Ones to Watch: Katini Yamaoka + Jordan Bryant
February is upon us –Hello, Chinese New Year, the Year of the Tiger! And while so far NYC has dodged major snowstorms it’s been bitterly cold. The kinds of days that tempt streaming marathons of your favorite shows. Watching other people’s lives instead of living your own. But we recently met up with Katini Yamaoka and Jordan Bryant, two friends and musical talents in Brooklyn who create songs that put a smile on our face regardless the weather.
Katini is a Japanese-African singer/songwriter and entrepreneur who cares deeply about human rights issues worldwide. Her dedication to her artistry has allowed her to travel the world performing for organizations including the United Nations. Katini is dedicated to empowering others with her voice. She is an active board member of Black Progress Matters, an organization working to change the color of leadership worldwide.
In addition, she is the founder of Katini Skin, a clean beauty brand set to launch this February at Saks Fifth Avenue. Katini Skin is an ode to natural health and beauty practices she inherited through her upbringing across Japan, Africa and Australia.
What drives you as an artist?
Human connection. It has always been my life’s philosophy to make sure that the work that I do leaves a positive impact in the world. As a singer-songwriter, I am grateful to be able to write and perform songs that lend a voice of positive empowerment for people.
What is your personal mantra?
Do your best and surrender to the universe
How has your passion for music influenced your passion for skincare? One of my biggest influences comes from my father – who was a human rights leader. He taught me how important it is to make a positive impact on the world. As a musician, I have felt a need to bring love and togetherness to people. I believe that giving yourself love and kindness inspires you to give that back to others. Self-care and wellness rituals not only fill your cup but overflow your cup, allowing you to give to others.
Tell us about Katini Skin and what this brand means to you? Katini Skin was created to empower people to celebrate the natural beauty that lies within.
It is a line of facial oils inspired by ancient wisdom as the source for beauty and truth. We pull incredible ingredients from native secrets from across the globe. Being a plant-based and sustainable brand was incredibly important to me – I care deeply for our planet and want to treat it with only love and respect. We also partnered with Black Progress Matters, an amazing organization where we work to support founders of color.
Your music is known for being a reflection of your cross-cultural upbringing. How do you see this being reflected with Katini Skin and what are the ancient traditions that inspired the brand?
The ingredients in Katini Skinhave been sourced from places I am from – the subtle detail from Japan, the land of the rising sun, the dense and rich soil of Australia, the land down under, and Mother Africa, the cradle of humankind.
What makes Katini Skin unique in the clean beauty space?
I wanted everything from the get-go to be vegan and cruelty-free because we are able to live a life where we don’t have to harm animals in the process of creating products. We spent time hand-selecting these ingredients and made sure that everything that goes into the brand had a purpose.
Where can we find Katini?
Katini Skin will be available February 1st on our website www.katiniskin.com and also at Saks Fifth Avenue late February.
Do you have any musical pieces set for release following the launch of Katini Skin?
Yes! I am very excited for my next single Geisha. It is a song about celebrating a woman’s grace and beauty, as well as her strength and power.
“I love that weird tingly feeling I get when I hear a track that gives me chills that runs through my body,” says Jordan Bryant. But when you get to know him, you find that everything is love to the twenty-something-year-old. Bryant translates the wonder with which he builds powerful relationships and moves through the world into this soulful, folky, dreamy coffee shop on the beach tracks that buzz pleasantly in your head long after you’ve heard them. Bryant’s music, earnest and resonant, embrace the vulnerability and gentleness many men are molded to shy away from.
As a teen, Bryant spent his days navigating his way around in his small town Toledo, Ohio, pushed away from traditional beliefs when his peers could not make sense of the way his boyhood, blackness, and queerness showed up. He spent his nights writing, searching how-to videos on Youtube on music, and connecting with a collection of artists all around the world through the internet.
After evolving from his small hometown, with a few hundred dollars on him, he took off to the UK to make music with them, warmly received in strangers’ studios and at their dinner tables. Eventually, he landed in New York City, where he gained success in the music and fashion industry under some well-known names. He has collaborated with many brands from Aknvas, Lichen, Arje, Fried Rice, and more! You’ll always find him armed with the electric ukulele he managaged to con his mother into buying for him as a kid. Bryant can create and perform on-demand, ever-ready to bring people together with his toasty vocals and musings on feeling. If you’re looking for a jam session, a deep talk, or a strong hug, find him @jordanalexanderbryant on Instagram.
– Jordan Bryant
What drives me as a creative person is the stories and inspiration of people I meet along the way each and every day. There’s always something new that I Love.
What is your personal mantra?
That’s a good question! I wouldn’t say I have a personal mantra exactly. I do more personal rituals than anything that keep me grounded and help me become more of myself
You have your EP coming out. What do you hope to convey to your audience?
Yes! My EP is coming out around Spring, I’m really excited and also very nervous because a lot of these songs are very personal and will touch on a lot of subjects from what I feel we’re all going through or what we have been through. But I hope to convey something that people haven’t felt before with music or haven’t felt in a long time when we used to hear our favorite songs growing up, not physically but mentally.
Do you have a source inspiration that fuels you irrespective of how crazy things get?
My source of inspiration comes from a lot of risk-takers not just in my career but in many ways in life from the love I feel or pure happiness. I’m really huge on storytelling which comes out a lot from music dealing with breakups, heartbreak, and also from not giving a fuck.
Katini and Jordan are wearing the designs of Alexander Acosta and
Jewelry by Elizabeth Moore
Creative Direction: Katya Moorman + Francesca Vuillemin
Photography: Katya Moorman
Illustration: Paco May
Styling: Francesca Vuillemin
Assistant: Savannah Foley
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