Meet Laufey, the Gen Z Artist Making Us Fall in Love With Jazz All Over Again


Photo: Blythe Thomas

Icelandic-Chinese singer-songwriter Laufey (pronounced Loy-vay) brings to life a modern-day Ella Fitzgerald. Influenced by her mother who was a classical violinist, her interest in music blossomed at a young age. While arguably one of her most impressive instruments, Laufey's talent doesn't just reside in her voice but in tandem with her multifaceted instrumental approach as both a pianist and cellist. At age 15, Laufey made her solo debut as a cellist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. 

In her debut EP, 2021's Typical of Me, Laufey cultivates an intimate experience through seven songs and all within the succinct span of 21 minutes. Her voice carries delicately through songs like "Magnolia" and "I Wish You Love," feeling akin to an uninterruptible moment shared between the listener and Laufey, a fleeting glimpse of transcendent intimacy. 

On other moments of her impressive debut project, she unveils an effortless array of scatting, which brings her love for jazz in all forms to the forefront. In her standout track "Like the Movies," the feeling of timeless nostalgia not only takes hold through the scatting but is brought along by a cinematic trumpet accompaniment. It's a nigh call and response moment that nods to a classic expression used throughout jazz and blues music. 

And while Typical of Me cemented Laufey as a mesmerizing artist to watch, she continues to make impressive strides forward with her latest Adam Melchor-assisted single, "Love Flew Away." "Adam has been one of my greatest musical idols in the past few years so it's an incredible honor to release this song with him. Writing with Adam was so much fun and we found that we had similar experiences with the pain of long distance love - which we ultimately wrote the song about," shares Laufey. Melchor continues, "The first time I heard Laufey's voice, I instantly knew I needed to sing with her. She came to my house one day and we just talked for about 7 hours and by the end we found we had so many things in common, relationship-wise. I showed her this idea that I had after leaving the person I had been seeing overseas, and how sometimes love feels like it flies away. She took the idea to the next level and we knew it would be incredibly powerful as a duet."

It's undeniable that Laufey's music has a hold on her listeners, whether it be Billie Eilish or her growing following on TikTok. It’s clear to see that Laufey's gift lies in unifying different sounds and styles through a multigenerational lens. Her sublime vocals and modern-day take on jazz are the perfect companions to keep you company through the crisp chill of fall days. 

Listen to "Love Flew Away" below: