Bishop Briggs, born Sarah Grace McLaughlin, is the 24-year-old Los Angeles based singer-songwriter with a soulful voice and worldly disposition that reflects the amalgam of cultures that inform her outlook: born in London, she moved to Japan when she was four and then to Hong Kong at ten where she lived until her late teens. Family have been her strongest source of encouragement in pursuing whatever that thing is that makes time stand still – her stage name is even an ode to the Scottish town her parents were born in – and for her, that means performing her life-long passions of writing and singing. If opening for Coldplay on their recent tour despite just having four songs released is anything to go by, it sounds like Bishop is doing just that. With each of her catchy, soulful pop ballads penned by her own hand and born from her own experiences, the intuitive star displays a sensitivity and confidence in knowing just how to channel her feelings.
There’s a definite strength but also sensitivity to be found in your music, especially with your track River. How do these feelings relate to you?
I think I have a battle with them every single day. I feel like I have to have a lot of perspective and I’m learning that the power in strength is sensitivity and the power in sensitivity is strength. With writing and performing, as much as people notice that there I have a certain amount of strength during performing my songs, they all notice that the minute I finish singing, I have an immense sensitivity to where I am. It’s not only reacting to where I am, but also remembering writing that song and what it means to me.
What’s the best way for you to tune into the way you’re feeling before writing?
For me writing is nearly impossible if I don’t truly look inside myself and try to be who I am when no one else is there. I’ve been writing since I was seven, but it was only until I came to LA six years ago that I really dived into writing and started making melodies and hooks really passionately. I remember doing that in high school as well, but LA was the place where I started performing live for the first time which was a new experience for me.
Your track The Way I Do is about your experience with a psychic. Can you tell us about it?
Yes. I went to a psychic in Los Angeles and I was with one of my girlfriends who is also a musician, and the psychic turned to my friend and said, “You’re thinking of quitting music.” When we walked out, I turned to her and I said, “How ridiculous was that, you wanting to quit music!” But it turned out she’d been thinking about it. I think in this field, there’s this kind of cult feeling of all being in it together and you experience the highs and the lows all at once. It’s kind of a support team. So when she said that I thought to myself, if you leave now you’ll never know how great this can be and you’ll never understand the pain that can come with this.
How in touch do you feel to be with your own instincts?
I think I’m very in synch with them. That is something I would say I rely on every second of every day. Even right before a show i’ll meditate, and that really helps me centre myself. I think it’s really important to have a clear head in this journey of life.
Do your lyrics come from real life or the imagined?
I think that it’s more from my subconscious. I take a lot of writing from my dreams so some of that you could say has imaginative elements but ultimately they’re imaginative elements from my own personal experiences that happen.
Have any of your dreams inspired you lately?
I had this dream where I couldn’t reach this source of solace that was high up in a tree and it was very frustrating. In The Way I Do there’s a lyric that goes ‘reaching for you, reaching for you’ which is in line with that.
Do you have any pre-show routines or rituals?
The visual of white light makes me feel confident, and by that I mean closing your eyes and visualizing white light. There’s just something so positive about it. That may be a meditation thing that I’ve picked up but the sight of that always gives me comfort. Before I go on stage I meditate, sit in a corner [laughs] put on lavender spray and inhale deeply. Lavender has very calming qualities which can make your overall body feel at ease.
What do you hope to inspire with your music?
My hope is that when people come to the shows they leave wanting to write themselves. I think if everyone took the time to have peace within their souls, we’d have a much happier world. Also defiance. Defiance against anything holding you back whether that’s a person, an experience, the nature of the world. It’s about defying the odds of what we are capable of and who we are capable of impacting.