Sticks & Stones Shitty Interview No.122
At just 22 years old, UPSAHL is an incredibly talented artist and prolific songwriter commanding the likes of Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Little Mix and Madison Beer with her indie-alt pop gems and her undeniable ability to write songs that permeate your psyche.
Her high school graduation was fast approaching when Taylor Upsahl’s parents called a family meeting. The Arizonans planned to broach the same subject matter raised by many parents with teens of a certain age: the future, and what UPSAHL should be doing in it. “So,” they began, cautious. “We don’t think you should go to college. We think you should move to LA to pursue music.”
It’s an anecdote that serves as testament to the now LA-based UPSAHL’s unconventional upbringing. With a punk band-frontman for a father, five-year-old UPSAHL digested her morning cereal before an endless rotation of indie-rock instrumentalists rolling off her living room couch and back on the road. By age 10, UPSAHL had undergone half a decade of guitar and piano lessons under the tutelage of her father and band instructing-grandmother when transferred to Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix. The next seven years would see her balance academics with choir competitions, cello, violin, among the “coolest community of creatives.”
While UPSAHL inked both publishing and record deals within a year of making her way to the West Coast – she was the first artist to sign with the relaunched Arista Records — life in Los Angeles proved tough. The culture was competitive, and climbing seemed to be a condition of being ‘seen.’ UPSAHL channeled her discontent into her debut EP HINDSIGHT 20/20, emerging with a slew of cult classics to feed her rapidly-growing fanbase. Acerbically unraveling LA’s social dynamics on electro pop-bop ‘Drugs’ she would later sound-track millions of TikTok videos, reaching #1 on the TikTok Sound Trends chart.
Just as she was finding her feet, 2020 forced UPSAHL to return to her roots. Mandatory lockdown hit while she was on tour, and UPSAHL figured she’d weather the storm from Phoenix. Many months and a major breakup later, UPSAHL had conceived a sophomore EP from her childhood bedroom — and had enough left over to lay the foundation for her debut album. The world was “falling apart” when she birthed YOUNG LIFE CRISIS, and so, UPSAHL felt, was she. “I just wrote and wrote and wrote so many songs as I processed these emotional stages of getting over someone: sadness, anger, anxiety, manic — it’s a roller coaster. At the end, it felt like a rebirth.”
Earlier this month, UPSAHL released her new album LADY JESUS which reflects that roller coaster with unapologetic irreverence. First single ‘Douchebag’ anthemically takes aim at harmful female stereotypes, sabering toxic masculinity in one fell swoop, while the follow-up, electric ballad ‘Melatonin’ drags you to the dancefloor to forget your ‘hangxiety.’ The project traverses pop-punk, rock and dance with bass-driven melodies seasoned with nostalgia, and somehow still emerges a cohesive portrait of 20-something disappointment and derision. LADY JESUS is Taylor’s saving grace, and UPSAHL’s resurrection.
Sticks & Stones: Do you have any irrational fears?
Upsahl: Tsunamis! I grew up surfing & still am terrified of waves, lol.
Sticks & Stones: Last thing you stole?
Upsahl: My best freind’s sweatshirt. She doesn’t know I took it to London yet… Don’t plan on giving it back.
Sticks & Stones: Where would you teleport to right now?
Sticks & Stones: What are you fucking with right now?
Sticks & Stones: What’s your least favourite thing about where you live?
Upsahl: LA traffic is ass.
Sticks & Stones: Are you craving anything right now?
Sticks & Stones: What’s something that you like that not many others like?
Sticks & Stones: How can we be better?
Upsahl: Smoking weed every morning.
Sticks & Stones: What pisses you off?
Upsahl: people I don’t like.
Sticks & Stones: Give us some shitty advice.
Upsahl: Smoking weed every morning.