Interview – Bishop Briggs

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Montreal Rocks spoke to Bishop Briggs a few hours before her sold-out show at Club Soda.

There is a certain twinkle in Bishop’s eyes as speaks, a mere hours before hitting the stage at the sold-out Club Soda.  If she is nervous, it doesn’t show.  The smile on her face says so much about her state of mind.  This could be overwhelming, but she seems to have it all under control.

Control was not something she always had, and we speak about what enabled her to gain it.  We spoke of how a haircut changed her life and the direction of the new album.  We discovered the story behind her favorite tattoo and what helps her stay grounded.

A little French girl in the room smiles shyly as she is introduced to Bishop.  “I know how to say un petit cochon.”, Bishop says to her.  “That’s all I know.”

Montreal Rocks:  That was going to be my first question.  You took French for 6 years.  

Bishop Briggs:  Yes, I did.  I think you are really outing me now.

MR:  So, what was the first thing you said in French since you have been here…was it “un petit cochon”?

BB:  The first thing I learnt in French was from Dexter’s Laboratory:  Omelette du Fromage.

MR:  I had that for breakfast this morning.

BB:  I haven’t had to speak French yet, while being here.  Everyone’s been so amazing.  I’m in love.  I’ve always loved Montreal.  I just think it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people.  

MR:  Let’s just go right into the new video “Jekyll and Hide.”  I love the clever word play.

BB:  Thank-you!  

MR:  Is there a difference between Sarah in real life and Bishop on stage?

BB:  I would feel very exhausted if I was running back and forth in the morning while getting coffee.  (laughs)  I exert a lot of energy on stage.  I feel very thankful for the vulnerability I get to have on stage, such a gift.  I really try to surround myself with people, while offstage, that I can be honest and vulnerable with.  I think the only major difference is that when I’m off stage, I can be a sloth.  I like to chill.

MR:  It’s interesting that you spoke about surrounding yourself with people, when in real life.  You have been associated with the word Goth.  

BB:  OOOuuuuuu.  

MR:  The origin of the word Goth comes from the Latin “wound.”  When you are vulnerable, it’s like you are exposing a wound.  Do you find that in your music, you are allowing yourself to heal that wound, or poking it?

BB:  When you are first writing the song, you are definitely putting salt on the wound because you are exploring it and deep diving into every aspect of the situation and pain.  When you are on stage, you do get to release it, in some way, which can be very therapeutic.  

When you perform it, each night, and it is super fresh, it can feel like you are poking a wound.  Especially for me, I’m such a sensitive and emotional person that whenever I do perform, it really does overcome my entire body and being. 

MR:  I want to go back to your first album which was almost a mixture of Goth and Gospel…or what I call GOTHspel.

BB:  I love that!

Fan Champion

MR:  It felt like that was what you were doing.  It had that certain darkness underneath where you are being vulnerable but it’s also being enlightening.  I’m just thinking about the people standing outside since 9 o’clock. They have a chalk drawing of Champion.  You are obviously touching people in a certain way.  Not your music, as much as your words, I believe.  You can make a connection.

BB:  I hope so.

MR:  What’s your secret?  How do you get that connection?

BB:  I think it’s important to think of the music you connect with.  Listening to Adele and Amy Winehouse, there was something about them telling their truth and sharing it with very nitty gritty details.  Very specific to them, but it felt so universal because of their honesty.  Whenever I write, I try to lean into that.  I even imagine that no one will hear it.  That is how people can hopefully connect to it, being authentic to yourself.  It’s how I consume music.  

MR:  I want to read you a quote by Brené Brown: “You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”  

BB:  I love her!

MR:  I think you are the first part.

BB:  Ahhh thank-you.

MR:  Is that what you do?  Do you use the stories to explore and get release, or is it to introspect, dig deep and try to understand it?

BB:  It’s an outlet to heal.  Just like what Brené Brown talks about, the power of vulnerability and the power of sharing your shame, especially with this new album.  I tried to make every lyric of every song so that if I played them for you right now, my cheeks would be a little flushed.  I would feel a little exposed.  It feels daunting. 

“The power of vulnerability and the power of sharing your shame.” – Bishop Briggs

It’s something that is really important for me, what Dr. Brené Brown preaches.  When you lean into your vulnerability and shame and completely own them…that’s how you heal and impact those around you, just by releasing that burden from your own body.

