Taylor Upsahl is living her best life.
She lent her pen to a variety of eventual hits like Dua Lipa’s Grammy Award-winning “Good in Bed,” and “Happy Endings” by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Iann Dior, which went Top 10 at alt radio.
In addition, Upsahl covered Dominic Fike’s “3 Nights” for Amazon’s “Original” series that’s featured on Amazon Music.
In October, she released her full-length debut album, “Lady Jesus.” She headlines Club Congress on Friday, Dec. 10.
“I’m so excited,” says Upsahl, a Phoenix native who now lives in LA. “It’s always very surreal, full circle for me to play in Arizona. We were playing shows (early in my career) every weekend at Valley Bar, Crescent Ballroom, the Van Buren—all the venues. I get to hang out with people and fans who have been coming to my shows since I was 16.”
Her latest single is “Lunatic,” a pop-driven anthem that channels her anger about an ex.
“I try to always write from personal experience,” she says. “The day we wrote ‘Lunatic,’ I saw something online. I didn’t want to see it. I almost canceled the session. I wanted to lie in bed and be angry at the world.
“Instead, I stormed into the studio with teams running down my face. I said, ‘We’re writing a banger today. I want to scream in the vocal booth.’ We finished writing the song in an hour. My whole day was turned around. The day started with me crying in the car to the session. It’s the perfect example how music or writing a song can fully turn the day around.”
The song is a reaction to seeing her ex, whom she did not identify, on social media. They broke up in the beginning of the quarantine. “Lady Jesus” travels with Upsahl on her journey from the breakup (“Douchebag”) to her personal rebirth (“Lady Jesus”).
“‘Lunatic’ is very early on in the healing process for me,” she says.
The writing of “Lady Jesus” was cathartic to Upsahl.
“I would have no other way to get my feelings out otherwise,” Upsahl says. “It’s very much autobiographical. Whatever I was going through I would write about in a song.
“I think I just got over being sad. It was way too long. ‘Lady Jesus’ was a clarity moment. It was such a therapeutic, vulnerable process.”
Her success has been a long time coming. When she was 17, Upsahl wrote and released a self-titled EP, which gained recognition throughout the Valley. A graduate of the Arizona School for the Arts, a performing arts middle/high school, Upsahl continued to hone her craft, while being classically trained on piano, guitar and choir.
“I started going to the Arizona School for the Arts when I was 10 years old,” she says. “I graduated high school there. Every morning we’d do our academics, and after lunch we would just have arts classes all day long. It was great to be surrounded by a bunch of people who were studying dance, theater or music. It was a very supportive place to grow.”
Her first show was a radio 93.9 gig at the Salty Senorita as a freshman in high school.
“My dad helped me put together a live show,” she says with a laugh. “It was great. Then I was slowly introduced to the Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar.”
She moved to Los Angeles after graduation and quickly signed with David Gray of Universal Music Publishing Group as an artist. Her goal was to work with several writers and producers to up her game.
The plan worked, as she was the first artist signed to Arista Records, which was resurrected by music exec David Massey. She calls it “the craziest opportunity ever.”
Coming full circle to Arizona is just as gratifying. She recalls gigs with Decker and others who were equally as supportive.
“All the bands and artists in Phoenix are so amazing. Let’s say there were three bands on a show. Somehow, everyone would find a way to collaborate on one song,” she says.
Nevertheless, she’s looking forward to seeing everybody at home.
“Seeing everyone around the holidays will be dope,” she says. “Most of my friends will be home from college. I’m just super, super grateful for the support system I still have.”
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10
Club Congress, 311 E. Congress Street