I was familiar with Kaya Wilkins’ Instagram before I was even aware of her musical career under the moniker Okay Kaya. The Norwegian model/musician/actress captivated me with her online persona, a collage of moments she turns into engaging imagery. The world she shares through her social media was similar to anyone’s, but her honest depiction of life somehow made the mundane comical in its realness.
Her songwriting stands on a very similar sentiment. Kaya sings real, yet comedically told stories about life – or some alternate, imagined version of it – from a feminine perspective. Within her lyrical musings she discusses personal anecdotes about faking orgasms, failed attempts at relationships, and getting an IUD.
Recently featured on King Krule’s acclaimed 2017 LP THE OOZ and Porches’ The House, Okay Kaya is also in the midst of prepping the release of her own debut. The video for her latest single “Dance Like U” continues a storyline which began with her first single, “IUD.” She teamed up with NYC-based filmmaker Adinah Dancyger to create the strangely surreal video series, a dreamlike portrayal of a concept Wilkins had been playing around with in her mind for some time before setting the idea to film. The scenes create a persona haunted by a twin born out of past trauma.
There is something akin to a thriller that coats the experience of these videos. While Okay Kaya doesn’t seem drastically disturbed by her “twin,” there is an element of discomfort that looms in the familiarity of the two figures. Throughout the video, Wilkins interacts with this alternate version of herself, floating in and out of the house, being watched, and simultaneously becoming the voyeur.
Some moments seem as though we are observing a tender interaction between herself and what we might assume is her subconscious. She dances with her twin and shares a moment spinning around the room. It creates an intimate feeling, as though watching a child dance with their own reflection, wishing for the better version of themselves to come to life.
When, at the end of the end of the video, the alter (or inner) ego leaves the room, Kaya leaves the viewer guessing which version of herself is left behind.
NEWS ROUNDUP: Gender Equalizers, Night Mayors, & More
By Jasmine Williams
An App for Gender Equality:
On Thursday, in honor of International Women’s Day, Spotify and Smirnoff partnered together to launch the Smirnoff Equalizer, a tool that reveals the gender breakdown of the artists you are listening to. The streaming platform created that app after collecting data that revealed that 100% of their most streamed tracks in 2017 were performed by men. The equalizer analyzes each listener’s history to produce percentages of male to female artists. It then provides a slider tool so that listeners can discover artists of different genders, including non-binary. You may be surprised by your streaming habits! It turns out that the feminist writer of this news breakdown has been listening to 88% of tracks by male performers versus 13% females. The shame!
It’s a new era for New York City nightlife! Last year the archaic Cabarat Law was repealed and the city has named its first ever Night Mayor. Despite the vampiric title, Ariel Palitz will spend a lot of daylight hours smoothing over the relationships between rigid community councils and venues who often have trouble applying for liquor licenses and getting permits. Palitz is a seasoned promoter and was owner of the club Sutra for ten years. In theory, she will be making it easier for DIY event spaces to operate throughout the five boroughs. Fingers crossed!
Anderson .Paak’s new single, “Til It’s Over,” gets the Spike Jonze treatment for an Apple Music video starring FKA Twigs as a working stiff who escapes reality through dance.
On Wednesday, In response to recent criticism of his live shows, Vince Staples launched a GoFundMe page so that he can leave the music biz, he states, “You can decide to donate to the cause of $2 million, which will allow me to shut the fuck up forever and you will never hear from me again…If not, you can choose to let me do what I want to do, when I want to do it…” The next day it emerged that the crowd fundraiser was actually a stunt in promotion for new track, “Get the Fuck Off My Dick.”
Tomorrow marks the first day of autumn. You might not believe it given these muggy 80-degree days, but Fall is upon us nevertheless. Fall is the best for multiple reasons, including turtlenecks, Halloween, and mock-necks; but it is also a time when things die. Leaves. Bar backyards. Your summer tan. All gone. Looking back on this time last year, I was writing about the death (or at least prolonged hibernation) of CMJ. Now I could add the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and potentially The Deli Magazine to that obituary. Sure, the Voice is only going out of print, Rolling Stone is only up for sale, and The Deli Magazine is only half the size it used to be – maybe “death” is too harsh a word – but that’s what it feels like.
Today I happened upon one of those familiar red boxes and snatched up the last copy of The Village Voice I will ever hold. The cover was nearly text free, save for the paper’s logo and the words “Final Edition” in tiny print at the top. A black and white photo of Bob Dylan giving a salute filled the page. It is a somber image, and almost made my knees buckle on West Broadway. I could only think: “what next?”
