LA-based, Japan-raised Brit Bishop Briggs will have you at hello. From the first note, the vocal powerhouse renders the listener an instant convert. While her soulful pop recalls a younger Adele, she operates in a genre entirely of her own creation, reminiscent of Motown's finest in the late 60s. It also doesn't hurt that she is cool as hell. As one of PAPER's Beautiful People, Bishop tells us about hitting delete on self-doubt and why Oprah is her hero.
When (and where) are you most creative?
When I'm miserable. Just kidding…But seriously. I think it's so important to use pain as fuel when it comes to being creative. And even if that means honing in on moments that only hurt you in little ways – I think they're hugely impactful when it comes to writing. As far as where, that's been changing so much lately because I've been on tour so I've definitely been taking advantage of the Voice Memos and Notes apps on my phone. I'm also a sucker for a vintage piano if I find one – no matter where I am, that always sparks so much creativity within me.
How did you get your start?
My parents were huge music lovers so for as long as I can remember, they were playing Motown music in my living room. I was also really fortunate that I grew up in Japan — the mecca of Karaoke bars. That was where I first saw my dad singing Frank Sinatra — there was this light in his eyes and I immediately wanted a piece of it.
What are you working on right now? Can you describe any current projects or activities?
I've been writing every single day. I think it's really important to write things that are currently happening in your life and as a lover of music, that's what I find most interesting. I'm hoping to release new music very soon and I'm touring with alt-J and Bleachers this fall, which is surreal.
What is success to you?
Do critics matter?
I'm my own biggest critic so I would say, yes, they do matter. There's something about being your own biggest critic that pushes you and that self-reflection will undoubtedly help you grow.
Obviously you've seen success in your career but can you tell us about a time you failed?
Failure is inevitable and the word has such a weight to it but failure can come in really small forms, every single day, and I would be lying if I didn't have several moments a day I felt as though I failed. I think the best perspective I can have is to allow those moments of failure to come over me like a wave and take the lessons I can from them.
Do you think about legacy?
I don't. I think it's important to be present and in the moment. I think if you think about legacy too much, it becomes more about the ego than the art.
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into your industry?
Know your worth. It's unfortunately very easy to let the dream be bigger than your voice in whatever room you enter (and that's metaphorically or physically). No matter how desperate I was for the dream, I always tried to have a standard for the people that I worked with and the respect that I believed I deserved.
Did you ever give up (or want to give up)? What were the circumstances?
I think whenever you enter a field where the main fuel is your own passion, it's so important that you wake up every single morning and really delete whatever trauma or pain or self-doubt you had the previous day. You have to know all of those things are ultimately what you're going to write about one day.
What trends in your field do you find most exciting / are you most optimistic about? What about your field is frustrating? What would you like to see change?
I love that currently artists have the ability to create anywhere, anytime and anything they want to and can release it at any point that they want. There's something so exciting about the idea that we are limitless as a generation. Something that I'd like to change is ensuring that people are being properly compensated for the work, energy and time they put into the music that they are putting out.
How do you plan to build on your success so far? Is there anything you fear will set you back?
I think it's always important to go back to the beginning and focus in on what you were doing before this couple of years happened. For me, I was in a little room, writing, speaking my truth and recording. Nobody knew about me and there was this purity to that. And I think there's such purity when it comes to writing from that mental space because you don't imagine anyone will hear the music that you're writing so I always try to go back to that mindset. As far as feeling fearful of set backs, I do think that's inevitable but the minute I decided to pursue this from a really young age, I knew that the only way that I'd be able to feel like my soul was fulfilled was by being fearless.
What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career"?
It's interesting — I think this question kind of goes along with the 'success' one because is the first thing you think of money? Feeling most free? Or feeling as though you were authentic to yourself? One of the first moments for me was when my song, 'Wild Horses', got placed in an Acura commercial. Although I was performing every single night in Los Angeles, my day job was a fulltime babysitter to a 2 year old. Needless to say, the commercial changed my life — I had the ability to quit my job and focus on music full time.
What's been the biggest choice you've had to make in your career so far?
It would have to be moving to LA to pursue music the minute I graduated high school. It wasn't very common to pursue a career in music in Hong Kong, but I knew it was a risk I had to take, whether or not it paid off.
What is your morning routine like?
I really try and write first thing every morning. I go in and out of phases where I have extreme amounts of coffee, and then no coffee at all, but right now, I have a cup of coffee and eat an acai bowl for breakfast. I'm generally wearing an oversized hoodie and under eye facemasks. If we had more time, I would launch into my entire skin routine but lets just say it involves a lot of masks.
What are you most excited about for the future?
I just can't wait to release more music and play more shows and really have that connection with the people in front of me. That's where I think the magic is.
What are you most worried about for the future?
How much time do you have?
Are you good at giving advice? What is the best advice you've ever given?
In my group of friends, I am known as the therapist because I love giving advice and it's my secret goal to live my life as Oprah does. The best words of wisdom I've ever passed on are from a Maya Angelou quote - "When someone shows you who they are, believe them".
Are you good at receiving advice? What is the best advice you've ever received?
I love getting advice. I'm a big reader too so I love getting advice not only from my friends but people who I pretend are my friends in books. The best piece of advice I've ever been given was from my Mum and that was to 'treat people how you wish to be treated'.
What makes a person beautiful? What makes you beautiful?
Vulnerability. I know beauty is subjective so it's hard to know exactly what someone would find beautiful about me, but I know that I feel most beautiful when I'm talking about music.
What are you most proud of?
I'm proud that we're in a time where different is cool again.
Check out the rest of our Beautiful People here.
Photography by Jabari Jacobs