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Bishop Briggs on Karaoke, Hong Kong Hiking and Packing Under the Influence

Bishop Briggs’ sound is truly global. (Photo:Jabari Jacobs)

Sometimes the making of the next big thing in alternative music is a truly global thing. Take Bishop Briggs, for example. The Universal Music Group artist known for chart-climbing, soul-infused hits like “Wild Horses” and “River” was born in London to Scottish parents and raised in Tokyo and Hong Kong. It’s fair to say that her musical upbringing has been eclectic.

“People from Scotland have very good music taste,” says, Briggs, nee Sarah Grace McLaughlin, whose stage name is her parents hometown. “I’m very lucky that what my parents played in my living room growing up was a lot of Motown music, a lot of Led Zepplin, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James. And then, there was also the Beatles, which was a huge thing in our household as well. So, it was kind of a perfect blend of a lot of different genres.”

Probably more fortuitous was the family’s move to Tokyo, an unexpected training ground. Marriott TRAVELER caught up with Briggs before her performance at Coachella 2017, where Marriott Rewards is a sponsor, to talk karaoke and the important role that wine plays in her packing process.

There's this hike called the Dragon's Back and if you don't survive it, I didn't tell you about it.

Bishop Briggs

So, you got your musical start in Tokyo singing karaoke?

Yeah, a little random. Tokyo is kind of the go-to place [for karaoke]. I feel like the minute [our family] landed that is the first thing we did. For someone’s birthday or after school, you go to the karaoke bar. That’s where I first saw my dad singing. He does a great Frank Sinatra impression. For him, it was just fun. For me, there was this excitement that I just wanted. So ever since then I’ve been pursuing music.

Later your family moved to Hong Kong and they still live there now. Tell me about the Hong Kong music scene.

The music is scene is really great there. The one street where I truly feel like you can find little holes in the wall or sometimes find people intoxicated and singing, in the best way, is Lan Kwai Fong. Anyone that lives there is going to laugh at that answer because it is kind of the party place, but I think this where people are most free and that is where I always heard the newest music too.

What else do you love to do in Hong Kong? Where would you take a first-timer?

I do love the hiking scene in Hong Kong. That is one of the best. There’s this hike called the Dragon’s Back and if you don’t survive it, I didn’t tell you about it. Food wise, you are really lucky when you go to Hong Kong because there are all these food markets where you can find unique things. For shopping, I really like the Jade market and a go-to place, just because my family lives near by, is Stanley Market. It is kind of a go-to tourist spot, but I have so many memories there of hanging out with my friends. I had an ice cream fight for some reason there. So it’s a mix of tourists and annoying high-schoolers doing weird things.

Now, you are in L.A. How have you made L.A. home?

You know, growing up in Asia, there’s always been this obsession with the U.S. So, I grew up watching “The O.C.” So I, 100%, thought it was like that, which it isn’t too far off, I just want to say. The hiking is very similar to Hong Kong. The nature aspect is my favorite. You have to find those small special spots. I love Griffith Park a lot, especially the trails that are off the beaten path.

Where have you been recently that impressed you with its music scene?

I recently went to Austin for SXSW and it blew me away. I do know that for SXSW everyone gathers from all different places, but even people that were just playing on the street – it made me feel so alive and excited about music. As an artist, I think it’s easy to get caught up and not realize what you are doing and when you go to a music venue or a festival like that, it really makes you appreciate that you get to do this for a living even more.

What’s your packing aesthetic?

The packing aesthetic is confused, disgruntled and distressed. But somehow it all comes together in a weird way. That may be because there’s wine involved. It’s always helpful in the packing situation. I always try to go for things that I could layer and things that I could wear over and over. I think that it’s easy to forget that you’ll have access to laundry at some point, somewhere in the world.

I recently went to Austin for SXSW and it blew me away.

Bishop Briggs

Who are you listening to when you are on the road?

We’ve got Alabama Shakes, Josier, Jack Garratt, Flume, Glass Animals, Coast Modern and, of course, the old school people like Otis Redding and the Supremes. They’re huge.

What’s your hotel ritual? You hit the hotel. What do you do first?

First, I hit up the gift shop and that’s where I get overcharged for things that I forgot while packing with wine in my system. My go-to thing is to take everything out of my bag and put everything on the bed and just sit on the bed. And, this is going to sound like I’m a 500-pound person, but I generally spend a lot of time looking at the food menu. I prepare for breakfast. I prepare for what I would want if I could order after midnight.

If you could have a travel buddy from the music world, who would it be?

I’m really lucky that I get to travel with my sister, so she is my music person. She kind of runs my life. It’s also like having my best friend as well. I know that’s not a typical music person. It’s like, I would like to travel with Janis Joplin, but would I survive? I don’t think so. I may not have made it to this interview. There are people that I would love to pick, but it’s like, would I survive it? That’s the question. I’d get amazing photos, but would I get to talk about it with you? I don’t know.

Where to Find Bishop Briggs

Twitter: @thatgirlbishop

Facebook: @thatgirlbishop

SoundCloud: @thatgirlbishop