Who is Bishop Briggs? Take the dark lyricism and emotional vocal prowess of Amy Winehouse. Replace Jazz influence with Alternative Rock, and add a Trap beat.
That’s Bishop Briggs.
The 24-year-old singer was born in London, raised in Tokyo, and now is based in Los Angeles. And, the collective influences of those cultures is not lost on her musical styling. It’s been a long time since an artist emerged with a debut release as impactful as her self-titled EP.
Arguably, it hasn’t happened since 2003…when Frank came out and introduced the world to the late Amy Winehouse.
In listening to Briggs’ 6-song EP for the tenth time this week, this comparison with Winehouse is one I keep coming back to, and that is nothing short of a compliment. There are few musical artists–dead or alive–who I admire and regard as highly as I do Winehouse.
The EP starts off with lead single, “River”, which is centered around galvanizing percussion and Briggs’ unexpectedly, raw and soulful vocal performance. The next song, “Dark Side,” aptly ties into the self-described “dark pop” style of her music.
In a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she describes her writing style as “dark poetry”–another striking similarity to Winehouse herself:
“For as long as I can remember, I have always been writing dark poetry and it was my outlet and my therapeutic relief.”
This raw, honest connection to her music and songwriting is never more apparent than in the stunning opening to “The Way I Do.” Far and away the most poignant track on the EP, her voice effortlessly conveys the pain and emotion behind the lyrics so naturally. And, it is in that ease where Briggs seems to derive her power.
While Briggs never mentions Winehouse herself, in an interview with Billboard, she describes the heavy influence of Otis Redding and Janis Joplin. She tells Billboard that “these singers always sounded as if they were on the edge of tears or rage.” And that influence bleeds through the entirety of Bishop Briggs – EP.
If Janis Joplin’s “Maybe” were released in 2017, I’d be willing to bet it would sound a lot like “Wild Horses.”
Whether influenced by Winehouse or Joplin, clearly, Bishop Briggs is just getting started. And, while the influence and similarity remain, there is also no comparison between these women. Each has the power and strength–vocally, artistically, and emotionally–to stand on their own, letting their music etch out a path of its own.
So, if this is what Bishop Briggs can do with just one EP, imagine a full album. Imagine a live performance. The sky’s the limit for Briggs, and she seems to be taking full advantage of it.
Following her recent Coachella debut, Briggs is about to take the summer festival circuit by storm.
In addition to Houston’s FPSF, she is also on the bill for Shaky Knees, Hangout, Firefly, Lollapalooza, and more. This June, FPSF features a number of female powerhouses, like Lorde, Solange, Anna Lunoe, Tove Lo, Charli XCX, and more. Tickets for FPSF are still available here.
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Feature Image: Bishop Briggs at Coachella 2017 / Photographed by Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone