With live shows at a standstill, Phoenix’s Taylor Upsahl has been staying busy, releasing her new “Young Life Crisis” EP, catching Lizzo’s eye and co-writing Dua Lipa’s “Good in Bed.”
The alternapop singer, known to her fans as simply Upsahl, had just started a tour before the COVID-19 shutdown.
“I had one show that I played and then got sent home,” she says. “I was prepared to be touring until August or September of this year. My whole year got changed, so I just wrote an EP instead.”
“Young Life Crisis” is the epitome of 2020, with five tracks detailing Upsahl’s own struggles with life, heartbreak and hope.
“This EP is about my own ‘young life crisis’ that I had this year,” she says.
“I’ve been really candid about it on social media, for anyone who feels the same way they do. It shows them they are not alone. Social media has changed the game of putting out music, allowing us to really connect instantly with fans around the world.”
Writing “Young Life Crisis” was a practice in technology. She generally writes daily, but this time, she started Zoom writing sessions.
“I started noticing that, with everyone stuck inside, they were all having to deal with their problems,” Upsahl says.
“I thought, ‘I have a lot of my own problems that I’ve never dealt with. I figured if I filled up my days with Zoom sessions, I could continue to avoid having to deal with my issues.”
The EP’s name came from a co-writer who heard about Upsahl’s problems and suggested, “It sounds to me like you’re having a young life crisis.”
“That’s when the clouds parted and I was like, “That’s what this EP is!” I had accidentally narrated me having a mental breakdown. That tied the bow on the whole project.”
The “Young Life Crisis” video was filmed at Upsahl’s home out of necessity.
“I wanted it to follow what the song was talking about, which is waking up the next morning after kind of messing up your life and having a bit of an existential crisis,” she adds.
“We were looking at locations and trying to figure out where to do it, and it hit me that I’d been going through my crisis at home, so why not film it there? My roommates were very gracious and let me bring a whole video crew in for the day. It was a lot of fun.”
Looking ahead, the singer-songwriter says she plans to work on new music every day, with a “fun track” coming during the holiday season.
“My biggest plan for 2021 is just to release as much music as possible,” she shares.
“When you write every day, there are so many songs you wish everyone could hear, but it’s just not feasible to put them all out. That’s why next year I’m going to go hard and release as much music as possible.”
During the first part of the quarantine, the singer moved back to her parents’ house in Phoenix, before returning to Los Angeles. She admits to missing Arizona, especially her mom’s “dope sandwich shop” Captain Bill’s Submarine Shop at 10645 N. 35th Avenue, Phoenix; Postino; and Green at 2022 N. Seventh Street, Phoenix.
“I feel so lucky to have grown up there,” she says. “Venue-wise, the Crescent Ballroom is sick, and Valley Bar is dope. As soon as shows are up and running again, hopefully I can play some of those venues again.”
There have been a few pluses during the pandemic, though. Upsahl has collaborated with other artists, like Dua Lipa. She was overjoyed by the Lizzo TikTok duet.
“I thought it was crazy,” she says. “I started those things as a joke because I was bored in quarantine. Then I saw the Lizzo interview and thought it was cool, but I never in a million years thought she would see it, let alone react to it. As a woman in the industry, I’ve looked up to her for the past few years, so the fact that she even knows who I am is amazing.”
Drawing inspiration from other artists’ live sets is also important to the singer.
“When you see another artist do shows, you get so many ideas and you feel so inspired,” says Upsahl, who turned 22 on Thanksgiving.
“When I saw Tame Impala, the lighting they had was so impressive and all the different jam sessions that they would go to in between songs was cool. And then I remember seeing Pink Sweats at Lolla, and he ended his whole set with a drum solo. I was like, ‘Damn. Time for me to learn drums.’”