Still living in Jamaica, Koffee comes from an area known for musical talent: “Growing up in Spanish town for me was fairly quiet because of a specific area that I came from. There was a lot going on in the communities nearby, it’s a vibrant place, a lot of talent come from there, like Chronixx.”
Having sung in the church choir from a young age, Koffee discovered her love for music early on: “Literally being born and raised in the church was kind of the first experience of real music, I’m talking like manuscript music. It’s when I got exposed to harmonies, unison and stuff like that.” From here, Koffee joined her high school choir, where she learned more about musical theory and singing techniques. “I think it was just always innate in me, I don’t think there were any particular discovery moments where I was like, ‘you know music is a talent that I really want to do’.”
Beyond her singing skills, Koffee taught herself how to play the guitar: “I knew that I loved music just because there was no concern whether I wanted to put in the work to get it done. It was a joy learning to play because I knew that I had a love for it. I knew that expanding my skills would only take me to greater places and it would bring me closer to the music that I love.”
The first song she shared, ‘Legend’, was only last August, with her guitar as accompaniment. “It was a tribute to Usain Bolt. That’s what I would say started my career because I put it on Instagram and he posted it out there internationally. That’s the first step I needed to become an artist.” From this and her later tracks, ‘Burning’ and ‘Ragamuffin’, you can hear Koffee’s soft but powerful singing voice, as well as her ability to rap. One can see why Columbia was interested and signed Koffee a few months ago.
Jamaican legends Chronixx and Protoje have already taken Koffee under their wings, most recently by Chronixx who not only brought her on tour, but also gave her an international radio debut from the notorious Tuff Gong studios: “He invited my manager and I to his rehearsal and after his manager was like, ‘you know we’re heading to BBC 1Xtra, it would be a great vibe if Koffee could come on.’ We’re like ‘sure, yeah, let’s get it done man.’ We were just chillin’ and then it was time for him to go up on the mic, and Protoje was in the studio as well, so it was a great link up.” In fact, both artists appear in the video for ‘Toast’, with Protoje travelling directly from the airport to make the cut.
Koffee is regularly played on BBC 1xtra and performed at BBC Music Introducing Live last month. On visiting London, not only did she perform at Alexandra Palace with Chronixx, but she also took a trip south: “Brixton was the realest part of England that I’ve been to so far. It’s very lively. There’s a lot of cultures there because they have people from different walks of life. I heard some music here and there, it was good vibe.”
Considering the success of ‘Toast’, it’s surprising to hear it almost didn’t make it. Koffee is due to release a five-track EP in January next year, and ‘Toast’ was one of the first she wrote. She recorded the other tracks, but couldn’t leave ‘Toast’ behind: “I was like, ‘Toast is a vibe too, I can’t leave this song unfinished, I need to just complete the vibe and just get it done.’ I think that’s why it’s probably so powerful because it’s coming from deep down in my heart for real, you know?” Produced by a few more legends, Walshy Fire and iZyBeats, ‘Toast’ is refreshingly positive and uncomplicated, in the best way possible. You don’t need to be a reggae fan to enjoy it. Before you know it, the sound has elevated your mood and you’re right there in Spanish Town with her.
Before Koffee embarks on what is no doubt going to be a life-changing year, she is re-releasing ‘Burning’, which will make a deeper impact with a major label behind it. She’s not allowed to say much beyond the January EP release, but it will be “a big part of [her] journey”. What strikes one the most about Koffee is her focus on positivity for herself, but mostly for others. “I think success to me is infecting the world in a way that is very positive. I want to reach people like me.” She is aware of how fast everything has happened for her, and instead of being unsure of whether she can handle it, she runs in the other direction to use as an example that anything is possible if you have faith in God: “I was just a little school girl who had been blessed greatly by the talents that God bestowed on me. I want to spread my message in a way to show people out there that look and trust in God and believe in a dream, no matter who they are. I think that trusting in God is a huge part of my career because everything happened in such quick succession and it’s just been really, really fast, even faster than me.”
Talking with the wisdom of a much older woman, Koffee represents a galvanizing wave of young artists. “Young people are the ones I want to inspire and show that there’s goodness within you. You can use that to reach out and make an impact and spread love.” Having been initiated into the reggae world, Koffee isn’t set on staying in that lane. But whatever route she takes, Koffee is a proudly representing the next generation of Jamaican music.