Kaya is primarily an R&B/lo-fi artist who solidified her presence with her 2019 EP Ky-Fi. It was her 2021 EP, Adult Child, which I came across first, though, thanks to POCLANOS’ ever-updating Spotify playlist. This EP is short and sentimental while exploring territory a bit outside her usual genre.
Throughout the first half of the EP, Kaya utilizes jazzy horn riffs and filters to give her songs a nostalgic edge, leaning into her previous styles. However, as the EP progresses, she drifts between lo-fi shoegaze (or even nu gaze) and acoustic indie, though she manages to suit the various stylings on this EP beautifully regardless of the genre.
“Express Terminal – 2021 Remastered” is a song with a warm sound to suit its lyrics. The original version was released as a single just last year in 2020, with a different childhood photo serving as the album art. The remaster softens the instrumentals a bit, making them more understated and highlighting Kaya’s voice. She sings about being unsure of where to go or what to do, overwhelmed by her surroundings. According to a video on her YouTube channel, the lyrics from her chorus are taken from a conversation she had on the phone with her mother:
“Where are you?
You don’t have to hurry. Slow down. Oh my.
Have you eaten yet?
Then I’ll wait.
Let’s eat together. Be careful.”
“Galaxy Express” toes further into R&B territory, and feels like an extension of “Express Terminal” both instrumentally and lyrically. Kaya once again expresses uncertainty and dissatisfaction with her current life. The electronic beat gives the impression of wheels turning, as she sits on the express to the unknowns of adulthood, plodding steadily and rhythmically on. Her lyrics start cynically, which is unexpected given Kaya’s light vocals and sweet vibrato, but by the end she is once again offering herself reassurances:
“Turn around, turn around, find your place.
You’ll be fine if you doze off.
I just need a little time.”
“Like Aewol” has a brighter sound which suits Kaya’s vocals well. The piano noticeably echoes in the track, giving the impression of an open space, and the accompanying chimes (possibly a marimba) only add to the warm atmosphere. Kaya’s vibrato is on full display here, and she sounds noticeably more upbeat and playful in this song.
Although it has a lighthearted atmosphere, Kaya expressed that she wrote the lyrics while thinking about how maintaining communication with your loved ones can be difficult; how sometimes you can feel as though you’re bothering them by wanting to talk. Nonetheless, the track encourages the listener to let go of their concerns and relax. It’s a song that’s perfect for an early summer playlist, or for playing on warm evenings.
“Hi, Bye” takes a somewhat sharp turn into ballad territory, relying heavily on the piano in the beginning. Kaya sings with emotion, invoking a sense of nostalgia and longing in the listener. She laments the loss of a once close relationship; a person who no longer responds to her greetings, but whom she still thinks to greet. Her bright voice manages to make the song bittersweet, which somehow only makes it all the sadder.
From the R&B “Galaxy Express” to her closing ballad, Kaya’s second EP shows her growth as an artist and her range of capabilities. Although it’s clear from her discography that lo-fi is her typical wheelhouse, she doesn’t shy away from other genres, and hopefully we’ll see her branching out even more in the future.