Marie Kondo-mania may have taken the world by storm over the past six months, but Bishop Briggs was down with the decluttering trend long before it hit peak. “It changed my life,”said the 27 year-old singer of shedding all the extraneous stuff that no longer sparked joy. “The hardest things to throw out were pictures of exes. But you can have that in digital form, so you don’t need that clutter or energy in your home. Because I’m a Cancer, I hang on to nostalgia. But there’s no reason to keep breakup notes from high school. I’ve already turned them into songs.”
This week, the British singer-songwriter added a new one to her already expansive discography, which includes the 2016 single “River,” which jumpstarted her career. But “Champion,” which Briggs released late Tuesday evening, is as much about self-empowerment as it is about any ex-boyfriend. “I wrote it when I was at a really low point,” she explained. “As a woman, I feel that there are a lot of parts of me that I have to juggle; you have to be confident but humble, you have to be a boss, but not too much. I was feeling like I was a shell of myself in the relationship I was in and I wanted to have something that was therapeutic to sing. In this song, it’s, ‘Little did I know, I was a champion.’ I thought of the things I was most proud of as a woman. It’s a song that means a lot to me.”
“Champion” is a mix of deeply personal and wildly anthemic—you can imagine listening to it alone in your bedroom, but also hearing it at a sports arena as pump up music. And for Briggs, it is kind of exactly that. “I went through a breakup and I had to write about it,” she said. “I was grieving so much that I felt that the only thing I could do with that energy was to pour it into something creative, even if it meant showing up to a session crying. It was better than staying at home, sulking in my sadness. The most prominent thing that I felt during this breakup was that I felt so alone. I felt like no one else had gone through a breakup. I Googled, ‘How to get through a breakup,’ and it was like, take a bath and call a friend. I did that within an hour.
“The thing that I did next was listen to Amy Winehouse and Adele albums,” she continued. ” I felt so much less alone with that music. This was such a specific time frame, that the song really had to be written, and it was this verbal diarrhea—for lack of a better word—that had to happen. I wanted to get away from hiding behind my own metaphors and poetry and say it as it was. When I think of Adele and Amy Winehouse and Sam Smith, they didn’t protect who they were writing about, they didn’t protect themselves—they just told the truth. That has really been my mantra, in hindsight.”
Briggs also released a video to accompany the song’s release, an empowering “Kill Bill”-esque clip that sees the singer dressed simply, her head shaved (a decision she made to support a friend with cancer.) Fans of the singer might have noted that she recently deleted her Instagram feed, save for a few posts promoting the single. In pop-star terms, this means it’s the beginning of a new era. For Briggs, it’s about wiping the slate clean. “It is cathartic,” she said. “When you do those things as an artist, people think, ‘Oh wow, what a smart marketing thing.’ But it’s the human thing. As much as the marketing side of things excites me, it really was a decision to start new.”
Briggs will debut the song live for the first time next week on The Late Late Show with James Corden—”I mean, no pressure,” she laughed.—kicking off a big summer that includes a stop at Lollapalooza. “It’s the best crowds, the best vibes,” she said. “The last time I played, Shawn Mendes watched. Take that in. Someone told me right before I went on that he might be watching, and I thought they were being polite. Then I got tagged in all these photos of him watching. It was raining, and he stayed.”
But first, she had a birthday to celebrate—her 27th, on Thursday, the 18th. But instead of having some rager, it was going to be a moment of respite for the very busy singer. “To be totally frank, I’m still in the breakup fog,” she said. “I had a big thing planned that was going to be quote unqoute fun, and I just don’t think I’m emotionally there. So I’m going to go do a mud bath, get a facial, and play The Sims.”