Okay Kaya

Photography:
Luca Campri
Styling:
Francesca Cefis
Words:
Jo Rosenthal

It’s a strange time to speak to any artist, for many solitude is the perfect state for creation, but most operate within a community too. On a sunny day in New York, which was a sunny evening in Copenhagen where she was, Kaya and I hopped on the phone and I was immediately struck by how she giggles, has mastered the art of rhyming and isn’t afraid to tell you what she likes. How could you not want to know more?

Ludovic de Saint Sernin top & trousers; beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil

Left: Cecile Bahansen suit, Gerbase top Beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil Right: Loewe coat, Acne Studios shoes Beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil

Stella McCartney T-shirt; beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil

A typical day for her starts with what she calls a “pacifying stillness a few moments after I’ve opened my eyes resting on nothing, then slow focus on the creases of the sheets, breathe, get used to the light,” a poetic start which then focuses into the semblance of a routine we can all recognise and her “brain starts working completely, before checking emails.”
She’s from an inherently creative family, her mother is a painter and a “very musical person” and “all my brothers are either musical or making music in some ways.” Even her childhood home sounds like a painting, “I grew up in a small olive house on a peninsula outside of Oslo.” but there’s a childlike appreciation for the simple things too, “I miss the ferry serving lukewarm waffles and the green water and the softwoods.”
I ask what she’d like people to know about her and her responses are succinct but focused, “I tell people what I want them to know all the time,” followed by, “I am currently very satiated.” Her choice of words both intriguing and strange at the same time.
And in this way, the slow puzzle of Okay Kaya unfurls for me, we dis- cuss if she processes her emotions through her music and she replies, “I process through a few different mediums. My output always comes from the same source so it’s hard to differentiate, I don’t think about it too much”.
Given current times, emotion and state of mind is an interesting discussion for us all, but more is revealed of her approach in how she’s been approaching lockdown. “There’s a lot of room for introspection. There’s a lot of uncertainty that is emotionally heavy. A lot of humans like to make plans and have introspection and that’s not really available to us right now. It makes me worry about people’s general health. I’ve been writing a lot of music and I’m currently mixing. I’ve been able to use it as an outlet for my emotions”.

Left: Boss jacket, Colville earrings Beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil, Right: Valentino dress & shoes

As someone who struggles with mental health and has been forthcoming about it, it’s clear this has impacted her work too, “ It’s pretty all consuming in these next few songs. It has me thinking a lot about how maybe I’ve always written songs about difficulties leaving the house and interior versus exterior and loneliness. It affects me, but it is not far from how I’ve felt for a 53 long time.”
I ask how she entertains herself and her answers are reassuringly familiar, days revolving around Bojack Horseman, lots of cooking and baking bread. She muses, “Maybe it’s a comforting thing that we have more time to spend. Now you have time to make five loaves of bread everyday. I wonder what that does to our psyche. “
I’m struck by her observations about a film she’s just watched, the Japanese comedy Tampopo which she describes as “completely hilarious and beautifully edited, its emotions are so light and so serious. It’s so sexual. The hunger for sex and food makes me wonder if it’s suitable for these times”. It’s striking that these two essential needs are what stand out for her amongst other pressures.
In this time, there is of course the pressure for artists to create great work, I ask how this affects her and she’s candid but does not seem stressed. “Yeah. I feel that pressure all of the time. It’s how I keep my mind occupied.”
We talk about coping techniques and her advice is relatable, “I think it’s important to reach out to the people you love. It depends what kind of person you are. It can be really draining for people who have mental health issues and already feel alone. It feels really nice to be there for people and have them be there for me in any way they can”.

JW Anderson top, trousers & bra piece, Acne Studios shoes; beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil

Left: Shall knitted bag+ trousers+ Asics sneakers: Kiko Kostantinov, Right: Full look by Marni

Full look by Supriya Lele, Beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil

Left: Full look by Mugler, Colville shoes, Right: Full look by Gucci, model’s own necklace

Full look by Jil Sander, earrings by All Blues

I ask about her community, the New York and LA art, music and fashion scenes she’s a part of and how that affects what she makes, but it seems she’s viewing this from a place of participation and not observation, “I’m not so aware of being in a scene, maybe in ten years I’ll feel more affected by it. It feels like something I’m not really capable of zooming out for. I’m not really even thinking about it”. In terms of how her work as a model and musician intersect she says, “One requires little of my creativity, one requires all, it’s nice to live between. It’s nice to be around people sometimes. Modeling has enabled me to travel a lot and meet a lot of people, but I feel like I have some hindsight about it now. Financially it’s allowed me to make my first record and it’s bridged a gap in that way.”
We talk about how life has changed for her, but she says “ It’s hard for me to differentiate what a normal day is like for the past ten years.” The main thing she notes is “I was supposed to be on tour and do some modeling and all of that is not happening, but I don’t know.” She does acknowledge social media as a tool in these strange times “ I’ve been doing some Instagram Live concerts and it’s been pretty special and it keeps me occupied and able to connect with strangers. I don’t know if it’s a good business model, but I think we get a lot out of it and I hope that people who tune in get a lot out of this.“
I ask what changes she hopes to see in the world when this chaos is over, and what changes she hopes for in her industry, her main desire seems to be for a slower pace, “I hope everyone can take a breather and remind themselves that there’s a lot more to life than just work. I think I definitely need that part and to be able to call my loved ones and make a loaf of bread. I think it’s very human to gather and long for community and I think and hope that that’s going to be stronger than ever after all of this. So hopefully we rejoice a little bit.” In terms of her future, her answers are much vaguer, “A lot of people ask me that question. I wonder how to answer. These days, I just take it day by day. I’d love to put more songs out. It would be nice if some of the borders opened up so I could see some of my family”.

Cecile Bahansen suit, Gerbase top, Beauty: Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil

Photography: Luca Campri
Styling: Francesca Cefis
Makeup: Giulia Cigarini
Hair: Adam Garland
Photographer’s assistant: Meshach Roberts
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