Kayla Graham, music editor, Freq Magazine, Calgary, Alta.
As a teen, I collected music magazines like a crazy person. I was basically a hoarder. I spent a lot of my money on that. Finding out details of the lives of my favourite artists felt like I knew something special. I was fascinated by it. I guess I still am.
In the beginning, I definitely went with the flow. I took a year off after high school. I was intending on being a teacher, but the monetary commitment really overwhelmed me. Taking on an endeavour of that magnitude before I lived my life at all — before I saw the world or experienced life outside of high school — seriously terrified me.
My year off turned into never going back to teaching. My work paid for post-secondary for me, and I was comfortable enough in that environment to stay while I figured things out.
I’ve studied at SAIT more than once. I studied power engineering and land administration. I wouldn’t say that I was ever really drawn to either in a passionate sense. I was drawn into power engineering because it was logical. As for land admin, I took that because I was looking for a change and the idea of working in an office with lots of holidays — so I could go to lots of music festivals and take lots of vacations — was really all I was considering.
Most people are pretty surprised that I’ve never studied journalism — even people that are my close friends. Since I’m so active in that world, everyone just assumes I’ve studied it.
Music journalism makes me feel like I have a larger part to play in the music community. Not being just an observer or a spectator, but having an integral role is something that is priceless to me. It just makes me feel alive!
“Think outside the box, and if you’re not doing what you want in a professional sense, just be patient.” – Kyla Graham
Getting into festivals and shows both here in Canada and around the world is certainly another perk. The networking aspect is also really fun. Meeting people from around the world that do the same thing as you is really just the best. It’s so inspiring, and it leads to a lot of opportunity.
I love the hustle and that things are always moving and changing. I love having an excuse to surround myself with people that inspire me. Constant discovery is also something that’s ingrained in this job, and obviously that’s also great. Travel and networking — also amazing parts.
Since I started down this path about six or seven years ago, I’ve been part of lots of different sites and publications. The hustle honestly never stops. Right now, Freq is the only publication I’m contributing to, but that could change at any moment. One of the rules I follow is to always say yes to opportunity, and it’s how I’ve gotten this far.
It feels like I have a million jobs rotating in and out of my life. Full-time, I work at Old Dutch. They’re really good to me and support me when I need extra time off to cover events. Then there’s Freq, where I’m the music editor. It’s honestly a lot of work. I work on it every single day, and I love it. I shoot photos freelance, usually for events, and that can also be crazy and busy at times. Lately I’ve also contributed editorial content to PK Sound for their website on a freelance basis.
One thing I’ve learned is that expectations can be dangerous. It’s probably a good idea to lower them. As we all know, the face of journalism has changed immensely in the last 10 years and is still changing.
If you want to work in the arts, you have to be prepared that paid positions are a little harder to come by. You’ll probably have to do some things for free, but if you want something bad enough you’ll find a way to do it and will probably excel at it. That drive is what separates the great from the good.
There are lots of jobs that journalists are qualified to do. Think outside the box, and if you’re not doing what you want in a professional sense, just be patient. I’m proof that with enough time and effort that can all change.
As told to Cassandra Woods. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Editor: Jolene Rudisuela | email@example.com