Singer Laufey Wows a Gen-Z Audience at the Paramount


Anindhita Illuri, a Laufey fan, got to see one of her favorite singers in concert for the first time in Seattle. Illuri explained that she loves to listen to Laufey because very rarely can she relate to an artist’s experiences as if they were her own.

Concertgoers waiting at the door of Paramount Theater in Seattle at 7:54 p.m. April 9. Photo by Holland Burris / UW News Lab

“Seeing my experiences as an Asian-American kid growing up in the Pacific Northwest and kind of seeing those experiences being reflected by another Asian artist who is from Iceland of all places,” Illuri said, “it really did speak to me and I really did start loving her a lot when I heard those songs.” One of Laufey’s most personal songs is “Letter to My 13-Year-Old Self,” which Illuri claimed as one of her favorites. 

“I grew up in Iceland,” Laufey said to the Seattle audience. “Which is a lovely, lovely place but I always felt like such an outsider. I was half-Chinese and I felt like I looked different. I was really awkward, I was like an orchestra nerd, and I felt so loud in every single way. And you know, I had this big dream of becoming a singer and I didn’t know that it was possible. And now that I’ve fulfilled that wild dream, I thought that I’d write my 13-year-old self a letter.” 

Illuri said: “’Letter To My 13 Year Old Self’ is at the top because, come on, I also have curly hair. I also have a very unpronounceable first name.”

During the performance, audience members enjoyed Laufey’s soulful ballads with her band and string quartet, with the star playing the piano along with the musicians. Laufey switched from playing piano to acoustic guitar and to violin. 

Quinn Davis marked the Seattle concert as her second time seeing Laufey and felt the artist did well in incorporating all her popular songs from each of her albums. “The experience is just really fun,” Davis explained about seeing Laufey multiple times. 

Laufey has created her own subculture for how she dresses and how she lives. At other concerts that attract Gen Z audiences, one expects jeans and a T-shirt. At Laufey’s concert, Gen Z audience members dressed up as if for a jazz or classical music concert. An unspoken rule of attending a Laufey event also seemed to include lots of adorning bows. 

However, fashion is not where Laufey’s influence on her Gen Z fans ends. Laufey’s Book Club, established in August 2022 by the singer, quotes her: “I hope to share this passion and the stories that inspire my writing with you all, and it’s been wonderful to get to know everyone more deeply through our discussions.” 

Quinn Davis, who knew about the book club through social media, mentioned that Laufey’s Book Club brought little libraries to hide in the theater for fans to find and exchange books. Laufey’s Book Club partnered with local bookstores in each of the cities where she is performing during her Goddess Tour. Seattle’s partner, Elliott Bay Books, dedicated a table in their store, as well as a pop-up at the concert venue.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with her team,” Kait Heacock, Elliott Bay’s event manager said in an email. “Laufey is a big proponent of reading and indie bookstores, and we appreciated her introducing us to her audience.”

Celebrities starting book clubs is not a new phenomenon. Oprah Winfrey started her book club in 1996, where she dedicated a segment of her reality show to talk about her chosen novels. Reese Witherspoon also started a book club in 2017 that focuses on stories about women. 

Witherspoon’s book club is owned by the media company she created, Hello Sunshine. By creating a book-to-television pipeline, where a book gets a Reese’s Book Club sticker on it, people read it and the novel becomes a bestseller, and Hello Sunshine picks up the book for an adaptation, as it did in the case of “Little Fireflies Everywhere” and “Daisy Jones and the Six.” Witherspoon’s influence goes even further than reading a book per month. 

Illuri said joining Laufey’s Book Club started as a New Year’s Resolution to read more books. “I mean ever since I graduated from college it’s felt weird not reading something every other day,” Illuri said. “And I was like OK this is interesting, one of my favorite artists plus possibly fulfilling a New Year’s resolution for the first time in my life, so if that will get me to read books, I’ll read.” 

Illuri also talked about Laufey’s genuine attitude, not only through her music but also online. “She’s weirdly relatable,” Illuri said. “A word I’ve heard a lot of people throw around in reference to other fandoms, other communities, is a para-social relationship. And I’ve been [a part] of fandoms and have seen other fandoms have unhealthy ones, where it gets really, really weird and almost toxic. But I almost feel like she kind of crafted this para-social relationship to the point where it’s not toxic, everybody is respectful of it.” 

Holland Burris
Holland Burris
The author, a UW undergraduate, is a part of the UW Journalism News Lab. 



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