Most people keep personal, embarrassing, and crazy thoughts to themselves. Annika Wells isn’t one of those people. She doesn’t just express these thoughts out loud either. She peppers them throughout her songs with the kind of honesty you expect from your childhood best friend. In her music, she’ll rattle off bucket list ambitions, refer to herself phallically, or write about a doomed romance (with that same ex as her cowriter). After watching her older brother play piano, she started taking classical lessons at the age of four, and eventually ended up at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Before dropping out, she linked up with producer Giulio Cercato and wrote and recorded what would become her first single “Break” in 2016. It caught fire around the world, catapulted onto the Spotify Global Viral Chart, and eventually eclipsed 15 million Spotify streams. She wrote and featured on “Crawl Outta Love” for Illenium, amassing 58 million Spotify streams, reaching the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot/Dance Electronic Songs Chart, and notching the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) Grand Prize. Between performing in sold out arenas across the country with Illenium throughout 2019, she landed a string of major placements as a writer for The Jonas Brothers, PRETTYMUCH, BTS, and Steve Aoki. After racking up over half a billion-plus streams, she welcomes everyone into her mind and heart on a series of 2021 singles and her forthcoming debut for Vol. 1/Epic Records led by the single “Fuck Being Sober.”
Today Laufey releases her debut EP Typical of Me. Laufey is a 21 year old Icelandic-Chinese artist who is heavily influenced by jazz and R & B. She recorded her debut single “Street By Street” with peers at Berklee College of Music before it was shut down for COVID. Laufey then started topping the Icelandic charts and earning support from Billie Eilish and Willow Smith.
Typical of Me features “Street By Street”, her single “Best Friend”, and her new single “James.”
“‘James’ is about a certain type of guy that I have encountered in my life. It’s always the same pattern – I’ll admire them for a while, then get to know them and learn that I have created a false narrative in my head for who they actually are. James has a huge ego, James is a fool – so I wrote a song about it.”
1.Street By Street
3. Like The Movies
4. I Wish You Love (Cover)
6. Someone New
7. Best Friend
Half Chinese and half Icelandic, Laufey spent much of her childhood traveling between Reykjavík and Washington, DC, where she learned to speak English with barely a trace of an accent. Inspired in part by her mother, a classical violinist, she took up piano and cello early on, but it was her father’s collection of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday albums that spoke to her on a deeper level.
“I’ve always loved classical music, and I’m definitely very influenced by composers like Ravel and Chopin,” Laufey explains, “but when I discovered the Great American Songbook and the music of George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers, it felt like this middle ground between jazz and classical that suited me perfectly. It was something I could love on my own terms.”
Laufey dove into the music headfirst, captivated by the lush arrangements and dreamy vocals, and by her teenage years, she was already turning heads with a mesmerizing style that belied her young age. As much as she enjoyed singing the standards, though, Laufey couldn’t help but feel that something was missing, and she often longed to express herself in more personal ways.
“In the classical world, it’s expected that you’ll follow tradition and stick to the script,” she reflects. That all changed when Laufey landed a prestigious Presidential Scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, which enabled her to continue honing her virtuosic skills as a vocalist and instrumentalist while simultaneously pursuing her dreams of becoming a songwriter. Stepping out of her comfort zone and living on her own for the first time, Laufey found herself surrounded by a sea of gifted young musicians and producers at Berklee who inspired and challenged her in exciting new ways. It was a liberating environment for someone who’d spent her entire life playing by the rules, and it helped Laufey find the confidence to begin writing her own material.
“When things started blowing up on social media, I had all these young people reaching out about how the songs were resonating with them,” she recalls. “A lot of kids my age had never really been exposed to this kind of music, and I just loved that I had the opportunity to introduce it to a whole new audience.”
As her music climbed the charts back home in Iceland, Laufey continued writing and recording what would eventually become her debut EP, Typical of Me, laying down guitar, vocals, piano, and cello at home while her collaborators contributed parts and production remotely. Despite the considerable distance involved in its creation, the finished product is a warm and inviting collection, one that puts a modern twist on a timeless sound. Drawing on everything from Chet Baker and Sarah Vaughan to Peggy Lee and Bill Evans, it’s a confident, compelling debut full of mature meditations on loneliness and desire, doubt and resilience, acceptance and hope.