Some people like to say that Uffie's 15 minutes is up, but when she recently stopped by Complex's NYC offices before jetting back to Paris, she seemed far from worried. Our June/July Hot Complex subject was in town to celebrate the launch of her line with Diesel, a side hustle to her music career. Although her debut, Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans dropped this year to underwhelming response, the 22-year-old Miami girl, who grew up in Hong Kong and now resides in Paris, had more pressing matters on her mind as she spoke to us about being a mother, those Ke$ha comparisons, and getting started on her next project...
Interview by Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo)
Complex: You grew up in a lot of different countries. Which do you identify with?
Uffie: Nowhere, really. The key points in my life as a kid were so scattered that I was most comfortable in, like, airports.
Complex: Do you think you're received better internationally than in the States?
Uffie: Yes. Especially Australia, the UK, France, Germany. They're a lot more open to the indie scene and a lot more into electro music.
Complex: Americans don't like you as much?
Uffie: In the U.S., I'm definitely more nervous. It's a harder crowd.
Complex: Ke$ha is a big artist here in the U.S., and people always say she bit your style. Do you have any hard feelings towards her?
Uffie: The only annoying thing is when people see me and are like, "I heard you on radio," and I'm like "Yeah, that's not me." There are definitely similarities, but it's completely different. I'm an underground artist and that's extremely pop and mainstream. If that was my goal, I'd be pissed off as hell.
Complex: Don't you want to be extremely pop and mainstream?
Uffie: The one cool thing about being underground is that it gives you such freedom. You have to be so on top of it, releasing singles all the time, doing videos all the time, and I don't know if I'm ready to give up that freedom.
Complex: I guess not. It took three years for the "Pop The Glock" video to come out. Why did it take so long?
Uffie: [Laughs.] Well, that was the first song that I ever wrote, so it was going really slowly. I remember when they were like, "Where's your album?" and I didn't even know how it worked. I wanted to take the time to find my own sound since I was so new.
Complex: Do you have a better idea of what you want to do now?
Uffie: Not really. I think that's why everything I do takes so long because I don't have one direction. I'm just doing what I feel at the moment. It would probably be good, though, to have some direction.
Complex: When will you work on new music?
Uffie: I'm taking a bit of a break soon to re-work the live show with new musicians and new choreographers. Then I'll go back in the studio and record as much as I can and do new collaborations.
Complex: Do you have anyone in mind?
Uffie: I definitely wanna work with Pharrell as a producer. He's an amazing vocalist, but I think his productions are amazing.
Complex: How did you two get together for "ADD SUV"?
Uffie: We met when I was 19, in Japan. He invited me to his party with A Bathing Ape and Ice Cream. I was too scared to even talk to anyone. He's friends with Ed Banger and Busy P and I thought he was the perfect rapper for that song so I asked him and he said, "Yeah."
Complex: The lyrics for that song were pretty dark and drugged-out.
Uffie: Yeah, at first it was supposed to be making fun of rappers but I was watching the film The Valley of the Dolls and you have all these housewives who are drinking Martinis all day, on Valium, thinking their lives are so horrible. And everyone's so obsessed with fame. It wasn't really about me, it was more about how I see the world.
Complex: You definitely put yourself out there as a party girl, though. You're only 22, but have you slowed down since you became a mother?
Uffie: To be honest, I'm still totally struggling with it. It's a struggle. It's a constant one. Sometimes I'll fall off the wagon, but you learn that there's a time and a place. Sure, I'm young and I wanna have fun and go crazy, but then you go home and you're a mom and you have to give all that time to your family. It's just finding out when to do what and where.
Complex: Is your daughter in Paris?
Uffie: Yeah, right now.
Complex: Does she stay with the father or family members?
Uffie: With my family.
Complex: Does that situation work out well?
Uffie: No. [Laughs.] Every time you travel, your schedule is always changing and these other people have lives as well. It's like, where is she gonna be next. Every month it's trying to figure out where you're gonna be and trying not to change schedules, but it's always a bit of a stretch.
Complex: Does not being around all the time take a toll on you emotionally?
Uffie: It totally drains you. You know you wanna do your career, but at the same time, it could end any day and there are so many things in this industry that are stupid and vain, like photo shoots every day. It's always a struggle with that.
