Uffie pictured in 2019 for Noisey courtesy of PR
All images courtesy of PR


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Uffie May Be Back, But She'll Never Stop Evolving

We caught up with the original queen of MySpace as she prepares for her glorious, and much longed-for, 2019 return.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB

If you were anywhere near a LimeWire-ravaged family desktop in 2006, chances are you’ll be familiar with the name Uffie. One of the original MySpace queens, her electronic-pop-rap ragers “Pop the Glock” and “MCs Can Kiss” almost certainly blared out from between your Top 8 and your Heroes section (“my friends and JD from Scrubs XD”), and, as such, were viral hits before viral hits were a twinkle in a Soundcloud producer’s eye.


Stylistically, Uffie’s matter-of-fact but unbothered drawl over clubby, electro-trash beats paved the way for artists like Charli XCX, Kesha, and Kitty, and her straddling of genres was future-focussed and enduring in a way that few artists of the time managed to be. In 2010, Uffie finally realised her vision with Sex Dreams and Demin Jeans, a full length album which celebrated the diverse, glossy, euphoric, sad niche she had spent so long carving for herself. The record was critically acclaimed, and after its release, Uffie gradually stepped back into a long hiatus that has only really ended in the last few years.

After a 2017 feature on a Charli XCX song here, and few loosie 2018 singles there, Uffie officially announced on 7 February this year that she’d soon be dropping Tokyo Love Hotel, an entire EP of new music. She lead with new single “Sadmoney,” which feels like a quintessential Uffie joint, its vocal melody and synthesised flourishes spiralling up to the ceiling like smoke.

In news that would probably make my 13-year-old self look up from rudimentarily coding a page layout and stare, agog, into the future, I recently got on the phone with Uffie to talk about Tokyo Love Hotel, her evolution as an artist, and her love of Swae Lee:

Noisey: Hi Uffie! Can you tell me a little about working on this EP? Has it been a sort of “years in the making” type deal? Or have you just returned to making music in this way recently?
Uffie: A little bit of both. The project has been like, two years in the making. I started working on making music again two years ago – I was really missing it and I took that time during those three years just thinking about my sound and what I wanted to say. There’s one track on the EP that is from that period that is called “Nathaniel” – it’s the last one. All of the other music on it was made within the last six months. So the music is definitely new, but the process of getting there has been going on for a minute.


Does making and releasing music now feel different? Or is it the same – like returning home?
It’s definitely returning home in a way. Music’s been around for like, half of my life now, you know? I didn’t go to high school dances, because I was on tour. But obviously coming back as an adult, being a mom – it’s different to when you’re like, a 19-year-old rock star, right? So it’s definitely a different approach, but I suppose it would be regardless of age. So it does feel like a homecoming but in a much more ‘focussed on what’s happening in the studio’ kind of way.


Following on from that, how has your process evolved from what you were doing almost ten years ago? Do you do things any differently?
It’s so different. I used to make just enough music to release my record, literally. Whereas now, I’ve fallen in love with the art of songwriting, so much. I’m in the studio all the time now, writing for other people now. I guess with LA, there’s a much bigger focus on songwriting. So I got more into that and I’m lucky enough to work on this record with some of my best friends, incredible producers. I keep a notebook of phrases that I just think sound really dope, or concepts that mean something to me, and I bring them into these sessions and from there we write the song and produce it, and it’s made in a day really.

It’s a similar way of working to one of the people I wanted to ask you about actually – I was so excited a couple of years ago when you did a song with Charli XCX, as one of your first forays into coming back. I think she’s the same, in that she’ll go into the studio with a group of people, and they’ll work really quickly. Was that sort of vibe what made you want to work with her in particular? She feels like a bit of a spiritual descendent of yours.
I had actually heard about Charli a lot, but she was definitely way younger than I was. It was probably like 2010 or 2011, but she was this amazingly talented girl, so I was excited to meet her, she’s obviously lovely. I think we just kind of connected on social media and then met for the first time at a house party at her house.


So on brand.
Yeah! I just love what she does, I love how rebellious you could say she is, so that felt like a really fun feature to do. I don’t do a ton of features, but that felt like a really fly comeback one.