MR:  Every definition of vulnerability is based on weakness, but I think it’s exactly the opposite.

BB:  Yes!  

MR:  It takes a lot of strength and courage to be vulnerable.  You talked about having an outlet.  What would you say to those that don’t have an outlet?  How can they deal with the darkness that they have within themselves?

BB:  It’s about finding what you are passionate about.  If you don’t have anything you are passionate about, and you feel really low, I will say therapy changed my life.  I started going two years ago and it was the first outlet that I experienced that wasn’t creative.  I do feel blessed that I have a creative outlet.  I think that anyone who puts pen to paper will benefit from that.  

MR:  Journaling.

BB:  Totally.  Journaling and drawing your feelings if that is your inclination.  Especially if you are severely depressed, that is never what you feel like doing.  Having a place that I had to go to, each week, and say exactly what was going on, and had a professional listening and guiding me…I found that really helpful.  

I will say, make sure it’s the right therapist.  I had the wrong therapist and I know that makes it all sound very daunting, but I think that therapy was a big thing that was helpful for me.  

MR:  There is one thing that obviously changed physically for you, and that’s the haircut.

BB:  Oh yes!  I nearly forgot…what did I change? 

MR:  That was for your friend Arax. 

BB:  Yes!

MR:  It was in support of her battle against cancer.  First of all, how is she doing?

BB:  She is great and doing incredible.  It definitely made us so much closer because I was the only one of her friends that shaved their head.  

MR:  It wasn’t recent.  How long ago did you do that?

BB:  I have been saying four months, but it’s been a year.  

MR:  I saw the clip on Twitter…I saw your face completely change when they started.  That act of courage, did it change other things in your life, make a transformation in your life deeper than you would have expected?

BB:  It definitely propelled releasing that being someone that other people wanted me to be…and just being myself.  It was definitely a very cleansing experience.  It became the theme of everything I did after that.  

After that was when I started writing the album.  I decided not to hide.  I found that the music I was writing before, I was hiding behind my own metaphors and poetry.  When you have nothing to hide behind, it’s very liberating.  I didn’t think about how other people would perceive it, because it was the most ME I had every felt in my entire life.  

MR:  Not everybody can pull that off.

BB:  Thank-you.  Well…it’s too late to change now!

MR:  Another thing that is physical and tells a story is tattoos.  Is there a tattoo that is your favorite and what is the story behind it?

BB:  Yes!  I would say this one is my favorite.

It’s a skull and cross bones.  I found it in a little travel sized Encyclopedia that my dad gave me from his college days.  He wrote down Led Zeppelin lyrics all over the page and then drew this.  I had them replicate it with the little imperfections.  His name, back in the day, was Cheeky Charlie.  There was a big part of me, with getting this, that wanted to get that same fearlessness.  It’s nice to have a tattoo that can always remind me of my dad who was so supportive and the first person I saw singing.  

MR:  I researched the hometown of your parents, which is your name.  

BB:  Yes…Bishopbriggs.  

MR:  In 1655 it had 11 residents and now it has 23,500.  I had to do the math on this, but it’s an increase of 213,536%.  

BB:  Wow.

MR:  Does that relate to you?  You went from nothing…the song comes out (River)…people go nuts…to this moment right now with people outside waiting for you.  

BB:  Wow…that is very very sweet.  Are you saying that it’s because of me there is an increase in the population of Bishopbriggs?

MR:  No…(laughs)

BB:  Because if you are….then YES!  (laughs). So how does it feel to go from that to this?

MR:  Yes, right into the deep end.

BB:  My whole extended family lives in Bishopbriggs and they are all coming to one of the shows on this tour.  Just thinking about it makes me feel so emotional because they always supported me.  My parents came from there and moved to Japan, Hong Kong taking us with them.

MR:  It’s that thread that brings you back to some sort of origin.

BB:  Totally.  Because they took that leap and that risk, there is a part of all that which will always be inspiring to me:  You can always dream bigger and make your way, still having that hometown thing that will always be within you.  

MR:  Dream big, stay grounded.

BB:  Right.  That’s why I wanted to make my name Bishop Briggs, because I loved the idea that wherever I was in the world, if I can introduce myself, I would be reminded of the people I grew up with and I would never lose that.

Bishop Briggs

Interview: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His new Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs is coming soon.

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