Okay Kaya

Okay Kaya | Just Ship It | June 26, 2020

As Okay Kaya, Norwegian-born New Yorker Kaya Wilkins, constructs svelte, jazz-inflected songs — which, more often than not, feature just her effortless, breathy contralto; her fancy-chord-sounding guitar figurations; and minimal, innovative accoutrement. Her deadpan, cutting lyrics are sung in a way so patient, gorgeous and smooth you assume they must have a Lexapro prescription. Look no further than the song “IUD” from Okay Kaya’s 2018 debut album, Both. An acerbic, personal dismantling of the state of American women’s healthcare, it’s also an eye-roll at a lover’s passive, just-take-care-of-this-babe approach to contraception. “Baby, you’re so baby/But I don’t want your baby,” Wilkins, 28, croons, nodding to the lost-and-found Donnie & Joe Emerson tune “Baby” that undoubtedly played in far too many unkempt Williamsburg closet-sized bedrooms over the last decade. And unless there’s meaningful buy-in on the part of the fella, she’s over it. It’s Sade for nihilists — jingles for mental health and "theme songs for whatever the opposite of self-destruction is.”

As she completes her follow-up to Both, to be released on Jagjaguwar, Wilkins presents her cover of Cher’s late-career club powerhouse, “Believe.” True to form, Okay Kaya’s take breaks the song down to it’s most crushing pieces.

“It’s the perfect song,” Wilkins said. “It’s hopeful. It’s sad. It’s a break-up anthem — and a fuck you.”