I first reached out to Kira in July 2017, after stumbling across her joint Instagram account with her friend Lauren, on which they posted snapshots taken on disposable cameras. Pool floats, Venice beach, skateboards, camping trips, record stores, costume parties; these were some of the things documented in what was described as a "diary of adolescence". Almost a year later, Kira has been writing for The Scintillation for 8 months now. She is easily one of my favorite people ever. Hope you like her as much as I do<3
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Hey! I’m Kira, I’m a seventeen year old libra from California. I curate art collectives, sell vintage clothes, play guitar, and pretty much anything else I can dig my hands into. The walls of my bedroom are painted purple and covered in film pictures and posters of my favorite 60s-80s musicians and movies. My favorite books are biographies about musicians on the music scene and their lifestyles. I feel most inspired when I’m surrounding myself by media like magazines, books, movies, documentaries, and music. I made my senior quote in my yearbook a quote from the show “Freaks and Geeks” that says John Bonham from Led Zeppelin is the god I believe in. (My mom wasn’t too happy with it). I don’t believe in brushing my hair and I’m trying to figure out how to do the most with my life with the least amount of money. Some of my favorite things in life are; the feeling when you walk out of a cold room and the sun hits your skin, caramel coffee, listening to a really good song with headphones on the highest volume, the feeling of quitting your job, seeing your developed film for the first time, and sticking my head out the window of my best friend’s car on night drives.
I first found you and your friend Lauren through @disposable.diary on Instagram. Why disposable, and why choose to share it on Instagram?
I started shooting on disposable cameras when I was going on a backpacking trip in spring break of 2016 and somehow the memory of those cheap cameras from drug stores I used to mess around with when I was six or seven years old popped into my head. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to test them out again because it would be a physical memory of the trip and I wouldn’t have to worry about them breaking in my pack. Once I got those two rolls of film back, I fell in love. The colors, the wait for the film developing, the simplicity of disposable cameras and not having to worry about the technology, and having physical pictures to show instead of digital ones that inevitably disappear in a few years forever. I really loved how raw they were because it’s not like taking pictures on an iphone when you can take over a hundred pictures within a few seconds and chose the best looking one. I started buying more and more and bringing them around with me to parties, to camping trips, to sleepovers, to concerts, pretty much anywhere I could capture funny moments of my friends, pretty sunsets, or nights I wanted to remember when I’m old. I started growing quite a collection so I decided why not make an Instagram so my friends could see the pictures they got in and to show how fun film could be.
You live in California… tell me a little bit about what that’s like, in terms of what the outside world sees vs. what it’s actually like.
Oooh this is a good question. First off, I absolutely love California. I really don’t think I’d ever be able to permanently leave this state. I live in Southern California so I can’t really speak for NorCal but c’mon, the weather is almost perfect 85% of the year. And the other 15% is when it’s about 65 degrees and “too cold”. Although I live in the suburbs, the location is pretty ideal. 25 minutes away from Malibu, 45 minutes from Los Angeles, you can take a trip to the desert, mountains, or ocean within a day. Whenever I tell out-of-state people I live close to the city, they always assume I stumble across famous stars and celebrities on a daily basis which I think is funny. Traffic is so god awful there I don’t think I’d ever want to live any closer to the city. Different areas in California are so so different you can’t sum it up in one stereotype but you really have the freedom find the place where you fit in the best just within the one state. Driving just 30 minutes can give you culture shock. That’s also what I really love though, if you ever just feel stuck or need a change or need to get out for a while, you can go drive and become someone else for a night.
How did you get involved in your local art scene/art in general?
Hmm this question is kind of hard for me to think about. I don’t think it ever suddenly happened during one time period, I think I’ve just always surrounded myself with creative people and met many people in the local art scene just through events like my friend’s bands’ shows or parties or just through mutual people. The arts have always played a large role in my life especially growing up with a musician of a dad so I’ve always known that areas of the arts were always a big interest for me. Social media has definitely played a huge role in getting involved, finding people, and hearing about local events. The art scene where I live isn’t a very big thing (the suburbs kinda suck if you didn’t know) and because we live a little less than an hour from Los Angeles that’s where most of the cool stuff goes on, so if you find great people in this city you know you’re lucky.
How did Kids Next Door come about?
I actually went to middle school with Victoria but we didn’t know each other well at all for about six years until one night we danced together to Madonna at an art collective called Cherry Bomb in Los Angeles. I brought one of my best friends Lauren, that I met that year, to the collective and wow did that night influence all of us so much. It was one our first nights being out in the city at night completely on our own and the art collective was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. On the drive home we spent the hour talking about how we just knew we needed to do something like that in the suburbs to bring the art scene to the local kids. We got home around 12 am and instantly started looking up venues to rent out for one having no idea what we were getting into. Somehow a few months later we began talking to Victoria and the topic of throwing an art collective came up. A few weeks later we had a contract signed for a venue and were throwing ourselves completely into this project that we knew had the possibility of either being something so beautiful or a complete failure.
As one of the creators of the Kids Next Door Art Collective, what do you think the significance of having tangible events where people actually have to be there is, when everything else is done digitally?
