We joke about mid life crisis’s all the time. And I don’t know if you’re the same but I’ve imagined what my crazy gesture will be when facing that time in my life, and I’m genuinely worried. But it gets you thinking because why do we just have a mid life crisis? What about before that? What is that called?
Newcomer UPSAHL has embraced that sentiment with her brand new EP ‘Young Life Crisis’ which celebrates a little breakdown she had earlier this year. Created during lockdown this five track collection hears the 21 year old Phoenix raised and Los Angeles based singer-songwriter baring her vulnerability in a candid and honest way that she hasn’t done before.
From the anthemic ‘Young Life Crisis’ that really embodies the whole mood of the entire EP, to the electronically driven ‘Sad Sorry After Party’ which sounds like every house party I’ve ever been to, to the raw ‘Fake Bitch’ which is the EP’s most stripped back moment, she takes listeners on a journey of self realisation.
I recently chatted to UPSAHL about how she managed to navigate her way through 2020 and turn her frustration and anxieties into the ‘Young Life Crisis’ EP, explored translating these songs into the live realm for her recent live stream concert, and discussed the creative process behind songs like ‘Young Life Crisis’, ‘Sad Sorry After Party’ and ‘People I Don’t Like’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new EP ‘Young Life Crisis’ embodies the emotions of exactly that; experiencing a young life crisis during a year of extreme confusion with the global pandemic making life a little extra unbearable. So other than writing this EP, what has been something that has helped you mentally get through this period?
UPSAHL: The EP was definitely the biggest thing that saved me. I made this full on conscious decision at the start of quarantine that if I did all these Zoom sessions and kept my schedule super packed then I wouldn’t have to deal with my problems because I’d be distracted *laughs*. Like that was fully my way of ignoring all my issues, but then I ended up working through my issues by writing the EP, so it worked out.
Aside from that, I feel like this year has been such a big year for a lot of people who maybe haven’t had mental health issues in the past. Now they’re arising and they’re like “oh, maybe I’m more fucked up than I thought I was”. I guess the biggest thing I’ve learnt personally is to talk to people. Whether that be talking to people I’m writing a song with, or venting to friends, family or a therapist. Talking to people is what has really saved me this year.
TB: Writing the title track must have been pretty empowering as you took control of your narrative and gave yourself some self acceptance that feeling this was okay. But where in your personal journey did this song come lyrically? Did you write it after learning that, or out of a way to actually understand that?
U: Cool question! What’s really interesting is that it was actually the last song I wrote for the EP. I had the other four songs already picked out, and I just needed the opening track that would tie everything I was trying to say together. I knew I really wanted a song that was almost a stream of consciousness where I was just listing off all my issues.
Right before the session on Zoom, I was listing off these things that ended up becoming the first verse, and when I jumped on Zoom with this producer dwilly I told him the idea, and he was like “it sounds like you’re having a young life crisis” and I was just like “oh my god! That is totally what this whole EP is!”. It was as if all the clouds just parted and everything became so clear. So that song ended up giving me the clarity of what this whole EP was, as I realised it was really me narrating my young life crisis.
TB: ’Young Life Crisis’ is an anthem in its own right, and it will soundtrack so many people’s exploration of self acceptance. So before writing this song, what was your personal Young Life Crisis anthem?
U: Okay my young life crisis anthems were definitely a whole lot of Frank Ocean and shit that I could cry to *laughs*. But ‘Bad Girl’ by M.I.A has been the soundtrack to my last couple of months. When I was feeling at my lowest I would get in the car, get an ice coffee and show on some M.I.A and that would get me ready for the day.
TB: Okay, a song I NEED to talk to you about what ‘Sad Sorry After Party’. I’m absolutely OBSESSED with it, as it sonically reminds me of every house party I’ve ever attended. So you explain the creative process behind this track?
U: This was another one that we wrote on zoom with this producer called Pete Nappi, and this writer Sean Kennedy. We definitely wanted it to be this dance track with that four to the floor kick driving it all in.
It’s funny cause the session wasn’t going well. We were on zoom, and we had the beat, but we just couldn’t think of any lyrics so we took an hour break. During that hour break I was texting the co-writer and I was like “what if the song is about an afterparty where you’re taking this dude home, and the afterparty is actually super depressing and he’s just along for the ride”. And he was like “oh, like a sad sorry afterparty?” and I was like “holy shit!”. It was another cloud parting moment.
Back when life was normal it would happen all the time. You’d be at this party and just not feeling it and having your own young life crisis. You’d be getting ready to bounce and go home and cry, but in this case you are bringing your hook up along for the ride which I think is really fun *laughs*.
