Interview: Bright Light Bright Light

Interview with Bright Light Bright Light

Bright Light Bright Light

Introduction

Operating under the pseudonym Bright Light Bright Light, Rod Thomas just released Make Me Believe In Hope, one of our favourite pop debuts of the year so far. We caught up with the Welsh busker-turned-electro-pop hero to talk L.A. hipsters, Björk and Gremlins.

Questions and answers

OK, let’s start with the basics. How did you come up with your name?

It’s a quote from Gremlins, when Gizmo can’t stand the camera’s flash and shouts, “Bright light! Bright light!” It suggests something quite shiny and pop, and I like the repetition of it as well.

So, your debut album, Make Me Believe In Hope, is finally out. What inspired you to write this collection of songs?

People that you meet and places that you live in and how these influence parts of your personality. You might meet a person who can make you a feel a bit more optimistic about a situation, or live in a city that feels very oppressive. Things like these can affect both your mood and outlook.

It took you around three years to complete the record and, according to the lyrics, during that time you fell in love, you fell out of love...

Well, they’re not all about me. I’m more of a storyteller; I write about things that happen to friends.

Yeah, right, it’s easy to say that, so as not get exposed.

The concept behind "Love Part II", for example, had to do with me regaining confidence after meeting with producer Andy Chatterley [who has worked with Kylie Minogue and Kanye West]. He made me believe in myself again when I struggled releasing my material, but no one would relate to that, so I changed the lyrics to make it about falling in love again.

We thought you were a hopeless romantic.

Not particularly; not that hopeless. There is a very sentimental side to me and some room for a little bit of tenderness, but I try to be tougher.

Our favourite track on the album is "A New Word To Say”.

“A New Word To Say” is one of the first songs I recorded. It started off as a dirty, bluesy track, then I made a house adaptation of it and finally met with producer Boom Bip in L.A. and we came up with the disco version.

Yes, we can definitely feel the L.A. vibe in that track. Same with "Disco Moment”.

Yes, it’s all about sunshine, the beach and hanging out with hipsters.

It’s also the song that made bloggers compare you to Robyn. The track is very similar to "Dancing On My Own”.

I know, I’m the “male Robyn” (Laughs). Well, it’s really overwhelming and flattering, but I actually recorded it two years before "Dancing On My Own”. I love Robyn, she has a very consistent sound when it comes to singles and “Show Me Love” was one of the first records I bought.

How did you end up collaborating with Allison Pierce on "Debris”?

I played keyboards for a little while for The Pierces, mainly on TV shows, and she ended up living around the corner from me for a year. We started hanging out and asked her if she would like to do something together. I’m a huge fan of their latest album.

And how about Del Marquis from the Scissor Sisters?

I was in New York for two weeks in 2009, listened to his solo stuff and dropped him an e-mail. We ended up going to a Depeche Mode gig together, stayed in touch and asked I him to provide the lead guitar and backing vocals on "Cry At Films”. But ultimately we said “F*ck it, let’s make it a duet; there aren’t many male duets out there.”

Your sound is heavily influenced by 90s dance music like Alison Limerick, Livin’ Joy and Crystal Waters. Do you get annoyed when you see artists from seemingly irrelevant genres penetrating your territory?

I think you can tell when an artist is making music that they’re genuinely interested in. You can smell it a mile away when they want to jump on a bandwagon and those ones don’t last very long.

Who has influenced you over the years?

People with really strong identities like David Bowie, Kate Bush, Björk, Depeche Mode, Joni Mitchell, Chet Baker, Magnetic Fields, some show tunes and anything with a really strong melody too. And then visual things like David Lynch and Tim Burton.

We knew you were a Björk fan. When we first listened to "Immature” we thought of Vespertine.

Spot on! "Immature” is my favourite track off the album and it shares some elements from the Vespertine era. The song is about not taking yourself too seriously. You can get so caught up with making music, but it is supposed to be fun and it does not really matter if you make it to number one or number one thousand. If you’re happy with it and some people like it, then mission accomplished. So, this song is about getting perspective.

We’re sure Bjork feels the same way as far as charts are concerned.

Well, I listen to Vespertine all the time and Homogenic is incredible, but the Debut years are so good. “Crying” is one of my favorite songs. She forgets how good she is at making pop music.

That criticism has been leveled at the Queen of Pop too...

There are some brilliant songs on MDNA like “I'm Addicted”, but I really don’t like the singles. It’s quite a smart album , but they marketed it to make it seem like a dumb pop album.

Lastly, please share some of your favorite releases from the past few months.

Confess by Twin Shadow, Feel It Break by Austra and the latest from Veronica Falls and Active Child.