We chat with the Billie-Eilish approved hopeless romantic, who is rekindling the golden jazz age with a Gen Z sensibility.
All photography taken from our Spring 22 issue.
Top and trousers PRADA, earrings FARIS and rings AGMES
Taken from our Spring 22 issue, order your issue here…
“I don’t think I’ve ever properly been in love,” admits Laufey, though her amorous jazz songs would tell a different tale. At 22-years-old she yields a voice that flickers into deep vibrato like a candle on a dinner date; thick with smoky undertones and emitting a warm ambience that melts into your soul. “When I started singing, my father listened to a lot of old Ella Fitzgerald. From there I gravitated towards musical films like Singing in the Rain and My Fair Lady, of which both are set to jazz. I resonated with that sound, it felt like a comforting middle ground between new music and old [music] that seemed especially familiar.”
The Icelandic-Chinese musician basks in cinematic sound, her EP “Typical of Me” drawing on her classical skills as a cellist to reinvent tradition for a digital generation. In her single “Like the Movies”, she achieves this through strength in storytelling – lyrics that play out the inevitable pleasures and pains of falling for somebody. “Every song I write undergoes a visual narration, it becomes a miniature motion picture. That’s what I love about music, it’s so intertwined with the magic of cinema,” she shares. “Being born and raised in Iceland gives you an immense wanderlust because it is such a closed-off island, isolated from the rest of the world. Having lived in so many countries it can always be a culture shock. But no matter what I can always find a home with music, it is the glue of communities.”
(LEFT) Top and skirt SACAI, sandals MARK GONG, earrings and necklace AGMES (RIGHT) Top and skirt ISSEY MIYAKE, hat PRUNE GOLDSCHMIDT, loafers STUART WEITZMAN, earrings FARIS and rings AGMES
It was in a Boston dorm room, when Laufey studied at Berklee College of Music, that the singer penned her first release, “Street By Street.” Blisteringly sincere, Laufey’s cadence and intonation flow like a satin river, paying tribute to the places and spaces she fantasised about. “I would always dream of a colourful life outside of the arid Reykjavík landscapes I grew up in. From there, it led me to look at life through the eyes of a hopeless romantic.”
Laufey’s next dream? “Personally would be honoured to write a film score one day,” she shares. ““Let You Break My Heart Again” is a favourite song of mine. I recorded it with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, it has a special place in my heart. I wrote it when I was very sad. As a classical music kid who listened to Chopin’s nocturnes, [going on] to collaborate with a symphony orchestra is such a surreal, full-circle moment for me. It turned a sad moment into one of the best moments of my life.”
By navigating youth’s pitfalls, the singer has been met with mass relatability on TikTok, where she was first lauded by Willow Smith and Billie Eilish. Here she debuts original songs that exist as sweet, mellow listening and mild melancholia for the lovelorn. “Somebody once said to me that you can never make a wrong decision. Every choice you make will have an outcome for you, even if it isn’t the best you could hope for,” Laufey shares wisely. “In that situation, you’re still going to take something away from that, which will inform and shape you as a person. The universe is guiding you in a decisive direction… I make sure I stay humble. Being half-Chinese, it’s very woven into the culture that we stay thankful for what we have. I do try to practice that to the best of my ability.”
It is a graciousness found in her earlier release “Magnolia”, which unfolds as a love poem to female allure and the serendipity of friendship. “I have so many beautiful people in my life that don’t know how beautiful they are. I wrote that song for women because we all need a reminder,” Laufey reminisces. She pauses briefly, before setting out her goals for the future. “I definitely write very much from my own experiences. I journal a lot. I’ll sit down and I’ll spill everything that I’m feeling and pick out little words, concepts or ideas from that. I want to assort music by feeling, not style. So, my next step is taking down the walls of genre.
Dress and hat BEVZA, ear cuffs FARIS and rings MISHO
Ambre Chante, Sakai Gibson, Julia Wettreich and Mazhar Badani