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A lot has changed in a year for Sarah Grace McLaughlin, best known by her stage moniker Bishop Briggs. Following on from her much-acclaimed official debut album Church of Scars in 2018, the Canadian musician returned with new, exciting music in the form of a single called “JEKYLL & HIDE” earlier this year but it’s the release of her sophomore album, CHAMPION today that certainly heralds a new era for Briggs.
Unlike many artists, Briggs proudly renders herself emotionally vulnerable in her music, resulting in incredibly relatable content. Through highly intimate and personal lyrics, she shares many of her more tougher experiences to empower her listeners. This is certainly evident in CHAMPION, which is both a testament to her candid vulnerability and the consistency in her artistic authenticity. In the album, the combination of different stylistic genres — pop, alternative and electronic beats — accounts for a powerful and meaningful listening experience.
To coincide with the release of CHAMPION and the announcement of her upcoming North American and European headline tours, Schön! caught up with Briggs to discuss her music, her influences and what she envisions for the future.
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Do you remember how your first experience with music made you feel?
Music has always made me feel alive. My earliest memories of music were Etta James, Otis Redding and The Beatles! I always felt like there was so much to explore with music and it’s forever been my number one love.
You were born in London, moved to Tokyo and then Hong Kong during your early and teenage years, and moved once again to Los Angeles. How do you think that the experiences in these places have influenced your sound?
I think it has to do with what’s being played in your living room, but that being said, it doesn’t hurt to grow up in such energetic places. My parents were huge music lovers and to top it off we spent any celebration big or small in a karaoke bar.
Can you tell us about the creative process behind your new album, CHAMPION?
It was deeply therapeutic. It was very much a word vomit type of set up! No filters, no rules, just raw emotion put into music.
Is there a particular theme behind CHAMPION?
The theme is that you are enough. I wrote so much of this when I was feeling like a shell of myself and I wanted this album to serve as a comfort blanket to cry into.
How does “JEKYLL & HIDE” relate to the rest of the album? Can you give us an insight into the creative process for the song?
“JEKYLL & HIDE” was a lot of fun to create. It all began with that intro and turned into this whimsical Alice in Wonderland-like maze. It was really fun to be able to take risks and play around with imagery while making it. Any moment when you feel fearless, you have to jump at, and that’s how “JEKYLL & HIDE” came to be! It relates to the rest of the album because it is part of the chaotic narrative that was this chapter in my life.
How do you think that this project differs from your first one?
With the first album, I was touring and experiencing so much for the first time and before I knew it a few years had passed and I had an album. This was so different. This was finished non-consecutively in two weeks! It was such a condensed and intense period of time and I wanted to put it out as soon as it was done to make sure it still had that weight to it.
Who are your musical influences? Where do you get your inspirations from?
I love Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, Jack Garratt, James Blake, Adele, Alabama Shakes… I really feel inspired by storytellers and most importantly truth-tellers. I feel like that is how a listener can truly connect to what they are hearing.
If you could listen to one musician for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Queen. I don’t think that energy you hear in each word would ever get old.
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You’re starting your tour off soon. What are you most excited about hitting the road with this new project?
I can’t wait to play the new music! It’s always interesting to see what lyrics people connect with and it is deeply cathartic to be able to perform these songs and breathe new life into them.
Before a concert, how do you physically and mentally prepare yourself to perform?
I do vocal warm-ups, dance with my band and I always perform as if it is my last.
Looking back, especially this year has been momentous for you and 2020 is set to be even bigger. What has been the highlight of your career so far? And what are you most looking forward to right now?
Thank you so much. Honestly, releasing music and visuals from this new album has been deeply fulfilling. I felt so far from myself and this album really reminded me who I am and who I want to be. I think the highlight would be hearing demos from the sessions and feeling like I told the whole truth. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it, that’s what I’m most looking forward to now!
If you had the chance, what would you like to see changed in the music industry?
I would love for there to be more women on festival line-ups and more female artists being asked about their music, not their dating lives.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More truth-telling, more shows and more activism!
Bishop Briggs’ sophomore album, “CHAMPION”, comes out today, November 8. Listen here.
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by
photography. Andrew Boyle
fashion. Shabdiece Esfahani
talent. Bishop Briggs
make up. Bishop Briggs + Tobi Henney @ The Wall Group
photography assistant. James Schieberl
AR set up. Caleb Carithers
location. Wood NYC, Brooklyn
words. Edwin Boadu