Bishop Briggs on Turbulent Music And Being Your Own Biggest Fan
Bishop Briggs’ roots are many, and varied: born to Scottish parents in London, she grew up for the most part in Japan and Hong Kong, and presently calls Los Angeles home (for now, at least). She’s adaptable, poetic, and eager to evolve, both musically and otherwise, and that’s what makes this musician a standout one: she’s not tied to past successes, but rather, always looking forward. And she’s got something big to get excited about: a headlining tour (her first), including an appearance at SXSW (catch her tonight at Lustre Pearl in downtown Austin), a few brand-new remixes (peep three new renditions of “Wild Horses” on her SoundCloud), and, of course, new music (always).
We caught up with Briggs prior to her upcoming tour; peep the full interview below, and stay tuned for more from this rising artist—if her new music is anything like what’s already been released, make no mistake: we’re in for a serious treat.
I would love to start with your upcoming tour—is this your first tour headlining?
Yes, this is the first time this has ever happened and I’m so excited.
How are you feeling about it? Are you stoked and ready to go?
I’m so excited! We’ve been rehearsing a lot and just getting ready for it. We have a lot of new music that we’re going to be playing. I think the goal is always just to have something that people talk about when they leave and to make an impression.
I know that it’s such a different experience recording in the studio and performing on stage—what’s it like actually getting to interact with the people you’ve already been impacting with your music?
Well performing is my favorite part of all of this. I feel like it’s your moment where your hard work pays off. I think when you’re in the studio, it’s this dark time where you’re getting all of your emotions out and it’s almost therapeutic in a way. Then, when you go on stage it’s also therapeutic and emotional, but you get to share in that experience with the crowd and hopefully impact them with your lyrics and speak directly with the people in front of you, so nothing really comes close to that.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
I love performing “The Way I Do” and “Dead Man’s Arms”. “The Way I Do”, in the past, has been our first song of the set, so I think it’ll always bring back nostalgia for me. But it’s also about my relationship with music so it just means a lot to me. And “Dead Man’s Arms” is just aggressive and crazy. Oh! And I guess I love to perform “River” too. There really isn’t one favorite.
Yeah, so I feel like with you, “River” is the one song that keeps getting mentioned over and over again. What was the significance of that song when you were writing it? The inspiration for it?
Well, it was the first song that I wrote with Mark Jackson and Ian Brendan Scott who are the producers behind the music, and it was our first-ever session. So it was this crazy moment of really feeling as though I was myself for the first time in my music. And that was really liberating. And so the hope with “River” is that it exudes that desperation and that tension and the release then the aggression.
Do you feel like your music has evolved or improved a lot since that first song? Is it a constant evolution or do you feel like you’re more, “This is me and this is my sound and it won’t be altered”?
I hope I’m always evolving and always growing. I think the music that I’m making now is more soulful and perhaps more honest, which I think could only come in time, as you become more comfortable in your own skin. I’m really praying to let people in and also experiment, to keep it interesting for the listener and also myself.
Yeah, I’m not a musician, but I’m always so impressed with how willing musicians are to be so intimate with people that you might not ever meet. How does it feel to have all these people hear your music and your deepest darkest thoughts, and never come face to face with them?
Wild! Yeah, but maybe that’s what makes it easier.
More broadly, what inspires you or triggers you to start writing something down? How do you know that it’s going to make it onto a record?
I mean it could be as simple as having a conversation with a friend over coffee and having a realization over a situation I’m in, or stuff going on in my life. Sometimes it can be in someone else’s life that can inspire. I also find that my relationship with music can be something to write about as well, because it is quite a turbulent relationship if you dissect it, then of course, human relationships, as well.
I know that you were raised all over—how did your upbringing influence your music? How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
I think it’s about what’s playing in your living room growing up and whatever your parents are playing. I was fortunate that my parents were always playing Motown music and the Beatles and Janis Joplin. For as long as I can remember, this is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s something I’ve always had a passion for it and I never really saw any other option other than this, even if it’s performing for one person, which I even did in L.A. I think it’s whatever your sole purpose is.
Do you have any dream collaborations or projects that you’d kill to work on?
Always. Chance the Rapper, I don’t know what I would do. Kanye West, Jack Garrett, 21 Pilots.
I’m also curious of when you started out, playing for one person or a handful of people, did you ever imagine that it would get to this point where you’d be headlining and blowing up on SoundCloud? Did you ever envision this for yourself?
Well, I think the only way to keep going and to not get depressed—because I mean being depressed when you’re doing that every night is inevitable—the only way to get up the next day and write and continue, is to, every night before you go to sleep, to hope and dream for something greater than what you have going on.
Yeah, I guess you have to be your biggest fan.
You have to, and you have to convince those around you constantly that you’re worthy of their time and energy. So, in a weird way, if you don’t believe that you’re worth that, it can be very difficult.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017, and more long term, how do you want to keep connecting with people through your music?
I mean, my plan for 2017 is to have the best tour of my life, and to make memories and release new music, that’s always the goal, and I think for even bigger, it’s to always be authentic to myself and to make even more of a connection with the people listening, and I hope to create something that I can look back on and be proud of.
Images courtesy of Jabari Jacobs
Stay tuned to Milk for more up-and-coming artists who slay.