Uffie, best known as the princess of late electropop, or what kids now call “indie sleaze,” is back with a new sound. His last album, sun factory, produced by Toro y Moi and Lokoy, is a trippy mix of poetic bangers and indie beats that reflect the surreal times we live in, while reminding us why we fell in love with the hipster icon in the first place. To find out more about Uffie’s return to the limelight, Honduran-born Montreal indie pop star Isabella Lovestory called the singer to discuss London accents, going viral and learning tootsie roll.
ISABELLA LOVESTORY: I’m so excited to interview you, it’s crazy.
UFFIE: Yeah, that’s a fun setup.
LOVESTORY: I’m such a fan. I don’t know if you remember this Tweet I posted.
UFFIE: [Laughs] We come full circle, it’s incredible.
LOVESTORY: I know I was like, I’m just going to pretend that was me at that time.
UFFIE: I love the way people went there.
LOVESTORY: Do you remember that night? I wonder why she had an abacus…
UFFIE: No. [Laughs] It was a strange time, to say the least. I mean, we were all walking around in fluorescent sunglasses that didn’t have lenses, so an abacus would fit right in.
LOVESTORY: So I first discovered you on Tumblr, you were a Tumblr queen. How does it feel to be the internet’s ultimate underground icon?
UFFIE: Sure, that’s flattering, but there’s something funny about it. It’s amazing that you can reach people all over the world and have them say whatever they want about you without ever having to look at you, but it’s exciting. I try not to dive into it too much, I always look forward.
LOVESTORY: Sick. You posted your first song on MySpace, how was it?
UFFIE: I did “Pop the Glock” for this label called Arcade Mode. It was supposed to be my only lead. I really wanted a MySpace music page, because it looked cool. So I just uploaded the song. I don’t know how long it took to get there [viral]but in my memory, it was really, really fast.
LOVESTORY: It’s crazy. How did you start making music?
UFFIE: I was living with a DJ at the time, and he was like, “Please just do a song.” I think it was because I wasn’t French, or he just liked something about my tone of voice.
LOVESTORY: So you hadn’t thought about making music before?
UFFIE: No, I wanted to be a writer – poetry or novels – I wasn’t sure, but something along those lines. I was a dancer as a kid, so I guess that was the stage element, but I didn’t even like to sing in the shower. I’m not the biggest fan of my voice.
LOVESTORY: I love your voice.
UFFIE: To this day, I’m still embarrassed when I’m in the studio.
LOVESTORY: Really? So, do you prefer recording in your bedroom or do you prefer the studio atmosphere?
UFFIE: Definitely the studio now. Learning to produce my own voice during the pandemic has been intense. It’s so hard to work with your own voice, because you judge yourself so much. I grew to have enormous respect for the producers who do all of this.
LOVESTORY: It’s stressful, but so cool. Were you going to the studio more during the pandemic?
UFFIE: I went almost five days a week. It was a bit much. I was writing for my project and co-writing for other artists.
LOVESTORY: How does co-writing differ from your own songwriting?
UFFIE: I gained a lot of confidence in myself as a songwriter by working with other people. Writing for other artists is really cool, because you get into their mindset. You become another person for a minute, you help reveal their truth and reality. It’s freeing to know, like, “I won’t have to sing this on stage for the next ten years.”
LOVESTORY: Yeah, it’s therapeutic to become someone else and have to stick to your own personal story. Who is the person you would like to write a song for, who does not make music?
UFFIE: Oh, that’s a good one. Tilda Swinton.
LOVESTORY: Wow. What would that look like?
UFFIE: I’m obsessed with her, I love her lifestyle. She has a castle in Scotland – she lives there with her lover, her ex-husband and all her children. She wears silk Haider Ackerman kilts and suits. She is everything for me. It would be super ethereal, like a lot of strings mixed in with a weird Laurie Anderson element.
LOVESTORY: You should introduce it. So what is your songwriting process?
UFFIE: I keep a word bank. I’ll think of two words that don’t make sense but sound great together, or a movie reference. I keep all of this in my Notes app until one starts to emerge as a concept I can build on. I like to develop a script, but sometimes it’s just, “That sounds really cool.”
LOVESTORY: I love that in your music. I also love the way you sing about dark subject matter over really sweet and happy melodies.
UFFIE: I love contradictions, it adds so much texture.
LOVESTORY: So you just write stuff and then listen to the beats?
UFFIE: It’s rare these days that I write to a rhythm. It’s easier to be there when they pick the chords and so on, to be able to change the key if you want to bring out a different feel. I work with very few people on my music, but I worked a lot with Toro y Moi for this record.
