Jagjaguwar · November 4, 2022
Kaya Wilkins, known as Okay Kaya, has just released her third album SAP. In simple terms, Wilkins covers a lot in the span of just fifteen songs. Playing protagonist in each track, Wilkins morphs from a sentient dumpling on “Dep. Chamber,” to a lively fitness instructor on “Jazzercise,” and back to her painfully human self, again and again. Conceptually, Wilkins explains SAP as being about the cerebrospinal ‘sap’-like fluid that flows in and out of the brain. Whether or not Wilkins is commenting on the nature of the fluid or she believes she is the human projection of the sap itself is up for interpretation.
The album opens with “Mood Into Object Personified.” Immediately, I sobered up to her biting lyricism, delicious synthesis, and calculated melodies. As the title suggests, Okay Kaya immediately surrounds the listener with vivid imagery. Layered and looped vocals drape the album in hummability [hum・a・bility: the ability to hum], and give us plenty to think about.
Wilkins had teased us with her AI generated “Inside of a Plum” music video in October – a song heavily inspired by her own experience with Ketamine therapy. The song is a psychedelic favorite, but is also a moment where Okay Kaya gets to showcase her collaborative ability. Along with visual artist Austin Lee, Wilkins describes taking visions from her mind’s eye and translating her drawings to create a product. Enamored by the brain’s physical response to K, Wilkins sings “even my subconscious is self-conscious.” Comfortable with the conflict within her, Okay Kaya produces and performs a post-hoc analysis of where she is now. Inside SAP, find a smattering of consciousness questioning lyrics and memorable choruses.
This album directly reflects the artist’s recent move from New York to Berlin in order to pursue visual work. Wilkins communicates how she perceives herself and her place in the world in a relatable state of never-ending change. I’m convinced the woman speaks only in abstractive lyrics.
In terms of album listening experience, SAP is highly visual. Even the most sober listener can almost make out the inside of the same plum Wilkins is seeing. While I thoroughly enjoy the abstractive effects of listening to Okay Kaya, every once in a while I did find my mind wandering. Whenever I lost my place, I’d have to restart the song entirely. Each track holds its own complete storyline. Disguised as calming alt-indie, SAP and its contents are quick-witted, and will leave you with a tummy ache if you listen hard enough. This album carries me safely onto the Green Line many mornings and gives new meaning to every stranger I passed on my commute.