ton of press for this record. In a month I’m going to Australia, then New Zealand and then Japan. Hopefully I’ll get to go surfing. I fell in love with Australia when I got to go out there a couple years ago. I’m trying to get all my stuff done so I can get out to the beach!

Check out Tristan’s debut album entitled Twenty Three on Virgin Records. Also check out her review in the August 25th issue of Rolling Stone, or at her official website, www.tristanprettyman.com. nd of thing with Nixon. I’ve known (Nixon founder/president) Chad (Dinenna) for a long time. They started making limited edition watches using materials from rock stars leather jackets and things like that. Now he’s doing guitar straps from crazy people. Chad’s a huge music lover. He supports musicians like White Buffalo and lot of the guys who I grew up with doing my first shows and stuff. Plus Nixon is right in Encinitas, right near my hometown, so it kind of all makes sense.

Where are you at now? What’s next for you?

I’m in New York right now, just doing a ton of press for this record. In a month I’m going to Australia, then New Zealand and then Japan. Hopefully I’ll get to go surfing. I fell in love with Australia when I got to go out there a couple years ago. I’m trying to get all my stuff done so I can get out to the beach!

Check out Tristan’s debut album entitled Twenty Three on Virgin Records. Also check out her review in the August 25th issue of Rolling Stone, or at her official website, www.tristanprettyman.com.