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Laufey talks ‘Bewitched,’ touring, sound of love

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Senior Staff

SEPTEMBER 07, 2023

It takes a special type of artist to transform the magic of everyday life into a cinematic sonic landscape. Helmed with swooning vocals and dazzling classical-jazz sensibilities, 24-year-old Laufey has mastered this craft with effortless serenity.

Drinking coffee in an unhappy relationship, packing up a childhood bedroom, sharing dumplings with neighbors — Laufey, born Laufey Lín Jónsdóttir, distills life’s singular moments into spellbinding, romantic accounts of the human experience. It’s only fitting that her sophomore studio album, slated to be released on Sept. 8, is called Bewitched

“I knew I wanted the album to be called Bewitched from the very beginning. I had hoped I’d be able to write a song called ‘Bewitched,’ and I somehow did,” the Icelandic-Chinese star said of the album’s title track in an interview with The Daily Californian. “It ended up being probably one of my favorites on the album.”

Recorded with the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra, “Bewitched” envisions Laufey infatuated, running down late-night streets as she explores the “all-consuming fire” of her relationship. Backed by a twinkling, Old Hollywood-esque arrangement, the track is a liberating take on love. 

Laufey has long been preoccupied with romance — her 2022 debut record Everything I Know About Love candidly traversed the complexities of intimacy and heartbreak. This time around, however, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist mesmerizes with a diversified approach to style and storytelling..

“I write about my personal experiences … as I grow, my music grows,” Laufey said. “I’m a little bit more unsure about myself, a little less confident, a little bit more innocent in my earlier projects.”

On “Bewitched,” Laufey also deepens her relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra. During the height of the pandemic, she collaborated with the renowned group on her tragic, swooning single “Let You Break My Heart Again.” With her second album, she had the opportunity to record the title track and final single “California and Me” in person.

“Classical music was everything to me growing up. That was what I spent all my time doing really. But I really loved singing jazz music,” reminisced Laufey, the daughter of a violinist and granddaughter of a professor at a Beijing conservatory. “It wasn’t really until I was like 19 or 20 that I managed to finally find the central sound between all of it. I think what it took was just the confidence to do it.”

Growing up between Reykjavík and Washington, D.C., and between classical and jazz (heightened by her time at the Berklee College of Music), Laufey is no stranger to straddling worlds. But she’s learned to merge her influences, producing a captivating sound uniquely her own — timeless yet contemporary, accessible yet intimate.

“My goal is to keep classical and jazz traditions alive, and bring it to a new audience. I simply am a 24-year-old girl who uses Tik Tok and the Internet and everything,” Laufey said. 

“I think the death of these genres is that they feel like you have to have a certain amount of money to indulge in them, or you have to be educated in it, to be able to even speak about it,” she continued. “That’s not what this music was meant for. It was the pop music of the time, jazz was created as a freedom from the rules.”

Nevertheless, Laufey doesn’t just confine her music to social media. She’s headlining a tour through North America, the U.K. and the European Union throughout the next year, including two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco on Oct. 8-9. For her, it’s thrilling to share her upcoming record with what she describes as her “family.”

“There was a girl in Seattle last year that somehow got the gift to me before the concert started,” Laufey recounted with a barely contained smile. “It was a shirt that she had crocheted. I decided to just surprise her and just wear it for the concert. That was really cute to see her reaction when I stepped out.”

Laufey will also be performing with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Ford. As an artist who has always viewed the strings as an extension of her own voice, it’s a welcome “return home.”

“It’s really a place of comfort for me,” Laufey said. “But with an orchestra, there’s nothing like it, there’s nothing like it. It’s a 360 experience.” 

Clearly enchanted, she continued,“It’s music coming at you from every single angle. There’s nothing that will replace the weight and the beauty of 50 to 70 people playing with you.”

There’s no denying that Laufey is in love — with life, with exploring her artistry, with being in love.

“Love to me is tension and release,” she said. “So, the sound of love — a chord that sounds almost dirty, almost wrong. And then you move one note, and it all releases. And in that release, I think that’s like the sound of love.”

“The Bewitched Tour” will travel across North America this fall, with Laufey stopping two nights at San Francisco’s Fillmore on Oct. 8-9.

Contact Anne Vertin at 


SEPTEMBER 07, 2023