Global alt-pop star UPSAHL paid a visit to her hometown this month to make history, joining the inaugural lineup for Phoenix, Arizona’s very own ZONA Music Festival.
Since getting her start locally after graduating from the Arizona School for the Arts, UPSAHL has trajected herself toward worldwide success with hit songs like “Drugs,” “People I Don’t Like,” and “Monica Lewinsky.” Along with achieving massive virality on TikTok, UPSAHL was also able to write with fellow pop stars like Dua Lipa and Madison Beer on songs like “Good In Bed” and “BOYSHIT.”
After going on her first-ever headlining tour across the world, UPSAHL still had time to wow fans with something new before the end of the year. Just last week, she put out her latest EP, Sagittarius. Pop anthems and dance tracks like “Into My Body” will get one up and moving, but the five-track project also includes more emotional, acoustic songs like “Antsy,” which dives into discussions of mental health and the struggles of change. In addition, the EP includes more hard-hitting, pop-punk beats with tracks like “Kickflip,” which is a genre of music that UPSAHL smashes every single time.
Pop Crave met up with UPSAHL at ZONA Music Festival to chat about her new EP, Sagittarius, her dream of collaborating with Doja Cat, and how her first-ever headlining tour made her the happiest she’s ever been. Keep reading for the full interview!
In five words, how would you describe UPSAHL and her music?
Ooh, um… In only five words? Um… I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck.
You just had your first major headlining tour across the globe! What has been your favorite part about touring, and what’s one memorable experience you’ve had from touring so far in your career?
I think just the fact that this is my first headlining tour. Every night is like a pinch me moment, honestly, that people buy tickets to see me. It’s crazy. I just think the whole tour in general. I just cry myself to sleep every night of happiness.
Most memorable moment? Ooh, I don’t know! I mean, it all was pretty fucking amazing. I think Amsterdam was the first show of our European run, and I was going into it being like, “No one’s gonna show up! I’ve never really played here,” and so walking on stage in Amsterdam and seeing a packed room was like… I’ll never forget that.
You’ve toured the whole world, but really your roots are from right here in Phoenix! You even have a song called “Arizona.” Growing up in this city, how does it feel to now be making history as part of the first lineup for Phoenix’s very own music festival?
It’s really fucking cool! This is extra special, too, ‘cause Psyko Steve – who’s putting on the festival – has been booking me shows since I was 13 around Phoenix, so I just think it feels very full circle. Getting to share the lineup with so many other sick artists, it’s an honor.
Your brand new EP, Sagittarius, is coming out in just one week from now, December 9! How would you describe the vibe and overall atmosphere of the project?
The whole writing process was very freeing. I don’t think there’s really one specific genre that it fits into. I think each song feels very different. I kinda wanted each song to represent a different part of me or character trait that makes up my Sagittarius-ness or whatever. It’s all very different. I think if you don’t like one song, you’ll like another. It’s that type of vibe, you know?
How has this EP cycle for Sagittarius been for you? I know that in a recent interview, you mentioned how during the Lady Jesus era, you were just raging and not sleeping at all before the album came out. Has this rollout cycle been a bit more peaceful for you?
Yes, yes! I feel like I’ve finally, for the first time with touring and stuff, found my balance in life. I’m definitely in the best headspace I’ve ever been in, and so it feels good to put out an EP that’s about me and my life when I feel good as well.
Your top song on Spotify right now is “Shut Up” with Alan Walker, which is such a bop! How did that collaboration come about, and what was it like working with him?
It was so random! Most of these are so random. He just hit me up and was like, “Yo, there’s this song. Do you want to sing on it?” On first listen, there was somebody else singing it, obviously, and I was like, “Oh, this melody’s so fire! Telling people to shut up? That’s so my vibe! I have to get on this!” I had just gotten back from a tour in Europe opening for FLETCHER, and literally the morning I landed, I went straight to the studio to cut it because I was so hype on the song. I’m so excited it’s finally out.
Who are some artists currently inspiring you, and is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
I mean, I’ll say it until it happens. I’ve been saying this for years, but Doja Cat is my dream collab. I would fucking die. Dora Jar is fucking sick. Baby Queen is fucking sick. I just think there’s so many dope chicks right now just making whatever the fuck type of music they want. I feel like it’s like a movement that we’re all part of.
My personal favorite song from you is “Monica Lewinsky.” It is such a f*cking banger. How would you describe the concept of that song for those who haven’t heard it yet?
It’s like a feminist anthem! I wrote it about all of the women in the ‘90s and early 2000s who were dragged by the media, but they’re icons because of how they reacted to it with so much grace and came out on the other end iconic as fuck. I feel like women like that paved the way for me and other girls in the entertainment industry; now, we get to exist in a much more free space. I just feel more supported. It’s more of just an ode to women like Monica [Lewinsky], honestly.
Your latest single, “Into My Body,” is also a massive bop with a super fun music video to coincide. What was shooting that video like, and how did the concept for that video come about?
Thanks! That was the director, Anastasia [Delmark]! She was like, “I want to literally have your head separate from your body,” and I was like, “Great! Let’s fucking go!” They put me in a box and put my head on a little pedestal thing. It was super fun. That whole video was really fun! I wanted it to also feel a little trippy with some of the special effects. It was just a really fun video to make. I made it right before I went on tour, too, so that energy was in it. You kind of felt the live energy of it, too, which was fun!
What’s a music video from your childhood that really resonated with you?
Ooh, that’s a good question! Honestly, not a specific music video, but all of the No Doubt visuals. Where she had a fisheye lens, like, it was so ‘90s! I think that has always and still is a reference on all of my mood boards. Anything Gwen and anything No Doubt.
Super of its era. She made that era.
She created it! Like, she’s the blueprint for sure.
Final question. We’re coming up on the end of the year, so I wanted to ask: What are you most grateful for that has happened within this year, and what are you most excited for in 2023?
I think I’m the most grateful for this tour. It made me the happiest I’ve literally ever been, and it’s just really cool getting to play live shows every night. I want to get back to touring immediately when the new year starts, and that’s what I’m looking forward to! More shows!
UPSAHL’s new EP, Sagittarius, is out now.
Article cover taken by Aubree Estrella.