On the back of her debut international headline tour, we spoke with UPSAHL about the realities of tour life, her latest EP Sagittarius, body neutrality, and the impact that TikTok has had on her career to date.
You’ve just completed your debut international headline tour, how was that experience?
Yeah, it has been the coolest couple of months of my life. It sounds so dramatic and everyone’s been making fun of me, but like, I’m literally the happiest I’ve been ever. Just getting to tour isn’t fun. We did the U.S. for a month, which was amazing. Then we went to Australia for a minute, which was amazing. And then yeah, ended in Europe and the UK and I think that London our final show last night was not only my favourite show of the tour but one of my favourite shows we’ve ever played. It just felt like the perfect end to the tour.
The fans, all around this entire tour have been so fucking good to me and so sweet everywhere, they’re just down to rage, which is so fun. Like, everyone’s just parties with me.
You created a recent TikTok explaining things people may not know about the realities of going on tour. What was the biggest challenge that you faced that you didn’t expect?
I mean, there are all the little things that I joke about on TikTok that I think are so funny and stupid. But I think the biggest thing about this past tour is letting go of the part of me that loves to party and after the show goes out and gets drunk with my crew. And I think going into my first headline tour where people bought tickets, I wanted to put on the best show possible. I wanted to be so present and to be able to take all of it in and feel my best on stage.
When you were touring in Paris, you had time in your chaotic schedule to get some new tats. What were they?
I don’t know if it counts as one or two, but I got ‘jump’ on one ankle and then ‘how high?’ on the other. It’s just like a tour tattoo. I thought of it like literally an hour before I went in to go get it, but I just jump around during my set on stage so I was like, I should get something about that.
Your latest single ‘Antsy’ is a ballad but with a twist. It’s a powerhouse track, was there a particular inspiration behind the single?
Thank you. I wrote it in Nashville with some amazing songwriters, and we just kind of wrote it over a guitar. The original demo was just a guitar and a vocal, like a proper sad girl ballad. And then I kept going back to that demo and I was like, I love this song, but like, how do we make it feel antsy? So I played it for my friend Pete Nappi, who does a lot of the production for my songs, he immediately started playing like that crazy drop chorus. And I was like, that is the energy of that antsy feeling. So we wanted to combine that drop and what the original demo felt like.
Your track ‘Drugs’ has been massively resurfacing again on TikTok. Do you find that has happened with any of your other songs and do you think it helps bring your work to a new audience?
Totally. I’m so grateful for it and what it did to drugs specifically because I put that song out I guess like three or four years ago. And I remember when I put it out, I was like, This is so special. I love the song. Just nobody else sees that I guess (laughs). It took forever to get to like a million streams or whatever. And then years later, TikTok blew it up and gave the song a second life. So yeah, I’m so grateful for that. And I think just in general, the power that TikTok gives artists, now we have the power to directly communicate with our fans at any given time, at any given moment, anywhere around the world, which has never been the case in music. I think as an artist you can say and complain about how annoying it is to have to make TikToks but at the end of the day, it’s the coolest, most effective way to directly relate to people.
You’ve helped write some incredible tracks for your peers in the industry. What is your favorite way to collaborate and how has that been tested over the past couple of years when movement wasn’t possible?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it has been such a learning experience because for me as a writer, whether or not I’m writing for myself or if I’m in the room with another artist writing for them, a lot of it is like feeding off of like energy and most of the time you have to be in the same room for that too. Obviously, when you’re on Zoom, you can’t harness that. As a songwriter, a lot of it is about energy, feelings, and emotions in that particular moment. I think we all as a collective have to learn how to harness that online, and a way that I was able to do that was just by working with people that I had already had a close connection with.
Your track ‘Monica Lewinsky’ is powerful on so many different levels. It feels playful and upbeat, but there is the deeper meaning to it, covering the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal. What made you dive into that topic?
Yeah, we started the song as a joke. Me and my friend Johnny, who I make most of my music with as well, had the line, ‘I want to make history, like Monica Lewinsky’ and then the song came from there kind of jokingly. I listened to it a few days later and we were like, wait, this is actually like a feminist anthem. This is about all these women who were completely torn down by the media left and right. It’s so fucked how she was treated and the fact that now she has come out on the other end and is doing anti-bullying things, TED talks, and using her voice for good is so inspiring because she went through so much and it was all so unnecessary and so incredibly sexist. I think that her and all of the other women in the 90’s and the early 2000’s who were scrutinized by the media that I talk about in the song really paved the way for women like me now to get to exist in an entertainment industry that feels at least less sexist than it did.
We have less than one month left of 2022. Have you got anything exciting for us before we hit the new year?
I have an EP Sagittarius coming out this week which is going to keep me busy for the rest of the year. I have been working on it for the past few months and finished it while I was on this tour which is cool.
At OffTheRails we truly celebrate saying fuck you to the norms. What would you say is the most OffTheRails thing that you’ve done? You must have some crazy tour stories.
I have this thing I do in every city. It’s this video that I’ve been making throughout this entire tour where I flash and write across my boobs, like, ‘hi’, whatever the city is, so that will be a montage that’s coming out after the tour ends. I think that as a woman, being confident in your body is such a fucking hard thing to do. I think for the first time in my life, I finally have achieved not even body positivity, but body neutrality and appreciation for my body as it is. In every city, me and my photographer have been taking these pictures that I will edit into a little video to commemorate this.