We caught up with Bishop Briggs, the rising queen of dark (trap) pop, ahead of her first headlining tour and first performance at Coachella. We discussed her upcoming EP (released Friday, April 14th), musical influences and the importance of being “present” in every situation.
Let’s talk about Coachella. We’re so excited for you; you have to be dying.
Bishop Briggs: Yes! It’s a huge dream come true first of all. I’m really excited to be in a place where people are truly there to enjoy and appreciate music. It’s actually rare to find places like that and it seems like it’ll be an amazing oasis.
A dust oasis.
Exactly a dust oasis. I’m telling myself it’ll be really calm and zen. I can’t wait.
You have an EP out Friday. There are some unreleased songs on the album. Can you tell us about some of the new music?
There are a few new songs, some of which are “Fire” and “Dark Side.” “Dark Side” is basically who I am when I am alone. I think we all have these different sides to us. One is the person that we are in front of other people and it’s generally a lot lighter. And then there’s the person that we are when we close the door and that I feel is a lot more honest, but not necessarily socially acceptable. I try to write from that perspective all the time. Each project is an expression of that darker side. “Fire” was written just a couple of days after a huge breakup. It’s a breakup song and I think the most direct I’ve ever been with music- even compared to “River” and “Wild Horses.” It’s more honest – at least I hope so.
I think a lot of your music is that way- honest and dark- but you don’t really come across as dark.
Two different sides.
Maybe I’m getting the lighter side and you just write from a darker perspective? What do you think it is that informs your music and your voice as a writer?
I think it’s all about your perspective on situations. I’m such a sponge to emotions and I feel things so deeply that when it comes to writing it’s a therapeutic outlet. Even when I’m on stage I go through this emotional rollercoaster where maybe in my day-to-day I’m chill and relaxed. There are definitely two different sides.
So remind me of your background- born in London, grew up in Tokyo and Hong Kong and now in LA.
Yes, year six of Los Angeles.
And you’ve survived.
Yes, survived so far. I’ve been hustling.
Seriously. How do you think your background has influenced your vibe and music and dress?
It’s so hard to tell what influences you or changed you or made you the way you are. For me, I was really lucky for what was being played in my living room- Motown music, and the Beatles and Janis Joplin- I feel all of those factors were huge influencers. With Japan all the karaoke bars were big and that’s where I really got introduced to music. Those were the things that shaped me, but it’s hard to tell. You never really know what has affected you. But I do know those things really influenced me.
Is there a particular song on your new EP that was your release or really speaks to you?
Probably “The Way I Do.” It’s kind of a long story but basically I went to a psychic with one of my good friends who is also a musician and the psychic said to my musician friend that she wanted to quit music. We walked out and I said that was ridiculous, but she had actually been thinking about quitting music. I thought if you quit now you will never know how great this can be. But you also won’t know how painful this can be. “The Way I Do” is kind of my love letter to music because it’s such a tumultuous relationship. The things that I put up with in music are things I would never put up with with a guy. So every time I sing it I feel it so deeply because it’s such a painful relationship, but it’s a love I can never let go of.
It’s like that saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
With your music you’ve also done some collaborations- one with the Cold War Kids. Is there anyone else that you’re just dying to collaborate with?
Honestly I did die with the Cold War Kids’ song because they were a band that I listened to for ten years. But I’m always going to say Jack Garratt. Jack is a big one. And Twenty One Pilots.
Good choices. You clearly are introspective and reflect a lot on your music, is there anything when you’re writing or in your daily life that you say to yourself or remind yourself of, like a mantra or advice?
The most important one is be present. I truly think that if you’re present and you’re in the moment. You are so thankful for everything that is happening. When you look back at it you won’t have any regrets because you know in that moment, even if you were emotional and didn’t react the right way, you’re at least being human and present.
Article/Photos: Alx Bear