Reggae artist Koffee spills the beans on her inspirations, latest work and life lessons
The 20-year-old Jamaican singer, songwriter, rapper, DJ, and guitarist dishes on what she's been doing during lockdown, who her role models are, and what the pandemic has taught her.
We asked Koffee to join our virtual financial camp to pick up helpful financial tips. Follow along as host (and former Miss Jamaica World) Terri-Karelle Reid chats with Koffee and financial expert Toni Spence to explore the perks of contactless payments, the benefits of Mastercard, and making secure online purchases.
At the age of 17, Mikayla Simpson, better known by her stage name, Koffee, broke onto the music scene with her hit song, "Burning." Now 20, the native of Spanish Town, Jamaica, just outside Kingston, is seeing her star rise, recording with reggae legends Buju Banton, Protoje, and Chronixx, and using her growing platform to raise awareness about important social issues while entertaining audiences with her signature vibes. Koffee is hoping to impact the world with positive change and creative force through her songwriting and performances. We recently caught up with the young artist to chat about her current projects, her sources of inspiration, and how she relaxes outside the studio.
What are you working on now?
The answer is always going to be music. I've been working on becoming a better guitarist and a songwriter. I've also had the chance to co-direct a music video, "Lockdown," which was a first for me. I really liked being involved in the creative side of production. So, I've been branching out a bit, too.
When did you first begin making music?
I always had a love for music, so I entered a contest when I was in school—and it got some positive reactions. Eventually, I made a tribute song to Usain Bolt and posted it on Instagram, which is when the opportunities opened up for me.
Favorite performance that inspired you or your choice of career—and why?
I think the first concert I had been to outside of my country was a Childish Gambino concert in the U.K. It was so exciting and inspiring for me just to see how well the show was put together and all of Childish Gambino's hard work on stage with his dancers and other performers.
Who is your role model, or who have you learned from the most?
There are so many role models that have inspired me. Usain is one, as I mentioned, and also some musicians like Protoje and Chronixx.
How do you typically prepare for your projects?
I typically prepare for my projects first by clearing my mind. I slow down with outdoor activities and give myself a chance to reflect and meditate. I then begin to re-inspire myself with new music, books, interesting documentaries, and spending time in nature and prayer.
What has been the most difficult project you've worked on recently—and what did it teach you?
I don't think I've come across my most difficult project yet. So far, I've been able to joyfully create and execute my projects, and I'm very grateful for that.
What are some related or unrelated activities that actually help you prepare for your work?
Going to the beach for a swim feels like a cleanse to me. I think it automatically resets me to create new ideas and also puts my mind in the right place.
What do you do to relax or blow off steam?
To relax, I spend time with the people I love—sometimes over the phone, but preferably in person.
What is Priceless to you?
What's Priceless is the time I spend with friends and family, the time I spend creating and dreaming big, the time I have to enjoy the beautiful island I call home, and the opportunities I've been afforded to meet so many new and inspiring people over the past few years.
What's one moment (recent or otherwise) that has impacted your life? What have you learned from it?
Without a doubt, the pandemic has taught me to slow down and appreciate life. My career in music had been moving so fast that it was challenging to get time to reflect. I've truly used this time to get better at my craft, to create, and to reignite my passion for music.
What has surprised you about staying home during the pandemic?
How much I miss traveling. It was so amazing to meet people from around the world. This time away from travel has really helped me to have a deeper appreciation for it.