You might recognize the name Bishop Briggs from the popular songs “River” or “Wild Horses,” or you might recognize her famous space bun hairstyle.
If you don’t recognize her name, you will soon. Unavoidable talent, Briggs has a unique voice that speaks volumes and a stage presence that takes the term “performing” to another level.
Sarah Grace McLaughlin, known by her stage name Bishop Briggs, just released her debut album Church of Scars in April, but some songs like the two aforementioned were released as long as two years ago. The album is engulfed in blues-infected alternative pop music that not so subtly reminds one of the late ‘90s music scene.
She performed at Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio last weekend and I got a chance to talk with her about Church of Scars and what advice she has for aspiring songwriters and musicians.
I first discovered you through “River,” as I’m sure many people did. Did you ever feel pressure from how successful the song was?
“I’m so disconnected, I think it’s so important to really write from your soul and all I’m seeking is that human connection and so the thought that anyone connected to it means so much. I try every time I sit down to write where it all began, which is writing from my diary. I try to be disconnected from anything when I write. I turn off my phone. I think I naturally 24/7 have so much pressure on myself so it’s not too different from the normal pressure that I already have in my brain all the time.”
You say a lot of your songs come from your diary and your personal thoughts. Is it hard exposing that to people?
“I tell myself that nobody will hear it and then by the time I’m performing it live, I’ve kinda mentally accepted it. I have found that in speaking my truth it can sometimes help people feel less alone. So the thought of doing that always motivates me.”
Obviously, there are probably songs that didn’t make it on the album. Why did you chose the songs that are on there?
“I wanted to make sure that this album represented what’s been happening these two years. And so you have early on songs like “Wild Horses” and “River” that are the reason that I can even make an album, but then there are songs like “Water” that were added right before the album was handed in. I wrote “Water” a couple months ago. So it was kinda exciting to show the journey from the beginning until now and I’m really proud of it.”
When you’re writing your songs does it all just sort of come together or do you write the lyrics first taking it from your thoughts or do you write the music or the melody first?
“My favorite thing about writing is that it’s always changing and ever growing, hopefully, but I love pen to paper writing poetry. The little emo kid in me will always love that and feel so fulfilled by that. And I always love dark chords on the piano, so those combinations are generally the beginning but as far as other elements coming in, I think that’s a part of letting the song simmer and see what happens.”
Are there any songs that are on your album that you wish would blow up as big as “River” did?
“I would say the song that means the most to me on the album is “Water,” for sure. Just because it was written so recently so it feels like a fresh wound. I think that would be a song that people feel connected to.”
You worked with a lot of different artists to actually record and produce this album. Did they give you any advice on what to expect or anything like that?
“I was really lucky, I got to work with Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons for one of the songs on the album called “Lyin’” and I think sometimes in the process of writing you learn so much about yourself and something that that song, in particular, is about is if you don’t have a partner that is fully supporting your dreams, you’re going to be constantly lying to them or worse, lying to yourself, and ultimately you won’t be happy and that kinda became the theme for this entire album; realizing that if any aspect of my life is a lie or I’m living a lie I won’t be happy, and I don’t think I knew that before writing this album.”
And then on the flip side, what advice do you have for other songwriters who are seeing you and thinking ‘maybe I should take the jump into this too’?
“I think with music and creativity or any creative field, it really feels like it chose you, it almost doesn’t seem like a choice but if someone feels as though it chose them and they are passionate about music or creativity, I would say write every single day, perform as much as you can and never lower your standards no matter how desperate you are for the dream to come true.”
Despite having multiple hit songs, Briggs is still humble.
When talking with her about “River” and how it blew up and got popular so quickly, she said, “I love that you say that “River” blew up, I like hearing you say that. It’s very nice of you to say.”
Her ability to still be down to earth is all the more reason to pay attention to Bishop Briggs and her music because she isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
You can listen to Church of Scars on Spotify now: