Okay Kaya, Musician


"I grew up outside of Oslo, Norway. My mom is from Norway and my dad is American, but I grew up with my mom, mostly. I moved to London when I was 18, and then a year later I moved here to New York. I started out doing very low-key modeling to pay bills while I was trying to write music. I was writing my own songs as a way to help myself work through certain things in my life that were difficult. My song 'IUD' was funny because I was considering getting an IUD in like April of last year, right when Planned Parenthood was being threatened [with de-funding]. I tried to make it funny and catchy just because it can be very bleak, writing a song about something like that. I wanted the person listening to the chorus to be like, ‘Oh, that’s funny.’ I’m just trying to keep it real… [Laughs] That’s such a funny thing to talk about, but I want to be treated like a musician, a singer-songwriter who plays guitar. It’s just my own vision. My goal is for people to be like, ‘OK I’m going on a plane, I’m going to put on Okay Kaya’s music.’ It’s really mellow. Music is often stronger when you perform it. But that doesn’t stop me from having debilitating anxiety the morning of a show. As a performer I think there’s me, and then me extra—a more savage version of me.

I was kind of broke when I lived in London. Then I moved here and it’s better—two slices and a can of coke for $2.75 is my breakfast, lunch, and dinner [Laughs]. I think I just try and keep it simple, and I try to get enough sleep. I’ve been taking baths. The light in my bathroom is really nice. I do yoga sometimes, Vinyasa. The spot I go to is called Go Yoga, and everyone is really sweet, but I’m very sporadic with my attendance. I take classes there, and I also go to Crunch to do weights and stuff and go on the elliptical. Working out makes me happier, and I think exercise is good for the brain.

I wash my face twice a day—that’s very important, especially in this city. I clean my skin with —I’m running out of it, and I need to get some more. But it really works, and it’s a nice balm. I use it with my hands, and I massage it for a long time just because it feels good. I tone with , and then I put on . And sunscreen. Now I have an avocado mask, but I like sheet masks, I like a clay mask… I think I just like masks—the act of doing them. I guess it’s just something I’ve been obsessed with for a really long time. I also use . It’s good for when I’m breaking out.

To perform, I’ll usually put on some lipstick. [My boyfriend] Aaron got me one that’s coral-y—I think he really likes makeup containers and all of the colors and textures. He bought me this one, and it’s just . It feels good to put some lipstick on sometimes! is good too. Lipstick is easy for me because I have big lips, so I don’t really have to think about it. Once I start trying to do eye stuff it’s out of control. Then I sometimes fill in or brush my brows with the and . They’re both super easy to use. I won’t wear makeup during the day, but at nighttime I’ll be like, ‘Oh I want to fill my brows in!’ I never wear mascara because I rub my face so much. I hate taking it off and I don’t like how it looks on—I like to look in the mirror and see that it’s me. Sometimes I’ll do a glitter liner just for fun when I go out. I used to have a and I loved using it, but then it broke—it smashed on the ground one day. I haven’t used it since then.

I started doing Keratin treatments a long time ago. I go every three months to this neighborhood hairdresser—I think it’s called Zoe’s. I used to have curls, but when I moved here I started to straighten my hair every day. My agent was like, ‘Just do Keratin,’ and now I can’t get my curl back. But then I got used to this look, and it’s really easy. With curls you have to put in a lot of effort, and I wasn’t raised like that. My mom would chase me around to comb my hair, so I think this is better suited to me. I just use the Whole Foods shampoo and conditioner, and . It’s really affordable and easy. You can’t fuck it up. I’ll go get manicures every now and then—ooh, sometimes I’ll just do glitter, and go like, full regression. I use the —so easy to use.

This is my very favorite smell—mmm. It’s —that’s my go-to. I’m really trying to go for meadow-moss vibes. I use sometimes, and I use this one. I’m more interested in scents than any other beauty category, I think. And then I got this CBD thing that I love—I’m going to bring it on the plane. You roll it on, or you put it on your temples if you have headaches. I like that kind of stuff for flying, because [flying] freaks me out a little bit. It’s got lavender and bergamot. I think my mom, or one of my grandparents maybe, had one of the old Chanel things, and I would use way too much of that. Sketchy stuff. [Laughs] My fragrances now don’t smell like that—they smell like my apartment. This guy who has since become my friend makes —his name is Dave. I did a show for his launch of these candles, and so he gave me this gigantic candle. It’s cement—isn’t that cool? It’s handmade. I think you can get them at Opening Ceremony. It’s like a sculpture. I light incense all the time, the cheapest ones. It’s so nice."

—as told to ITG

Okay Kaya photographed by Tom Newton on June 28, 2018.