While those in a Tokyo karaoke bar may not have realized it, they were witnesses to a life-altering experience for four-year-old Bishop Briggs. As she sang her first song in public, Bishop fell instantly in love with performing, and her auspicious debut served not only as an indelible touchpoint, but also the initial indicator of an unmistakable identity.
Born to Scottish parents, raised in Japan and Hong Kong, immersed in American pop-culture, and having attended college in Hollywood, Bishop is a true world citizen. She began writing her own songs at the age of seven, and would perform these unfiltered observations about her life to a captive audience: her family. It is now recognized that this precociousness, coupled with her upbringing, would draw a clear line to who she would become.
During her early years in Los Angeles, Bishop hit the pavement; focused and on a clear mission, she was never too proud to play any venue that would have her, often to crowds smaller than would gather in her childhood living room. While many would have given up, not only was Bishop undeterred, but, through her perseverance, every challenge and obstacle provided her with much of the life experience that comes through in her music. Now fine-tuned as a performer, Bishop is an example of what happens when ability meets determination.
Her voice has grit and heft — it is lived-in and unafraid — putting her solidly in the lineage of female vocalists such as Janis Joplin, Florence Welch, Aretha Franklin, and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. Like those who have left a mark before her, Bishop foregoes restraint and defies categorization, forging a path that is uniquely hers. Though she now sings her own songs in larger, crowded venues, Bishop still performs with the abandon and intimacy of someone addressing a handful of people in a small room. Deceptively composed, Bishop is often only a heartbeat away from howling with joy or being paralyzed by tears. The result is beyond inspiring, and promises to be as much of a transcendent experience for the audience as it is for Bishop.
“Wild Horses” and “River” are singles that present a rising artist who has spent years developing her craft. The emotions are timeless, the sounds are now; “River” juxtaposes the heartfelt, idiosyncratic soul of Jack Garratt and Hozier with the brash, brassy production of Yeezus or TNGHT. Composed in bedrooms, and destined for festival tents and arenas, Bishop claims her music comes from a place of sadness, though it might be more accurate to say it comes from a place of substance. While the words themselves are direct and precise, they encompass grand emotions which are deeply personal yet rendered in a way that invites listeners to project and examine their own experiences; isn’t that what music is supposed to do?
What unequivocally distinguishes Bishop is there is no duality — no difference between Bishop the person and Bishop the artist — they are one in the same. There is no construct or persona, there’s just her. Whether it is the defiance of “Wild Horses” or the rapture of “River,” they are all inspired by what she calls “the biggest, most toxic and tragic love affair I’ve ever had”: her lifelong commitment to music.
Bishop is not offering merely a piece of her heart — she’s giving you the whole thing.