In the hyper-accelerated universe of blog critique and mass awareness, five years is an eternity. The virtual world runs at a pace that cycles through fads and genre-tags faster than the time it takes for them to properly gestate and stick. It can also swallow an artist whole, rendering them irrelevant before they even have the opportunity to prove themselves. Uffie, the Florida-born, Hong Kong–raised, Paris-based MC, best known for her collaboration with Justice way back in 2007, could be a case study of how quickly someone who was once deemed the hippest chick in the game can fade from the ADHD generation’s short attention—and all before the release of her first full-fledged album.
When Uffie debuted with “Pop the Glock,” she was the overnight muse of the Ed Banger collective, a group of French DJs expanding on the maximal house music made by their pioneering countrymen, Daft Punk. The Ed Banger aesthetic was slightly more street, produced with attitude, pop, and grit. As such, the backwards, yet vivid, flow of a low skill-level club kid like Uffie was the perfect foil for guys like DJ Feadz and Mr. Oizo. “Pop the Glock” eked out in limited 12-inches and on various compilations. With its tales of boasting and partying barely rhyming or built with a competent cadence, it came off like a novelty, and Uffie was the epitome of the celebutante, posing for racy pictures and sharing her shoe collection more than advancing her credibility as an artist. Still, subsequent singles like “First Love” and “Brand New Car” were brimming with a pop effervescence. You weren’t supposed to love this disposable, bubblegum electro-trash, but for some reason it was infectious.
And then... nothing. Between the Justice collaboration and the release of her first LP, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, last month, Uffie had seemingly fallen off the face of the scene, even when a number of female artists were “jocking” her style (check Ke$ha for proof). Exactly what happened in that span is a touchy subject, but logistically it appears as if it was hard for Uffie and her cadre of producers to find a bridge between her old self and her new, fresher, edgier sound to produce one defining introductory record. If you owe Uffie anything at all, it’s the courtesy of trying out her new flavors, even if you’re sick of the old ones. Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans is an album chronicling her evolution, from the youth once thrown into the recording booth with nary a intelligible verse to her current confident state. Whether dodging comparisons to her style-stealing contemporaries or deflecting the first-impression flogging that plagued her early days, Uffie’s biggest hurdle is catching up with the times and making sure people are paying attention to her current future-focused sound. I recently spoke with the jetsetting MC as she was on her way to a flight back to Paris, heading back home after her second brief tour of the States this year.
Since it’s taken so long for you to complete your first record, do you think of Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans as your proper introduction?
Uffie: Definitely. “Pop the Glock” was so long ago. It was the first song I wrote and I needed all of this time to grow and to find my style. Even as an introduction, though, it shows a lot of the changes I’ve gone through.
You talk about all of the growth and changes that are shown on the record, but do you feel that there’s already a built-in slight from people who only associate you with those first few singles?
Uffie: Yes, because I really have grown. The biggest change I think has been lyrically. Making the album was exciting because it allowed me to take some chances and work outside of my comfort zone and work with people I’ve never worked with before. So I felt really free to experiment.
I’ve read your style described as an “anti-flow.” So are you ever purposefully crafting your lyrics to adhere to that adjective?
Uffie: Not at all. When you change styles and you grow, people don’t expect that kind of change and want you to do what you did originally. I understand that’s what people might want, but since I’ve been evolving I wanted the music to reflect that.
What initially got you into making your own music and rapping? Did you have some exposure to that when you lived in Florida or was Paris the biggest inspiration?
Uffie: Growing up in Florida just exposed me to pop music, but it was the electro that really influenced me when I moved here. Paris is where everything really started for me.
It seems like you’ve been much more popular in Europe and Asia than here. For that reason, are you concerned at all about reaching out to American audiences?
Uffie: Obviously that has to do with where you live, and Paris is where I’m making records and playing shows all of the time. Usually if you’re an American artist, you start off big here and then go international, but it’s so funny because it’s the complete opposite for me.
Do you get the sense that in the time since you started that other artists have co-opted your style and that you’re having to catch-up?
Uffie: Not particularly, but I know exactly what you are talking about. It’s a big concern for a lot of other people, but not for me. This is my career and I just choose to ignore that part of it. I just want to enjoy making my music and continue to have fun.
Is a second record already in the works? If so, how are you looking for it to differ to from this album?
Uffie: I’m definitely going to play a lot more with electro-rock.
Do you feel there’s continuity to the record, even though it was produced with many different people at many different times?
Uffie: Not really, but I do think that it’s a good introduction to me as a person. It was definitely hard to put together a record like this that I’ve been working on for so long with so many different people. Towards the end, when I sat back and looked at it, I forced myself into the studio every day to finally get it done. If there’s some sort of instruction on how to make a record, this was not it, and it’s not the way I plan to continue to work in the future.