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Laufey’s fast rise to fame is a pandemic success story. During lockdown, the 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist built a substantial following on social media where she was known as “jazz girl.” Since then the Icelandic-Chinese singer/songwriter has released two studio albums that blend classical, pop and jazz. The first single from her most recent release, Bewitched, has been streamed over 20 million times globally since its release a couple months back.

Raised in Iceland, Laufey started playing cello and classical piano when she was four years old. By 15 she was performing with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra as a cello soloist. The Chinese side of her family has been studying classical music for generations—Laufey’s mom is a professional violinist and her maternal grandfather taught violin at China’s Central Conservatory of Music.

And while Laufey’s classical training runs deep, perhaps the most surprising thing about her ascent to stardom is the fact that she’s now known as a singer/songwriter as much as a musician.

On today’s episode I talk to Laufey about how she started singing jazz standards online, and what inspired her to write her own songs as well. She also talks about the great sacrifices her Chinese family made during the Cultural Revolution when there was a strict ban on playing classical Western music. And she sings two original songs for us including her single, “From The Start.”

You can hear a playlist of some of our favorite Laufey songs HERE.

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Rick Rubin

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Malcolm Gladwell

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Justin Richmond

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