The Norwegian Musician, Model and Actress Okay Kaya

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Norwegian Kaya Wilkins was discovered when she released her songs online. Since then she has been touring around the world and collaborating with musical celebrities like Jamie xx, PJ Harvey, Tobias Jesso Jr., King Krule and Sampha. Here’s a profile of the Norwegian musician, model and actress Okay Kaya.

Kaya Wilkins is someone who doesn’t think you can buy the perfect white T-shirt in a store — you have to steal it, already threadbare from someone else’s life. One of the last items of clothing she bought was from a museum gift shop in Amsterdam. In the sweet synth-laden lullaby “Calendar Girl,” the second track off her debut album Both, she sings, “Take myself out, Walk me like a dog / Just to leave the house, Just around the block.”

The Norwegian Musician, Model and Actress Okay Kaya
Okay Kaya performing Damn Gravity

Related: One of Norway’s Most Interesting Pop Artists

Kaya Wilkins was born 1990 in New Jersey and grew up with her mother and five brothers on Nesoddtangen, four miles southwest of Oslo, reached mostly by water taxis and ferries, the tapered cape jutting out into the Oslo Fjord.

The Norwegian Musician, Model and Actress Okay Kaya
She is not yet a “movie star,” but co-starred in Joachim Trier’s Norwegian-language film ‘Thelma’. Trier picked her to play the popular girl at school.

She performs under the name Okay Kaya, offers softly sung lyrics that simultaneously skew sarcastic and soberingly real, set to saccharine bedroom-pop melodies largely produced in collaboration with her boyfriend Aaron Maine of Porches.

The Norwegian Musician, Model and Actress Okay Kaya
Okay Kaya modeling for Miu Miu. Photo: Alice Rosati

Related: Sigrid from Norway Winner of BBC Music Sound of 2018 Poll

Modeling to make money to produce music
Kaya has modeled to make money so she can make music.  She landed in LA to shoot a commercial for Banana Republic. She has in fact a few projects inspired by her experience in the works. “I want to explore what it means to rehabilitate within facilities where you’re institutionalized,” she said to Vogue. Wilkins is, without question, embarking on her boldest, most empowered chapter yet.

Related: A Merry Scandinavian Christmas With Song And Music

The Norwegian Musician, Model and Actress Okay Kaya
Kaya Wilkins was born 1990 in New Jersey and grew up with her mother and five brothers on Nesoddtangen, four miles southwest of Oslo

Her boldest chapter yet
Kaya’s just-released visual counterpoint to the song “Vampire,” the carbon-copied clone theme continued, emphasizing the ambiguities in her racial identity (she has both Scandinavian and African-American roots), sexual fluidity, and mental health. The latter came to a head in April, a month and a half before the LP’s release, when the musician took to Instagram to reveal she spent a week in Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric center after experiencing an episode triggered by her bipolar depression.

Feature image (on top): Photo: Tim Barber

The Norwegian-American Musician, Model and Actress Okay Kaya, written by Tor Kjolberg

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