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'I Wanted This Album To Be The Thing That Wipes The Tears Away': Bishop Briggs Talks 'Champion'

Friday, 06 December 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

Bishop Briggs wrote her second album ‘Champion’ when she was feeling defeated. Repeating the empowering words of the album’s eponymous lead track like a mantra, to regain self-worth after a painful breakup, she created her emotional fight music. 

“I never felt as lonely as with you,” she powers out on standout track Lonely. Gospel influences are ever-present; the rage, sadness and resignation that travels throughout her personal epiphanies are poeticised through rousing lyrics. 

A journey fuelled by dedication to rediscovering self-love from a place of darkness and loss, Briggs crafted the album in double quick time while in the depths of her melancholy. We caught up with her ahead of her European tour—which kicks off with shows in Glasgow, Manchester and London—to discover how she now evolved past the trauma of her breakup while performing the material worldwide.

How are you finding the experience of touring the new material?

It’s been so incredible, the biggest tour I have ever done, and the music is so fresh. I wanted it to be that way. Still, it is so emotional performing the songs, there’s something therapeutic about it, trying to find new meaning in the music.

When I perform Someone Else there is a real emotional moment. When I perform Champion it is about leaning into the joy and freedom that comes with being able to announce that kind of statement. I want the audience to feel like they are champions.

How long was ‘Champion’ under construction?

This album was written two weeks. It was a total emotional surge, and I fought for it to be pushed through as quickly as possible. As a listener and a huge fan of music I love concept albums. I think releasing material soon after you've written it is something I had always dreamt of doing. I didn't know it would come about in light of heartache, but it felt important. I wanted to keep it as fresh as possible.

Your breakup inspired the content of ‘Champion’, how did he respond to the lyrics?

I sent him the music the minute it was done, when it was just demoed from the studio, and he said it was the best music I had ever written, which I was thankful for. The end of us was a big part of our relationship, we knew we would never be able to move past that period if I didn't fully grieve the experience. There would be no rebirth or renewal that could ever happen. 

I am fortunate that he understands that and I was lucky that when we first met, we shook hands and agreed that we would be each other's muses for better or worse. I feel very blessed that he was quick to recognise his mistakes and he changed a lot in his life during the making of this album, so I think that is something that I feel so grateful for, for my grief process.

What was the defining memory of writing ‘Champion’?

I went to London to write a big chunk of the album. In L.A. I was bombarded with memories of us, there was something liberating about stepping away from that and allowing my memories to be authentic, not sad reminders of restaurants I passed and songs I heard. 

I was born in London, and I was always seeking more of a connection from there. I was also listening to Adele and Amy Winehouse at the time because I was going through heartache: ‘21’ and ‘Back to Black’. Those were the albums I immediately reached for because I was going through grief. 

The moment stands out strongest is the first session. There's something that can change inside of you with sadness, you are drunk on your vulnerability, it’s like a truth serum. Despite having experienced so much, the first thing I wrote down was ‘I still love you’, and that was the painful truth. 

When you do separate from someone, and you still love them, it’s so hard. Writing those lyrics happened the first day that I arrived, that painful moment stands out. I think the most eye-opening experience I had during this time was how lonely I felt. I even Googled ‘how to get through a breakup’. From what I have learned, loss is such a universal thing we experience as humans.

What were your intentions with this second album?

I think what compelled me to write this album is to help anyone else feeling what I felt and to seek solace. I wanted this album to be the thing that wipes the tears away and to be that comfort blanket, to metaphorically rub a heartbroken person’s back and tell them it will be OK. 

When I listen to Amy Winehouse, Adele and Alabama Shakes, the lyrics are so detailed and personal, and yet I can relate so much to those songs and I feel so comforted that someone else has been through that and come out the other side. What inspires me is remembering the headspace I was in and the idea that the album would be something that could comfort someone else.

When did the name ‘Champion’ come into play?

When I was listening to the demos I realised, with this music, it was the first time I wasn't hiding. I was being direct. I wasn't hiding behind metaphors or being vague. Songs like Champion became this mantra that I thought would be helpful and healing to repeat to myself because I did not feel like a champion at the time. The album was all about me thinking about how I would feel if I wasn't exposed and afraid, if I wasn't too brash or aggressive, how I would feel if I could just be.

Bishop Briggs Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat December 07 2019 - GLASGOW Saint Luke's
Sun December 08 2019 - MANCHESTER Manchester Club Academy
Mon December 09 2019 - LONDON Islington Assembly Hall

Click here to compare & buy Bishop Briggs Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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