2021 produced a plethora of noteworthy releases, but I haven’t found myself namedropping any as “album of the year” as much as UPSAHL’s Lady Jesus. The debut LP from the Phoenix-based singer/songwriter is a raunchy, alt. pop wet-dream-come-true of party-playlist-perfected bangers… quite a feat, considering that the last time we chatted, she told me that the album was inspired by a recent breakup and she had originally planned to, “write the saddest breakup album of all-time.”
The last time I spoke with the 23-year-old burgeoning sass-pop princess (real name Taylor Upsahl) she was embarking on a tour supporting the like-minded Olivia O’Brien, which hit up Union Transfer in November for the city’s most beautifully decadent celebration of camp and young white girl badassery that we have seen since lockdown ended. That tour lasted nearly the entire month of November and was followed by a handful of headlining shows and holidays shows. And while she may have only been on the road for a relatively short time, coming off of quarantine transformed the shows into profound celebratory events for the young songwriter and her fans.
“Finally getting back to live music was definitely the highlight of the year for me,” UPSAHL tells me during a recent phone chat: “It was only a month, but it’d been so long that it felt so amazing just being in the same room and raging together.” However, that wasn’t her only major highlight of the year. In fact, unlike the vast majority of the world, she recently Tweeted that it was the best year of her life. “It was the best year of my life for a lot of reasons,” she tells me, “With finally putting out my album, instead of just going through a breakup and writing it, and finally getting to play it live, that was all really great.” In the same Tweet she mentions spending the final week of the year with her phone turned off, getting stoned in her parents’ backyard every day, something that she goes on to tell me she would, “100% really recommend.” “I think I just needed to unplug and chill, so I hung out with my family, got stoned, and ate great food,” she adds, laughing.
Although barely into the new year, UPSAHL already has dates booked through mid-May, including extended jaunts supporting K.Flay in the [mostly] Midwest, Yungblud out West, and Fletcher throughout Europe, all of which she tells me she’s beyond psyched about: “I am overly excited. I’ve been a really big fan of all three and I’ve gotten to know them all and they’re all genuinely cool people!” And while she has plenty of great things to say about K.Flay and Yungblud, she does suggest that there’ll be something a little extra special about getting to be overseas with Fletcher: “I’ve barely been anywhere in Europe, so all of it is really exciting. I’m really excited for Paris! I just wanna be drunk under the Eiffel Tower!”
Before these dates UPSAHL has a short run of headlining dates (some of her first) that kick off this Wednesday at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn and include a January 15th stop this Saturday at The Foundry at The Fillmore. For her support she’ll be bringing out Kailee Morgue, an equally brassy and sassy twentysomething, with whom UPSAHL apparently has quite a bit in common and who she’s expecting to bring some additional energy to the evening: “She used to live literally two blocks from me, although we never met, but we were both always doing music and we’re about the same age, so we’ll be two Phoenix chicks, reppin’ Arizona… Everyone should be ready to rage!”
It may have been only a few months since Philthy has seen UPSAHL live, but she tells me that the experience will be a little different from what returning fans saw at Union Transfer: “What’s fun about headlining for me is I get to do a longer set… There’s no new music exactly, but there is a new cover that I’m really excited about!” She also tells me that she and her band have been working to make the setlist a little extra striking: “The biggest thing with the new set is everything is unexpected. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Like, we’ll play one song that’s a certain kind of song and then follow it up with something completely different.”
In addition to her time onstage, UPSAHL is also looking forward to the time she’s hoping to get to spend offstage in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. While she and her band had to move on to the next city immediately following her set supporting Olivia O’Brien, she’s excited to get to know some of her local fans at the merch booth after the show this time around: “Getting to know people after the shows has been really fun. It feels like I’m just hanging out at a party.” And she’s also looking forward to revisiting a particular favorite Philly hangout that left a notable impression on her: “Our favorite thing to do as a band is find the best ramen spot in every city, and our favorite ramen was in Philly! It’s down the street from Union Transfer; we’ll definitely find it again!”