GABBY MAIDEN INTERVIEW // by Pia Kaipainen
Nikita Clothing has been representing ladies who shred for 8 years and certainly has succeeded to catch the essence of women on snowboards out there with their corporate ideology: encouraging girls to get involved and have fun while doing it. Go out there, shred to your best and most of all enjoy it no matter what your ability level is. And darn do they make funky clothes to make it even more fun! I remember the times when the only choice for girls who wanted to wear this kinda gear was to take the smallest size from the men's line. Thank goodness those days are long gone and us ladies can express our personalities with gear that fits perfectly and looks fantastic. Nikita speaks loud to all female riders and their team is not short of riders who match the message. A great example of that is Gabby "Gabba Gabba Hey!" Maiden; a 21 year old rider from California.
1. Hello Gabby! How's the season kicking off for you?
Hey! It’s going prefect. I’m in the Berlin airport right now about to head back home to LA with a connection to Paris, non-stop flight for 11 hours. This interview will keep me very busy! It was an amazing trip and it’s hard to leave. I was here for a week shooting the next winter Nikita Streetwear, and the week before I was in Iceland shooting the Outerwear for next year. Two fantastic places, never been to Berlin, I’m in love with the style, and the people are so interesting; its fun to people watch. I even went to what was left of the Berlin wall!
2. According to your MySpace profile; you reside both in Marina Del Rey/CA as well as Big Bear/CA. Seems like a nice set up: getting the best of both worlds so to say. Did you grow up in these areas as well?
Yea, living in the Marina and Big Bear is awesome. You can snowboard, skateboard and surf in the same day. No, I didn’t grow up in the Marina, my family and I lived there for about 5 years maybe? I’ve lived in multiple places but I’m mainly from the Valley. Grown up most of my life out there. It’s pretty typical. I went to private prep schools my whole life, super hot weather, skater boys, a ton of girls saying “Like" and “Oh my god," and plenty of gangster boys who are far from gangster.
I’ve been riding Bear Mtn. since I was a kid on and off, but I moved there once I graduated high school and lived there for going on 4 seasons. Freshly, I just moved to Salt Lake as well, one of my favorite city’s. This is gonna be a rad year! I can’t wait.
3. You started snowboarding when you were 12 years old. Did you learn fast or was it a rocky road at first?
Everyone starts rocky. I was really good at the falling leaf, but when it came to turning on my toes, I was so afraid! I fell hard too. My friends would always think that I fell in the most painful way, but some how I would recover without a scratch. Strong bones I guess -- “knock on wood". It irritates me though, when people are mean to others who are learning how to ride. Its not like you exit the womb and magically become a snowboarder, we're not robots you know. Once I had my first lesson, I fell in love. I’m very determined, so I wanted to get better. I practiced and took lessons as much as I could during every weekend and winter break. I also grew as a High Cascade Snowboard camper for many years, to which I learned a lot of tricks and found a good portion of my style today. Truly the most fun place on earth.
4. That's great; you had the motivation and went for it. Snowboard lessons can be a good way to get that extra kick in the butt not to give up when learning. So when did you turn pro and how did it happen -- were you spotted riding somewhere or did you specifically work to get a sponsorship?
Well, I don’t think of myself as a pro yet. I believe I have more to learn and experience to gain, but who doesn’t? I’ve been a contract paid rider by Nikita for two years now, doing what I love to do, which is being myself and shredding. Nikita is pretty much my core sponsor, with help from Celtek, Neff, Technine, and Von Zipper. They’re awesome.
I was spotted; found rather than looking. That’s how I wanted to start in snowboarding anyways. I didn’t want to worry about wanting to get sponsored or when and how. I always saw it in a way that if you practice hard, be positive, determined, shred and have fun, it’ll show in your riding and someone will find you when its your time. The first year I moved to Big Bear I got sponsored, doing my own thing, and it grew from there.
5. You seem to be a perfect fit for Nikita team; what kind of difference does it make for you to have such a sponsor, rooting for specifically female snowboarding?
Ha thanks, that’s nice to hear. I’m stoked to be a part of a company that is specific to female snowboarding. It gives me the chance to be a role model for many girls and to try to progress women snowboarding in my own way. I’m thankful to be a part of the team. Without Nikita, I wouldn’t be able to travel to Europe for weeks at a time every year for the photo shoots and to visit them in Iceland, plus more. They’re there for me and I’m there for them, my second family. 6. Geiri from Nikita in Iceland wrote me that "there's never a dull moment around this girl" and your Nikita rider profile really conveys a picture of a girl who is upbeat and colorful personality. Being positive by nature must help dealing with stress and situations where plans might change fast which is an everyday challenge for snowboarders. You have no power over nature or weather conditions so you gotta be able to take it as it comes. Do you feel that your personality works for your benefit in this aspect as well?
Geiri is the man. Never a dull moment with him either, haha! He’s Hilarious, and is always on top of helping the team out with planning and booking.
Stress sucks, so does plan changing. When things like that happens, you have to just stay calm and think of the next alternative that gets you to where you need to get to. Yea I think my positive outlook has saved my brain a lot of torment. I’m a very laid back person, not hard to please. But I do stress a lot, mainly about nothing, just being an over thinker. I’ve learned to just not make such a big deal about it, because if you cant control it, what can you do? Take it as it goes, and make the best out of any situation, good or bad.
