Bishop Briggs Bishop Briggs | Photo by Chad Kamenshine

Meet Rising Star Bishop Briggs

The singer on Coldplay, her songwriting process and festival acts she wants to see

Up-and-coming soulful songstress Bishop Briggs amassed a serious Spotify following throughout 2016—more than 1.2 million monthly listeners, to be exact—all while XM’s Alt Nation played (and continues to play) her “Wild Horses” and “River” singles that were released earlier this year. Briggs recently came off a nine-show run opening for Coldplay and will soon dive into another tour with Icelandic indie rockers Kaleo (“Way Down We Go”).

While the U.K.-born, Los Angeles-based singer sounds like a seasoned professional, the 24-year-old has yet to release an album. She continues her musical journey this weekend at Life Is Beautiful.

Tell us about your tour with Coldplay. You were playing massive stadiums.

Yes, it was an all-stadium tour. It was one of those situations where it’s too surreal to be nervous, because it’s just so beyond any dream that I could ever have. Not [just playing] stadiums; I mean, it’s Coldplay. They really paved the way for alternative music, and they [are a band] that I truly look up to. So to have them give us this opportunity, I really couldn’t handle it. It was incredible.

How has your life changed since the release of “River,” “Wild Horses” and “The Way I Do”?

It has given me many opportunities and I’ve been able to meet so many wonderful people along the way, even just through Twitter. It’s been nice getting support from a variety of people; that’s what means the world to me. In my own little world, it’s remained the same in the sense that I’m still striving and I’m still writing every single day and performing like there is no tomorrow, because nothing is guaranteed. … I’m still trying, trying, trying every single day to be the best musician that I can be, but it’s different in the sense that there are a few more people coming along the journey with me, which is exciting. It makes a huge difference.

Have you been writing new songs? It seems like you’re preparing to drop an album.

We are always writing every single day. If you come to the set, you’ll hear a ton of songs that we have finished and recorded. We are just thinking about the right timing, when it all makes sense. We want it to be the best we can. I always have something up my sleeve.

You’re not trying to rush anything.

I think mentally I’m always trying to rush, and I’m trying to push myself. The sooner the better, but it is about making those songs have an impact. Sometimes when music is released at the wrong time, it loses impact and doesn’t get the shine that it deserves. I want our music to be out at the right time so that people can enjoy it—or hate it—whatever they want.

Tell us about your songwriting process.

It changes each time, but [what’s] consistent is that I try to draw inspiration from anything and everything I can. Even our conversation right now, there is always something to write about after we hang up because it’s a human interaction that is worth describing.

Normally it’s pen to paper, but sometimes it’s on my phone, just writing down lots of poetry and lyrics. That’s my favorite way to start, no matter what: conceptually laying out what is going on in my life.

What comes more naturally for you, singing or writing?

That’s a really good question. I don’t feel I’ll ever know which one comes more naturally to me, but I will say that performing is one of my favorite parts about this. With writing, it’s a lot more—well, they both are—introspective. [Writing] can be a lot more saddening, but when I’m singing the song, I’m living what I’m writing, so it’s also sad and introspective as well. Maybe the best response is neither. I have to practice both every day, and I am still seeking to learn and seeking to grow more in both aspects. Neither comes naturally, but [they’re] my biggest passions, so I work on them.

Who and what influences your musical style?

I grew up listening to a lot of Motown music and The Beatles and vocals that have soul in it. The modern-day version of all those influences is Alabama Shakes. They were a big influence for me. When it came to the trap and hip-hop elements, I was a big fan of Jack Garratt, but I never knew it could influence this particular project. Then when I met Mark Jackson and Ian Scott, who are the producers behind my music, and they added this whole hip-hop element because of influences that we all shared.

You’re playing festivals and solo shows in the next few weeks. How do the crowds differ?

I just love festivals, where people are there to appreciate and enjoy music. Those are the crowds that are so memorable because they actually want you to succeed. [It] sounds strange to say, but they’re rooting for you. My favorite part about festivals is that we can all be people who are enjoying music together, all at the same time. I love that energy.

Are you going to stick around after your set at Life Is Beautiful, or are you hitting the road right away?

Technically, yes, it makes sense for me to play the show and leave, but I am a human and I need to get my fix. I’m probably going to run away from my manager and go into the pit. There are so many acts that I’m so excited for, so I’ll definitely be staying after. And honestly, any time I play a show I’m generally lingering, especially if it’s a festival. I’ve met so many people who were at my shows during the day because I’ll run into the middle of the pit. That’s generally my secret plan of attack.

Anyone specific you’re looking forward to this weekend?

A few of these artists I’ve seen live, but it doesn’t mean that it gets old. It [just] means I want to go back for more. Coast Modern, Lewis Del Mar, Jack Garratt and one of my high school favorites, The Shins. I’m going to be in bliss.

Bishop Briggs performs at 5:35 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, on the Huntridge Stage.

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