UFFIE: I also like to write from scratch with a friend of mine from Norway. It’s a producer called Lokoy who is also on the record. With him, I have this strange ability to invent a chorus on the spot. We have a very good track record, we feel very free together. I also worked with an artist in London called Sega Bodega, who I love.
LOVESTORY: That’s so cool. Do you live in London?
UFFIE: No, I live in Los Angeles.
LOVESTORY: I was wondering because in Sexual Dreams and Denim Jeans, you have a British accent.
UFFIE: My dad is actually British. And I grew up in Hong Kong. I was living between Paris, London and Berlin when I recorded this album. I’ve been here for about six years now.
LOVESTORY: Alright, nice. So the British accent, did you put it?
UFFIE: I think it’s a bit accented, but I was speaking with a British accent.
LOVESTORY: I love it, it’s super iconic. What inspires your sound? It’s so unique, I don’t want to put it in a specific genre. It’s really experimental.
UFFIE: I’m just trying different things. Like you said, I’ve never been one to respect a gender. What was different with this album is that I was using live instruments. This record has bass guitar and drums. Before, everything was electronic.
LOVESTORY: Are you going to play this album with a band?
UFFIE: Finally. I wanted to make an album that didn’t make me feel like I could only play in nightclubs. I wanted it to be a full show with a band, it just translates better live. If it’s just you with a laptop on stage, there are too many gaps between vocals. That can be hard. You’re like, “What am I doing?”
LOVESTORY: I feel you. I’m also working on a project where I’m using live instruments for the first time. It changes everything. There is more than one story.
LOVESTORY: So what about your new era, what will it look like?
UFFIE: So this record is like an imaginary place. During the pandemic, I just wanted to be in a forest, or like, at fucking Berghein. I was like, “Why can’t there be a forest rave to look forward to?” I wanted to play with the trippinese of reality. I was microdosing a lot of shrooms and thinking how surreal the reality was. sun factory is an imaginary place to which I give life. It’s a soft and safe space for everyone’s extravagant selves.
LOVESTORY: It sounds super eclectic and fun. How does it feel to come back?
UFFIE: That’s wild. I’ve dabbled in feature films here and there over the years, but my kids are finally at an age where they make their own breakfast on Saturdays. It’s a good time for my family, which was really important to me. At the beginning of my career, I was constantly trying to do everything and I had little babies. It was really difficult. But I think it’s an exciting time in the world. There are so many changes and as much negativity as there is, there is an opportunity to put some good out there. It’s just a good time to come back.
LOVESTORY: Looks like you’re ready to rule the world once again. What do you think of the industry right now?
UFFIE: That’s weird. TikTok is a bit like MySpace at first: you can just upload a song and it can go viral. So that’s exciting, but on the other hand, a lot of labels just aren’t developing artists anymore. It’s very streaming and algorithm-based, and the music and the art suffer from it. Obviously, I’m not a big fan of Spotify splits and things like that. I think that’s quite demotivating for a lot of artists, especially independent ones, and it’s not sustainable. So, I think there are changes on the horizon.
LOVESTORY: What do you think of artists who create songs just to go viral on TikTok?
UFFIE: I wonder, is that all some kids know now? Growing up in a time that’s so ADHD, where you’re constantly inundated with new things, creates a very different mindset than I grew up with. I would sit and play an entire record, listening to the story. It’s very different from working for an algorithm. Personally, I don’t fuck with it.
LOVESTORY: It’s like a factory. It’s very soulless.
UFFIE: Very robotic.
LOVESTORY: And rushed. I’m against. I can understand that’s a good business tactic, but what I respect about you is that you take your time and do something that’s yours, not everyone’s.
UFFIE: Totally. I’ve heard that the records that are playing or selling the most right now are all old records.
LOVESTORY: Really? I keep hearing Deftones on TikTok.
UFFIE: And like “Boom Boom Boom,” from the Venga Boys.
LOVESTORY: You should create a TikTok. I think “Pop the Glock” needs a TikTok moment, Ithat would be a good dance.
UFFIS: [Laughs] would you do it for me?
LOVESTORY: I would do anything for you. [Laughs] I was trying to do the tootsie roll. What is that?
UFFIE: I swear I heard it in an old hip-hop song, and that’s where I got it. It’s definitely a Miami-type move, dancing and grinding to the ground.
LOVESTORY: Yeah, that’s what I imagined, a roll down to the ground. You should do it on TikTok.
UFFIE: Oh my god. This is cheating.