With her emotive voice and raw lyrics, Bishop Briggs – aka Sarah Grace McLaughlin – burst onto the scene with 2016’s ‘River’. Two years on, the singer-songwriter has released her debut album Church of Scars. The release marks a new period of maturity in which McLaughlin has found herself as an artist, a writer and, no doubt, a person. We sat down with the multifaceted musician to talk about the story behind her name, music as therapy, and what she’s got planned for the future.
What’s the story behind your recording name?
My entire family is from a town in Scotland called Bishopbriggs so it only felt right to use it as my stage name as they’ve supported me so much. Every time I introduce myself, it’s a reminder of where I came from.
What prompted you to pursue music?
It really has been a life long passion. I could really never see myself doing anything other than this because it’s the one thing that makes my soul feel alive.
As someone who writes their own music, how would you describe your process as a songwriter?
What I love so much about songwriting is that it’s constantly changing. Sometimes it starts with a sample that’s inspiring me, but generally the common theme is depressing chords on the piano or emo poetry, forever and always.
Many of your lyrics seem to be discussing darker themes like heartbreak. Is music a form of catharsis for you?
Absolutely. It’s therapy, it’s release and it’s breathing.
You’ve been praised by critics for your ability to transcend musical genres, but how would you describe your own sound? Is there a particular reason why your music incorporates so many different styles?
I grew up listening to a lot of Motown music and that led me to Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Etta James and then I was hugely influenced by Janice Joplin. So I think even just with that as my upbringing, I was destined to be influenced by a wide variety of artists when writing my own music.
What other musicians are you listening to at the moment?
Your debut album ‘Church of Scars’, picks up from the earlier releases, most notably your self-titled EP, from which you made your name. How does this album mark a new stage in your musical career?
I think it’s always a goal as an artist to have a body of work that represents a time in your life and the EP represented a time in my life and I feel so honoured and excited that I can finally say I have an album that represents this time in my life. I think my biggest takeaway when writing this album, without even realising it, was that if there’s any aspect of your life where you’re living a lie, you can’t truly be happy and I don’t think I knew that before writing this album.
What have you got planned for the future?
I have a new single called “Baby” coming out at the end of July which I’m really excited about. With its release being right around my birthday, it only felt right that this song be super honest and candid. I’ll also be on tour around Europe in September and I can’t wait for that!
Church of Scars is out now.
Jake Turney | PHOTOGRAPHER