Apartment/Studio - Atwater Village, Los Angeles
The Americana - Glendale, Los Angeles
Kailee McGee moves quietly and pours a generous, welcoming cup of tenderness to all who visit her space. Her conversation ricochets between jolly laughs out loud and animated descriptions of character minutiae. She is always affectionate, subtly sure of herself, and determined to discover a gem in everything she encounters. When we arrived at her studio, tucked past a veil of leaf and vine, we found it to be a homey wooden shed, at once austere and playful — much like Kailee herself.
Whether working in film or internet media, Kailee creates experiences that effortlessly participate in today’s paradigms of cultural production while serving a healthy does of side-eye to the motivations, authenticity, and implications of making content in our world. We ended the day with a brisk ride, sunroof down, to her home, on a peaceful street in Atwater, and then we grabbed hot dogs — on sticks! — at The Americana at Brand.
What brought you to LA?
I moved to LA from New York about two years ago, after being in New York on and off for about seven years. In the midst of those years, I also lived in Sydney, Florida, and California, but New York continued to suck me back. At a certain point, I realized I needed to move on, so I decided to head to Los Angeles.
How do you define yourself… career wise?
Now I just say “artist”. Actually, sometimes I still say “filmmaker”. But, I live my life as art, so the stuff that I do encompasses much more than just film. So… I am an artist.
Have you ever been called a Hipster?
Yes. Especially when I was living in Brooklyn, hanging out in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy. Just being in a place where there’s a lot of hip, young people, no matter what you are wearing, people are going to find a way to see you as “something” - like, anything can be "Norm Core" with the right perspective. I don’t mind the term [hipster]. I think it’s funny.
What does being a Millennial mean to you?
For awhile, I didn’t think I was a Millennial. I used it as a demeaning term for slightly younger people. When I found out that I classify as a Millennial too, I embraced it as a derogatory but affectionate slang. I call things that I love in my life, “dumb” or “stupid”. I tell my cat all of the time, “you’re the dumbest thing I know.” And, that’s my way of saying, “I’m infatuated with you, and I love watching you exist.” I use Millennial that way too, I guess.
Like, some of the shit that annoys me about people my age disgusts me. You turn around at a restaurant and everyone has a phone glued to his nose. It’s a bizarre dream. There’s only so much revulsion you can take before you force yourself to see the beauty in the madness. What am I going to do in reaction? Get a landline? Being disconnected is so sexy. And, so cool. But, for a lot of the things I do in my life, I almost have to be connected. A lot of my art is created on and for devices.
How do you feel connected to your generation?
We’re all swimming in the same bowl of technology dependency - the ease of which things are documented as easily and readily. As a person who grew up before my cell phone had a camera, I was actually carrying a camera-camera around. Now, I feel excited that everyone (air quotes) has a camera in their pocket and have the tools and opportunity to document and collaborate, whether people see their pictures as art or not. I see it all as art. And, that is inspiring to me, how people use their devices.
I do feel disconnected with sort of, like, female-shit in my generation. Like, the festival girls, and the endless selfies, and the “literallys” of the world. In my art, I seek to find a way to participate in that and to document part of my life like that. It’s a kinda-conscious commentary on some of that shit that I find fucking annoying. I don’t normally do that-fucking-annoying-shit, but I want to do fucking-annoying-shit because fucking-annoying is relevant. And, my generation is fucking-annoying but in a cool way.
What do you love about living in Atwater Village?
I love that my street and neighborhood are super residential, yet a seven minute walk away is The Strip [Atwater’s main drag on Glendale]. There are coffee spots, bars, restaurants, bookstores, and yoga joints. I live by a nature-y part of the LA River. There’s a bridge that goes over the river and another one that straddles the 5 FWY. It’s good energy over there.
What are your favorite spots in Atwater Village?
Proof Bakery. Atwater Farmer’s Market. TeeGee’s. The Roost. Out of the Closet.
How do you get around the city?
I drive my car, and I love it. But, I miss being a sardine in the subway sometimes - the stimulation of digesting every kind of human daily.
Do you see yourself staying in LA?
Yes. I also could see myself maybe living a little bit outside of LA, but I fucking love LA, dude. Maybe I’ll move to Mexico one day. I don’t know if that’s a dream or my near future...
What does a typical Sunday look like for you?
My brother and I walk to Proof and grab coffee. Then we go to the Farmer’s Market, gotta get those fresh-ass eggs. That’s the ideal beginning of my Sunday, but there isn’t really a typical one. I might go to my studio and work. Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I went to Apex Electronics and diddled around Burbank.
What have you been working on most recently?
I just finished a three month stint in New York writing and producing new media kids content for Toca Boca. And, I directed a few things for them too. Everyday I make internet and social media art. I have to creatively keep busy. Something.
What’s your favorite thing in your closet?
I just went through all of my belongings and gave away half of my stuff, so there are a lot less things in there now. How can I not say my Millennial Instinct one-of-a-kind, jean jacket?
Who would you invite to dinner living or dead?
Andy Kaufman. That would be one fascinating dinner.
What’s your favorite film?
The Birdcage. It raised me.
What’s your favorite record?
Bloom by Beach House. But, I always skip the song, “Other People”.
Where do you want to travel to?
I want to go to Barcelona and Cuba. Japan seems to be the hot ticket right now, so I don’t want to say that.
What inspires you?
How people present themselves on social media.
People's morning routines.
What is your idea of happiness?
This is a tough but important one. For me, it’s not really an idea. It’s more of an image or a moment or a feeling. Satisfaction in the big-stuff and the little-stuff at once. Finding the perfect balance between true productivity, life structure, and pure spontaneity.
What are your favorite qualities in a human?
What I think makes a really solid person is someone who is honest, loyal, generous, passionate, hilarious, empathetic, and hard working. That is asking alot-alot though.
What’s your Myer-Briggs personality type?
What is your astrology sign? What role does astrology play in your life?
I am a Virgo. It’s a fun way to categorize humans. For awhile, I thought astrology meant a lot. And, when I was dating people, I was like, “OMG. I cannot date him because he’s a-- whatever.” Last summer, I had a revelation that astrology is bogus. Now, I'm stuck in between... I’ve only ever been in love with Geminis or Cancers, so does that mean something? I love the world where it’s true because that’s fucking sick.
Who is your favorite artist?
It’s romantic to say your favorite someone is long and dead. Playwright Sarah Kane is amazing even though her body of work is very small, but she killed herself quite young. I don’t know, suicide is a hard thing to not-- I love the idea of my favorite artist being someone who is living in the universe in the present along with me. There’s something special with connecting with someone who is alive. In that vein, today, I’ll say: Miranda July.
What’s your favorite color and flower?
Toss up between red and yellow. I’ll say red. Favorite flower? Rose. I’m all about roses. I have this weird rose bush outside my front door, and it sporadically blooms like ten roses at once. I am infatuated with looking at them, smelling them, and taking pictures of them.
Do you have a motto?
“If it’s not a yes; it’s a no.” My mom always said that when she was shoe shopping. Now I apply it to my whole life. It makes things easy… easier.