Kyla Rain is the editor and co-owner of Pure Nowhere, an online and print publication focusing on music and art. Although Kyla has not yet graduated high school, she is already a force to be reckoned with, diving into the publishing and music worlds head first. Recently helping to launch Pure Nowhere's first print magazine with co-owner Abby Strangward, Kyla is sure to soon be taking the art world by storm.
We interviewed Kyla about Pure Nowhere, her experience as a female in the art world, and what keeps her inspired.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how your publication, Pure Nowhere, came to be?
My name is Kyla Rain, I’m an 18 year-old music junkie from San Diego, California and I run an international music & culture publication with my best friend, Abby Strangward.
Pure Nowhere officially started my freshman year of high school after I had gone to my first local concert for my 15th birthday. I remember my friends and I had gotten to the venue a few hours early and sat in the parking lot, so insanely excited to see and be a part of this whole world we had only recently learned existed.
We watched this big group of kids meet one of the bands outside and head backstage. I told myself right then that I was going to be like that too. We went inside, the show started, and there was literally no going back after that. I had found the first place I truly felt comfortable in my own skin, and I can hands down say that that was one of the most important moments of my life. That kind of energy was something I had never felt before, and still have never felt outside of any venues. I’ve always struggled with social anxiety and depression ever since I was a little kid, but finding my local music scene was a major turning point in terms of coming into my own being. I was able to figure out who I was, what kind of person I wanted to be, and gain the self-confidence and friendship I had always only dreamt of having. The magazine was my way to give back to a community that gave me everything.
Just last year I virtually “met” Pure Nowhere’s current co-owner online through an article I had published on another publication. She reached out to me because she really liked what I had written, and we immediately connected. Like, a head over heels connection. We were so similar, both around the same age, both running small independent publications, both having the same insane dreams and aspirations. Before that we had no connection to each other — she lives in Melbourne, AUS, but I think that’s part of what makes us so special. We’re literally an entire world away but we couldn’t be closer to one another (although time zones are always a constant headache haha). We always like to think about how crazy it was that we found each other, over a piece about my first house show that I almost didn’t submit, that was published so many months later I had forgotten all about it. The world works in strange ways.
How's life as a woman in the art/photography world?
It’s absolutely beautiful. It for sure has its tough moments but I really wouldn’t give it up for anything. All the extra work we have to put in as women and queer creators just makes us stronger, more resilient and ready for whatever might come next. The female force is something that demands to be noticed, to be felt, and seeing the way that translates into art never ceases to inspire me. There are so many amazing female and queer creators in the world that really don’t get enough attention. I wish there were a way I could truly let them all know how much their art has affected me. You know when you tell a friend you love them, but don’t really feel like they understand just how much? That’s how I feel about all these beautiful artists.
Could you share any notable struggles or challenges you have experienced when you were creating Pure Nowhere? What challenges do you encounter now and how does it compare back then?
Oh dear, I’m not too sure where to begin — in the beginning it seemed like every victory came with like, ten roadblocks. Just creating Pure Nowhere was one of the biggest struggles. I starting creating the site when I was in 8th grade and it took me around a year and a half to actually finish it. I tried every website platform there is, and each time I’d have an all-nighter burst of motivation it would be followed with about a month of thinking “this is never going to actually amount to anything.”
Now I don’t really feel that way, but I do have bursts of what Abby and I like to call, “going under the sheets.” There are periods where anything to do with the magazine makes me have an anxiety and all I want to do is crawl into bed for a week, which I usually do. When that happens I just take a step back and give myself a breather, remind myself that my mental health is the most important thing! But I’m still working on this, and I think I’ll always be.
Age was also another big issue I had more when I was younger — it was really hard to get management or bands to take me seriously. I had been talked down to quite a few times when trying to build a professional relationship, or just completely blown off if it was an in-person introduction. I always felt like I had to push harder to prove myself, which was a really good lesson for me to learn early on because that’s what the real world’s like. It prepared me to be a female creator and businesswoman, so really, I should thank all those men in the publishing/music industry that underestimated me. Thanks for giving me a head start! Watch out for your jobs because I’ll work ten thousand times harder than you and not give a shit about what anyone says! Let’s take a moment to acknowledge all the ladies out there killing the game — photographers, writers, musicians, managers — we all know how hard it is to get your foot in the door. You deserve everything you’ve worked so hard for.
