Music

‘Upload’ Star Andy Allo Imagines Prince In The Digital Afterlife

On a quest to fill my stay-at-home time with something good to watch, I chose a show called Upload on Amazon Prime. It’s about the afterlife, the future, and seemed to be a little disturbing while also romanticly comedic, so it fit right within my taste. For two days, my phone was down, and my attention was fully on the life of Nora Antony, played by Andy Allo, an Angel at Horizen, who helps privileged dead people adjust to their new lives in a digital heaven.

Honestly, it was the Mary J. Blige song “Family Affair” playing as Nora got off a crowded New York City subway train to get to her call center job that made me stay. The gorgeous presence of Nathan Brown (played by Robbie Amell), was just icing on the cake. Though set in the future, the setting was all too familiar; I could relate and was easily able to put myself into Nora’s shoes.

I am positive that I’m not the only one who has been immediately enchanted by Andy’s charm — the late, great, Purple One, Prince, was captivated by her charm too, as he embraced her as a guitarist and vocalist for his backing band, the New Power Generation, in 2011. Not only that, her 2012 sophomore debut, Superconductor, was executively produced by him and she has released a total of five albums with Prince as her mentor. Before Prince, she banged out as Allo and the Traffic Jam on Sacramento’s bustling historic J Street.

“I think he knew before I truly did of the potential I had,” Allo recalled of her time working with Prince. “I feel like he saw it.”

Now, she plays an angel in Upload and though she has another acting project titled 2 Minutes Of Fame coming out this summer starring Kat Williams and Keke Palmer, music is still a priority.

Shortly after it was announced that Upload would be renewed for a second season, Uproxx spoke with Allo about the ever-evolving human experience, music, and what kind of digital afterlife Prince would be into if he were an upload.

I watched Upload the first day it came out and binged it in two days. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve been telling all my friends to watch it. It reminds me of The Good Place and I love movies and shows like that. What was it for you about the script that kind of drew you in?

Well, I really love sci-fi and I’m a sucker for romantic comedies and the script just….the world that Greg [Daniels] built is so layered and so balanced, it kind of has the best of all worlds and the characters are so, so beautifully crafted, especially Nora. When I read the script, I instantly connected with her and I was like, “Oh, I’m obsessed. I have to play this character.”

I feel like everybody’s probably obsessed with Nora and how down to earth she is, and like, not so perfect, but trying to make it. I also noticed the different classes and I feel like you’re right. It feels like this could be a reality, this could actually happen.

Like it is happening. I think about like, man, I feel like I am living Nora’s life right now.

With all the technology and the way that things are going on, for sure. The show definitely plays on the idea of existentialism and human’s natural fear of death, paying to live a little bit longer. Have you ever consciously dealt with those things in real life? Has being part of this show been transformative for you at all?

I mean, for me, Nora’s mission is getting her father to upload because she wants to stay connected to him forever. As I’ve gotten older and so have my parents, I too would be like, of course I want to stay connected to my loved ones forever. That totally hit me and it makes me wish we did have something like upload in Lakeview to stay in touch with the people that mean so much to us. Definitely.

The ending got kind of weird where I was in love with Nora and Nathan’s relationship, then it just hit me, I was like, wait, Nathan’s dead. If something like this were to happen, there could be love that happens between the dead and the living and it’s kind of weird, but finding your forever partner could be the new normal. Nora’s dad wanted to meet her mom in heaven. When you say heaven now, you don’t know if that’ll happen, but with this you’re like, yeah, it’s a for sure thing. What are your thoughts on that?

Well, I think about kind of what’s happening now and how we spend so much time using FaceTime and Zoom to connect to people. I have friends that are still dating and using apps to meet people and they’re going on these virtual dates through FaceTime.

So in a way it’s like using technology to connect to somebody. When you’re not in front of someone face-to-face, it’s hard to gauge that physical connection. Yet, now because of what’s happening in the world, you kind of have to rely on FaceTime and getting to know somebody through this medium and trust that, I’m getting to know you, as you, without the physical, which can distract you from really getting to know somebody.

I kind of feel like, Nora really gets this chance to find something that she’s been yearning for, which is having seen her parents romance play out almost like a fantasy and all the way until the end with her mom passing. That’s her example of what love is and she’s searching for that. She’s looking for it in all the wrong places with the wrong people. I think it’s because they really got a chance to just get to know each other and become friends. And I think that really opened her up to be like, “Oh wow, okay. I actually…I just like you.”

Have you seen that Netflix show, Love Is Blind? Where they have to be in these pods before they can meet a person?

Yes!

I feel like that was a precursor to coronavirus. It was the warm-up. The warning.

I love it. Love Is Blind. I know, Love Is Blind, but what was the other one? Too Hot To Handle?

Too Hot To Handle, yeah.

Where they can’t touch each other.

Yeah, exactly. If they do, they get charged a lot of money.

I find these shows interesting, definitely are the way things are now of getting to know each other and getting to know people separately and without relying on, “Oh yeah. You’re just really good looking and I’m just attracted to in that way.” That stuff doesn’t last and it’s more so the deeper stuff that really connects you with somebody. I think it’s really beautiful and I love that Nora and Nathan, through this kind of unfortunate circumstance of him being dead, getting to know each other that way.