Complex: What's Justice up to these days? New album on the way?
Uffie: Yes, new album. I have no idea what it's going to be called or when it's gonna be ready. But their studio is underneath my manager's office. It sounds quite good, but I haven't heard any whole pieces.
Complex: How was it working on this new collection with Diesel?
Uffie: It was liberating to go do something completely different. It was kinda funny because I did all of my work for it in about two days. You grab clothes that you like. You make mood boards. Then I designed everything that I really wanted. Then you say what fabrics you want. Then you actually work with the designers and they tell you what's possible and what's not. It takes so long to produce and everything, but all your work is done in like two days. It's really fun and different from music. It's something about me and my universe.
Complex: What is your universe?
Uffie: Changing daily. It's sort of madness. A living-in-the-moment kind of thing.
Complex: Does that work for or against you?
Uffie: I think it's about 50-50. Probably, right now, a bit against.
Complex: How so?
Uffie: Because you wonder, "If I wasn't crazy and doing all these stupid things, if I was serious, would I be further along?"
Complex: Are you with the father of Henrietta?
Complex: Is there a relationship there? Are you both involved?
Uffie: It's definitely not as balanced as it should be.
Complex: Does that situation make you want to hold off on a serious relationship or find a better one?
Uffie: Well, we split up when I was five months pregnant, so it's kind of been a long time. Right after, I was kind of dating, but not really. Then after Australia I was like, "I need an adult in my life!" [Laughs.] I definitely need someone serious. I need to come back to something lovely and real.
Complex: Was the previous relationship just a fun, young thing and—
Uffie: The party stopped. [Laughs.] So now I'm seeing a lovely guy who has nothing to do with my industry and wears suits during the week.
Complex: Is he older?
Uffie: Yeah. It's a really nice balance. I need an adult in my life, let's be honest.
Complex: How much older?
Uffie: He's 38. I'm 22. I can't do math today. Wow, 16 years.
Complex: He's totally unknown?
Uffie: Yeah, he has no idea who I am. He's like, "Oh, you do music. That's nice." He has no idea and that's awesome because you get to go home and it's a completely different world.
Complex: Considering your "live in the moment" mantra, do you think this is something that works right now, but in a year you'll be like—
Uffie: I need the craziness again?! [Laughs.] I blame that on my parents. I think moving around so much as a kid you learn not to get attached to things. I might have commitment issues.
Complex: For male entertainers, you always hear about how their wives and girlfriends worry about groupies and stuff. As a woman, is there similar temptation and opportunity for you?
Uffie: For sure. There's way more, but you don't always take them because you're a girl, so it's kinda creepy. Girls are not as threatening, I think. With guys, you don't know who you're bringing home. They could be killers. But of course you're totally gonna have fun like that. When I was 18, we totally had fun with boys.
Complex: What's it like having groupies from a female perspective? Because it's not fans screaming. A guy will still try to be normal, to an extent.
Uffie: Yeah, that's just creepy. You're not gonna be like, "That's a turn-on. A guy worships me." Girls always wanna chase something and work for it. The guys always know how to pretend and play hard-to-get. Even if you're not really interested in them, that kind of sparks your interest. It's really strange.
Complex: Have you hooked up with any guys who were definitely fans?
Uffie: I remember this one time. I kissed this guy and he was like, "Have I ever told you that I love your record?" It totally changed my head up quick because how creepy is it that somebody can totally know who you are and you don't know that they know? [Laughs.] They can look back into your life on Wikipedia. It makes you really paranoid. I think it's better to date someone who does the same things as you or someone who has no idea what you do.
Complex: Was it fun when you were younger to look up and find yourself in a space where all these drugs and parties and men were so accessible?
Uffie: Totally. You're in Brazil when you're 18 and the first thing everybody is saying is, "What kind of drugs do you want?" In the Paris nightlife, everyone's doing tons of blow. It's very easy to get caught up in that when you're very young and it's so accessible. I think having a baby gave me an opportunity to sort of reel that in.
Complex: But when you escape to a city like New York for a few days, do you fall back into the party scene?
Uffie: I do dabble here and there. There's a time and place for everything. I'm not like the Virgin Mary or anything.