How do you overcome these challenges?
Honestly I was lucky enough to have the best support system, my arts and music scene, and specific people that have been there since the very beginning. For every comment that made me feel bad or moment that made me believe I wasn’t going anywhere, I always had a friend to pick me back up and tell me what I needed to hear. Now all I want to do is provide that for others. I also had a huge shift in mindset around my sophomore year as a result of all that support. It made me realize that bad things only happen so good can come after. I can’t even explain the changes that happened in my life after I settled on this. You start to look at things less like struggle and more like opportunity.
What motivates you to continue running Pure Nowhere?
Our audience and team members, hands down. The whole reason why I do Pure Nowhere is to provide an open outlet for young artists and creators to get their voices into the world. That was something I always struggled with, this overwhelming feeling of not being able to truly speak and be heard. Once I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt that way I knew I had found my passion in life. I want to help and support as many people’s dreams as I possibly can, I want to give an outlet to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the means to speak. Just think about how many amazing works of art we’ve never seen, photographs, writing, activist messages that were never read because the creator didn’t know who would listen? I just want to tell as many people as possible that their work is valid and someone cares what they have to say. So hey, if you’re reading this, my email is email@example.com. Talk to me anytime.
Who do you look up to or draw strength from?
I feel like every time I log onto Instagram I find a new inspiration. That’s the great thing about being a queer female artist in the age of technology — everyone’s so supportive and are constantly sharing their favorite creators. There’s always something new to get inspired by, someone to look up to. I also watch a lot of YouTube videos on female entrepreneurs because I’m trying to catch some of that strong energy! But most of all, I draw strength from my co-owner and best friend Abby. Whenever I’m doubting myself, she’s always there to make me feel like I could start a revolution. I have this perpetual state of excitement for the future, whether for myself or the people around me, and Abby seems to magnify that even over text AND in a whole other country. I cannot wait until next year when we meet in real life for the first time. I have a solid feeling that the universe might just rip down the middle right then and there because we’re that powerful.
Sex and gender should not be the basis of someone's place in art and photography. What would be your advice for girls and women who are still starting out in the world of art/photography?
I would remind them that their art is valid, their feelings are valid, and they’re allowed to say whatever the fuck they want to say. Please don’t listen to people who try to make you feel bad for opening up or put down your work because of how you identify. Art is a vulnerable thing and it takes real courage to put yourself into the world. Sure, there’s always room to improve, but don’t for a second let anyone convince you that you’re not good enough.
I’m proud to say that this is the first place I’m openly identifying as a queer artist, something I never would have imagined doing when Pure Nowhere first began. Sex, gender, and sexual orientation are some of the most empowering things, embrace them in their entirety. They should never limit you in any aspect. You have so much room to grow with who you are and what you choose to create, and no matter what other people may tell you, there are no rules! There never has been! Don’t let ANYONE try to tell you that your dreams aren’t “practical.” Fuck practicality. It’s just an idea created by society (and historically speaking, cis white men) that tells us there’s a set list of what we can and cannot do, what is and is not possible, which is really as far from the truth as it gets.
Lastly, what are your thoughts on this year’s International Women’s Day theme “Balance for Better”?
I think it’s really important to give a platform to strong women like “Balance for Better” is inspiring, to focus on the fact that there really isn’t, and has never been, a balance in gender. Young girls aren’t seeing enough women in power positions, in industries dominated by men, so they don’t even think to consider themselves in that place either. And this isn’t just with women, but any spectrum of female/non-binary identification. It’s an endless cycle that won’t stop until we acknowledge that it’s really happening. A whole world of difference opens up if we recognize the individuals who have worked so hard to get to where they are, and send a message to today’s female and LGBTQ+ youth that they are just as capable of the same achievement, if not more.