|Posted by Admin on March 11, 2019 at 8:55 AM|
Jamaica is currently experiencing a cultural rennaissance, as a new wave of young talent is rushing in to take over reggae music. Koffee, a 19-year-old graduate of Ardenne High School, is leading the pack with her refreshing spin on the genre -- which gives you a jolt of energy just as electric as your favorite cup of morning joe.
The singer, born Mikayla Simpson, cites fellow modern reggae stars like Chronixx, Protoje, Lila Ike, Royal Blu and Runkus as inspirations. She first got a taste of the limelight when veteran artist Cocoa Tea brought her on stage at Rebel Salute last January.
"I was so nervous! But Cocoa just told me to remain focused," Koffee tells Billboard about performing at the historic festival held annually in Jamaica's St. Ann parish. "But when I returned this year [as a solo act], I was able to appreciate being on the stage by myself, having my own band and focusing on my set. Seeing everyone [in the crowd] get involved in the songs gave me such a good energy."
That energy that Koffee exudes quickly caught the attention of Major Lazer's Walshy Fire, who reached out to the singer after coming across her "Burning" on YouTube to produce her official debut single "Toast." Released last November, the infectious tune is a fusion of classic roots-reggae lyrics and a more contemporary, poppier sound that reflects the genre's new experimental direction.
As "Toast" continues to rise, Koffee is now ready to share her unique sound with the world. Her debut EP Rapture will be released on March 14 via Columbia UK Records. Below, Billboard speaks to Koffee about carving a place in the reggae space, the message behind her upcoming EP and shaping her legacy.
When did you decide that music was your calling?
I grew up in church, so there was a lot of music around me throughout my life. Then around 9th grade was the time when I started listening to Chronixx. Both of those inspirations motivated me to try ah ting. While I was in school, I basically had to make the decision between what was important at the moment [to me] or go into a line of work that I knew wasn’t for me. So I had to embrace the musical opportunities that I received.
In 2017 I did a tribute to [Jamaican Olympic champion] Usain Bolt [a song titled “Legend"] that I posted on Instagram, and he re-posted it. After that, a lot of industry people became familiar with me. Then Columbia UK discovered my “Burning” song and approached me [with a record deal] out of the blue [last October], so that was a blessing.
How did your mom react when you told her you wanted to completely dive into music?
My mom was a bit skeptic in the beginning, because she’s been the one sending me to school all my life. But when she got wind of my talent, she grew to trust moment and trust the journey. She became supportive over time.
Read More at Billboard
photo credit Koffee IG