The Jersey disruptor on how her bombastic track “Vibe” became a TikTok sensation.

Cookiee Kawaii interview for Wonderland shot in lockdown
Cookiee Kawaii interview for Wonderland shot in lockdown

Amidst a global pandemic, TikTok serves as a constant reminder that, club or no club, we will find a way to dance; something universally applicable to both celebrities and us mere mortals.

And not long ago, you might remember the emergence of one tantalising bass-shuddering track imploring us to “throw it back”; one that would transform supremely talented New Jersey artist Cookiee Kawaii into an overnight sensation. Fast forward to over 50 million streams, two million TikTok features (some which even see animals bopping to the addictive track), and celebrity fans including Doja Cat (we’re still reeling from her chainmail-clad dramatic reading of the lyrics on her IG), and the mania truly speaks for itself. And her new animated visuals see her “saving the world from bad vibes” – a trippy, dragon-featured ode to anime.

She has also just dropped aptly-named “Quarantine And Chill”, a thumping club-ready new release perspiring mellifluous garage and propulsive rhythms.

We caught up with Cookiee on how she’s keeping busy this lockdown, her early influences, and how her bombastic track “Vibe” became a TikTok sensation…

Hi Cookiee! How has lockdown been for you? What’s your set-up? What’s keeping you comfortable right now?
Hey Wonderland, lockdown has been a rollercoaster of multiple different things for me. From promoting my song to trying to find something to keep me occupied, it’s been a journey for sure. My set up is basically my phone, my laptop, my PS4, and tons of snacks. Mainly video games and reading keeps me occupied.

How has isolation influenced your creativity?
Being isolated has definitely had me doing a variety of different things – from going live with my fans and doing dance contests, to even releasing a new song called “Quarantine and Chill”, it’s actually on my SoundCloud and I made up the lyrics while I was on live.

For people who don’t know you, what are you about – how would you describe your genre?
Well basically I’m just a down-to-earth nerd. I make Jersey club music, I’m a Jersey native. I like anime and video games so I’m pretty much open to anything cool. To describe Jersey club to someone who doesn’t know about it, I’d say bass, a good dumping bass! And if you really want to spice things up find a vocalist to say “throw it back.”

Where did your name come from? I read you love anime…
I actually named myself. The Cookiee came from my love for cookies and the Kawaii means cute in Japanese, so I figured why not put those two things together. I actually do love anime so that helped me find the definition of what Kawaii means in the first place – so shout out to anime.

Cookiee Kawaii interview for Wonderland shot in lockdown car
Cookiee Kawaii interview for Wonderland shot in lockdown car

You’re from Jersey, how has that and the club scene there influenced your sound?
Yeah I’m from Irvington, New Jersey. I’ve literally grown up on club music. For me it started with House music since both my parents are DJs. I was always surrounded by music. And growing up in Jersey there’s no way I can’t get a taste of Jersey club – and once I got the taste I was addicted.

Your single “Vibe” has gone viral on TikTok – what was your reaction when you first saw it picking up traction? Do you have a favourite/weirdest video you’ve seen?
I actually didn’t have a TikTok account when I found out this song was going viral, so once I had made one and saw what was going on, it was actually pretty cool. I was just excited to see all of the different videos that people were making. I don’t think I have a favourite video at this point, I’ve seen so many different covers, or even different animals dancing to the song. I love every single one of them.

A lot of artists have been making music videos in isolation – have you thought about making one for “Vibe”?
I have actually thought about a video, if we weren’t in isolation I probably already would’ve had visuals out by now, with everything going on it completely changed my treatment. So I do plan on putting out a video I just have to figure out ways around making everything happen. We have an animated visual coming out now.

I saw on your insta you’ve really been interacting with your fans and going Live with them – has this weird time actually been amazing for that kind of thing?
I actually blog as well, and I did a lot of blogging before “Vibe” went viral, so me interacting with people on my live is something that I did before quarantine. So, now that I have a way larger following and even more people at home to talk to – it’s actually something that I just fell right into. I feel quarantine has, all things considered, definitely just made interacting with fans more fun because I have more people to entertain at one time. So it’s amazing in that respect.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I’m very sensitive. Even though I’m tough and have a lot of strength, I’m a big baby lowkey, I usually will cry something out when people aren’t around but, I’m a big baby when it comes to something I love or that I’m passionate about.

What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
World domination. To be honest my goal is just to continue to make music and connect with people around the world, and make a stamped name for Jersey club. I am excited about going on tour, I pray every day that this pandemic ends sooner than later so I can travel the world.

Maybelle Morgan