It felt like such a good fit. Speaking of Charli, are there any other artists working in the new wave of pop artists at the minute who you admire? I know on “Sadmoney” you mention Swae Lee.
I love Swae Lee – his falsetto! Oh my god. He’s crazy talented. Also, I feel like I’m a bit late on this train here, but I really love Billie Eilish. Big fan of her writing, and obviously she has a beautiful voice. I love Post Malone, big time. Also I’ve been so excited to see Robyn come back. I feel like everyone in the world is.

We’ve been waiting so long! I think that “sad pop” – the kind of thing that Robyn does so, so well – has been having kind of a moment over the last few years. I guess I’m talking about pop music which is upbeat and danceable, but which is actually expressing extreme sadness lyrically. As someone who’s a part of that world, what’s that been like to watch?
I think there’s something comforting about sad pop. Putting personal stuff in music, as an artist, I find it super vulnerable. Like, when you cry, you don’t want to share that with everyone, but when you do, there’s something very comforting about glossing it up with pretty pop music. And I do love a contradiction, where like, it’s less obvious and a little creepy in a way.


I do think, like, it’s a more common thing to share right now, the world seems to be having their emo moment. I’m here for it, you know, because with the way the industry is, pop music can be anything; anything can be a hit. There aren’t the boundaries that there used to be, so I’m really excited to see that evolution continue.


I’ve been thinking about that lately because people seem to be embracing new models of making things. A lot of pop artists are getting into the idea of mixtapes, and releasing work on their own terms – even at the level of someone like Ariana Grande. That’s something that pop music has borrowed really from hip-hop and will continue to do so. Is that a mode of working that is attractive to you?
Definitely. That’s how we’re doing it. Right now I’m a completely independent artist. It is a little scary – you realise there are so many things you have to think of. Managing your whole entire project is a totally different thing. But what’s really cool is you can decide: “Hey, I made a song tonight, I wanna release it tomorrow.” You can do that, and I think with how music is consumed now, so quickly, that it is the way of the future. It feels very real when something is coming directly from an artist. You know – there’s no rules. Why wouldn’t you just release when you want to?

It’s kind of eliminated the need for industry bureaucracy, which is great for new artists as well. How does that compare to when you were first trying to put stuff out?
I mean, I was never on a major label so I feel like it’s a little different than like, the major pop. But there was the thing of somebody else deciding when your record’s coming out, like, “You need the video, and you need to do x, y, and z.” Even coming from an underground label, it’s definitely a totally different world.


A lot of artists say things just feel more free now, because the internet has expanded the way it has. I feel like a lot of the stuff you were doing on MySpace has just happened on a bigger scale with a lot more artists. Is that something you've observed?
Yeah, I mean, people who are Instagram famous, who have all these followers have so much weight, to the point where they can get paid to post something. And that goes for music as well. It started with MySpace, and it’s always been very cool in the sense that you can communicate directly with your fans, and it’s much more personal in that sense. But I also find it impersonal in a sense, there’s a lot of mystery in a way; everything is portrayed.

It’s a lot about what you want to show. This EP seems to really sum up what people think of Uffie as: there are the hip-hop influences, the poppy choruses, and lots of evocative, emotional lyrics with such trademark matter-of-fact delivery. But it feels updated too: there’s a little bit of a trap element with some of the percussion. Do you think of this EP as being definitive, or a reinvention, or both?
I think it’s a stepping stone in the evolution. A cool thing about being an artist is that you create what you feel, and, I don’t think, especially now, that you need to be trapped in one genre. It’s just something I’ve never done. I think I was going through a lot of personal stuff, and this was an opportunity to reflect on it. I’d say it’s a mix of where I’m going and where I’ve been.


That’s how it sounds a little – like a statement of being back and being ready to do even more new things. After the EP, what’s next?
Again, the awesome thing about being a stray agent is we can kind of take it wherever. There’s definitely an album in the pipeline – that will be something coming, much sooner than last time. We’re starting our shows on 1 March, at a festival, so focussing on that today, and we’re going to keep releasing. There’ll be many more this year.

That’s so great. How does it feel to go back to playing live? Is it exciting, nervewracking?
It’s a little bit of both. I’ve done one-offs here and there and I’m always so nervous before I play. Every time, you’d think you’d get over it, but then after there’s this amazing feeling of, “This is why I do what I do.” And every single time, it’s this incredible realisation where you can watch how what you do touches people, when you can just look at them in the face, while you’re performing. It’s really important, those reminders, of why you’re doing it.

Thanks Uffie!

Tokyo Love Hotel is out 22 February – pre-order or pre-save here.