TB: I feel like we’ve all been to some pretty bad parties in our life. So what is one of the worst parties you’ve ever been to?
U: Okay, so I’ve never been to a party where I’ve been like “this is horrible, I need to leave”. BUT I guess the experience that I wrote ‘People I Don’t Like’ about would be a high contender. It was during Grammy Week in January, and you would go to all these industry events and talk to the same fucking people over and over again, and have the same exact conversation with everyone. It just felt so pointless as no one wanted to be there, but we were all still there and playing the game for no reason.
TB: During your EP release live stream over the weekend you mentioned that ‘Fake Bitch’ was the first track you wrote for this EP, and just before you mentioned that ‘Young Life Crisis’ was the last. So what journey and growth do you think you personally had between writing ‘Fake Bitch’ and Young Life Crisis?
U: I wrote ‘Fake Bitch’ at the start of what I now realise was my “young life crisis”. It was about a time pre-Covid where I had a meltdown at a bar and lost my mind. Then the rest of the EP was the journey following on from that, and ‘Young Life Crisis’ was what I thought was the end of that period, but I’ve realised I’m still in it *laughs*.
I started the EP and came out of the EP as a entirely different person. I think 2020 has changed everyone so much. I feel like I have so much more clarity, not only on myself, but also in my music, and I hope you can hear that on the EP. I’ve also learnt the importance of honesty, and how empowering it is to be vulnerable. I’m all for writing bad bitch songs all day long, but with this EP I did get a little more honest than I’ve ever been.
TB: ’People I Don’t Like’ is a song that is honestly a serious MOOD. It’s about the small chat we have with people at parties and events to be polite. My favourite lyric is “Hello, it’s so good to see you. We met before, but nice to meet you”. What is your favourite lyric from the song?
U: Probably in the second verse where it goes “Everybody in this party’s fucking fake. And so am I, but I just got here so I gotta show some face”. That was the turning point in the whole song as it went from being a diss track on everyone, to also be a diss track on myself too as we can all be a little fake.
TB: The music video for ‘Money On My Mind’ is a really trippy, dark and sick concept that sees you co-starring with yourself which I’m guessing was not an easy feat. So what was the funniest thing or weirdest that happened with this shoot with trying to pull this idea off?
U: It was definitely weird trying to perform and act with an empty space and pretend it was me. That was definitely trippiest part of the whole thing. The concept was inspired by the movie Fight Club, which I had only seen the first time this year, and it honestly blew my mind. So I really wanted to base the whole concept of the ‘Money On My Mind’ video around this aesthetic, and that’s why I wanted there to be two of me in the video.
But what was funny was that the shoot was an overnight one, and I hadn’t slept for 2 days, so I was just hyped up on Red Bull and was kinda having a glass of wine every couple of hours to stay hyped. I was so in the mindset of “I’m a bad bitch, let’s make a music video”, and I feel that is also perfectly the energy of the song
TB: As I mentioned earlier, you performed a EP release live stream show over the weekend, where you played all of these tracks for the first time live. What was the hardest song to bring into the live dynamic?
U: Honestly I think it was ‘Sad Sorry After Party’ because it doesn’t have as many live elements like most of my other songs. So we were spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to transfer the production in the track and replicate it live. There was a lot of time spent where my Guitarist Johnny was finding cool tones on his guitar with his pedal to try and sound like the track, but also to give it a new live element.
TB: From translating these songs to the live stage, was there anything else you learnt about your connection or feelings with these songs from performing them?
U: I mean I guess I realised, especially from doing the live stream, that ‘Fake Bitch’ was a big turning point for me as a human. Writing that song was kinda me recognising my issues. I feel like sometimes you don’t realise that stuff until you play it live, and usually there is a crowd there and it’s even more dramatic. But even during this live stream, I was really overwhelmed by release day and all over the place emotionally, so when I played ‘Fake Bitch’ I thought I was about to cry as it felt like such an emotional song.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. You ready?
U: I love that! Let’s do it!
TB: The emoji that best describes my new EP ‘Young Life Crisis’ is…
U: The title smiley face, with the tongue out, one eye that’s fucked up.
TB: When I think of Australia, I think of…
U: Tame Impala, and those big spiders you have!
TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…
U: Pink…. I think *laughs*!
TB: My morning ritual involves…
U: 4 coffees *laughs*! Lots of espresso.
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
U: Not the vibe!
‘Young Life Crisis’ is out now!