UPSAHL: An Interview at Lollapalooza

Upsahl by Aubree Estrella

UPSAHL: An Interview at Lollapalooza

The Garnette Report’s Taylor Hawkins got the opportunity to speak with the wonderfully talented Upsahl at Lollapalooza this past weekend. Keep reading to find out what’s new with the Rockstar! And click to read coverage of Upsahl’s performance at Lollapalooza.

Upsahl. by @aubreeestrella
UPSAHL by @aubreeestrella VIA: @upsahlmusic Instagram.

Q: Can you describe your style of music to our readers who may not be familiar with Upsahl ‘s sound?

A: “I grew up listening to a lot of, like, punk music because my dad was in punk bands. So, that was kind of, like, the source of inspiration for me. That’s what got me into playing guitar, and like, learning piano, and just being around the punk scene was really inspiring as a kid. And then when I turned, like, I don’t know, 16 I decided I wanted to be a pop star, but I wanted to be punk as f*** about it. And I think just, like, my childhood has definitely had a really big impact on my sound now, which is this, like, alt-pop thing. I love, like, playing bass and guitar, so I try to, like, incorporate that as much as I can”. 

Q: How many instruments do you play? 

A: “I do just, like, guitar, bass, and piano. I’m trying drums but I can’t get the hang of it. I’m working on it. We’ll get there one day”! 

(I sit there and stare at her for a few seconds. The casualness with which she tells me she plays three instruments and is learning a fourth as of it’s the most common talent in the world was mindblowing!)

Q: Did you always know that this was something going to do as a career or did you kind of fall into becoming Upsahl?

A: “I guess it was really kind of both. I mean it was never really a decision or like, a moment where I was like, ‘Oh, like, I want to do music’ you know? It was always just the biggest part of my identity. Like, as a kid I was always just that, like, random ass b**** just singing or playing an instrument. I was the one being annoying playing instruments in the corner. And then I started going to a performing arts school when I was 10 and stayed there until I graduated high school. So it was always just, like, the biggest part of my life was music. So it was pretty natural for me to like…. I moved to LA right after high school. I, like, started doing sessions and stuff so…. Yeah, there’s never really been another option”.

Upsahl performs at Lollapalooza 2023 by @aubreeestrella
Upsahl performs at Lollapalooza 2023 by @aubreeestrella VIA: upsahlmusic Instagram.

Q: So the music came naturally to you. Did performing as Upsahl come naturally to you?

A: “In the beginning, I would always play instruments. So, I didn’t really have to, like, move around. And then once I was like, ‘maybe I’ll, like, just sing for a song’. The freedom of being able to, like, work a stage was, like, so exciting to me. And I think also coming from, like, a punk background, the level of, like, high energy that those shows are, I try to incorporate into my shows. So now, I think over time I’ve become more and more of, like, a high-energy performer. But I think it came naturally at first and it’s only just progressed I guess”. 

Q: Where do you pull inspiration from in your music?

A: “A lot of inspiration from my own life. I write about my life pretty much solely. So that is a big part of it. But musically, like, Gwen Stefani, and No Doubt, to me it’s, like, the f****** blueprint. I’m obsessed with her, so I listen to a lot of that. Outkast was a big one for me growing up, and Weezer. Their pop melodies and, like, guitar riffs are always something that I turn to if I’m ever, like, not feeling inspired, or like, need some ‘umph’. Weezer is what I always go back to”.

Q: So can you walk me through the creative process of writing an Upsahl song?

A: “I mean normally, whenever I’m not on tour, but in LA or wherever doing sessions every day. So normally I just go in with, like, an emotion or like, a feeling or sometimes if I’m feeling really inspired I’ll have, like, a concept or like, a title ready. But normally the session just starts with, like, me and my co-writers just talking about whatever it is I want to write about that day. And then just, like, somewhere along the line of the conversation, someone will just accidentally say what the title of the song is going to be and then everyone stops and it’s like, ‘Wait you just said it’, like, ‘That’s what we’re going to do!” And then the song just kind of, like, happens naturally from there. But I find, like, production-wise, and musically I love going into making a song with another song as a reference. Being like ‘We should do something that’s this tempo’ or ‘Have a bass tone that sounds like this song’. So I pull a lot from, random playlists I make”. 

