Okay Kaya’s “Ascend and Try Again” turns scuba instructions into art

The first original music from Okay Kaya since last year’s Both.

September 18, 2019

On her debut album Both, New York-via-Norway musician Okay Kaya looked at life with an outlook that was equally sincere and cynical. On the single “IUD” she both lambasted policymakers trying to repeal reproductive rights and told a lover, with a wry smile, “Baby, you so baby, but I don’t want your baby.” Nearly all of the record’s fourteen tracks contained that kind of multiplicity. Her new single “Ascend and Try Again,” premiering today on The FADER, cuts away any sense of cynicism to touch on something more intimate.

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“Ascend and Try Again,” Kaya’s first original music for new label Jagjaguwar, is fairly minimal, as is typical of Kaya’s music; but instead of her usually hyper-personal lyrics, she instead sings a series of instructions: “Blow your nose gently / You shouldn’t ever feel pain / You could try wiggling / You could try swallowing.” The words come from instructions Kaya received last year while learning how to scuba dive for an acting role; set to “Ascend and Try Again”’s delicate acoustic guitar, though, they take on new, more personal meanings.

“Ascend and Try Again” arrives alongside a video directed by Kaya and Adinah Dancyger which depicts Kaya swimming in a volcanic hot spring. “Over the course of a week, we found an onsen in this volcanically active country and conspicuously filmed during late night vacancies. And we found that there is indeed, a river,” the pair tell The FADER via email. “This video explores the sauce [sic] of it all, what happens when you wring a wet rag?
What happens when memory in dream
Becomes 
Never.”

Watch “Ascend and Try Again” above.

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Okay Kaya’s “Ascend and Try Again” turns scuba instructions into art