Phoenix musician Taylor Upsahl is preparing for two of the biggest shows of her career three months before preparing for her high school graduation.
Upsahl may be young, but on March 3, she will already be boasting her second McDowell Mountain Music Festival slot — this time, performing on the same stage as national indie sensations Grouplove and The Shins in Margaret T. Hance Park. This performance will follow the release of her third album, “Unfamiliar Light,” at Valley Bar on Feb. 25.
These gigs mark the beginning of Upsahl’s transition from singer-songwriter to the leader of Upsahl, the band. “Unfamiliar Light,” which partially serves as social commentary, displays heightened lyrical complexity. For M3F, Upsahl promises a bigger, more alternative sound.
“I’m at an age right now where everything changes every day,” Upsahl said. “I have different opinions on a daily basis. My sound is growing with that.”
Upsahl said the production in her upcoming shows will be unlike anything she has done before, as well. Her album release party will introduce new sound effects, lighting changes and unique video footage in the background, while the festival will promise much more than live music.
“It’s going to be more of a performance,” Upsahl said. “I’m very excited and getting pumped for it. We’ve been working a lot toward it.”
While Upsahl brings her own experience to the table at M3F, she said she will be drawing upon the examples of other musicians on the lineup to gain inspiration, as well.
“I’m excited to be in the same show as a ton of other amazing artists,” Upsahl said. “You have the national acts, who are incredible. I’ve grown up listening to them. Then, you have all these local acts who are so talented. It’s going to be a cool mixture of different genres and different sounds bringing people together to have a good weekend.”
Upsahl said her present success is a result of prioritization, which focuses on her primary goal of building a post-graduation music career in Los Angeles.
“For me, being in school, it’s very difficult to balance all these different things,” Upsahl said, encouraging young musicians to put their utmost passions first. “You have to get to a point where you decide if it’s something you want to do and give it 150 percent every day until you reach your goal. Setting goals, even if they’re small goals to work up to one big goal, is really important. Having the drive and the work ethic to follow what you want to do is really important.”
With the way Upsahl is starting the year — supporting artists with millions of fans and supported by local acts like Citrus Clouds and Lost in the Sun — she has proven that her determination is that of a star. As more fans flock her way, Upsahl is clearly a musician to watch for both her talent and the progression of her career.
“Even one person who has never heard my music getting to hear it, to me, is a success,” Upsahl said. “It’s just building this inner community of musicians and fans.”
Contact the columnist at Emily.Liu@asu.edu.