May 18, 2024

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TikTok jazz sensation Laufey: ‘It’s no more time about genre, it’s about feeling and mood’ | Pop and rock

It’s 6 hours before showtime and a queue of youngsters by now strains the road exterior east London’s EartH arts location. They are sitting down patiently on the pavement and ending their research or taking part in Uno, hoping to get to the front of the stage for the to start with of a few marketed-out demonstrates by 24-12 months-previous singer-songwriter Laufey Jónsdóttir. Overhead, the grey February afternoon threatens to break into rain.

Within, sitting down up coming to the peeling partitions of her dressing room in a pristine gingham dress, Jónsdóttir is unfazed by the degrees of anticipation.

“Since we place on my first headline displays in 2021, they have usually marketed out,” she claims. “I don’t get nervous in advance of I execute, for the reason that as shortly as I’m on stage it’s this fast release to sing and hook up with the audience. It is the most effective element of getting a musician.”

It is unsurprising that Jónsdóttir – recognized merely as Laufey, pronounced Lay-vay – has only played marketed-out displays, considering the fact that the statistics that have accompanied her in the four many years since she released her 2020 debut one, Avenue By Avenue, are dazzling. She has extra than 4 million followers on TikTok, in which her music have long gone viral many situations, a lot more than 2 million on Instagram, and in 2023 conquer Björk and Sigur Rós to turn out to be the most streamed artist from Iceland. That exact same yr, she performed marketed-out exhibits to extra than 60,000 people throughout the globe and introduced collaborations with Norah Jones and Beabadoobee. Popular supporters consist of Billie Eilish, who cheered her on in February when she turned the youngest particular person to get the Grammy for Very best Regular Pop Vocal Album – an award beforehand received by the likes of Tony Bennett, Joni Mitchell and Michael Bublé. She is now embarking on a globe tour that will see her enjoy the Royal Albert Corridor, cross Europe, head to the US and even conduct with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra in the Philippines. Just about every clearly show is, of course, offered out.

Laufey accepting her award for best standard pop vocal album at the Grammys last thirty day period. Photograph: Leon Bennett/Getty Photos for The Recording Academy

Even much more astounding than her speedy ascent is the variety of tunes that Laufey makes. Across her two albums, 2022’s Almost everything I Know About Adore and 2023’s Bewitched, she has perfected a mix of 1950s-encouraged classic jazz vocals with luscious symphony orchestrations and confessional Taylor Swift-esque songwriting, spawning a new kind of pop. Taking part in like TikTok’s reply to Norah Jones, Laufey is making crooning jazz palatable to teenager audiences for the to start with time in a long time, her torch tracks harking back again to a sepia-tinted environment they have never ever recognized.

“The music I make has older inspirations but the lyrics are pretty modern,” she says. “I do not see myself as any person who really should have existed in a various decade. I’m quite a lot a 21st-century woman and like living in this time, considering the fact that there is no improved time to be a female.”

Certainly, Laufey’s songwriting takes in each component of present day romance, from tales of spying a crush on the tube (From the Get started) to the emotional perils of situationships (Guarantee), all couched in the heat of her minimal-register, Ella Fitzgerald-referencing vocals.

“I also consider there is no better time to be a musician, for the reason that audiences have by no means been as open as they are now,” she adds. “We have an abundance of strategies to listen to all types of music, and it’s no more time about genre, it’s about experience and mood. At the stop of the day, younger persons want to listen to younger people, they do not want to pay attention to more mature men and women preach to them.”

Laufey (suitable) with her twin sister Junia Lín Jónsdóttir on still left. Junia is her sister’s innovative director and violinist at her gigs. Photograph: Courtesy of Laufey

Born in Reykjavik to an Icelandic father and Chinese mother, Laufey and her similar twin sister, Júnía, grew up steeped in audio. Her mom is a violinist for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, though her maternal grandparents were professors of violin and piano. Encouraged by the jazz data in her dad’s assortment, as effectively as her mother’s enjoy of the classical repertoire, Laufey was specified her 1st violin at the age of two, just before using piano lessons at four and cello lessons at eight. “Initially, I desired to be pushed to do audio,” she claims. “But I’m grateful that my mother produced me practise every working day for an hour, because when I reached 13, it suddenly clicked.”

