Bright Light Bright Light
Article by: Blake Boldt | Photos courtesy of BLBL | Posted: 07/18/2012
Bright Light Bright Light is the stage name of Welshman Rod Thomas, a multi-hyphenate performer who leads a daring new generation of international pop artists. That moniker, derived from a quote in the film Gremlins, reflects on his cheerily optimistic demeanor. In recent weeks, he's had plenty of reason to smile. After a series of well-received singles and mixes, his talents have coalesced with the release of his latest album, Make Me Believe in Hope. It's an eclectic showcase that expands on the potential he showed with his 2006 LP, Until Something Fits.
Bright Light Bright Light, who now lives in London, pumped up the beats with Hope after that acoustic debut. He shuffles through a variety of styles --electronic, mainstream pop, Euro dance, house music -- without seeming to break a sweat. Early influences including Pet Shop Boys and Erasure stoked his motivation to make an album filled with "great melodies, great beats and great hooks." Not content to merely mimic his idols, he felt the need to develop a diverse repertoire. "Musically, I think the album was quite experimental and playful in terms of rhythm and melody," he says.
While contemplating Hope, Bright Light Bright Light steadily built a devoted audience as a club DJ. During regular gigs at a rotating list of London hot-spots, he felt a special kinship with the patrons and found inspiration in the energetic frenzy. "[Those nights] have definitely made me more confident," he says. "DJing is a very, very fun part of what I do. It gets me into clubs where I hear songs I may have forgotten about or not even discovered yet, so it opened up my ears to a lot of great songs, and it also made me feel part of a community."
Recorded on indie label Aztec, Hope lacked the financial backing of a major corporation. Freed from the usual industry constraints, Bright Light Bright Light was able to align himself with the team of his choosing. As he embarked on the rigorous recording process, he felt more secure working with industry veterans who were looking out for his best interests. "Well, on a crude level, there's less marketing budget [on an indie label]," he says, "so you know the record isn't going to hit number one. But the whole process was more organic for it. I was able to really handpick my team -- the press people, the collaborators, not just musically but also visual collaborators, the distributor, the radio plugger -- and it feels like a family."
With firm determination and a batch of fiendishly clever songs, Bright Light Bright Light now moves forward into the North American market. As a relatively unknown entity on this side of the Atlantic, he's slowly assembled the tools to turn him into a multimedia icon. In filming videos for many of the 11 tracks on Hope, he took cues from some of the most renowned creators in the film and television industry. "I think I started thinking in a more visual way when I started writing songs," he says. "I started to think not just about the sonic textures, but also about the colors, the shadows and light, and the tones that people like David Lynch, Wes Anderson or Tim Burton might use to tease out the character of a body of work, or a scene in a film."
Befitting his hands-on approach to recording the album, Bright Light Bright Light let the contents of his personal life spill out into his songs. Even in such a public forum, he wasn't shy about exploring those often messy emotions. "I noticed with a friend that there was a lot of talk about pressure, release and love," he says. "I'm not sure that's particularly resonant with me! They're not all about me; some songs are about what happened to friends. I think more than just loss or sadness, the songs are really about addressing the point where things need to change."
Bright Light Bright Light - "Waiting For The Feeling"