In Music

"Dark pop" singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs will perform at Turner Hall Sunday night. (PHOTO: Jabari Jacobs)

Brit breakthrough Bishop Briggs brings her big vocals to Turner Hall Ballroom

For some musicians, it can take years, even decades, churning out records in the hopes of scoring even just a moderate breakthrough hit.

In the case of "dark pop" singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs, it took just the second song to her name: the soulfully stormy "River," which, after its release in January last year, hit number one on Spotify's U.S. Viral 50 chart and helped earn her a spot opening for Coldplay, a TV performance debut on "The Tonight Show," a slot at Coachella and a song on the "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" film soundtrack.

So she's come out of the blocks pretty well.

While it's been a quick rise up the ranks for the 24-year-old performer, it's also still been a journey to get here. Briggs – real name Sarah McLaughlin, not of course to be confused with Sarah "I Will Remember You" McLachlan – was born in London before bouncing from Tokyo, then Hong Kong and then finally Los Angeles, discovering all sorts of music along the way and eventually pursuing it as a career.

And now she's in Milwaukee, hitting the Turner Hall Ballroom stage on Sunday night with a hit song, a debut self-titled EP and, oddly enough, a Twitter fan page called "Cheeseheads 4 Bishop," featuring the up-and-comer photoshopped into cheeseheads and sausage races – truly the ultimate sign of making it in the music industry.

We got a chance to chat with Briggs about that social media cheesehead encounter, the process and pressure of making her first EP and what to expect Sunday night at Turner Hall.

OnMilwaukee: Let's say you're planning out a day here in Milwaukee. Where would you go? What's an ideal day for you in Milwaukee?

Bishop Briggs: All I can say is ... cheese curds.

Speaking of cheese, what was it like discovering the SayCheeseBishop Twitter page? Was that your first discovery of a cheesehead?

I'm not going to lie: I was so excited when I first saw that, and I may have been following ever since. The updates on that Twitter are genius.

I also noticed on Twitter you're taking recommendations for a new tattoo. Best candidate? Worst candidate?

I think this may be the best and worst: It was Buttercup from "The Powerpuff Girls," smoking a pipe.

So you just released your debut EP. What was the recording process for that like, and how does it feel having that out now?

As a music fan, I always love when artists write about what's currently happening in their lives. So what was really exciting about this recording process was the new songs that have been added, like "Dark Side" and "The Fire," were written and recorded about a month ago, so the things that we're talking about and the stories that we're telling are all really current so the ache and the pain that I feel when I sing them on stage is extremely raw.

I feel so thankful to have something out that I'm proud of, and there's something so nice about having a body of work released because then when people come to the show, they can sing along with me and we can bask in the moment together.

Do you feel added pressure – either while making the EP or just in general – after having one of your first songs to your name so quickly becoming such a big hit?

Well first of all, that's very kind of you to say. Honestly, I try to disassociate from any news that's going on. I think it's important that whenever you're writing, you really just go back to where you began which is writing about your personal experiences, writing about your stories and speaking your truth.

What was it like collaborating with Cold War Kids on your new cover of "Love on the Brain"? Did that come about from your work together for "So Tied Up," or something else?

It was actually really spontaneous. I went in to record the "So Tied Up" video that you can see online, and they were actually in the middle of working on "Love On The Brain," and that's when Nathan (Willett, Cold War Kids frontman) asked if I'd have any interest in joining them on the song. Before I knew it, we were coming up with harmonies and really diving into the song.

What can people expect from your show here in Milwaukee? In past interviews, you said that you don't talk much, letting the music speak instead. Is that still the case?

That felt really important to do at the beginning of all of this because I felt it was so important for it to be all about the music. Now, I try to have a balance where I want to let people in and for them to get to know more about me while also making the majority of it about the music. I just hope we're experiencing this all together, and I hope people can connect to the words that I'm saying – it's all really personal reflections on what's gone on in my life. I guess the main things you can expect from the shows are a lot of sweating, a lot of jumping and it really is one of those emotional rollercoaster shows – I hope you enjoy it!

Bishop Briggs will hit the Turner Hall Ballroom on Sunday, April 30. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, visit The Pabst/Riverside/Turner Hall website.


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