It’s a hot afternoon in NYC when I make my way to SIRA’s home in Harlem, a space that will undoubtedly become a mecca to Black creatives. It houses the studio she owns with her sister Vicki, a photographer, and serves as home base for clothing brand and frequent collaborator Visionary Society.
Upon arrival, I text her to let her know that I am downstairs and moments later I’m greeted by her infectious smile, orange and white box braids, a familiar sight as I’ve admittedly been stalking her Instagram awaiting the release of the “BBDC” (bad bitches don’t cry) video. She greets me in an outfit that is both fly AF and effortless at the same time, both unique and completely on trend. If there is one thing we should all learn from now, it’s that SIRA will always make something her own.
“After college… I wanted to be more in tune with the dreamer in myself… unlimited from any of the fears.”
We sit down in her living room and I immediately notice her Fender pick on the table. SIRA has been known to explore many creative avenues, playing instruments, dancing, directing music videos, and creating fine art. When it comes to music, however, singing in particular, she tells me she considers herself to be somewhat of a late bloomer. Though she quickly catches herself saying “that’s not a real thing,” acknowledging that while she is starting later than her peers, it is never too late to go for the dream.
Like many of us, she had a dream but let fear and external expectations momentarily steer her off the path she knew she was meant to be on. The “lateness” she speaks of only forces her to go harder and hit the ground running. Music for her is the thing that comes naturally, yet pushes her out of her comfort zone.
“The mediums that have been the most difficult are the ones I’ve gravitated to later on in life… There is so much more that goes into wanting to be a professional artist.”
SIRA’s process of building on simpler past experiences to feed the difficult goal of becoming a professional artist has birthed two captivating singles, “Are U Here (Right Now)” , the remix “Are U Here 2.0″ and “BBDC” — with equally captivating visuals. For the music she worked with producer Mike Snell, someone she’s known since her teenage years and musician and producer, Hush Forte respectively. When describing what it was like to create the visuals SIRA proudly tells me that “Are U Here” was a self-directed labor of love while “BBDC ” was co-directed by friend, Raven Irabor, a multi-hyphenate creative in her own right. She goes on to describe the immense amount of collaboration that made everything possible, noting that in many ways creating the visuals was a relay, where each member of her all Black production team passed the baton to the next.
Black creatives have always been able to see each other in a way that others do not and will not. We appreciate each other’s art in ways no one else will. Our art, SIRA says, has an unapologetic, attractive energy. “There is [even] art in the way we walk, talk… [there’s a] rhythm.” What is clear when you speak to SIRA is her desire to continue creating with her peers and friends. There is a confidence you get when you work with your people, she tells me — an ability to relax. For her, working with friends is both “necessary” and “organic”.
The reality is many Black creatives do not have the funds to outsource when working on their projects. The reality is opportunities to build a portfolio will likely be given to you by your peers before anyone else. “I want them to do the things they want to do.” Your peers and friends may also recognize your talents before you do. In fact, SIRA finds joy in bringing her friends who have not yet worked on something creative onto her projects. “The corporate baddies stepping into these types of roles is fire.”
SIRA is always down for everyone doing what it is they truly desire, not only in her immediate circle. I tell her she has always had this vibe that screams IDGAF. When asked where the freedom to move through life that way came from, she says her parents without hesitation. “They are the outcome of their dreams.” She follows up by saying freedom to her is “the unwillingness to sacrifice what you want, [what] you desire for your life, your goals and what you want your contributions to be.”
“If we’re on this planet for anything, ideally I want to explore all the things that…I love or that I can potentially do.”
“If we’re on this planet for anything, ideally I want to explore all the things that…I love or that I can potentially do,” she says while reflecting on a time when she did not show up for herself in the way she wanted to. Now she refuses to underuse her talents or play small, something she urges others not to do as well, desperately wanting them to experience the same freedom she has, the freedom that allows you to try the thing even if you feel you are a few steps behind. “You catch up”, she promises.
There is no question that SIRA will go down in history; she is so many things, a singer, a multi-hyphenate creative, and a multidisciplinary artist. But when you spend some time with her you realize she is simply a girl from New York with big dreams and even bigger dreams for the people around her.
Need a reminder that everything will be alright? Check out SIRA’s latest release: