She has one of those powerful voices that doesn’t even need music behind it. This is what makes the production by Mark Jackson and Ian Scott so brilliant. The music complements her voice and enhances the mood of each song while always letting her voice be the star. It’s always best to keep things simple, which the producer duo has done with Bishop Briggs, but it’s extremely difficult to pull off. Sometimes resorting to percussive hits rather than a clutter of sounds, the music amplifies the dark nuances of each track and turns it into an experience. An experience many of us have clearly connected to.
We caught up with Bishop Briggs during this year’s Firefly Music Festival where she totally crushed 2 performances, one of them on the festival’s main stage, the Firefly Stage.
BISHOP BRIGGS INTERVIEW
BISHOP BRIGGS: Wow, that’s a really nice tattoo!
[Points at my sleeve]
SONIC HIGHLARK: Oh thanks! I was actually about to ask you what else you are into besides music.
BISHOP BRIGGS: I will say I’ve been on a little bit of a tattoo kick as of late. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing. It’s definitely bad for my bank account, but there is something very relaxing about getting tattoos. I don’t know if you feel that as well?
SONIC: For me, I’m always saying “It hurts why do I do this to myself.”
BISHOP BRIGGS: But now you have everyone complimenting you!
SONIC: Yeah, it’s worth it in the end. Any ideas about your next tattoo?
BISHOP BRIGGS: There’s always some sort of creature on my mind. But right now I have so many pairs of eyes on my arm, so I’m not sure.
SONIC: There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world. Do you think there is something we can all do to help turn things around?
BISHOP BRIGGS: It’s tough, we are in a really interesting day and age. I think one of the best things that’s happening right now is that we are all trying to communicate and come up with solutions. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going well, but the hope is that it’s going towards that direction.
SONIC: Yeah, and I think making connections help, like your music does for example. So people only see the success part but there’s a lot of hard work and failure that goes into following your passion. Do you remember a time when you felt really down about what you are doing, and how did you come out of that?
BISHOP BRIGGS: I think in any field but the creative field and perhaps the entrepreneurial field, you have to be your own biggest believer. There’s something very hard about that because you have to constantly convince everyone around you that you are worth their time and energy. I guess what I did was always pressed refresh every evening, and in the morning it’s as if it didn’t happen (laughs). So if I had a tough day or if things got me down, I knew that it will only continue if I believed that it would. I think if you go into it with the mentality that this is the only thing you’ve ever wanted, that this is your sole purpose and you have that tunnel vision, there is something very powerful about that.
SONIC: That’s very true. As a photographer and building this magazine from the ground up I can relate to that. There are a lot of great things happening for you lately but can you tell me about a particular moment where you felt like something was finally happening with you and your music?
BISHOP BRIGGS: I always feel like I have something to prove. Even if everyone is wearing our merch I probably won’t believe they’re there to see me (laughs). So I definitely have to deal with that, but the only turning point I can really think of is during my first session with Mark Jackson and Ian Brendon Scott who are the producers behind my music. I sat in my car and listened to a voice memo that I had from our first session which was a song called “River.” In that moment, I just thought even if no one hears this I feel so fulfilled because it was the first time I actually felt like myself in my music and in my writing. I’ve been writing for so many years but it wasn’t until I started working with them that I felt like I was authentically myself. It didn’t necessary mean anything but I felt that it was something that can potentially become…. something.
SONIC: That’s great! I caught your performance yesterday and I remember you saying on stage “Firefly! I hear you singing!” How does it feel to hear all these people singing your songs?
BISHOP BRIGGS: I have no chill. It’s so funny because when I’m singing the music I feel so upset and angry and I think of every single second of when I wrote that and all the experience and memories but when the song ends I’m like “Wow, this is incredible. I’m so thankful to be here.” So it’s two completely different sides. But it’s the most insane thing, I don’t think it’ll ever get old.
SONIC: So what does a day off look like for you?
BISHOP BRIGGS: They are few and far between, and I don’t remember the last time I had a day off but maybe…. sitting in my room with all the lights out, playing Sims for 11 hours and drinking bottles of coconut water. That is honestly what I would do, just saying that I’m thinking “Wow that sounds amazing!”
SONIC: You mentioned Sims, I was going to ask you if you had any nerdy secrets.
BISHOP BRIGGS: Is that nerdy? Because someone else told me that it is, so I think I’m going to tell less people about the Sims (laughs), because I had no idea.
SONIC: It’s all good, nerdy is cool! You have lived in many different parts of the world, do you think that goes into your sense of fashion?
BISHOP BRIGGS: I mean I hope so. I think sometimes your fashion style and fashion sense is a combination of everything you grew up with meshed into one. I wear whatever makes me feel most comfortable. As you saw I do run around a lot on stage so I always have to have sneakers that can handle that.
SONIC: Since it’s so hot here (Firefly Music Festival), I did think to myself “Is she ever going to take that jacket off?”
BISHOP BRIGGS: (laughing) It was a black jacket. I don’t even think about the heat when I’m singing and honestly, I didn’t come here (Firefly) to complain, I came here to do music so if I get to do that, and the fact that we were even on that stage (Firefly Stage, main stage at the festival) is insane and it almost makes no sense. We were the most up and coming act to be on that stage and I am so appreciative that we were. I was trying to just take in every second.. and I was also very nervous.
SONIC: Really? You didn’t seem nervous at all.
BISHOP BRIGGS: No? Ok good.
SONIC: In that regard do you check on yourself on social media or the internet to see how you’re doing? Search #bishopbriggs for example?
BISHOP BRIGGS: I love typing in the hashtags so I can see people’s dance videos, and artwork, they just blow me away, I comment on them. I am definitely someone that creeps on them, I’m always sifting through Twitter, I’m always sifting through Instagram, for sure.
SONIC: Social media is an important part of any artist or brand, but some people get frustrated having to post everyday but some people love it. How is it for you?
BISHOP BRIGGS: I think people get frustrated with it because they don’t realize its part of the job. There are some people that have a distance with it but I’m not that person. From day one I’ve always seen it as a way to connect with people. You give away a little bit of your privacy. Maybe one day it will be a lot of your privacy, but I think it’s just a part of this.
SONIC: You’re in the middle of a huge year, new EP, Coachella, SXSW, now here we are at Firefly, what can we expect from you in the near future? More music hopefully?
BISHOP BRIGGS: We just released our first EP (Bishop Briggs EP) and finished our first headlining tour, so there’s been a lot of firsts. We also had the opportunity to work with Cold War Kids! Insane! I still don’t know how to handle that so I am just going to bring it up all the time. But what you can expect is more music, more festivals (Panorama, Lollapalooza), we’re writing everyday and recording all the time, so you just have to stay tuned!