I also thought it was interesting how he didn’t know he was a douchebag. You know what I mean? Like you just think, oh my God, he’s such a great person and then you realize, whoa, those memories weren’t there so he wasn’t able to know that about himself and be that. It was kind of like how your past defines you. He didn’t have that to define himself, which was interesting to me.

Yeah. I love that this show kind of brings up that question, which is, who are you really? Are you the person that can define themselves and say, no, this is who I am now. Or are you defined by your past and what you’ve done or who you’ve been. Can you change? Are you given that opportunity? I think it’s such a beautiful journey for Nathan. Who kind of starts out one way and then learns to be better and learns to appreciate certain things, especially through his relationship and friendship with Nora. As for Nora, she gets to appreciate the beauty in her own situation. I love the scene when she shows him around her office and he’s like, “Wow, this is amazing.” And she’s like, “No, are you kidding?” And then he comes back into his world and he brightens up the stars and it’s like, this is amazing. So I feel like they really get to show each other the beauty of where they both are.

And for Nora to watch Nathan grow and initially being like, yeah, he’s a douchebag, but then giving him the chance to get to know him. At the end, really accepting him for who he is and who he’s shown her to be and believing that versus what the past has been.

I definitely think the show really disrupts that the idea of what life could be in the future. We think of certain things, like we’ll still have our same little quirks, but this, I feel like [Greg] really showed out with this. Especially highlighting the whole classism thing how your job is connected to what could happen to you when you’re dead and even showing capitalism at work with the Taco Bell thing. Even though these people are dead, they can still enjoy Taco Bell? Wow, okay.

Right. They’re still trying to sell stuff and make money, even in afterlife, which is just crazy.

Would you be an upload?

Oh yes. 100%. I thought about it a lot and I view it as a second chance. Ideally, I would want to upload closer to my older years. I’ve done everything I want to do here. Seeing it as a second chance to do stuff that I maybe wasn’t able to get to, or didn’t have the resources for, or the time for, and really just continue kind of growing and expanding and experiencing afterlife.

I know that you had this really great relationship with Prince. Do you think Prince would want to be a resident of Lakeview?

Oh, I don’t know if it’s his style. I feel like he’s more of like a Caribbean type vibe.

So if there was a Caribbean heaven, that’s where Prince would be?

Yeah, I think so. Some kind of exotic type place. That would be his vibe. Where there are amazing musicians and concerts and things happening. And you could just roll up anytime and just rip out a solo.

Would Paisley Park be on that island as well?

100%. There would be a version of Paisley’s that would be on there so he could record music and be releasing records even in afterlife.

That would be so fire. That would be so crazy now that I’m thinking about it. Then going into your musical relationship with Prince and your role as a singer and guitarist with the New Power Generation, what was it like having him as a mentor? I’m pretty sure it was very, very fun and interesting.

I think about it now sometimes, I’m like did that really happen? It’s so wild. I learned so much and he gave me so many tools of how to live and create as an artist. He would be up all night just writing. Every morning, he would have a new song that he wrote. By the end of the day it would be recorded and it would sound amazing.

Art and music just flowed through him and he really showed me what it means to be a vessel and embody art. He really set a standard of when you aim to do something and want to do something, to be the best, show up, be the best version of yourself and always having integrity in what you do. They’re just music lessons, but life lessons as well, that I’ve taken and carry with me with everything I kind of walk into.

Love that. Is that one of the things that he’s told you that you often go back to it for advice, or has there ever been one thing where you’re like maybe doubting yourself and then you hear Prince’s voice in your head?

I think he knew before I truly did, of the potential I had. I feel like he saw it. He would say certain things and those were the moments that we would butt heads because he was a very strong personality and so was I, and we were both extremely stubborn. When I wanted something one way then, and he wanted it the other way and we would get into these amazing discussions about it. So, I think he saw a lot of himself in me and I don’t think I quite knew my own potential, but some of the things that he had said, or encouraged me, or pushed me to do that I wasn’t quite ready for, or didn’t understand. I have those kinds of a-ha moments now where it’s like, oh, you knew. You sneaky! You knew! It’s nice having those moments now.

That’s very sweet. Now I also know that you had a band, Allo And The Traffic Jam, that you did in Sacramento. I feel like that’s very Prince-ish. What was that experience like for you and what made you put yourself out there like that?

I loved the music. I loved playing. I loved performing. There was nothing else I wanted to do and we had this funk band. It’s so funny you say that. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but yeah, it was when we played funk songs and jammed and play on the street of these art walks. We put on concerts and that was one of my first bands and that was so much fun. Now that you mention it, it is very Prince-esque.

That’s probably what he saw. Are you still making music nowadays or what’s going on with that?

I am. It’s been really cool actually, being at home so much, I’ve been playing a lot more. I started doing these Facebook Lives every Monday. I call it Music Monday at noon. I play little short concerts. I’m working on some new music as well. Hopefully, we’ll start putting out some goodies toward the end of this year.

I can’t wait for that! I just saw that Upload got a season two already. How excited are you about that?

Yes. I can’t believe it. In one week. It’s been out one week.

Like I said, I watched it in two days, okay? I am already ready for season two!

I love that. I know, I’m ready too. I’m like, can we just start filming? But I’m so excited. It feels like such a dream. Hopefully, we’ll be able to start filming the second season and get that out to people because I know they’re hungry for it.

Upload is now available on Amazon Prime. Watch it here.

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