laufey

Laufey, the jazz-pop phenom defying the goddess norm. Credit: Olivier Simille

The Laufey vibe is akin to sipping hot cocoa by a crackling fire – her lustrous voice a warm blanket that swaddles its listeners and paints a portrait of young adulthood with flashes of old-school romance. Cue Bewitched, the 24-year-old’s soaring sophomore LP that was released last September and won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album just last month – a week-and-a-half before this shoot took place.

On the titular track, she croons: “You bewitched me / From the first time that you kissed me / Waited all night / Then we ran down the street in the late London light / The world froze around us / You kissed me goodnight”. Feel the nostalgia? 

laufey
Credit:Olivier Simille

Mohair blouson jacket, cotton pique polo shirt and cotton shirt, Miu Miu

As much as the Icelandic-Chinese singer (full name: Laufey Lin Jonsdottir) is an expert at conjuring such wistful pictures though, her songs are ultimately written from the POV of a 24-year-old living in a 21st-century world. The song Dreamer, for example, is an anthem that would resonate with anyone who’s experienced modern-day dating: “I’m giving up, I’m throwing in my hat / I can’t take another lifeless little chat”.

This expert blend of the dreamily old time-y with the relatable is possibly one of the mononymic performer’s greatest strengths, accounting for her ability to introduce millions to a genre that many in her generation might previously have thought of as elevator music. (Bewitched clocked 5.7 million streams on day one of its release – the largest debut for a jazz album in Spotify’s history.)

Take how the classically trained singer is perfectly at home performing with a grand orchestra yet can also be counted on to update her social media account – where 6.7 million people across TikTok and Instagram avidly follow her – with candid videos. Her TikToks come with perfectly Gen Z-coded captions (one reads: “I made the song ur going to play at your imaginary wedding to the person you don’t even dare talk to”). And she regularly responds to comments too: “Go to a Barnes and Noble and look lost” was her cheeky reply to a fan who had asked how to find a Laufey boy. 

laufey
Credit:Olivier Simille

Leather jacket, cotton shirt, cotton-blend mini skirt and nylon swimsuit briefs, Miu Miu

Such interactions are not the carefully manufactured work of a social media manager – Laufey’s the one doing the replying. As she gets more and more famous, it’s hard to imagine how she’ll be able to keep it up, but she tells us these unfiltered interactions are precious to her: “This community was built by the fans… When I see them comment on something I post, I respond because I’m  showing them the love that they show me.”

laufey
Credit:Olivier Simille

Velour blazer, mohair blouson jacket, cotton pique polo shirt, mohair mini skirt, nylon swimsuit briefs and satin d’Orsay pumps, Miu Miu.Tights, stylist’s own

It’s not a stretch to say that she’s accomplished a lot within a relatively short time. She released her debut single Street By Street in April 2020 at the height of the pandemic; as we write this, she’s in the midst of her biggest tour to date. Even as the singer acknowledges that a lot more “glitz and glamour has come into her life”, she’s staying grounded. If anything, her increasing fame has made her more determined to act responsibly for those of her generation. 

“When I see them comment on something I post, I respond because I’m  showing them the love that they show me.”

“I wasn’t expecting so much attention so fast and so soon. It’s honestly a big honour to win my first Grammy, but I think it’s been most important for me to keep close to my friends, my family and sister – the people who have supported me all this time,” she says. “I am also increasingly aware of my place as a role model. My actions – in person, on stage and online – can have an impact, and a large part of my fanbase is younger women and girls, so whatever I do feels like an important responsibility.”

Already, she walks the talk through her music. On the track Letter To My 13 Year Old Self, for instance, she – being biracial (her violinist mother is Chinese while her jazz-loving father, who works for the International Monetary Fund, is Icelandic) – crafts a tender, heartfelt message for people of colour: “I’m so sorry that they pick you last / Try to say your foreign name and laugh / I know that you feel loud, so different from the crowd / Of big blue eyes, and long blonde hair, and boys that stare / But, baby, know that / You’ll grow up / And grow so tough and charm them”. 

@femalesingapore

Hello everyone it is the up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Bing Bing, aka @laufey. In town last weekend for her first Singapore showcase as part of the female-led Alex Blake Charlie Sessions, Laufey gives us an introduction to herself and how she’s spreading her brand of jazzy bedroom-pop to a new audience. Interview & Video Editing: Alby Permana Videography: Lawrence Teo #Laufey #LaufeyInSingapore #LaufeyConcert #Jazz #BedroomPop #StarSign #Music #FYP #SGNews #LearningIsFun #FEMALEMag #FEMALESingapore

♬ original sound – FEMALE – FEMALE

Laufey’s certainly glowed up since those days of being alienated and the fashion industry is taking note. She recently starred in a Rodarte campaign and sat front row at Molly Goddard’s Fall/Winter 2024 show – both brands that gel perfectly with her signature girlish aesthetic.

Consider it a sign of the times – when women are reclaiming and reinventing notions of girlhood, and celebrities of her generation are increasingly more interested in sharing feel-good moments than being paradigms of hedonism. (She’s even started her own book club, The Laufey Book Club, which boasts a nearly 100K-strong following on Instagram as of press time.)

laufey
Credit:Olivier Simille

Velour blazer, cotton pique polo shirt, cotton shirt, cotton-blend mini skirt and nylon swimsuit briefs, Miu Miu

“A lot of my own idols growing up were classical and jazz musicians because that’s the world I existed in. I looked up to Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Julie Andrews. These women each had strong stage presence and a unique tone, and were all trailblazers in their art,” she says. “I think it’s such a blessing that – as an artist now – I can have this direct channel of communication to promote my music and speak to my audience… Artistes – especially female artistes – haven’t always had that so to be able to have a voice in this world now is cool.”

“I am also increasingly aware of my place as a role model. My actions – in person, on stage and online – can have an impact, and a large part of my fanbase is younger women and girls, so whatever I do feels like an important responsibility.”

She’s certainly taking on her career on her own terms. According to Billboard magazine, there was reportedly a multi-million dollar bidding war among major music labels to sign her, but she eventually opted for AWAL – a company that provides artists with the resources and expertise of a global label without taking away ownership and creative control of their music. 

laufey
Credit:Olivier Simille

Cotton pique polo shirt, satin bermuda shorts, nylon swimsuit briefs and leather penny loafers, Miu Miu. Socks, stylist’s own

Remaining independent is paramount to Laufey. “When I’m writing music, I’m writing for myself. The ideas come from an experience or thought that I’ve had and the songwriting is me sorting that situation out,” she says. “It’s my way of journaling about it and my hope is that it’ll appeal to all generations.” If you ask us, this dream of hers has already come true.

PHOTOGRAPHY OLIVIER SIMILLE STYLING LETIZIA MARIA ALLODI PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT VALENTIN BOURE HAIR & MAKEUP ELENA DIAZ CASTING & PRODUCTION MIRAE CREATIVE

This article first appear in the March 2024 Celebrity Edition of FEMALE