It’s hard to believe there was an online world before the one we’re so attached to now, where we post our carefully curated Instagram stories, share outrageous and relatable memes on Twitter and engage in political arguments with Uncle Bob and Aunt Karen on Facebook. Though we’re not always the first to admit it, Myspace is where social media truly got its start. And for French-American artist and producer Uffie, it’s where she got her start, too.
Though she had previously released her inaugural album, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, in 2010, it wasn’t until the next year when her hit single, “Pop the Glock,” spread like wildfire on Myspace that she really started to gain traction. After taking a brief hiatus, Uffie has slowly but surely been making her return to music since 2017, when she was featured on Charlie XCX’s Number 1 Angel mixtape. “Drugs,” her first single in seven years, premiered in May 2018, and “Papercuts” followed shortly after. Just a few weeks ago, she dropped her latest track, “Sad Money.”
When it comes to Uffie’s sound, her futuristic, synth-pop production combined with her rap-like vocals derive from a number of influences. Living on a boat in Hong Kong until the age of eight caused her to miss the prime MTV era, so she resorted to the music her parents jammed out to, which included artists like Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, and Pink Floyd. After moving back to Florida, she immediately fell in love with hip-hop, discovering the slow beats of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. She spent a year in Connecticut, then back to Florida, all before high school. When she was 13, she moved to Paris and enrolled at an international school. Though she never finished, she went on to briefly study at the French private school of fashion, Esmod, before leaving to pursue her music career.
While Uffie’s early years as a musician proved to veer a little more on the wild side, her hiatus allowed her to mature as both an artist and a person. In those formative years, she gave birth to first a baby girl, and then her son, changing the focus of her career when she made her much-anticipated return. Currently, she resides in Los Angeles with both of her children.
I recently caught up with Uffie ahead of the release of her new EP, Tokyo Love Hotel. We chatted about the evolution of her music career and how motherhood has impacted it.
So you released "Sad Money" a few weeks ago. What was the reaction that you received from that?
I was kind of nervous about that one because it's pretty emo, especially for me. I wasn't sure how people would respond to that. But I feel like of everything I've released, it's gotten the deepest response from fans. It just seems to touch people and they can connect with it.
How has your music evolved since you first started out?
There's a lot less cursing, that's for sure. Besides that, it's a lot more songwriting-focused, where before, a lot of the focus was about having fun and having a sick vibe, which is what mattered to me at 19. Now it's a lot more about the work, the message and the things I'm saying.
What are some themes we'll see on the new record?
I was going through a really long, really rough split-up with someone, who I still really love, but it was really just a hard, confusing time. So there's a lot of songs about heartbreak on it that I explored from different points of views and angles. There are some hype heartbreak songs, there's some emo ones—a little bit of everything.
Do you have a particular moment that stands out to you from when you were putting the record together?
"Sad Money" was really an exciting moment for us. We wrote the song and produced it in about two and a half hours. You always want to say something real that'll help people and touch people. It's a lot easier to make fun party songs. Especially on "Sad Money" and "Papercuts," just really being able to dive into those emotions and put it into a fun way that you can still dance to the trap drums, it was really magical.
You mentioned that some of your songs stem from personal experiences. Do you find inspiration from other things going on in the world, or is it more from those personal experiences?
I use songwriting to analyze things going on in my life, to try and understand and move past them, or just explore them. With “Sad Money,” that one was really about analyzing the world that we live in now with social media, Instagram and just all this shit that everyone shares that doesn't really matter. That was probably one of my first songs that's exploring the world, so we'll see if those continue. It was really inspiring to draw from other things besides myself on that one.
How do you bring a song from an idea to a finished product?
It'll normally start with an emotion or a phrase. Then I'll put a melody to it and start writing the song and producing it. It'll be done in a day but it'll stay as a demo for a while. Then there’s the tweaking, the finessing, getting it to that last 10%. I listen to the demos over and over and I fall in love with them the way that they are. So I have a hard time moving on to the mixing process and having a fresh ear for that.
What's your favorite part about being an artist?
Once I'm on stage, I love it. You lose yourself in the moment. With my first album, I was much more about touring than being in the studio. I do really love performing in the sense that when you look at your fans, you remember why you do what you do, why you love what you do, who it touches and who you're writing for. That's just a priceless moment that makes me love what I do so much more.
Working on this record, I've really fallen in love with being in the studio. So I'd say as of now, I'm more of a studio artist.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the need to keep up an image on social media and connect with your fans?
It's been a weird thing for me to figure out. I think that there's something to a little mystery, but it’s really cool that you're able to connect with your fans one-on-one like that. I'm never going to be one of those people who's posting stories every five minutes, but I’m finding that balance.
Can you speak to what your experience as a mother has been?
When I had my daughter, it was crazy life-changing. I was 21 and I'd put my album on hold until she was born. Then it was just a ton of touring and it was honestly very hard to be a single parent at that age.
When I became pregnant with my second child, which is also the time that I lost my mother, I decided to take some time off to focus on my kids and on being a mother so I could be there for their little years. It's helped me to be able to see beyond myself in a way that I don't think I would have without having children. You think about your affect on the world, the world that you're bringing these children into and that you're going to leave them in. It's completely changed me, but I love being a mother and would not trade it for the world.
What was it like navigating being a mother after your own mother died?
I had a hard time when I was a teenager with my mother, as I'm sure a majority of women did. We definitely had a better relationship when she passed, but you change so much as you become a woman and you grow. I see things that I say to my kids that I can remember my mom saying that drove me crazy. You just see things in a different way. It's definitely hard not having your mom there to experience motherhood with and to be there to call, but that's part of life I guess.
Do you have other friends or motherly figures you've looked to when you're struggling with motherhood?
I have an incredible stepmom who was actually my birthing partner when my daughter was born, and I have an incredible sister who doesn't live too far away, who has two kids as well. I'm very blessed with family.
How hard is it for you at times when you have to be away from your kids if you're performing?
Obviously, they will always come first. I can still do both, and I really feel that balance now. I think that's important for them to see their mom doing something that she's passionate about.
What’s one of the funniest things that your kids have done recently?
My son is a phenomenal contemporary and modern dancer—he's five. [The kids] are really into Billie Eilish. My son does this crazy dance to "See Me in A Crown.” It's pretty fun.
As a female artist, what are your thoughts on the current political climate in terms of the #MeToo movement and how women are treated in this day and age?
It's about time a lot of this is brought to light. Now women are standing up and being brave enough to share their experiences, and I salute them. Speaking out can help them heal, not just for those women, but for future women. People talking about it and it being out there will make it easier for if it does happen in the future to a woman, for her to say something immediately.
Do you feel any competitiveness with other women in the music industry, or do you get more of a sisterhood kind of vibe?
Since my hiatus, it does feel way more positive. I don't feel that cattiness. I just see women lifting women up. I'm just excited to see that continue to grow. It does feel like a "girls club" in the best way.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own music career?
Don't be scared to be weird and make your own sound. This is a super exciting time in music that I think the internet has encouraged, where you can make a smash in your bedroom. There are no rules—pop isn't constrained in the way that I think it used to be. People are just ready for stuff that's real and that means something.
What do you hope to achieve with your music?
At the end of the day, I do it because it's something I have to do. I'm unhappy not doing it. It helps me to understand things and process. As honest as I am on this record, the hope is that it just helps someone else.