Photo: Chad Kamenshine
Don’t label Bishop Briggs music as “vintage.” Visceral voices like Briggs are timeless, following in the path of fellow soul songstresses as Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. Furthermore, the modern sounds on her hit, “The River” are what you would hear on a DJ Snake or a Kanye West production.
“Authentic” is a better description for Briggs, who has only four singles to her name, but will be one of the must-watch artists at this weekend’s Life Is Beautiful (Sept. 23-25), the annual music, culinary, art, and learning festival held in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Born to Scottish parents, raised in Japan and Hong Kong, and having attended college in Los Angeles, Briggs is an old soul who found a home on-stage when she sang at a Tokyo karaoke bar when she was four.
After being discovered in Hollywood, she’s gone onto become a viral sensation, racking up millions of views on YouTube, reaching Spotify’s Global Viral 50 (which sounds important) and is now opening for Coldplay. I had a chance to interview Briggs via email about her long, strange trip to Las Vegas, her old/new sound and her dark eyeliner phase in life.
Crave: You’ve had a globe-trotting life so far. How did it shape you as an artist?
Bishop Briggs: I think it’s all about the music you listen to along the way. For me, my parents always played Motown music and The Beatles so I was drawn to the soul.
Your songs have an edgy, modern pop sound, yet the vocals feel very old soul and the lyrics seem personal. Tell us process behind making “Pray (Empty Gun).”
Thank you so much. “Pray (Empty Gun)” was one of those songs that needed to be written because it was my outlet at the time. Taking the higher ground can be difficult so it really helps when you can write those feelings into a song.
You’ve been opening for Coldplay. What have learned from watching a superstar band like that perform on a nightly basis?
I have learnt something every single night that I’ve seen them play. Growing up, I watched videos of their performances but seeing it in person is truly unbelievable. I think I was reaffirmed in the lesson that if you are authentic, you will have a connection with the audience. That has always been important to me and seeing a band like Coldplay achieve that every time they stepped on stage was inspiring.
You went to school at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. Having lived in the area, I always notice the wide-eyed students lugging around guitars and their dreams, getting on and off the bus, etc. What was Bishop like back then?
To be honest, it wasn’t too different to how I am now. I made music a priority every single day. I was always writing and I was thankful to be there. Unfortunately, I did go through a dark eyeliner phase!
If you could go back now and give her some advice what would it be?
Less eyeliner. Just kidding. I wouldn’t give myself any advice because every decision I made then led me to this moment talking with you!
You’ve said that you have had a tragic love affair with music. When did it break your heart? Was it love at first sight or was it something that grew on you?
It was love at first sight maybe even lust at first sight! It breaks my heart to this day but at the exact same time I am hopelessly in love as well. It disappoints me, it affirms me, it gives me peace, it’s tumultuous and I keep going back for more.
Have you been to Vegas before and what do you think of it?
I was in Vegas a couple of days ago when we opened for Coldplay. I still have more to explore in Vegas but from what I’ve gathered so far, it’s a mystical land that falters in and out of reality which I kinda love.