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Culture Shock

CULTURE SHOCK 2021: Q&A With Okay Kaya

Headlining this year's virtual Culture Shock Music Festival is Norwegian-American singer-songwriter Okay Kaya! We got the chance to ask her some questions before her set premieres this Saturday.

Who are 3 artists that inspire your music writing process?

Hard to pick just three, for this concert I covered songs by Blaze Foley and Leo Sayer. I’m usually inspired by what I’m reading, these days poems by Claudia Rankine and Fernando Pessoa.

How does your identity as a Norwegian-American influence your musical style/music in general?

I think identity influences many parts of one's life. I’m a bit of a sponge and my mother has a big record collection which has left me hungry and playful with my own musical stylings.

That said, when I’m actually making music or creating the sonic aspect there is very little conscious thinking going on, I feel like only the right side of my brain is working with little concept of “myself” or time passing by, just this gut feeling of something sounding yummy or not.

Lyrically it’s quite the opposite. I’ve made a whole record sorta about doing the splits across the Atlantic Ocean it’s called Both and is an embrace of the in-between, the confused.

In the future, will you release music in Norwegian / promote your music in Norway?

Every album I’ve released actually has a Norwegian song on it! I’m fortunate to get to play in Norway although every time I play close to home it feels like my own funeral.

What is your favorite live performance memory?

Once playing in Vancouver, a person joined me on stage, swaying beside me or breaking into contemporary dance. That was fun and special. He got kicked out but then allowed back in. It was on my birthday.

Do you prefer performing live or being in the studio?

I have stage fright still but I like performing more live now that I can have bands on stage with me. Being in the studio is either very very frustrating or very very comfortable, I try to welcome both.

If you could choose one other artist to write a song with, who would it be?

Cody Chessnutt.

What were your top 3 or 5 songs that you listened to last year?

Voyage Voyage by Desireless

So Unusual by The Impressions

If I Can Help Somebody by Siter Rosetta Tharpe

Okay Kaya will be performing at the 2021 Culture Shock Music Festival on Saturday, April 17th at 9 pm EST. Her performance, along with all others for this year’s festival, will be streamed live on the Culture Shock Website. The festival will begin streaming at 1:30 pm EST. WIUX will also be set up in Dunn Meadow from 1 – 6 pm selling shirts, sweatshirts, and other merch.


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