Really nothing can compare to it. This was something I never even thought of while planning or when the night even began but man, once I felt it I knew. It was nothing like I’ve ever felt before, being in a very small room packed wall to wall with bodies dancing and experiencing and connecting. I’ve never felt energy like that in a room of teenagers before. The comfort of knowing you’re in a room filled with strangers but you all have something in common was crazy. That maybe they aren’t really strangers, just a friend you haven’t met yet. I felt like I had the freedom to be anyone I wanted that night and vibing with people never felt so easy. It’s like, you know those people you follow on Instagram that you don’t really know but really, really wish you could be friends with? Imagine all of those people being in one room with you and everyone is equal, no one is ranked higher than one or seen cooler than everyone else. That’s what it felt like. You didn’t know who had more Instagram followers or who’s life seems more exciting from their profile, all that mattered was that we were all in that room together and everyone was free to dance and connect together.
What have you found to be the most rewarding part of creating the collective? The most surprising?
Finally giving teenagers a place where they can be whoever the hell they want to be!! Really surprising but also beautiful things can occur when people feel safe and accepted somewhere, where they finally feel like they’ve found their people and they belong. People can totally be something you did not expect when you give them that liberation. One local girl messaged us about how she secretly had a crush on another girl, was going to finally tell her, AND asked us for advice on coming out to her parents. Another kid messaged us telling that after coming to our first collective, we inspired him to quit his job at In-N-Out to make time for art. It’s just little things like these that reminds me our reasoning for putting these together and also just reminds me that I should truly be doing what I want and expressing who I want to be.
You also have a love for styling, especially vintage clothes, as seen on your online shop Kira’s Closet. How did that come about & what does it mean to you?
At first, selling clothes to me was just a way to get rid of my old pieces as I was going into high school and my style was beginning to change. I didn’t want to just throw away or donate so I started selling on apps like Poshmark. Over time I started getting better and better at it and started to enjoy it way more, styling outfits together and modeling the clothes. During this time I also began thrift shopping way more frequently, which I also just happen to be really good at. My sister complains that it’s like good items suddenly just appear out of nowhere in thrift stores right before my eyes. My love for thrifting also led to an extremely overflowing collection of clothes in my closet so I began selling my cuter vintage pieces as I found more I’d rather keep. I had the idea one day to make an Instagram for my clothes to be able to reach high school girls in my area, which worked extremely well. My clothes began selling in minutes after posting and there were days where my locker or backpack was filled with clothes to sell to girls at school. Now selling clothes to me is a way to get rid of items in an ethical, sustainable way (f**k fast fashion), meet people who also love vintage clothing, to be able to give my old beloved clothes a second life and to help girls my age find cute vintage pieces for reasonable prices. Also, styling outfits and taking pictures of my friends modeling is pretty frickin fun.
Between all of these creative outlets that you put yourself into & make yourself vulnerable within, how does it all come back to writing? (if you wanna talk ab your music here, and the instruments you play, PLZ DO!!!)
It’s kinda funny because considering how much I love music and how much I love writing, I’m pretty awful when it comes to writing music. I’ve started a few little projects but have never gotten anything finished that I’m proud of. Writing has always been a big part of me, but nothing poetic really. I’ve always kept a journal and that’s how I feel is personally the best way to figure out how I’m feeling, to reminisce on something, to get your thoughts out, to write lists, it really serves a purpose for anything. I never pressure myself to journal frequently or every night or anything, I just like doing it when suddenly I jump out of bed at night and need to scribble thoughts out before I fall asleep or when I’m sitting in a library listening to music and feeling very motivated. Journaling this way makes all of my entries very different which makes it so interesting to flip through. One page there will be three lines of possible song lyrics, next page could be a full page summarizing a beautiful day I had, next could be a list of songs or guitar chords or a poem about a pretty boy I walked by that day. I absolutely love looking back at my old writing and laughing or crying or reminiscing along with it and seeing how I was feeling last week or exactly a year ago. I don’t really ever share my journal with everyone because I don’t want to feel pressure to make my writing more appealing or well thought out. My rule of thumb is to just write whatever comes to mind and to never stop in the middle to read what you’ve written. Always just write without thinking and wait until the end to see what’s on your mind.
Any plans for the collective, online shop, writing, your own life in the near future?
It’s bittersweet but in June I’m graduating from high school and in the summer I’ll be moving a few hours north so all of us at Kids Next Door will be separated. The city I’m moving to has a great music and art scene so I’m definitely most excited to be surrounded by creative people and I just have this great feeling I’ll be creating up there more than ever. I recently just switched my major from Environmental Science to Business because I’m not really sure what I’m doing in life along with everyone else but there are so many things I want to pursue, I feel like business can be tied to anything and give me the most freedom in my decisions. One day I’ll open an actual vintage store, or maybe work in the music industry, or maybe host a radio station who knows? There are so many things I love doing I don’t want to limit myself to one. Maybe it’ll change in the future but right now I feel like that might be the best decision for me to find where my current strongest passion lies. I plan to continue selling clothes next year though it might be hard in my tiny room that I share with another girl and I’m definitely finding somewhere to fit my guitar and turntable in my small apartment.
Give me a 7 song soundtrack to your life right now.
Flower Power by Greta Van Fleet
Don’t Let Me Down by the Beatles
Cassie (Won’t You Be My Doll) by Part Time
One Last Time by Summer Salt
Waves of the Heart by Brissey
Ramble On by Led Zeppelin
Eternal Honeymoon by Balue
Find Kira on Instagram @kkiiramarie @kkiirascloset @disposable.diary and @kidsnextdoorartcollective. Find her writing here
With love, J<3