Story / Angie Piccirillo
Photos / Mallory Turner
Talent / Bishop Briggs
In November 2015, Acura released a commercial for their new 2016 TLX model on National television featuring a song called “Wild Horses,” and music fans everywhere took note. The song went viral and people just had to know more about the song — taking to their Shazam apps and using it to find that the song was by a new artist called Bishop Briggs. Fast forward to February 2017, and the song boasts over 12 million streams on Spotify with multiple re-mixes, and you’ll see Bishop’s name featured on multiple upcoming dates for coveted spots at some pretty famous music festivals, including one of the most popular amongst millennial music fans: Coachella.
Though she spent most of 2016 performing live on tour, Bishop, also known as Sarah McLaughlin to her friends and family, says that planning for Coachella is “surreal” and that she still can’t believe it’s even happening. Her quick rise to popularity seems somewhat strange, given that most artists follow a specific path before they are considered for many of the performance venues she’s had the opportunity to appear at, including one important thing: releasing an EP or album — which Bishop Briggs has just released today.
Born in London to Scottish parents who were originally from Bishopbriggs, Scotland — from which she took her stage name — Bishop moved to Tokyo as a child and grew up on a healthy dose of Motown and rock music. Of her influences, Bishop says, “I think it’s all about what’s being played in your living room. I grew up listening to The Beatles and Motown music.”
When it comes to describing her genre, a question at which most musicians cringe when asked, Bishop simply gives her description as, “it’s trap soul but has some elements of rock and hip-hop elements…even some folk with the guitar usage…” She adds, “I think we live in a really cool time where we have access to so many different music elements that we can be as creative as we want without being restricted by any particular genre.”
As for when the “performance bug” kicked in, Bishop took an immense liking to performing karaoke while in Tokyo — which made her quickly see that singing and songwriting was something she wanted to continue to do professionally. Though she doesn’t have time to hang out at karaoke bars anymore, she says, “My go-to karaoke songs are always going to be “Oh Darling” by The Beatles and “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin.”
Rose Bomber by Nasty Gal . Choker – Vintage
Some still confuse Bishop as some sort of modern day “Spice Girl” at first glance (in style, not sound), due to her sporty and quirky fashion sense, and signature “double buns,” or often braids, hair-do. But Bishop claims her style derives from where she grew up, “I feel like when you grow up in [many different places], there really is this freedom to be creative and to express yourself in whatever way you feel. I think with fashion, it’s all about what makes you feel most authentic. I think my spirit animal is Sailor Moon.” Of her “double buns” she says, “it’s that authenticity thing – I think whatever rings true to you is how you should wear your hair and present yourself.”
Her travels have truly connected the pieces — from fashion to music, and more — of what makes Bishop so different from any run of the mill female singer, “Every place you go to has a different quirk and different kinds of people and I think that’s something I love so much about traveling — the people you meet along the way. I feel really fortunate that we’ve been to these unique, cool places.”
In terms of her upcoming album, Bishop assures us something amazing is in the works: “there is this secret group of people who have heard the unreleased music at our shows, so the thought of more people hearing makes me really excited. I can only hope that everyone feels connected to the lyrics and the hidden messages behind the music.”
Of her current performances, Bishop claims that it “will always be weird, in a magical and amazing way when I hear people singing [my music] at the shows and singing it back to me – I don’t think that’s something that will ever get old.” And though her confidence when she takes the stage makes her seem like a long time veteran, a humble Bishop remembers the first time she saw the Acura commercial which started it all, “It was on my phone! I got sent the commercial from a friend and I was in disbelief! [It was] by far one of the coolest texts ever – I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.”
Though Bishop may be considered an anomaly to the typical “artists path,” it hasn’t gone to her head, or her double buns, in any way — she says that to this day, she will walk out on stage, see fans wearing a T-shirt with her face on it, and still won’t believe they are there to see her. She also adds, “I’m just insanely thankful that people are connecting to something that I have put out into the world.” Really in the end, Bishop Briggs proves that there is no “path,” especially if the music is simply great.
Black Bomber by Nasty Gal . Choker – Vintage