A True Champion: Bishop Briggs Is Searching For Connection
There's an old saying in music: an artist has their entire life to record a debut album, and about six months to process a follow up.
But in the case of Bishop Briggs, this is something she not only chose but revelled in. Opting to complete her new album 'Champion' in just two weeks, she used this intense span to channel some deeper emotions.
Out now, the Los Angeles based artist is about to head back out on the road, but Clash couldn't resist the opportunity to find out more...
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The new album is out now, how do you feel?
Oh my gosh it is so surreal. It definitely gives me emotional clarity having it out and I can’t really believe it is here!
Honestly, it was really just about using music as a therapy outlet and having it as a tool. There’s so much in hindsight that I didn’t think I could correspond to, or the pressure and drive that really make up my genetic being, but I will say with the making of it, it really was my pure choice of needing to write rather than wanting to write.
What did you learn from making this album that you didn’t comprehend on your debut?
I have always wanted to do an album that was written in a condensed period of time. It was written in two weeks non-consecutively and there’s something about that, as a consumer of music, that I was always drawn to. I’ve always felt like that type of album fascinated me. And I think that I feel really thankful and pleasantly surprised that I got to release an album that’s a very specific time of my life. It’s kind of like a bucket list moment to me
Is there something about working within specific boundaries that inspires you creatively?
I really didn’t have too many boundaries for this album. I just kind of showed up one day and it’s like: oh, I have an album. But I will say that I think it’s part of your job to thrive under pressure… or pretend you are thriving under pressure.
Was there a moment that really crystallised that process?
The first song turned out to be ‘I Still Love You’, which I came to the UK to write. When I left the studio that day I felt very… I felt very emotional after the first day because I felt like I was going to walk into a huge studio and just cry and leave London with nothing useable except a lot of need for therapy from friends.
And when we left that first day with ‘I Still Love You’ I just remember walking home and being like: oh my gosh, you know, this really could be something... in terms of working with people that I feel safe with and that are allowing this to be a safe place. This can actually turn out to be something that I am proud of.
That was definitely unexpected to some degree… because I thought it would be me weeping into the microphone.
You mention the studio as a safe place – have you fought to gain that freedom and independence?
I think as long as you are authentic to yourself there’s a piece of that and I think there’s something to say about being fully honest because then there really is nothing to hide behind.
Even if someone peers behind the rock that you’re hiding behind at least you have all your cards to show and at least you can look over that rock and say that you were completely honest. I think that this album really is quite liberating.
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The single ‘Champion’ has made an enormous impression so far.
I was really feeling like a shell of myself when I wrought that song. I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt like a burden to everyone around me.
It was this societal pressure that I was feeling - you know, to be confident but not to be too confident. There was something about forcing myself to say every single night on stage “I am a champion” and not shy away and backtrack from that. It felt like a therapeutic mantra to be able to repeat that.
You worked with K. Flay on two songs – what do you look for in a collaborator?
Well, they have to like to eat chocolate, and not look away when I cry... (laughs)
No, okay, I would say the things that really make K. Flay stand apart is her roots. First of all, she is a rapper, so I feel like her timing is unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with and her placement of words is very unique and interesting and I feel like that offers something that I don’t naturally know how to do.
And I think she also has a really beautiful way of making everyone around her feel at ease and feel as if they’re in a place where they aren’t judged even if they are.
‘I Tried’ appears in its demo form – what made it such a potent thing to include, do you think?
I recorded it as I was running to catch a flight to London. So I only had about five minutes until my ride came and I went in and I started singing.
I did that one take and walked out the studio, looked to Joel (Little, producer) and K. Flay and said: well I know that was terrible don’t even say it, I don’t wanna hear it, I’ll redo it later! And as I started running out the door they were like: you know, you should keep it as it is. I just thought that they were being polite!
I never denied how emotional made me feel. I listened to it later and I knew that I was crying in the booth. I knew that it was honest and I knew that I felt proud of every single word that was in there and I also felt terrified about every single word that was in there. It’s not perfect but the imperfection is what makes it perfect.
It sounds as though there is a huge link between your music and your life – did you achieve that sense of catharsis on this record?
I will say, I have truly felt all the stages of grief. It has been really healing.
Release day was an interesting one for me. I had a lot of very sweet people congratulating me and telling me how happy I must be… but it was such a heavy day for me. It was such a strange feeling.
This is a heavy record, and to release it is to release my personal flaws and to release the things that I talk about in therapy to the world. I think the reason why some artists enjoy the first record is because half the time you don’t even realise you’re writing a record. You’re just in the midst of it.
But with this one, I wanted it to be as fresh as possible. And I will say that being on tour and having people yell the bridge of ‘My Shine’ is very, very healing because it feels like there’s a connection happening.
I think my purpose as a human is to connect with other people and to hopefully make people feel less alone in their being. So yes, the long-winded answer would be that I am getting there.
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'Champion' is out now.
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