Meet Irish-born, Spanish-raised and London-based multifaceted artist Biig Piig. Her shape shifting vocals glide across smooth hip-hop inspired beats, and echo over harrowing soundscapes that sound right out of a rave - she is a true creative force to be reckoned with.
Photography by Oli Spencer
Written by Oli Spencer
The name Biig Piig came from a drunken accident, one of those nights where anything and everything is funny. It soon turned from a hilarious nickname to a SoundCloud handle, where Jess began uploading music anonymously. “It just kind of stuck” she laughs. “I feel like as a name it doesn’t put me under any kind of pressure with it, do you know what I mean, you can be a bit messy”.
Through multiple one off singles, a couple of EPs and projects, as well as being a part of the misfit collective NiNE8 - Biig Piig has made it very clear that her sonic palette is a bold and diverse one. You never quite know what you’re going to get, and in the best way possible. Ranging from the upbeat track ‘Feels Right’, to the atmospheric and explorative sounds of her 2021 EP ‘The Sky Is Bleeding’, and one of our favourites - the more minimalistic, rainy afternoon jams from the ‘Big Fan of the Sesh’ EP released in 2018. Her first release of the year is the almost sinister sounding, rave infused ‘FUN’, which explores the back and forth of being stuck in a toxic relationship.
We caught up with Biig Piig while she was in town for her Elemental Nights headline show, and spoke to the shapeshifting talent about the power of the NiNE8 Collective, the process behind her latest single ‘FUN’, and how music has changed her life.
How did the name Biig Piig come about?
So, it was kind of a drunken accident... It was me and a friend that went out one night and we got a takeaway menu for a pizza place nearby. Got back home, and you know when you’re just delirious and think everything is funny? like ah that pizza is called Biig Piig, and then we kind of gave each other nicknames - he was Louis Vuitton and I was Biig Piig… and then it just kind of stuck because I wanted to release stuff on SoundCloud, and I wanted to be anonymous originally. So I was like I’ll put it under Biig Piig so no one knows it’s me, with a different icon on my profile picture. It just kind of stuck. I feel like as a name it doesn’t put me under any kind of pressure with it, do you know what I mean, you can be a bit messy.
Where did you grow up?
They’re all really different to be honest. Ireland was the first place I lived in which I went back to, it was kind of a small town, everyone knows each other’s business, it was really intense. Just like tracksuits everywhere, and if you wore anything else people were like what the fuck is she doing? And then Spain was a lot of beaches, really just a beautiful childhood there. Yeah that was intense as well, a lot of tourists there but also a lot of locals… so it was kind of like this clash between worlds that went on there. Then back to Ireland, we moved to this little village called Arbour and that was on the coast, there’s a population of like 3,000 people… so small. We then moved to London, which was just incredible and a lot to take in at that age as well. You could be yourself and have your identity and no one’s gonna question you for it and it’s sick.
It’s crazy that you started in this small town and now you’re about to play a show here in NZ tonight.
It’s mad, it’s crazy. I don’t really stop and think about it, cause if I do I’ll just break down. But it’s like incredible, especially with certain tracks, listening back to them and really realising the power of what music has done for my mental health, it brings you out of a hole and brings you into a room full of love rather than horrible darkness. It’s super rewarding, sometimes you’re like oh shit!
"I think everything feels a little more vibrant, like it’s got a bit more meaning to it. I feel like there’s so much I’m experiencing in life in general, how much I’m moving around, the people I’m meeting, the places that I’m seeing - I think that’s really inspiring at the minute."
Do you remember the first music you sort of had to yourself? An artist you loved that hadn't been influenced by anyone else
Ben Harper, which is really random. He’s this American fella that’s like soul, some folky kind of stuff as well. He just had these lyrics and these songs that I remember I found when I went back to London. I downloaded a few of his songs onto my Mp3 player, I just used to play him on repeat through everything, he got me through so much and there were things he was describing about relationships and romance, but in my life those lyrics had a relation to a different thing that was going on. It made me feel less alone and more understood and that’s really when I was like oh yeah. I just love him.
You’re a part of NiNE8 - what do you think is so powerful about a collective?
I think the thing with music and everything is that community is so important. I think that the support that we give each other as well as how much that safe space matters - especially when you find each other at that age, 16 and 17 or so when you’re trying to figure everything out, or you’re trying to work out how to process things and get your voice heard. To be in a room full of people the same age and be able to express freely without any fear of judgement is such a rare thing and when you find it, you hold onto it for dear life.
Has being a part of that taught you anything about yourself as a solo artist?
I feel like every musical influence, a lot of it comes from us sharing music with each other and like opening each other up to different ways of working. I think we’ve all learnt loads; I’ve definitely learnt a lot.
I’d love to talk about ‘FUN’ - how did that track come about?
So me and Zach Nahome who is a producer based in West London, I’ve worked with him for a few years now. He's always the person that’s like there is no fuckin’ rules, just go and see what happens. It would always be like we’d go in and make something, and it would be a snippet of a song that will turn into something completely different, and put in a completely different place. For example with that track, it was originally a different song and we started to sample it - and I was talking about the lyrics in it and I was like, it’s about a toxic relationship, when things are anxious and bitter but you’re also stuck in the cycle of it and it’s hard, but it also feels like this trauma bonding that you end up having with a partner that’s really dangerous. It kind of fit into the anxiety of that fast paced nature of the song. Yeah, it all came together in that way. I definitely didn’t go in thinking that would be the end result.
If you could pick a texture to describe that song, what would you pick?
The first thing that came to mind was like a deep, dark purple lavender, but a silky one that almost looks silver. It’s the kind that looks inviting but if you touch it it will cut you - that kind of thing!
What’s the most out of the way you’ve gone to achieve a certain sound?
Basically, whenever we go in I’m not a person to assume what we’re going to make. I never bring lyrics in or melodies in or have an idea like “right I wanna make this kind of genre today” - it’s more like we get in and have a jam and the song kind of takes its own lead and decides what it wants to be. I think it’s also a big credit to the producers that I work with on the beats, they also have influence… going in with JD. Reid for example, I know that I’m gonna go into a world that’s got those funky guitar lines, and it might not be a funk-heavy song, but it’s still got that influence.
What’s inspiring you outside of music right now?
Geez, I don’t know… life? I think everything feels a little more vibrant, like it’s got a bit more meaning to it. I feel like there’s so much I’m experiencing in life in general, how much I’m moving around, the people I’m meeting, the places that I’m seeing - I think that’s really inspiring at the minute.