6 months ago today, I was freshly seventeen and feeling… like I had to do something. I had been wanting to talk to my friend Kyla, whom I knew was certainly up to something interesting & something that would inspire me, amidst running her music blog, Pure Nowhere, being a high school student, and everything in between.
A few minutes after the FaceTime screen connected, I asked her to introduce herself. “Hello my name is Kyla Rain, I am seventeen from San Diego, California, and I run an online music magazine called Pure Nowhere. We cover music and culture all over the United States and in Europe because we have a team over there too. Now we are partnered with Seafoaming Magazine which is an Australian surf culture and like soul skate magazine, so we do a lot of work with them. I really love local concerts and local music in general. And, yeah. That’s about it.” Newly partnered with Abby Strangward over at Seafoaming at the time, Pure Nowhere was taking on a life of its own, quickly becoming a platform for creatives from all over. But it had not always been this well known of a project.
“In 8th grade I decided I wanted to make an online magazine, and I had looked into started a YouTube channel and starting that, or starting podcasts or maybe radio or something, but that was not my forte. And YouTube requires looking nice every time you wanna make some content but with this you can just sit in your pajamas late at night and just write… and it’s really nice,” Kyla explained when I asked her about how Pure Nowhere came to be. Telling me about the blogs that’d she’d make strictly because she enjoyed building websites in middle school, on which she would “maybe just post two things on and then never touch again and go onto the next one,” it was a road that I too, and many others, had taken until we ended up in a place where we felt satisfied.
When asked how Pure Nowhere came about, she continued on to tell me the story of how the site, initially covering all things pop culture, became local music-centric. “For my 15th birthday, I went to my first local concert and that’s when I decided that I wanted to make it a local music magazine because I really wanted to be involved in the local scene but I wasn’t good enough at an instrument to be in a band. So I was like why don’t I just do this, and it kind of took off from there.” And the name? Listening to a specific song, and that moment when “you go back and listen to that song later and it’s like you never left? Like you can remember everything, each song encapsulates the feeling of the moment, so I thought that was really cool. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt, and so I thought that that would be a good name inspiration, which is why our little subtitle is ‘It’s where the music take you’, because that’s where you go.”
Being a San Diego native, a teenage kid, a local music junkie as well as an immaculate writer, I couldn’t help but see the uncanny resemblance between Kyla and my beloved William Miller, the protagonist in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, which happens to be one of my favorite films. I had to tell her, that this story of wanting to be an insider, and finally finding a way into this world of music seemed to saturate her life to which she responded, that it literally did.
“You know the street in the opening credits? That’s the street that I grew up on. They show one of my neighbors houses, and that’s Bermuda Street in Bermuda Beach,” Kyla admitted casually, to which I could not hold back my holy shit’s and oh my god’s. It’s a story not many people get to tell, we agreed, the transition from being a complete outsider and writing impersonally about something like music, to being someone who gets to look very closely at the life without living it, and getting to live with the people that are living the life. The outside of the inside, I guess.
Kyla and I stayed on the phone for over 40 minutes, as I tuned into her stories, that consisted of everything from backyard shows filled with Persian rugs and bedroom made names such as Temporex, to moshing with girls she had made friends with by saying “Hey! I love your shirt, I’m Kyla”, to her hopes of going on a nationwide tour to showcase all of the young talent she knows hides in the corners of every small town. I noticed she was just like me, and every other high schooler, categorizing significant moments in her life by whether they happened “freshman year” or “sophomore year”. When she dropped her phone, she exclaimed, “Oh! I dropped you!” Excited about everything, whether it’s the past or the future, Kyla speaks in long sentences with rare pauses, and you can visibly see the joy pouring out of her as she talks about the things she loves most. When I asked her how she’d changed since starting the site, she stumbled a little.
“Um… I’ve changed a lot. I’m a completely different person from before I had it. I would sit and just read by myself for hours and hours in my room. I read so much I gave myself an eye condition… like that’s how much I read. But starting this made me a lot more social and outgoing, and when you’re around that community it feels like you can do anything and you can be friends with anyone. Everyone’s always like “Kyla how are you friends with all these people?!” because I’ll just be bouncing around with the music playing and being like “Come dance with me!” It’s so great- now it’s like, you know, it really expanded my horizons I guess. No matter what kind of person you are or what kind of music you like, everyone’s really accepting.”
6 months later, I’m finishing this post to be sure I can do it justice- to be sure I can do Kyla justice. 6 months later, I’m realizing that it’s not only where the music takes you, but also the people you choose to listen to the music with.
With love, J<3