In just one year, Bishop Briggs toured stadiums with Coldplay, hit the studio with favorite band Cold War Kids, and dropped one of the most highly anticipated EPs of the year. ROGUE caught Bishop on a rare day off as she prepares to hit the road yet again. Welcome to both her dark – and vibrantly bright – sides.
Long before Bishop Briggs started touring the world as an electro-soul, rising indie icon, she moved around the globe – as a child. After four years in London, Bishop relocated to Tokyo with her Scottish parents, soon taking on their hometown, Bishopbriggs, as her professional name. That’s where Briggs first took the stage - at a Tokyo karaoke bar. She hasn’t stopped performing since.
As a young girl, Bishop embraced Asian culture and fashion. “It was really fun growing up in Japan when it came to style because it was so creative and vibrant there,” she remembers fondly. “There was a lot to draw on. I lived in Tokyo, so there was this array of different people and different characters. I was really lucky that I grew up in places that experimented with style and kind of gave me the platform to just be creative.”
After listening to Bishop’s songs or seeing her live, one could guess that her early influences had some serious soul. And they certainly did, ranging from Aretha, to Otis Redding, to the Motown that her parents blasted in their living room. But something changed when Bishop heard the blues queen herself: “When I got older I really started diving into artists like Janis Joplin and that’s when I started realizing the power of really writing your truth, and the freedom of that,” she explains.
Soon came yet another move – but this one was Bishop’s choice. At Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, the wide-eyed new resident officially made music her life. “I’ve always had tunnel vision,” she says. “I really wanted to be performing every single day, and doing music every day.” She did just that – for five years, singing anywhere that would let her. She’s quick to fight the misconception that she landed in Los Angeles, got off the plane, opened her mouth and got a record deal.
“I was playing shows every couple nights in LA, for years, so I think that increased my chances,” she laughs. Bishop got on stage wherever she could, often finding herself “in places that maybe wouldn’t even be considered venues. I was performing original music that I had written, maybe a week before. That was my favorite thing to do, to write and then perform it, and see how it went.”
Spoiler alert – it went really, really well.
2015’s 'Wild Horses' erupted onto TVs in an Acura commercial, and caught people’s attention enough to track down the song – and the artist. Bishop Briggs was on the map, and 'River' took it to the next level, becoming a staple on indie music lover’s Spotify playlists all over the world and charting #3 on Billboard's Alt Chart. These two songs catapulted Bishop to record streaming, viral music videos, and – opening for Coldplay on a massive stadium tour. Briggs, still so humble a year later, handled the call from the megaband’s management the only way humanly possible: crying, smiling, screaming and hugging.
“It was just the most insane experience and I don’t know if anything will ever compare to it,” she says dreamily. “You just have to take it all in and appreciate it for the insane memory that it was.”
Bishop seems to think she lucked out with the Coldplay crowds being so friendly and receptive to her music, but one has to think that after all the touring, playing dive bars for two or three people, and years of singing – there probably wasn’t too much luck involved.
Let’s face it; Los Angeles can have a knack for making humans, especially artists, a little bitter. But Briggs doesn’t feel that way about the city that’s offered her dozens of stages, thousands of fans, and a true support system. She jumps around the Coachella stage one night, and then rattles the bottles behind the bar of a small Silver Lake venue the next. Bishop is proud to rep the city that is now her home – on the rare occasion that she’s not on tour:
“If I could play an LA venue every week, I would. I had 5 years in LA of playing all these venues and we got to play the Troubadour this year, and sell it out, and that was such a dream of mine. These are the venues that I looked up to when I was struggling in LA. I love LA so much and I think for my younger self, I’ll always want to play more shows here.”
Bishop’s excitement and positive energy may seem unending, but at times it doesn’t always seem to match her edgy, dark lyrics or intense music videos. She candidly describes her creative process for her first self-titled EP that came out in April 2017.
“I really do think we have two sides to us as humans. There is the one that is the public person, when we say hi to the mail man,” she laughs, again, “and then the private side of us that is who we are when we close our door. I feel that side is very vulnerable and very honest. So even now, whenever I write, I do find it hard to write from a place that isn’t on the darker side, just because it’s so important to me to speak my truth. So when I write I try and throw all of that to the side and really dig into things that hurt me, whether it was big, small, or experience that hurt the people around me. And that’s kind of always the starting point.”
It’s hard to tell what the Dr Marten, camo-wearing “trap-soul” siren is more ecstatic about – receiving that crazy DM on Twitter from Cold War Kids inviting her to record on their new record? Pushing the boundaries alongside “trailblazer” bands Alt-J and Bleachers on her upcoming tours? Finally releasing her first full length album that she’s been waiting, “since beyond yesterday,” to show the world?
Bishop Briggs never thought her first single would morph from auto anthem to viral monstrosity. She never expected to sell out the Troubadour, the very venue that she saw John Legend at just a few years ago. She’s humble, she’s hungry, and this self-described “weird mind” is just getting started.
“I’m still wondering if I’m gonna wake up from the dream, so I’m just really taking it all in as much as I can. Also I’m disconnecting from it a little bit just so I can continue my life, and continue recording, because I think if I think about it too much I’ll just freak out.”
READ MORE ABOUT BISHOP BRIGGS IN ROGUE'S FALL ISSUE No7
Written by Jenni Dunn
Photography by Lindsey Brynes
Hair by Matilde Campos
Makeup by Mariah Nicole
Styling by Francis & Pereira
Photo Assisting by Shaween Kayani