Taylor Upsahl, better known by her stage name UPSAHL, has been making music since she was old enough to hold a guitar. Now the 20-year-old artist has nearly 179,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, with her single “Drugs” on its way to two million plays.
The Phoenix-raised and Los Angeles-based singer performed a Friday set at Lollapalooza, marking her first time playing at a major music festival. UPSAHL talked to The Phoenix on Saturday, excitedly sharing defining moments of her musical career, as well as her plans for the future.
So your real name is Taylor?
What’s your last name?
Upsahl, so that’s my artist name.
How old are you?
I’m 20. Almost 21.
Is this your first Lollapalooza?
Yeah, it’s my first time ever really even going to a major festival, so I’m very honored to play.
Are there any performers here that you want to see?
Yesterday I saw Tame Impala. I was really looking forward to that. And then I’m a huge fan of Chance the Rapper, and I just saw him hanging out back here yesterday, ‘cause he went on with Death Cab [for Cutie], and I was losing my mind over that. That was cool. Tessa Violet, I’m a huge fan of her, so yeah, it’s been really really fun.
Tell me about your music.
I’ve been doing music since I could start singing and playing instruments but my dad was in a punk band so it was just kind of natural for me to love music. I started releasing albums and singles when I was in high school and then I graduated and moved to L.A., and I’ve just been writing every single day, and my goal is to just get as much music out before the end of this year.
Do you have any albums out yet?
Yeah, I just put out an EP called “Hindsight 20/20” a couple months ago. That’s my first big EP as Upsahl.
What’s your favorite song you’ve written so far?
I think my favorite is a song called “Drugs” that’s off the EP. The day we wrote it, we all were just like, “Wow, this is a special one,” and I think it’s the one I’m most proud of, for sure.
What are the next few years going to look like for you?
For the rest of this year, I’m doing a little bit of touring, which is cool. I just got into touring this year, so it’s been really really fun. … I really love being on the road and meeting people. Anytime I’m not traveling and I’m back in L.A. working, I’m literally doing a session every day and writing songs every day. So I’m just trying to put out as much music as possible for sure.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Since my dad was in punk bands when I was growing up, I loved alternative music and punk music. Weezer is one of my favorites, they’re the best. Spoon and The Shins. But then I also love OutKast and I love No Doubt, so I don’t know. I didn’t grow up listening to a bunch of pop music. I got into pop more once I moved to L.A. But yeah, a lot of alternative stuff.
How did your performance go?
It was crazy. I’ve been running around and I haven’t had a second to really sit and process it. But it was crazy. I literally thought three people were going to show up. I’ve never really played a festival, I’m still just starting out. But people actually showed up and knew the words to my songs, it was really really awesome. It felt like a dream, it was crazy.
Have there been any defining moments for you?
[Friday] was definitely a big one for me. I got off stage and started crying, [and] I was like, “This is crazy!” Moving to L.A. was a big moment for me, just because I graduated from high school and all my friends went to college and I was risking everything, and learning to be comfortable with that decision was kind of crazy. I guess signing with Arista, the label, was also a big career moment just because it’s such an iconic label and everyone dreams of signing a record deal, so it was awesome.
Have you had any special moments with fans?
Since I haven’t really toured until this year, I’m finally getting to interact with fans and it is so incredible. Last tour I was on, I met this group of girls in Cleveland, Ohio, who were so amazing, so supportive, the most fun show, and now we’re all in the DMs on Instagram, and some of them came to Lollapalooza. Stuff like that, where you see people coming back and you know them, it’s really cool, being able to actually meet my fans and they feel like friends. That’s why the show was so fun [Friday], it was just like having a dance-karaoke party with my friends. It was so much fun.
Is “Drugs” your favorite song to perform as well?
I think so, yeah, ‘cause we do this call-and-response thing where I was like, “Say ‘Drugs’!” “Drugs!” That’s always really fun, because even if people don’t know me or don’t know the songs, who doesn’t want to scream “Drugs!” at a music festival? So I think that one’s the most fun to perform as well.
What else would you like people to know?
I just put out a single last week, it’s called “Wish You’d Make Me Cry,” and it’s on Spotify.