Joining a youth orchestra as she entered her teenagers, songs before long grew to become a social endeavour as a great deal as an escape from the sense of difference Laufey if not seasoned as a person of the only persons of color in her neighborhood.

“I definitely felt like a foreigner, staying a person of the handful of Asians in Iceland, and possessing lived partially in the States from 6 to nine years previous,” she states. “On prime of that, I was a nerdy orchestra child. I did not go dwelling to engage in with good friends, I went household to practise. Tunes became this undertaking that I hoped would be my ticket to the significant globe of the States or the United kingdom.”

By 15, she experienced performed as a cello soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and entered Icelandic actuality contest Ìsland Got Expertise, reaching the televised remaining. “I was extremely rigorous with willpower in significant school, I didn’t drink and I didn’t party,” she suggests. “I was set on obtaining my aim of going to a university overseas and getting a full scholarship.”

The tough get the job done paid out off and in 2018, aged 19, she left home to go to Boston’s Berklee Higher education of Music on a prestigious Presidential scholarship. There followed two decades full of firsts: her initial working experience of residing aside from Júnía, her initial time learning jazz fairly than classical songs, and her very first romances. “I obtained independence for the very first time, I was no more time aspect of a twin unit and I was just living as a woman,” she suggests with a smile. “I was like, let’s increase up and dwell a minimal, and all of a unexpected I experienced all these experiences to publish about.”

Laufey undertaking At EartH, Hackney, past month. Photograph: Burak Çıngı/Redferns

Filling up her songbook with new encounters in romance, rejection and longing, Laufey was completely ready to examination her product with the community when Covid-19 strike. “We had nowhere to go and nowhere to perform as musicians, so the world-wide-web was definitely the only put to existing any kind of artwork,” she suggests. “I utilized lockdown to write-up films of myself online singing new tracks and I was shocked that it took off. We finished up growing a true audience of younger persons.”

In April 2020, she independently unveiled Avenue By Road, a plaintive, people-motivated ballad about reclaiming a town from its memories of an ex. But it wasn’t till Laufey created a TikTok online video singing her track Valentine the pursuing calendar year that she totally went viral. “It’s just a jazz music that I wrote on Valentine’s Day, sort of as a joke, but once I posted it, my cell phone commenced blowing up,” she suggests. “Now it’s develop into like a new conventional. It is pleasurable that a song I wrote as a homage to the earlier can be understood as new music.”

In the long run, this is the essence of Laufey’s musical attraction – repurposing previous appears to produce a wistful nostalgia for an period that her teen fanbase have never identified. While her debut album, Anything I Know About Enjoy, was shaped largely of those people Berklee dorm room songs, her newest release, Bewitched, sees Laufey in additional sophisticated musical territory, co-creating and even composing classical tunes for the to start with time – all the while remaining an impartial artist with out a key label contract.

“It’s extra experienced mainly because I have developed as a human being,” she claims. “Not a single notice is played on the tunes with no me staying in the place, and it is all musicians actively playing actual devices. We’re all just making an attempt to deliver classical and jazz new music to new audiences.”

A highlight on the album is the shifting jazz ballad Letter To My 13 Calendar year Old Self, the place Laufey sings softly about her teenage thoughts of inadequacy. “When I was young, I felt so odd. I felt like a circus freak, due to the fact I had this lower voice and there have been so handful of Asian singer-songwriters to seem up to,” she suggests, her head bowed. “I wrote Letter To My 13 Yr Old Self for the reason that I was reflecting on how I experienced these major dreams but I did not think they were being attainable. I didn’t really feel awesome plenty of or attractive more than enough. I have a good deal of youthful lovers now who have comparable dreams and I want to encourage them way too.”

Back again at EartH in Hackney, far more than 1,200 of all those lovers allow out a deafening roar when Laufey performs almost everything from 40s jazz standard I Desire You Love to her individual 21st-century normal Valentine at EartH. As she draws to a shut, she sings Letter To My 13 Yr Old Self and addresses the group. “I sense like I grew to become the artist that I was lacking when I was more youthful and it tends to make me genuinely, actually joyful,” she states, her voice quavering. “Every night I seem out into my group it feels like the group I often needed but never experienced.” Her viewers cheers and some wipe away tears from their cheeks, nodding to every single other. It appears to be this display was worth the wait around.

Laufey plays the Roundhouse, London 13 March, and the Royal Albert Corridor on 16 May possibly. Bewitched is out now on AWAL Recordings