7. I also heard that you dad has been in Chaka Kahn -- also called as the "Queen of Funk Soul". And Chaka Kahn herself is your godmother. It must have been fun growing up in such a musical environment and having such a groovy godmother! Did she take you to see her concerts and did you have a chance to hang out in the music circles when you were a kid?
Yeah, my dad (Tony Maiden) was in a band called Rufus feat. Chaka Kahn, one of the biggest bands of the 70’s. They were a hit ever since. My dad is one of the founding member’s along with one of the sick piano players in the band named Kevin Murphy. I look up to my dad very much; he started from nothing, a garage band in LA with friends, to being one of the most famous and ground breaking guitarist of the 70’s and still to this day. Chaka is amazing, truly a talented singer and performer. Have u seen her outfits? Feathers, leather and sequence shorts! She’s an innovator of style, my dad as well. I don’t see her to often. She travels a lot, and she’s more there for my sister and I as a supporter than anything else. She’s a sick godmother, always smells like tea and in-cents, with a huge smile on her face. I get my hippie love mentality from my dad and Chaka, ever since I was a kid.
I had the privilege to see my dad, Chaka and the rest of the original band mates of Rufus feat Chaka Kahn do a reunion tour a couple years ago. Unfortunately, 9/11 happened and they had to cut the tour dates down, but man it was amazing to see all them back up there together killing it with another hit 70’s band called “Earth Wind and Fire." Best concert i've ever gone to. Awesomely, Rufus is back in action (My dad and Kevin Murphy) touring around and bringing the funk back into our lives. Chaka is scheduled to come back with them as well.
Growing up in the Entertainment Industry life is unpredictable. Always on the move, it’s a fast pace world, that can go in any direction. In a way its prepared me mentally as a snowboarder and a human, to always be on my toes, stay focus, professional, staying grounded and to expect the unexpected.
8. What has been your career highlights so far, as a pro rider, and where do you see yourself in the future?
My greatest accomplishments for me, so far, is being able to travel to Europe and back seeing my face in different country’s and having girls all over the world look up to me as a female rider, and I believe, the first African American international female snowboarder. Since I filmed a bit with the Runway ladies and got a mini part in there newest video “See What I See", I defiantly see myself starting to film more in the future and grow beyond snowboarding entering back into an acting career as I’ve been destined to do before I started to shred. My first love, and always will be. I have many talents and many aspirations, and I’ll see to it that I accomplish what my heart desires.
9. Respect for that attitude; you are a great role model for all girls on boards. Believe in yourself and follow your heart. You seem like a person who like to explore so how about all the travel involved when you ride for living. What are your favorite countries just in general and where do you enjoy riding the most?
My Favorite countries so far are Iceland, Canada, Germany, Barcelona, Japan and being at my home base. I enjoy Bear Mountain in CA (my home mountain), Brighton UT, Alpine in Tahoe and Whistler BC. Filled with creative parks, awesome snow, fun free riding, and of course, rad people and vibes.
10. Any delicious stories to tell from while traveling with your teammates? With who do you like to travel & ride the most with?
11. Haha, guys in speedo's are usually dressed to impress and this specific dude must have had a whole lotta impressing to do! Men -- go figure out! How about mixing in with guys in the snowboard circles -- have you experienced any gender based discrimination when you've been shredding the parks, for example?
No. When I started snowboarding I defiantly wasn’t thinking about that im a girl learning how to shred, I was more thinking about the fact that I was one of the only African American girls trying. I was SUPER shy as a kid, I felt like I had to prove myself a bit more. I knew that I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone as a snowboarder, but subconsciously my standards were set pretty high. I never was discriminated in any way. Nothing but rad people around me stoked to shred and had fun doing it. I got over my fear of shyness by entering my first contest at this small mountain called “Mountain High" where I met my friend to this day, Desiree Melancon and a lot of other sick rider chicks that were coming up at the time. Got beat up by the rail pretty good, but it was defiantly necessary, in order for me to get over my fear of trying to start my mark in snowboarding.
Melissa Evans is my best friend in snowboarding. Her and her boyfriend Chad were my first roommates in the good ol’ Big Bear during my first season living there. She showed me the ropes, what to do with sponsors, tricks, contests, the works. Were always supportive of each other, been through a lot together and have a super close friendship. I’ve been traveling so much, I haven’t seen her in a while I miss her already!
12. Which rider do you look up to, yourself?
Ben Fee. He’s seen me grow as a rider and a person since I was 15 at High Cascade, and been a brother figure to me since he started making the sick videos of us for Nikita. He knows me more than anyone in snowboarding, actually. He knows how I think and what I'm thinking, and why I'm blue and why I'm stoked. He’s not only an amazing shredder, but also an amazing friend, loyal human, always there for me and he's the most interesting cat I know. He’s an amazing writer and filmier who makes the most interesting creations ever and I'm proud of him every step he takes. He stands for how a person should live, and that’s healthy in body mind and spirit. Doesn’t drink, or smoke, but dances his little heart out every chance he gets. He inspires me to be an even better person, and I'm grateful to have him as my big brother in snowboarding and as my life coach all year round. 13. And finally; what gives you the absolutely best kicks in snowboarding?
Hiking a down rail with great friends on a sunny day, and having the ability to wake up in the morning in another country, growing with life experiences that you couldn’t ever imagine.