UPSAHL tells us about her 2021

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Credit: Aubree Estrella

As the year winds down to a close, we’re sure you’re inundated by the regular events of Listmas where every music publication under the sun tells you what they think is the best art of the year. That’s definitely important, and ours is coming soon — but we also wanted to check in with artists we love that have had big years to get their take on the strange year of 2021.

UPSAHL‘s on a roll right now. The uber-talented songwriter who’s written for artists like Dua Lipa and Madison Beer released her debut album, Lady Jesus, in October, and it served as a smashing introduction for her energetic style of pop. Classifying Lady Jesus as a pop record is doing it a disservice — the 23-year-old genre-hops all throughout the record with her tracks landing on the side of her punk-rock upbringing more often than not. After a thrilling run supporting Olivia O’Brien on her sold-out tour and with dates announced supporting acts like K.Flay, Yungblud, and FLETCHER in 2022, the world is UPSAHL’s and she’s ready for her moment. We called the singer up to talk to her about her momentous 2021, lessons learned on tour, and her favorite art from the year:

 

 

When you think of 2021 three years from now, what moment are you going to think of?
It’s just been such a rad year, but I can think of two moments. There was a time right as I was, like, putting the album together that I organized a writing trip for me and all of my friends that worked on the record to just go and work on music. It was just something I’d dreamed about since I was writing songs in my bedroom when I was ten, and to be in a room with everyone I loved creating cool shit was just a dream come true — a wholesome, surreal moment.

I think, too, my album release show in the church in downtown LA was a full-circle moment — like, my whole life was building up to that moment. So, that was fun, and I think I’m going to hold onto that for a really long time.

The bulk of your touring took place after your album was released, and you really hit the road hard with Olivia O’Brien this fall. Did you have any lessons that you learned after going back to touring full-time?
Ooh, that’s a good question! The biggest thing I’ve learned this year, with the first of the year being in quarantine and the back half being absolutely insane with touring, is just learning how to be present in every moment and enjoying being on stage even when I’m exhausted. It’s easy to forget in the way of things that we just didn’t have this for a year and a half, so remembering that and just really having a good time has been something that I’ve tried to do a little better as the year went on.

What were your favorite albums of 2021? I’ve received a wide variety of answers for this one — one band recently talked about how they listened to playlists more than anything.
I’m kind of similar to that, actually! I’ve got my handful of albums that I consistently returned to, but I created this running playlist of shit that my friends showed me and things I fell in love with that stayed on loop all year. But as far as albums go, the Doja Cat album was really inspiring to me. The Adele album was incredible, too; any time I just wanted to zone out and be sad while on tour, that was my go-to. I also dove into old Radiohead, too — The Bends was inescapable for me this year.

I’m curious just because I’m a massive Radiohead fan — what’s your favorite album from them?
Oh god, that’s tough (laughs). It probably is The Bends, just because my favorite song of all time is “High and Dry”, and it’s on that album. So, I think that’s the one I listen to the most. What’s your favorite?

I’m an In Rainbows guy. I remember hearing “Bodysnatchers” at ten years old coming out of my MCR phase and it totally warping my world (laughs).
That’s lit. Let’s GO Radiohead. (laughs) 

 

 

The Adele record was a surprise for me. When “Easy on Me” came out I was expecting a retread from her, which wouldn’t have been the worst thing ever because she’s Adele, but I thought a lot of that album was super interesting sonically.
No, same! The production on that album is so fun and exciting when I didn’t really expect it to be. And then you have the rip-your-heart-out ballads that balance it out, but it’s very diverse and good.

2022 is right around the corner — what are you looking forward to the most out of the year?
Yeah, touring is top of the list. We’ve got the runs coming up with K. Flay and Yungblud, and then hopefully I’m going over to Europe with FLETCHER, but just being in the room with people playing these songs has been the highlight of my year and I’m just happy to keep going with it. That’s just a connection that we’ve all been missing so much over the past two years, and I’ll never get over the fact that this is just my life now.

I know you had a pretty great collab with G Flip recently — how did that come to be?
I’ve been a fan of G for a minute. We’d done some press together over quarantine through Zoom, and I felt like we were pretty great friends despite never meeting in real life. So, quarantine is just going along and G sent me this super sexy track “Scream” and asked me to write a verse on it. It was a dream because I love their stuff; I wrote that verse in my parents’ house, which is like, super funny because it’s such an outwardly sexual song that I was tracking vocals for in my family’s kitchen (laughs). I’m just such a big fan of G — playing drums and singing at the same time is just unbelievably cool to me, and the way they keep putting out bangers is outright inspiring.

 

 

The last time we talked, we focused a lot on the folks you’ve written for — do you have anything coming out with other people, or any dream collaborations for the new year?
You know, it’s been cool in the Zoom age because it’s opened up opportunities to do shit like that more easily. I’ve been in the studio with some really talented people, and I’m not sure any of it is going to be released, but it’s an incredible exercise to be able to do stuff like that on a more regular basis. Nothing’s on the books yet, but god, I’d love to collab with someone like Doja Cat or Gwen Stefani.

Last thing I want to ask — thoughts on Squid Game. Go.
(laughs) That’s hilarious. I was doing a writing session in London and dealing with severe jet lag when I watched it, so I think I got four episodes in and I was like “this is too emotionally exhausting for me at this point in time.” (laughs) As soon as we hit the marbles episode…it was too much. But I eventually finished it, and it’s incredible.

Yeah, I watched it and enjoyed it, but I don’t think I could do it again.
Shit’s intense, man. It also just blew my mind that everyone in the world watched one thing. Like, the craze it held over people was super wild.

 

 

Keep up with UPSAHL: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

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