Koffee || This June Music Month, we’ve profile four rising stars grinding in their own respective genres and getting well-deserved acclaim. Images were submitted by talent or with those they’re social distancing with during this global pandemic.
Koffee is the past, present, and future of reggae music. As her moniker implies, her music gives you life, a jolt, and a warm embrace all at once.
You might know this fresh-faced 20-year-old as the artist behind one of 2019’s best summertime bops, “Toast,” a buzzy jam produced by veteran Major Lazer that later appeared in Jordan Peele’s even buzzier flick Us. Or you might know her from her performance at the socially-conscious reggae festival, Rebel Salute where she performed alongside contemporary legends. Or maybe, you might have seen her in one of her videos like “Throne,” in which she takes us on a tour of her stomping grounds in, Spanish Town, Jamaica to the tune of her catchy riddims.
Wherever you’ve come across Koffee, whose real name is Mikayla Simpson, she’s keen on bridging the past with the future to create a presence all her own, bringing a message of positivity in her wake.
After a massive year that included a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, the first for a woman and cementing her as the youngest artist ever to achieve this, Teen Vogue caught up with her via email from her home in Jamaica, where she’s been in quarantine. She’s spending this time, she says, resting and reflecting on the whirlwind year, while balancing work.
“I’m currently working on my next project. The quarantine order has allowed me to slow down a bit which is good,” Koffee says. Still, she says, despite the surge of attention she doesn’t feel any added pressure to represent her home country, as it’s innate to her music in general. “It just means that the world is watching us more than ever and appreciating our music and the talent that comes out of the island,” she says.
As far as what we can expect next, she’s characteristically in flux about things. “I’m not sure there’s a name out there to describe all the songs I have on the EP, but what I would say is there’s definitely reggae at the heart of it all as well as just a fusion of sounds,” she adds.
As was true for her previous releases on her EP Rapture, she’s gathering inspiration from the world around her, championing, as always, the issues of Jamaicans to the larger global community. “I use my craft to highlight issues as well as provide solutions to them; promoting positivity and peace always.” It’s an ethos of social awareness and peaceful action that’s drawn from the music on rotation in her childhood, from gospel classics to, of course, Bob Marley.
It’s no surprise then, that her work has drawn the attention and admiration of the likes of singer and philanthropist Rihanna, who is rumored to be working with the young talent on an upcoming unnamed reggae project. What that project might be, Koffee is tight lipped on, but admits, “I am super grateful to have Rihanna as a fan (and I am a fan of her as well). Who knows what the future holds?”
Indeed, the horizon is bright for Koffee and the future holds untold possibilities for a singer on the brink of worldwide success. For now, with the current state of things, she’s exploring new music and discovering new sources of inspiration all the time—but it goes without saying—she can’t wait to get back on stage.