In Conversation with UPSAHL

In Conversation with UPSAHL

So, your performance is at two, are you excited?

Yeah, I’m so excited. I’ve never played in the UK, this is my first time ever, this is literally the first day we’re here so I’m so excited.

Have you been to the UK before?

I spent like a week or two weeks in London last November but I’ve never been up here [Leeds] and really spent a decent amount of time here, so yeah, I’m stoked.

How do you prepare for a show?

I guess the biggest thing I’ve learnt from the short time of being on the road and playing live shows is there’s really no way to have a set schedule before every show because its so chaotic and I’m always just running around, but I guess like my biggest way to prepare is right before, me and my band just sit there and… I don’t know, it really just depends but normally its just really fast paced like we’re all sitting on the side of the stage and we’re all like ’Okay, we’re going to do it now’ and just go. But yeah it really just depends.

How did you meet your band? Are they friends of yours?

I actually met them through my musical director who put together my live show in LA. They’re both amazing, Ross my drummer is actually form Scotland so he’s stoked to be here. Yeah, I just met them both in LA [and] through playing shows together we’ve just become really good friends and they’re both so talented.

How is living in LA, does it fulfil all of the typical ‘LA life’ stereotypes?

It’s cool like when I first got there, I thought I was going to be obsessed with it right off the bat and then I got there and I was like, okay this is a little weird, it took me a sec. I moved there alone when I was 19 so it was very intimidating and a definite slap in the face because everyone there does music or is in the industry in some way so it definitely made me work harder but over the past year of living there I’ve totally fallen in love with it. Especially going on tour and seeing new cities, it makes me appreciate LA a lot more. I love it now.

Do you think living there has an impact on the music you create?

100%. When I moved there, I started doing writing sessions everyday with different people and I was meeting so many people and I was also going through the biggest time in my life for change and growth. So yeah, I started to treat writing and going to sessions like therapy so it was very much how I was feeling that day would be like the song that we wrote; the EP I just put out was very representative of the past year.

I was going to mention the EP, the song ‘stressed’ is so different from the others, it’s got a lot more jazz in it, where did that come from?

Yeah, I wrote that song actually the day before I left to go to Europe for the first time in November, and I was freaking out: I was travelling alone, I’d never been out of the country, I was really freaking out so we wrote ‘Stressed’. The producer, his name is Pete Nappi, he just had this sample of the brass and we just rolled with it, and now its one of my favourite songs.

Apart from the Jazz, what’s say the main influence to your sound?

When I grew up, my dad was in punk rock bands so I loved the punk scene and alternative music like Weezer and Spoon, [they] were really big influences for me. As I got older, I got really into pop music and when I started writing pop music I feel like that alternative influence found its way into it. But I would say, yeah, alternative music is the biggest inspiration for me.

So, because of your dad, did you listen to a lot of rock music when you were younger?

Yeah when I was like five, since my dad was touring and playing shows, any time a punk rock band from wherever was in Arizona on tour, where I’m from, they would spend the night at my house because they would hit up my dad and I would wake up in the morning like little five year old me and hang out with all these punk rock dudes and have breakfast with them so I was very much into that scene; I was just surrounded by it all the time.

Do you think because you were surrounded by it was there any other direction you would have gone in if you hadn’t gone into music, or was it always music?

Yeah, there was never a decision ‘Oh I want to do music’, it was just always a thing that I did. We had a band room in the house so naturally I was just always making noise and singing, playing instruments and then my parents put me in a performing arts school when I was 10 and I stayed there until I graduated high school. So, it was never really a question I feel like it’s definitely because I grew up around it but even if I didn’t I would somehow find a way because I’m not good at anything else, like, this is it!

In terms or artists, who’s your fav/draw the most inspiration from?

I look up to a bunch of female artists, I love No Doubt and Gwen Stefani, she was a really big deal for me growing up – so was OutKast. But now I’m obsessed with Billie Eilish, and the cool thing about her she hasn’t really given into the bullshit yet – she makes the music she wants and does what she wants and it’s working for her. It’s so inspiring to see that because I feel like sometimes its hard to find that authentic artist and she really is that.

Do you feel that pressure then, living in LA especially, to follow a certain kind of style?

I mean I feel like being in LA it’s very saturated and sometimes a bit suffocating. You have so many ideas and so many things that are hot and trendy right now but [at the same time] everyone’s searching for ‘what’s the next thing?’. So yeah, it’s really easy to get caught up in that and I found myself, before I really started to love LA, I was caught up in that, I need to be writing music like this and looking like this etc. But once I found that, I feel like as an artist you have to reach a point where you’re just like, there’s no point releasing music unless I’m in love with it and I think once I realised that it got so much easier.

Yeah it definitely shows when an artist loves their work. What is your song writing procedure?

When I first started writing it was by myself in my room on guitar or piano and then when I moved to LA, I started doing sessions which is with a bunch of different people every day. So yeah, I guess it just depends – some days I’ll walk into a room and one of us has an idea like right off the bat and we’ll roll with it or some days we’ll just sit and talk for two hours or go get lunch and then someone will say something and we’re like, wait, that’s a song title, let’s go back and write a song. So, it really depends and that’s what makes me feel so lucky to get to do music because I wake up everyday and have no idea what to expect.

Has there been any major moment in your life that’s influenced songs you’ve already produced?

I guess, just moving to LA was just the biggest thing for me but I don’t know; I mean I’m 20, I’m at a time in my life where all my relationships are changing every day; my friendships, how I feel about the world. I’m learning so much more about myself so I just try to take inspiration from that. Nothing massively crazy has happened to me where I’m like ugh I have to write about this, but yeah moving to LA has just been such a growing experience and I feel like before I moved to LA I was just like ‘oh yeah, I totally know myself’ and then when I moved I was like oh shit I have a lot of soul searching to do and so writing was how I did that.

Do your friends have a big impact on your music?

Yeah, 100%. I mean, I have the friends that I’ve met since I’ve moved to LA who are in music and like obviously, they’re a very large impact on … most of the time they’re a part of the process. But my friends who I went to high school with who don’t do music sometimes I care about what someone who doesn’t have to do with music has to say about my music just because it’s getting that outside perspective. So yeah, I’m always playing new demos for my friends like ‘okay is this really bad I can’t tell’.

Do you have anything in the works/coming up?

Well, I’m on tour in the UK, which is so fun. Yeah, I’m here for like two weeks and then we are playing Lollapalooza in Chicago later this year. Hopefully just more touring – I love being on the road. My EP just came out and hopefully I’ll be releasing more music soon and touring. That’s it!

Amy May Ellis