Q: What’s a favorite Upsahl song of yours?

A: “Oh, well I think my favorite song I’ve ever written is coming out in a couple of weeks. Which I’m really excited for, it’s called “0 to 100”. Yeah, I’m very very excited for that. But I think my favorite song I’ve released is probably “Drugs”. Just because it changed my life. But yeah, probably “Drugs”. Because it was the one song that I was, like, genuinely so scared to put out, and then years later it became the song that people seem to relate to the most which is really cool”.

“Drugs” by Upsahl music video via Youtube

Q: How does it feel to be here for Upsahl’s second Lollapalooza?

A: “It feels crazy. I mean I played Lollapalooza in 2019 on the BMI stage. And, like, it was my first time ever playing a music festival. And I rode that high for months. I was like, ‘That was the best day of my life’. So now, a few years later, getting to be back with a few tours under my belt, it feels just like a cool full-circle moment to be here. I’m really excited. I also feel like the lineup is insane so as a fan I’m, like, slay! I get to go watch all my favorite artists. It’s such an honor”.

Q: What’s the biggest takeaway you’ve learned from your time as a rising star in the industry?

A: “Probably just to, like, trust your instincts. I feel like being young too and getting into the music industry so young, in the beginning, I cared so much about what other people thought. And whether it was, like, my fans or my team, I was so easily swayed. And I think finding your voice and like, trusting it is, like, the biggest thing. Because at the end of the day, like, that’s what people I think are going to relate to the most. And that’s how I as a fan relate to the music, is when the artist is really feeling it. So, yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned is just to trust my gut and do what I feel.

Q: You mentioned your new song “0 to 100” is coming out. Can you tell me more about what Upsahl fans can expect from you? Such as new projects in the works, or new music coming out that you want them to know about?

A: “I’m putting out this project called “The Phoenix Tapes”. I’m from Phoenix and it’s been coming out, like, in pieces throughout the year. Like two songs at a time, in volumes basically. And so ‘Volume 3’ comes out on August 18th with, like, two new songs. And then we’ll have a couple more volumes and then it’ll all be on a mixtape by the end of the year. So yeah, just putting out a lot of new music. A lot of touring. I get to go on tour with Tove Lo in a few weeks Which I’m really excited for. I’m, like, such a fan of hers, so I’m so excited”. 

Q: Have you Met Tove Lo yet?

A: Yeah! We’ve done some songwriting together which has been cool. She co-wrote on this song called “Toast” that was on my last EP. And so, I think it was, like, spending time in the studio, just as a fan too, and watching her songwriting process, I’ve already learned so much. So to be able to be on the road and watch that process is going to be, like, so inspiring”.

Q: How would you say that your sound as Upsahl has evolved from the beginning of your career to now or even the set that you’re performing at Lollapalooza?

A: “Yeah it’s evolved a lot. I feel, like, in the beginning, for a while, I was trying to fit myself into this, like, alt-pop box. But like, no one knows what the f*** that is anymore. And I think, like, this year, especially with my project “The Phoenix Tapes”, I feel I’ve kind of just, like, let go of the idea of genres and just, like, making whatever I want to on any given day. So the songs I’m putting out all feel very different. But what’s fun about the live show and especially the Lolla set, is that no matter what the genre, whether it’s, like, a f****** house dance song, or like, a ballad, or whatever it is, the set is very, like, rock-punk inspired. Which is really cool. So it’s very, like, fun and high energy. 

Featured image by Aubree Estrella Via @upsahlmusic Instagram

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