Singer and cellist Laufey: ‘I hope to be a gateway to classical music for new audiences’

23 May 2024, 18:09

Laufey: ‘I hope to be a gateway to classical music’

By Kyle Macdonald

In an interview with Classic FM, the Grammy-winning Icelandic musician tells us how her classical roots have shaped her artistry, and how she hopes to inspire a love of orchestral music in new audiences.

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With a sultry jazz voice, a viral TikTok offering, and droves of devoted fans, star singer and instrumentalist Laufey is the talk of the music world. In an exclusive interview, the Icelandic musician has told us about how a classical music mission is central to her creations, and how Classic FM has played a unique role in her musical life.

Laufey grew up in Reykjavík, in a family surrounded by classical music. Her mother is a classical violinist, and her grandfather was a violin teacher at the Central Conservatory of Music in China. Starting as a pianist and cellist, Laufey told us that as she grew older and moved into exploring other genres, the influence of classical music remained.

“Classical music was always second nature to me,” she said. “As I grew older and a little bit more rebellious and kind of deviating a bit from classical, I always kept that as a part of my music.” Watch the full video above.

Read more: Who is Laufey? The genre-defying singer-songwriter bringing classical and jazz to Gen Z

Laufey performs in November 2023
Laufey performs in November 2023. Picture: Getty

The singer told us that she knows that not all young people have the same access to classical music that she enjoyed. She says that in her music and arrangements, she hopes to bring people closer to the instrumental and symphonic music that was her first love.

“Growing up a cellist, I obviously love beautiful string lines and orchestral arrangements and thought it would be so interesting and fun to make sure that my songs had colours of that,” she said.

“I realised as I grew older that going to orchestra concerts [...] is very far away for people who aren’t born into that world,” the singer told us. “I really want to make a point of bringing that world into my music and kind of mixing it together.”

The singer, who has recorded with Classic FM’s partner orchestra The Philharmonia, told us she hopes to use her music to help shine a light on orchestras and bring more people into classical music.

“I hope to be somewhat of a gateway to classical music for new audiences.”

Let You Break My Heart Again - Laufey & Philharmonia Orchestra (Official Audio)

Laufey’s 2023 album Bewitched won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The album features jazz ballads, alongside orchestral arrangements with The Philharmonia, and the jazz standard ‘Misty’ by pianist Erroll Garner.

The singer is currently in the midst of a world tour, which includes performances at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and LA’s Hollywood Bowl. She visited Classic FM a day after giving a concert at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall.

The singer and cellist joined us as part of special programming to help students and families through the often stressful season of revision and exams. Laufey looked back at her time as a revising student, and shared how music always helped her to find reassurance in pressured times.

Laufey’s music recommendations for revision.

Laufey told us how she liked to study to the simple musical textures found in the piano sonatas of Mozart. She also talked about how, as a cellist, Bach’s Cello Suites help her feel connected to her musical heritage and who she is.

She also recommends Ravel piano music, Brahms symphonies, and the jazz piano of Bill Evans to any students wanting to find musical calm while revising. You can hear Laufey introduce some of these pieces on Classic Parent Power with Myleene Klass, this Saturday ay 9pm.

Laufey also revealed herself as a long-time Classic FM fan, as both a social media follower and a listener.

Laufey loves Classic FM

“I remember I used to follow the [Classic FM] Facebook when I was growing up and all the best videos came through there,” the singer recalled. “Me and my mother – who’s a violinist – sent so many videos back and forth.”

“I think Classic FM is so fun because, you know, you have obviously all the classical things but anything that’s classical adjacent or interesting that’s connected to that world.”

The Grammy winner, who now has over five million TikTok followers also remembers a time four years ago, when she was still emerging as a social media star.

“I remember when Classic FM posted one of the videos of me singing and playing cello, and it was such a huge support for me.”