The Icelandic-Chinese jazz singer brings “old music” to a young audience with her newest album Bewitched. Photo: Blythe Thomas
At just age 24, Laufey (pronounced LAY-vay) is putting out music that seems well beyond her years. The Icelandic singer and cellist recently released her third LP, Bewitched, and she brings the old, charming sounds of jazz and classical music to a younger audience through relatable lyrics about love and growing up in the era of technology and social media.
Laufey grew up in a very musical household. With her mother and sister both being classically trained in violin and her and her father being classically trained in cello and piano, there was no shortage of classical music in her household growing up. At just age 15, Laufey made her solo debut as a cellist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. She gains the jazz influence prevalent in her music today from her father, who introduced her to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday growing up. Laufey explains in a past interview with 1883 Magazine that she found that her voice better suited the soulful, rich sounds of jazz compared to the higher pitched sounds of pop. And this is where Laufey finds her roots for the music she puts out today. Bewitched is a pure reflection of Laufey’s life experiences, from growing up in playing classical music, to learning more about jazz in college, to her overall life experiences as a Gen Z woman.
Since putting out music in 2020, Laufey has gained a loyal fanbase on social media and part of the reason for this is due to her vulnerability and intimacy with her fans. It’s not unlike her to post covers of other songs, give fans a snippet of things she’s working on behind the scenes, or even host surprise concerts free of charge like she did in LA not even two weeks ago. And this vulnerability is reflected in her music. She sings of love (and lack thereof) in a multitude of tracks in Bewitched, such as “Second Best” and “From the Start” as well as the awkwardness of adolescence in “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self.” Her lyricism caters and resonates with the younger generation and the dreamy quality of her arrangements that are borrowed from jazz and classical music makes listeners stay. Bewitched is both foreign and home at the same time; the former because I am not used to hearing arrangements that have these sounds, but the latter because I feel like I am alongside Laufey in some tragic, dreamy film. When listening to her, it feels like I am there with her.
In an era filled with the loud and upbeat sounds of pop, Laufey slows the world down a little bit, allowing you to get lost in her voice and arrangements as she shares her life experiences. Her tracks are like a bedtime story accompanied by a warm mug of tea. At just 24 years old, if her past is any reflection of her future, it is bright. I told my girlfriend that I was writing an article about Laufey and she responded, “her album is magic” and to be honest, I agree. In such a fast paced world, the ability to slow down and just… listen, is magic.