On Accessible Jazz, Scalpers, and Mature Love with Laufey
We talked about scalping phenomena in the concert industry, understanding widely acceptable jazz, and Laufey’s latest project, “Bewitched”
Words by Whiteboard Journal
Photos: Gemma Warren
Known for her soulful voice and jazz-influenced sound, Laufey garnered attention and praise from listeners and music enthusiasts, especially when her song “From The Start” made its rounds around the world on TikTok. She became the voice that redefined Jazz in such a way that it was accessible to everyone’s ears. This year, she’ll be releasing her second studio album, “Bewitched,” and celebrating it with a fastly sold-out tour.
Congratulations on completing your Asia/Australia tour! How does the music scene in the east compare to that in the west?
Oh, I mean, honestly, one thing that’s been really cool and surprising is that I find that my fan bases are quite similar all over the world. I mean, it’s so cool because I feel like I’m part of a community of like-minded people.
There’s definitely an extremely high appreciation of music in Asia, a really high kind of warmth, and I felt very welcomed. You could tell that coming as a guest, you know, into Asia, it felt like everyone was hugging me in a way.
[Java Jazz] was like a giant hug. Everyone was so nice. It was so special. It was so sweet.
“Bewitched” tour sold out before the album’s release!
I know! It’s so crazy! I can’t believe it. It’s great because my favorite part of this job is touring and playing live, so it’s definitely what gives me the most sense of fulfillment.
So to get to sell out these shows and know that people actually want to come see me is really encouraging and makes me more motivated to do everything else. Oh, I think you’re muted.
Unfortunately, I saw that there are some scalpers preying on your eager admirers. As an artist, how do you view the scalping phenomenon at concerts and tours?
Yeah, we run scalper reports and checks just because I obviously want all my tickets to go to the fans that know and love my music, and I also want them to be at a reasonable price.
I know a lot of my fans are students, and they’re young, and my whole goal of being a performer and a musician is to have this accessibility to music. So I never wanted it to reach a kind of unaccessible level, which it sometimes does when scalpers get involved.
So with my manager and agent, we try our very best to keep that at a minimum, and we’ve done what we can do there and have actually taken a lot of the scalper tickets off or taken care of those. But yeah, all I can say is that I think the worst of it is that, and this happens with all my artist friends as well, when they put up tours and tickets, oftentimes people will DM them.
And if someone comments, “Oh, I didn’t get a ticket for X city,” somebody will DM them and be like, “Hey, I have a ticket for this city,” and they don’t. It’s just a scam, and that always breaks my heart so much because the fact that somebody’s spending money to come see me and then it’s not real, is actually the most heartbreaking thing ever.
And it’s unfortunately something that is beyond my control to a certain extent. All I can do is post periodic stories and comments where I’m like, “You guys, be careful. But yeah, I think I just need to go on tour again, play more shows so we can make sure that everyone can come.
Hopefully that opportunity arises so that a lot of your fans can actually see you. And I actually really appreciate that you shout out in the comment section so that everyone is aware of that matter. It’s like the top comment. I’m like, you guys, be careful.
When we think about Jazz, our thoughts wander towards complicated compositions and chords beyond our imaginations. It’s quite different from our modern day concept of pop music (easy-listening, simple chords). How do you bridge the two together in your craft?
I think the nature of my music is quite simple. The lyrics are not very cryptic. They’re quite direct, and the chords that I use in nature and the form are quite simple. The jazz form is simple. There are also so many different kinds of jazz. A lot of the modern jazz that exists nowadays is very complicated and completely beyond my understanding.
As much as I enjoy listening to and observing it, I just can’t play that kind of music. I think for me, the complicated part of jazz that I kind of fuse into my music is interesting chords and tensions that eventually release.
I have a lot of crunchy chords in my music that maybe aren’t always so apparent in pop music. I want to make music that doesn’t make people feel like they don’t understand it. I want to make music that feels relatable, if that makes sense.
That makes total sense. I think that’s why your music is very relatable. It’s very close to your listeners. Probably because “From the Start” is one of your best performing songs on social media right now. If you could dissect the song, could you pinpoint what makes it so appealing from your perspective as a musician?
Well, I think there’s a natural bossa nova groove to it, which I just think Gen Z has an appreciation for.
I love writing songs like that. It took me like an hour to write that song. It was a very simple process for me because I just knew I wanted to write a song about being in love with your best friend. It’s a cheeky song. I’m making fun of myself. It’s not to be taken too seriously.
I think a lot of people are in that situation. I think we’ve all sat in front of somebody. like and listen to them talk about someone they like. And that sinking feeling will sometimes make you embarrassed. For me, when I get embarrassed like that, I just make fun of myself. And that’s kind of what the song is the result of.
“Bewitched” , your highly anticipated project, will be your second studio album. Did you experiment with anything during the making of this album?
With this album, I wrote it from scratch.
Everything I know about love is a collection of all the songs that I’ve ever written. I already knew I wanted the album to be called Bewitched. It was a great songwriting challenge for me. Because I started writing pretty late. I’ve always played, but I didn’t start writing until I was 19 or 20.
To be able to sit down and write 15 to 20 songs and be able to prove to myself that I could do it as a discipline. Not only as an accident. It was a huge stepping stone for me.
I think that for this album, everything was recorded live. I didn’t want any drum machines or synthesizers. I wanted it to be quite organic in that way. See how far we could push it. While still keeping modern elements. I’m definitely leaning into my jazz and classical roots with this one. Which I’m really excited about.
So yeah, I think it’s more about maturing. It’s a love album. I’m writing a lot about love. I hope that the album gets a lot of love as well. I hope so. I’m so proud of it and love it so much that even if it doesn’t, I’ll be proud regardless.
I really love Ms. Fitzgerald as well. I was very inspired by her symphonic recordings for some of the songs on this album. The way that she uses her voice like an instrument. It’s very inspiring.
Albums are like turning points in life. After working on it for so long, it’s inevitable that you grow from the experience. What’s the silver lining that you get from making “Bewitched” that you’d like to share with your listeners?
It’s just confidence that I could do it again, be proud of it, and grow from it. My first album wasn’t an accident; it was something that I practiced and worked on. Which hopefully just means I’ll be able to do it again and again for the rest of my life.
It’s a balance. It’s listening to fans and what they want to hear and meeting them where they are. But also, for me, being able to grow as a musician is really important. I think as an artist or a musician, you always have to bring something a little bit new to the table every time you stay there. I think for me, just by nature of growing up, I’m in this stage of life where the difference between the ages of 21 and 23 is vastly, vastly different.
And to be able to write my life out via an album and songs like this is the coolest diary that I could ever have. When I’m 50, I’ll listen to a song that I wrote when I was 20 about some stupid boy.
I’ll remember, and I’ll be like, “Oh, I was so silly.”