Okay Kaya's Both album arrives tomorrow, the end of a twisting journey of hairpin turns. The Norwegian born singer/songwriter/actress/model was first featured on P&P in 2015, when "Damn, Gravity" became one of our favorite songs of the year. We crossed paths again in 2016 for an acoustic session at SXSW, and have listened/watched earnestly as Both singles were released in recent months.
Though years have passed, some important things haven't changed: Kaya still has a voice that you recognize instantly, a restrained, murmuring delivery that splits the difference between sleep talk and an internal monologue. She still favors the trusty guitar when it comes to musical accompaniment, although much of BOTH was recorded alongside Aaron Maine of Porches. She decided to make the album in her apartment after a protracted voyage into the land of music producers. "I let two years of recording go," Kaya told us. "It was all kind of favors, not a lot of studio time...it's nice to be able to jump out of bed at 4 A.M. and record a vocal take."
The result is an enlightened effort, a combination of the intimate and experimental that turns Kaya's bittersweet folk tunes into something a bit heavier and more menacing. She's working with a band and inviting in Maine's electronic flourishes, a decision that coincides nicely with a newfound lyrical bite. Songs like "IUD" and "Calendar Girl" confront pressing truths about being a woman and the entertainment industry in 2018—Kaya's breathy, honest delivery makes sure each punch lands.
When we linked up for this episode of Who Is?, however, the mood was considerably lighter. Kaya's skateboarding, rapping brother Elias was in town from Norway, and the siblings wanted to try out an escape room. It turned out to be more haunted house than brain teaser, but they made it out alive. Two pizzas and a rainy walk later, Kaya recounted the album's narrative from the comfort of her comforter. Aaron came over to say hello, and everything seemed like it was right in place. It was almost as if they had planned it that way.
Watch our latest episode of Who Is above, and revisit our 2016 SXSW backyard below.