Ashley Osborn

Bishop Briggs – As Fierce as She Wants to Be

Platinum-selling songstresses can be just like us – feeling, healing, changing, blazing as they go. Can you believe it? We are one with the likes of BIshop Briggs.

Now more than ever Bishop Briggs is leading the way for women. She wants them to be as honest and fierce as they want to be – and ought to be. The London-born Scottish artist grew up in Japan and Hong Kong, but moved to Los Angeles to write and record her first smash hit, “Wild Horses,” in 2015. It took relentless persistence to get there, move across the world, and sign her first contract, but once she was with Island Records, she poured all of her heart out. This became her debut, Church of Scars. To this day this record will leave you with shivers as if she performed a powerful sermon just for you, right in that moment.

As emotive as her music is, Briggs makes sure to take every song and knock it out of the park with infectious energy. It’s a fine line she walks on – cathartic, melodic tales that are just as personal as they are relatable. She does so by being that honest, fierce woman both in and out of the studio.

After departing from Island as of late and signing with Arista, the EP When Everything Went Dark, ironically, saw the light of day. Listeners around the world are currently taking in the recipe of rebellion that is this electro-pop meets folk-rock journey, which follows the stages of grief in a way worthy of acclaim. Briggs is out on tour with Misterwives, Natalie Jane, and Rafaella right now, so we sat down to talk about it, being a woman in the music industry, and more.

Where did you get the inspiration for “Bad,” your most recent single?

I just felt like that there has been a really big narrative around my life about being a good girl, like there was this set of rules I felt like I had to abide by. Then I thought, “It would be interesting if I said things the way I wanted to, just be super direct. What if I was fully transparent and fully myself?” I would have to let go of the social norms that chained me to my own womanhood, if you will. I thought of the James Bond movies and thought about how the women are such an integral part of the plot, and I thought that they need to make a James Bond movie that’s just about the women. That’s when I went to the piano and hammered out the chorus. It’s more of the headspace to let go of any stories like imposter syndrome and such.

The video is full of imagery – from the hanging dolls to the clown visuals. Can you tell me more?

Every part of the music video has symbolism – from the dolls to the dollhouse to the clowns wearing suits. It’s about finding your power in a new state of mind and walking through this haunted horror house of lies that you’re taught to hang onto. It’s about owning your own power and not tying to let any of the visuals that you grew up with hold you down. [The video is about] finding your own state of being that feels authentic to you. 

On that note, why did you name your new EP When Everything Went Dark? What are some of the themes behind it?

When Everything Went Dark is one of the lyrics from “High Water.” This EP follows the themes of before, during, and after grief. My own coping mechanism was writing this EP. I [held] onto this EP as a comfort blanket after the loss of my sister. 

Then this was very therapeutic then for you?

Yes, therapeutic and traumatic – one of the same.

As an empowered singer and songwriter, how does it feel to be a woman in the music industry? Are you seeing a lot of young female fans in your crowds in 2023?

I think there’s been a lot of strong progress since I came onto the scene. I remember playing festivals and the only other female artist playing was K. Flay. We became such close friends over that. Now, I feel like there’s been huge progress. There’s always room to grow, but still – seeing female artists selling tickets and seeing females on the charts is a wonderful thing. I feel like it’s time for their stories to be told and they have an audience for it now. I say right now, meaning it’s positive especially after the #MeToo Movement. 

As far as who comes to my shows, it’s a beautiful blend of all different people and ages. A whole mix. 

Your music stands for itself today, but what direction do you think the alternative scene could take, or is going to take, in the future?

I think defining alternative has been consistently difficult. There hasn’t been something specific that’s going to point to as listeners that’s playing on radio or connect with TikTok. I thinkTik Tok is the new radio and gets a vibe of what people are connecting to. I think alternative is constantly evolving and changing. I think a big shift was when Billie Eilish came onto the scene. There was a lot of pop energy surrounding “Ocean Eyes” and there was a female vocal and a softness to it that we hadn’t seen in a long time, so it broadened to what we were – and are – listening to. 

Why did you leave Island Records?

It really felt like it was time. I have a big place in my heart for David Massey. When COVID happened and we were forced to stay where we were, it made all of us look around and look at our relationships. I felt like the place where I was at Island, it was time to make a shift. I didn’t know I was going to Arista Records. Island was the first place I was signed, and once David Massey left and when Island changed directions, I felt like it was right. I have so much love for that Island team, though. 

How did you pick your tourmates for your upcoming tour?

It was a decision that me and Misterwives came up with! We scoured the internet and the streets. It came together really naturally. Natalie Jane and Rafaella are on this tour, too. I hope people leave feeling very empowered.

What keeps Bishop Briggs ticking after all these years?

If I’m in a room and I hear organ chords, it does something to me. It’s the perfect palette cleanser for writing and remembering who I am. I think there’s a spiritual experience that happens with music and being creative; that transfer of energy with the people at my shows explains the depth of playing in front of you. That is what keeps me going.