And then, in rare moment of attempted optimism, I asked myself again: “yes, what next?” This time, instead of asking with dread, I asked it with the expectation of wonderful things. New York may be missing some iconic music venues, festivals, and print publications, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a wealth of great music coming our way regardless. So rather than mourn the lost, let’s look forward to the season’s best musical happenings, shall we? We shall. Here are the Fall 2017 record releases I am most looking forward to.
The difficult-to-define, experimental Canadians Godspeed You! Black Emperor will drop their sixth LP tomorrow – the much anticipated Luciferian Towers. Fortunately we don’t have to wait another second to check it out, as the group shared the album in full with NPR last week. In keeping with GY!BE fashion, this record is dense, sprawling, and frenetic. Now we can only hope the band will accompany its release with a US tour sometime soon!
Next week, Detroit post-punks Protomartyr will release Relatives In Descent – their debut LP for Domino Records. After seeing Protomartyr play a dynamite set at Basilica Soundscape last weekend, I’m especially thrilled for this new album, which according to the band’s Greg Ahee, was inspired by Mica Levi and the Raincoats’ Odyshape. Relatives In Descent was co-produced and recorded with Sonny DiPerri, who has worked with the likes of Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective. What’s not to love?
Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine is one of the more fascinating characters in contemporary music. While his debut album 2015’s At Least For Now was a sweeping affair between neo-classical and Nina Simone, I Tell A Fly promises theatrics and a bit of the political. The record’s leading single, “Phantom Of Aleppoville” is an album all its own, volleying from marching snares to parlor piano and soul harmonies. It’s a tour de force, and I imagine the whole LP will be nothing short of the same. Don’t miss Clementine when he plays Carnegie Hall on October 5th.
Two very different records drop on October sixth, one being the long-awaited full-length debut from R&B artist Kelela. Take Me Apart (Warp Records) is the follow-up to Kelela’s 2014 EP Hallucinogen and her 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me. According to the artist, the album is a blend of personal themes, politics, and genre. “Despite it being a personal record,” Kelela stated in a press release, “the politics of my identity informs how it sounds and how I choose to articulate my vulnerability and strength. I am a black woman, a second-generation Ethiopian-American, who grew up in the ‘burbs listening to R&B, Jazz and Björk. All of it comes out in one way or another.” Catch Kelela November 12th and 13th at Bowery Ballroom.
On the other end of things, Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson is back with his first new track in two years. The garage-pop cut “KILL4ME” is Manson’s leading single off his forthcoming record Heaven Upside Down, and it’s far more catchy than disturbing. Perhaps all of Manson’s interactions with Justin Bieber have affected his sound? Manson will perform at the Hammerstein Ballroom on September 30th and The Paramount on October 3rd.
Mid-October treats include the debut duet Lotta Sea Lice from Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, who make such a natural pair it’s amazing they didn’t cut a record together years ago. The record’s first single “Over Everything” is an expert blend of deadpan romanticism and tangy guitar riffs – elements both artists know their way around quite well. Kurt and Courtney (no, not that Kurt and Courtney!) will play The Beacon Theater on November 1st.
Archy Marshall is set to release his sophomore LP as King Krule. The Ooz is already garnering a lot of excitement from the music community, and if the entire record is half as good as its first single “Dum Surfer,” all the hype will be justified. For those of you who’ve yet to see King Krule live, he’ll be headlining Greenpoint’s Warsaw on October 24th and 25th. Get there early and eat some pierogies while you’re at it!
The first two singles from Destroyer’s forthcoming LP Ken sound completely different from one another. But then again, that’s the Destroyer sound: constantly morphing. Check out the frenetic and haunting “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood,” and keep an eye open for Destroyer’s 2018 US tour.
Right in time for Halloween, Sacred Bones Records will release John Carpenter’s Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998. This collection of Carpenter’s film scores (that’s right, he directed the flicks and composed the music to cult classics like Escape From New York and Halloween) will be limited to 500 hand-numbered vinyl LPs, pressed on “Anti-God Green” wax, of course. Get your copy quick, and don’t miss Carpenter’s Terminal 5 set on November 16th.
If that list of killer music-to-come doesn’t dissolve your Autumn blues, then I don’t know what will. Perhaps this list of incredible Fall concerts, happening right here in NYC:
From elaborate roll-outs to surprise releases, 2013 was a banner year for comebacks, break-outs, break-ups, and overnight sensations. The fact that the most oblique content could cause rampant controversy to reverberate through the blogosphere turned every song into a story and made every story seem epic. At the heart of it all are the sounds that defined this particular calendar year, from electronic pop to punk rock to hip-hop to hardcore and everything in between.