Photo Credit: Kevin Allen
In regards to the importance of absence, Chicago’s Uma Bloo said something quite poignant when how a strict upbringing impacted her interest in music. That’s where this conversation started but as it unfolded we dove into moods that fuel, condiment defiance, and more like her new LP, ‘Don’t Drive Into the Smoke’ due out March 23rd.
Kendra: Growing up in a strict household, was music something you sort of had to sneak around to enjoy?
Uma Bloo: Honestly I kind of just enjoyed the little bits I got until I was able to move to Chicago where music kind of appeared everywhere. Besides radio, I didn’t have a lot of access to discovering new music, and it took me a long time to figure out how to be resourceful.
On top of that, my ability to consume a lot of music at once was difficult because joy was unfamiliar, I still find myself resisting musical pursuits at times. For instance, I’m still exploring the joys of listening to entire albums because I was used to only hearing singles on the radio. By the time I was old enough to go to shows we had moved to the farm, and you couldn’t get anywhere without a car or a ride, and the people I was around just weren’t that interested in seeing live shows or going to record stores.
And being a young girl it’s not like I was really welcomed or protected in those spaces, so finding someone safe who could show me all the different avenues music offers wasn’t something I found. But I guess since music felt elite and elusive it at least fueled my desire to be involved. Absence certainly is a requirement of desire.
Kendra: So I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but always felt like my best came from when I was upset, and you’ve mentioned that you wrote “Never Know Me” quickly and out of frustration. So I wanted to know if you’ve noticed there is a certain mood that fuels your creativity more than others?
Uma Bloo: It could be any emotion as long as it’s urgent. I get really bogged down by self-doubt so sometimes it really suits me to write faster than I can think. Anger, specifically, can be helpful, especially since it’s a two for the price of one-type emotion. In acting school, we talked about how anger is really just activated sadness, and since then I’ve found there’s a dual motivation when writing in that headspace.
Kendra: “Never Know Me” can be found on your new 2022 release, ‘Don’t Drive Into the Smoke,’ and being in a city I’ve been dying to visit for the food scene – I have to know if you had to compare this album’s overall artistry to a signature Chicago dish, what would it be and why?
Uma Bloo: I guess if I had to pick maybe the hot dog- only because of the outright rejection they have about ketchup. At this point, I think we shouldn’t judge people for chosen condiments but the Chicago dog stays defiant, and I can relate to that.
Kendra: The name Uma Bloo comes from your time doing burlesque. I just did an interview with a burlesque performer/stand-up comedian for my podcast, and she explained how one helped the other. Do you feel your experience in that helped you as a musician?
Uma Bloo: Yes, in fact, I’d say it was essential to me getting over my stage fright and deciding to sing for people.
Kendra: With it being March, I’d love to know what song you feel lucky enough to have heard in your lifetime? Like, what’s a song you’re thankful has existed while you’ve been here?
Uma Bloo: There are a lot of songs! The most recent one I fell for, it’s the new Girlpool single “Faultline.” I’m not sure what about this song got me but it sounds just like how some of my deepest pain feels. I heard it for the first time last week and it was the only song I listened to for the entire week: I got pretty codependent with it. I would get home from work and watch the video over and over just crying. I guess that sounds sad but I mean to say I found it really powerful and soft, I’m so grateful to have heard it.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Don’t Drive Into the Smoke’ out this month – what can fans both new and old be on the lookout for from you in the coming months?
Uma Bloo: This month we have a single coming out called “Strange Actress” that I’m really excited to share. We might be doing one more single, and then the album will be out at the end of March. It’s been a long time coming, especially for those who have been with us since we started out, so I’m really looking forward to reaching this milestone with everyone.