We sit down with the Toronto-based performance artist, beauty guru, DJ and trans rights advocate.
“…continuing to show up and be visible is our superpower.” These are the words Rayne Nadurata leaves us with after an hour-long, nostalgia-soaked call. We haven’t seen her for months—frankly, we’ve met once in “real” life—but her distinct manner is just as vividly imprinted on our mind as the first and only time we crossed paths in Berlin last summer. The Toronto-based performance artist, beauty guru, DJ, and trans rights advocate is someone who makes herself known through impeccable outer appearance and boundless expression. Be it through brushes, garments or sound waves, Nadurata embodies a type of self-assurance that is both at ease and totally in your face. “The purpose of the new generation of queers is to shake the world up and make that needed change,” she tells us, and we honestly couldn’t agree more. Although she’s currently on the other side of the ocean and with scarce music material available online, Nadurata is soon to lay her roots in Berlin, spin at your favourite raves and swirl up an entire new community of adorers. That’s why we sat down with the multi-talent for a chat that touched on spirituality, visibility and radical action, all the while remaining as enigmatic as Rayne herself.
Rayne, before we even begin, do you mind me asking about your age?
[Laughs] I just turned 21!
Damn. Anyway, an even weirder thing to continue with: are you into spirituality? You always seem so grounded.
I am! But for me it’s not about a religious thing, but about spirituality in terms of energy and universal values. I do get energy from other people, but most of my energy is grounded and I receive it from a universal source. I must say I’m still super young, working in nightlife and going out, and that’s obviously taken a toll on my spirituality, but it has also created many opportunities to be more involved in community building practices.
I do sense there’s a higher interest in spirituality amongst today’s generation, especially in queer circles. Would you agree?
I think the purpose on Earth of the young queer people of our generation is to shake the world up and make that needed change. We’re not little kids playing dress-up. We’re out here, connected, evolving, self-assured, and hence essentially spiritual. Queer self-discovery is highly charged with transformative energy, particularly in terms of where the world is at right now. Connecting to your spiritual ancestry is something you may choose to discover for yourself or ignore altogether, but it’s placed in our lives for a reason.
I couldn’t agree more. Since spirituality is also about expression, I guess I’m curious to know about the moment in your life when you started consciously expressing what is within you.
It all started when I was pretty young, around 6 years old. My mum is an indigenous High Priestess, and she’s always been a supporter of my expression in whichever way it would be. I even remember I was Sailor Moon for one Halloween. It just escalated more and more from there—growing up in a suburban area and working my way through the venture onto my gender identity has really defined my sense of fashion, make-up and sonic expression.
Does this expression also translate into the work you do now?
It does. I’m doing work on trans rights at the work place at this huge make-up company, so in a way it’s interwoven with spiritual-like expression of queers.
Tell me more.
I started off as an artist for that company, and I just did some BTS work both on or off set. As I was going through that experience, and also just entering their stores as a customer, I realized how the majority of that make-up company’s clientele is actually queer. Here’s the catch: the beauty industry doesn’t want to lose money from queers, so they put on a mask of allure. Yes, they care about us as workers and customers, but as long as we make them money. To keep the illusion, creative campaigns centred on queers are flooding us daily.
But how did you try to shift that once you’re inside the door?
I did a lot of inter-team work to fight for shifts, but even to this day I keep being reminded that this is a billion-dollar company in the billion-dollar make-up industry, and they don’t actually care. My biggest accomplishment must nevertheless be the fact that I was able to enter those spaces and be visible. Hopefully I showed some suburban boys and girls that a non-conforming body—a queer trans person—was in that space doing their thing, and so they can be there and doing that same thing too.
What would you say, especially after having gone through this professional experience, makes someone a good ally?
What I’ve seen is platforms being offered to those, who’ve been extremely disrespectful in their past. Now that queerness is in the air, they come back with apologies and demand to be heard. Instead of platforms being offered to queers, trans and non-conforming people, it’s the other way around. Or even when it is offered to queers, they’re expected to have a massive social following or be famous, as if that validates their voice. People would not even look at me or hear me out before I started modelling and uploaded some pictures on Instagram. It shows that people don’t care about me, or about transness, but about clout and which movement is popular in that specific moment. It looks “cool” to be inclusive.
You also seem to be pushing the conversation though the DJ gigs you do. How did you enter the world of music?
Very simply—my dad has always been an extremely musical person, he’s been in so many bands and is a great electric guitar player too. This gave me immense knowledge and driving force.
Does spirituality also play a role here?
Energy is key here for me too, indeed. Know what you like sonically, and know how to convey the energy you have within. First and foremost, I play for myself. Yet, because my energy is so strong within the music I play, and because I create sounds on the spot from what I pick up energetically in the space, people really feel the message on a spiritual level. At that point, it’s not about liking the music or enjoying the whole set, but more so about the type and amount of energy we share. And of course, a little female vocal always takes the crowd and myself to that wavy place we all want to go.
And what about visibility in nightlife?
It’s so, so important. To be like, “Yes, I’m here. Be mad about it or not, but I’m still here, still living. I’m simply existing in this space.” Regardless of the disgusting things we need to go through, continuing to show up and be visible is our superpower.
Would you say each gig for you is as much spiritual as it is practicing visibility?
Definitely. But there’s a difference between my spiritual practice and DJing. I think that playing music to people is a way for me to connect with those of my generation. But the energy and power I get from both are different. My practice is about working with the universe and connecting with nature, and it’s something I keep very private.