Taking the world by literal storm is the 18-year-old singer song/writer, and phenomenal performer, Mikayla Simpson, but you may know her as Koffee.
“It is really just my dream to be the musical vessel that will make a very good and notable change in society, and hopefully my music will be of such good quality that it will garner awards internationally and nice things like that, but awards are secondary to me honestly,” Koffee told Nest HQ in an interview.
She revealed that the name ‘Koffee’ came from her inimitable nature; one hot afternoon she bought a cup of hot coffee and her friends bought cold beverages consequently her classmate started calling her Coffee. She added that it stuck so well that she decided to brand the name, replacing the C with a K since her name was Mikayla.
“People kinda caught on to the name, it just stuck. I think it’s good… But since my name is Mikayla, I removed the ‘C’ and put a ‘K’ there instead,” Koffee, in an interview with Reggaeville.
Her natural presence, extraordinary voice and performance skill sets her apart from the rest of the music industry, and especially at her age, where everyone is trying to make a name for themselves in music, she has kept true to her art.
“I consider myself to be an influential person, based on experiences like with my peers in school. I really want… I want to create an awareness of positive things, so that the world will automatically become more positive,” Koffee.
She has never been swayed by her popularity and the hype or fallen prey to following fashion trends, as her own unique style of dressing modestly allows her audience to focus on her talent, and my good golly, she has still managed to win the hearts of many. Needless to say, for a person who never had music originally on her mind professionally, it certainly took her by surprise.
“I just wanna spread good vibes as far as I can, so that people can feel good and just love and not have time to think about hate and bad stuff… Ultimately, I just want to encourage people to love life and give thanks, always give thanks and be appreciative. Just embrace what you have and spread love!,” Koffee.
Koffee is a name that has been on the tongues of most Jamaicans and ringing off in the right circles. Her prominence rose in a short space of time, and until recently, her brand has made waves regionally and internationally. You would think that she came out of nowhere, but truth be told, like the majority of artistes, she had to be grinding in the background before she made her debut.
“Often times, my talent and abilities are underestimated because I am a female, but this is the only challenge I have really encountered thus far. It is a bit different for females than males in the industry as it relates to creating and establishing an image, but that is as far as the challenge goes so far,” Koffee.
Hailing from Spanish Town, St. Catherine, she started singing in seventh grade at Ardenne High where she joined her school’s choir, but it was not until August 2017 that she started doing music seriously after graduating in that same year. Her mentor, Caniggia Palmer, her former music teacher, saw her potential and decided to manage her career in music and that’s when things really started developing.
“I remember being about three and wanting to sing, but there was a huge break between there and being about 16…. I just wanted to learn. I didn’t recognise it as wanting to do music. But at 16, I thought maybe I wanted to write music for somebody – but really, this whole artiste thing started in August, because even during CSEC, I didn’t have it on my mind like that,” Koffee in an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner.
She then made the decision to release to the world her first ever song – a tribute to the great Usain Bolt entitled ‘Legend’ – since then she received a lot of attention. She said that she wanted to in a way embrace Usain Bolt while he was alive and pay homage to him since he was really a hero of our generation.
“I noticed that a lot of attention started to come in from it, followers, likes, comments, and I was like, wow, this is really an opportunity!” – Koffee, as stated in the Jamaican Gleaner
She never stopped there as her single ‘Burning’ was released shortly after which also went viral; the reception was unbelievable. ‘Burning’ is about embracing the fire (talent or passion) you have from within and using it fully in order to achieve greater things. The song was a regional hit in the United States and spent three weeks at number one on the Foundation Radio Network’s Reggae Chart Top 30 which had coverage of New York and South Florida.
Her tone has been honed in various different styles which fused into one thus making her voice one of a kind. She has become a household name with not only “Burning”, but also with “Haffi Mek It”, “Pressure”, “Ragamuffin”, “Toast” (the most popular and inspirational), “Throne”, and she has launched her first EP Rapture – a five-song project. Her lyrics aim to target the youth and being able to relate to them since she is one going through her own struggles.
“What inspired me to write Toast is literally gratitude. I was in Haiti and mi did jus’ a hold a medz and mi a seh, I’m looking at the journey so far, looking at the things that have happened — highlighting them, giving thanks,” reveals Koffee in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.
If Koffee wasn’t pursuing a music career, she would be studying to become a pharmacist; she started studying to become a pharmacist prior to her exposure to the music industry. However, she plans to go back to school and probably study music while building her career.
A fan of Jamaican music, she listens to Chronixx, Royal Blu, Meleku, Junior Gong, Jesse Royal, Protoje, Runkus, but she also listens to international artistes like Migos and Indica. Not to choose favorites, but she particularly admires Protoje for his ever positivity, meaningful lyrics, mind-blowing and energetic performances and not to mention his work to provide a platform for youth.
“My influences are wider than just reggae, but this is the core root and it is important to me that I have music that people from where I am from can relate to,” Koffee, as stated in an interview with Clinton Lindsay.
Since her reputation soared, she has done several performances. Her most memorable performance was in 2018 where she was showcased at Rebel Salute, invited by Cocoa Tea, an event which increased her fan base by a lot. Then she ended the year with a full performance at the event, Live From Kingston, a feeling she couldn’t describe.
At only 18 years old with three songs in rotation, and signed by UK producers Columbia Records, her progress can only be described as remarkable. Her ability to demonstrate the confidence and professionalism of a seasoned musician, Koffee knows that her journey has in fact just begun.
“It feels good knowing I am newly entering an industry and have been embraced by many people that I look up to and also have many peers who have shown me nothing but love and warmth,” Koffee.
At a young age, the song jay joined the ranks of John Legend, Kings of Leon and Robbie Williams on Columbia’s roster and has been awarded the Breakthrough Artiste of the Year at the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) Awards, and she has gotten recognition by virtue of her music and the raving reviews of her audience globally.
“I want to make a better world for the generation that’s coming up, to promote love and peace, and even though I’m young, I feel that God has blessed me with talent and wisdom to get the job done,” as stated by Koffee in an interview with Nest HQ.
We wish her all the best in her future endeavors, especially since we need more artistes promoting their brand through their positive and uplifting messages to the youth.
By Alexandra Daley