Meet Cookiee Kawaii, the Jersey club savant who wants you to “throw it back”
The artist behind the TikTok sensation “Vibe” speaks on the song’s wild surge in popularity.
If you've been anywhere near TikTok lately, or even its peripheral networks, chances are you've already got Cookiee Kawaii's infectious single "Vibe" stuck in your head — that bed-creaking, clubbed up heavy hitter that practically demands you to throw it back. Over the course of the past week, a viral trend has skyrocketed the song from virtual obscurity to nearly three million plays on Spotify. That buttery voice asking "if I back it up, is it fat enough?" belongs to Cookiee Kawaii, a devout Jersey club savant who is just as overwhelmed by the dramatic surge in popularity as you might expect. Yesterday, we caught up with Cookiee to chat on all things "Vibe," broadcasting Jersey club scene to the world, and what she's got up her sleeve next.
First of all, how are you? It’s been a wild few weeks
It’s crazy. This all happened over a week or so. It’s been overwhelming, but in a good way. I’m just trying to stay as grounded and as humbled. I’m so grateful to everyone who's been vibing to the song all over the world. The number shoots up every day, there’s more videos every day. I’m trying to connect with everyone, as much as I can. The feedback, just so many people liking the song, that’s what’s overwhelming to me. It’s a good song, but I couldn’t have imagined so many people connecting to it.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music in the Jersey club scene since 2011. “Vibe” has been out for a year now, and it had a viral moment last summer, but nothing of this magnitude. TikTok really picked it up and went with it.
Do you remember the first TikTok you saw using “Vibe”?
I don’t remember the handle, but it was just a simple dance, just to a clip of it. From there, a TikToker with something like a million followers did the same dance. Once they did it, it took off. And it’s taken so many forms — there’s a dancing duck, now!
What was making the song like?
Sometimes my producer TrillzMix posts beats on Instagram to see if people vibe with it, and he posted “Vibe,” the instrumental, and instantly I was like “take that down and send me that, I want it.” Sometimes I hate when he does that because he knows the kind of sound I like. To be honest, most of my writing sessions are really out of body experiences — half of my songs I don’t even remember writing. But with “Vibe,” I knew it came instantly once I heard that beat. I instantly vibed out. People liked it when we first dropped it, and it did its thing, but not what it's doing now.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to see your work played back to you by all of these people around the world, it’s crazy. Songs get popular, but to see the reactions is totally different!
It’s different than someone doing a challenge and just dancing — people are singing the lyrics too! Someone commented on TikTok and asked if they could have it in Portuguese. Once I saw that, I posted on Instagram to see if people could make lyric videos in other languages. I woke up the next morning and there was already two of them.
This is also a big moment for Jersey — what do you want people to know about the Jersey club scene, considering this might be the first time a lot of people have been exposed to its music?
I know there’s records that have done numbers, but this is all over the course of like, a week. It’s a huge moment for Jersey. But this is a movement that’s been going way before me — people like DJ Sliink, DJ Jayhood, DJ Taj, UNIIQU3, they’ve all toured and exposed club to so many avenues and people aroudn the world. Club is still underground, so people are still just finding out about it. But this moment now, it’s a great time to get exposed to the culture, the music and the sound. This is music that anyone can have a good time to.
Where do you wanna take “Vibe” from here? Are you gonna make a video for it?
Of course! I didn’t do the video at first, because I was busy and I wanted it to be right. But now, I’m glad I didn’t — now I can mold my treatment and make it something that reflects everything that’s going on now. I’ve been praying for a moment like this. I have a full arsenal of music, and people will see that “Vibe” isn’t all I’ve got — but “Vibe” is taking me there. I want to tour, connect with different artists and people, expose them to our culture in Jersey, and to see the dancing. It’s not just me, there’s a ton of Jersey club producers who have been doing this.