Powerful, honest and truly awe-inspiring are just three ways to describe the 23-year-old Taylor Cameron Upsahl’s lyricism. Having released her first self-titled EP at only 14 years old, music and authentic lyricism run through the Phoenix star’s veins and she has only continued on an upward trajectory over the past few years, rapidly becoming a household name and creating immense excitement within the music industry.
Always wearing her heart on her sleeve, UPSAHL demonstrates a beautiful sense of vulnerability with every one of her releases, allowing her fanbase to feel empowered, seen and connected within their listening experiences of her expansive discography. Initially just “writing to write songs” about topics that weren’t as close to her heart when she was younger, before eventually venturing into the world of writing from an “autobiographical standpoint”, the Arizonan native expresses, “I feel like I’ve learned to be very empowered by being raw with my songwriting”.
“If I can continue what I’m doing now, with music as my job and having people turn up to my shows, hopefully on a much larger scale as I get older, then that’s my goal.”
Her music exploration and her artistry have grown immensely over the course of the lockdown, with the release of her debut album ‘Lady Jesus’ in October 2021 being the ultimate project throughout. The concept of this up-tempo album is the idea of rebirth, which stemmed from the vulnerability the lyricist felt whilst on a writing camp in the woods in the middle of Nashville, and having been on the journey of healing from a past relationship. Pausing for a moment of reflection over the greatest lessons that she has learnt whilst taking the world by storm and creating the album, the artist admits, “learning the power of being alone” has been the most impactful realisation to her. “There’s this idea that we have to always put this love, energy and attention towards a significant other, but if you give that same energy to yourself, you’re unstoppable!”
From writing for the likes of industry gurus Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie and Little Mix, to the ensemble the multi-instrumentalist and talented vocalist has cultivated herself, it’s safe to say the past couple of years are full of extraordinary achievements for this gem in the making. However, after contemplating the advice she’d offer her 19-year-old self, following the discouragement she felt from being underestimated in sessions, the up and coming talent explains, “My biggest piece of advice would be to not let the gender inequality in music get you down! Just keep going, it will be okay!”
Moreover, tracklisting, colours and aesthetics are key components of any musical release, with the star carefully considering this throughout her creative process for her debut album: “We sequenced the songs on the album in the order of how I felt all of the feelings,” keen to take listeners on the “same shit show of an emotional journey” that she experienced in order to get to ‘Lady Jesus’. Chuckling, she goes on to express, “For example, ‘Thriving’ is the turning point of the album where I’m no longer feeling the sad girl vibes, and then we reach ‘Lady Jesus’, which is where I’m at in my life now.” Referring back to the concept of rebirth surrounding this visually clever album, the colours UPSAHL envisions when thinking of this era are red, black and white, almost signifying the stages of healing that the album’s tracklist has been designed to represent, and creating an incredibly liberating and therapeutic listening journey for her tight-knit community of fans that feel like family.
In addition, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, that magical feeling of the lights going down at a concert, the screams and chants of utmost exhilaration reaching an all-time high from the audience, and your favourite artists and bands finally taking to the stage after months of counting down to the show came to a halt for what felt like a lifetime. Having recently returned to the stage, and supported the likes of Olivia O’Brien on her headline tour, the Phoenix-born artist has a stage presence like no other. The atmosphere during her sets is so high-energy, cathartic and simply electric. Looking ahead with tones of excitement arising in regards to the year of touring she has ahead of her, the talented multi-instrumentalist admits, “I hope everyone who comes to my shows is down to rage!”
“I feel like I’ve learned to be very empowered by being raw with my songwriting.”
Staying connected to other people throughout the unsettling times we’ve been living through became more important than ever, with many of us turning to social media as a way to achieve this. Hours upon hours were spent scrolling through the endless realms of TikTok and the impact the app has had on the music industry is monumental. Gaining recognition from her funny and creative videos, in which she would essentially turn a video someone posted of them ranting into an iconic song instead, the singer is incredibly grateful for the new wave of supporters she’s received through the powers of the app: “I think it’s the first time an app has translated for artists in the way of which you could post one silly video, and it could then make people want to go and listen to the music you have out.”
With celebrities also falling into the mesmerising and addictive world of TikTok, the 23-year-old goes on to explain, “It’s humanised these celebrities and idols that everyone puts on a pedestal, showing that everyone is human”. For example, the singer is greatly influenced by Lizzo, both as an artist and as a person, and believes her hilariously relatable and down to earth videos on TikTok have been so refreshing in detaching the stereotypical features of how a celebrity should be.
With an ever-growing fan base and an ever-expanding creative ensemble, the future is so bright for this exciting young artist, as she concludes, “If I can continue what I’m doing now, with music as my job and having people turn up to my shows, hopefully on a much larger scale as I get older, then that’s my goal.”
Follow Upsahl on Instagram, Twitter and Spotify.
Written by Issy Todd // Photos by: Aubree Estrella and Sam Leviton