Bright Light Bright Light

Bright Light Bright Light

 London, England, GBR
BandPopEDM

"One of synth-pop's most compelling and exciting new talents" - Sunday Times

"Imaginative and grown-up … positively ecstatic" - Q Magazine

"The boy Robyn in all but name" - NME

"A spectacular, very special album" - Popjustice

"A songwriter of extraordinary dexterity" - Sunday Times Culture

Biography

Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, can do something unusual for a man who makes dance music. He can talk about his songs. Not about how many bpm they boast, or on what equipment they were recorded (although he’ll give you that info if you insist). Rather, Rod can say what inspired every track on his remarkable, debut album, Make Me Believe In Hope. He can reveal the real-life tales behind the lyrics and describe the exact emotion he sums up with each song.

Take Disco Moment, BLBL’s recent, Radio 1-played single. On the surface, it’s infectious, euphoric electro-pop that throbs and twinkles at the same time. Listen closer and the lyrics will punch you in the stomach while your arms are aloft.  

“A disco moment is when you’re lost in having the time of your life,” explains Rod. “Like when you’re in a club with your best friends and your favourite song comes on. Musically, I wanted to capture the empowering feeling of a dance scene in a John Hughes film. But the lyrics are about watching someone else – someone you really care about – have that joyous disco moment in front of you. You’re not included, and they haven’t even noticed.”

Here’s Rod on the dreamy, sun-soaked Love Part II, co-written with Grammy-nominated producer Andy Chatterley (Kylie, Kanye, Underworld).

“I was having a confidence crisis when I went to work with Andy,” says Rod. “But he loved my music and was so enthusiastic that we finished this song in a few hours. It’s about how someone can change your life by just believing in you, which is what happened to me that day. The lyrics I made about someone convincing you to love again – because no one wants to hear a song about studio optimism.”

Broody ballad Grace is a break-up song with a twist – it is written from the point of view of the person doing the dumping. “Sad songs are never about the dumper, only the dumpee,” says Rod. “But it’s not a pleasant position to be in.”

Cry At Films was written after Rod and Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis saw a Depeche Mode gig together in New York. Del guests on guitar and vocals on a song that imagines life as a film – when it starts to go wrong, you can rewrite the scene. Feel It, about giving in to dark desires, boasts tribal techno beats and a guest gospel vocal and was inspired by Twin Peaks – Rod is an obsessive fan of the series, as is the song’s co-writer Jon Shave, who has penned hits for everyone from Jessie J and Girls Aloud to Pixie Lott and Olly Murs. The pair’s shared love of David Lynch and ‘90s dance music resulted in two other album tracks – piano house-influenced new single Waiting For The Feeling and the shimmering, midtempo Moves.

Rod’s route to the release of Make Me Believe In Hope takes in London, L.A. and the annual industry shindig that is South By South West. But it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. The story starts not in urban clubs or hip bars, but by a coal mine between two villages in south Wales. There, Rod grew up on his parents’ folk, show tunes and Abba albums. In his early teens, he discovered dance music listening to Atlantic 252 in his bedroom at night. He persuaded his parents to stop sending him to piano lessons and got out of playing flute at school. Not coincidentally, he had been given his first guitar.

Rod’s first songs were sort of folky. “I began within my means,” he explains. “The music was acoustic guitar-led, with a few beats around it. I didn’t know how to programme and I had very little equipment. I began experimenting with a loop pedal and samples and gradually got to a prototype of the music I wanted to make – melodic pop for dance floors.”

There was a spell studying English literature and creative writing at Warwick University, which Rod hated. Then he moved to London and loved it. He got geeky – setting up a studio at home to perfect his production skills. He busked the rush hour slots at Liverpool St, Tottenham Court Rd and Oxford Circus tube stations. He spent his nights at clubs. In 2009, he went to L.A. to record with producer Boom Bip.

“I’m a huge fan, so my management company sent him some of my demos,” recalls Rod. “He loved them, invited me over and we spent two weeks working on tracks. One was A New Word To Say. I’d written it as a bluesy acoustic song and Boom Bip helped me turn it in to a big, shiny electronic production. That’s when I knew I had found my sound.”

In 2010, Popjustice Hi-Fi released Love Part II as BLBL’s first official single, after Peter Robinson declared himself Rod’s biggest fan. He remixed Ellie Goulding’s Under The Sheets. Ellie loved it and invited Rod to support her on every date of her UK tour. He remixed Acapella for Kelis, then shared a stage with the singer at Gay Pride in Bristol.

BLBL took last year’s SXSW by storm. Rod’s set was declared the highlight of the opening party at the British Embassy and his BMI show got rave reviews. Between finishing the final tracks for his album, Rod remixed Gotye’s worldwide smash, Som

Discography

single - "A New Word To Say" - download only self release, April 2010, airplay BBC Radio 1

single - "Love Part II" - Popjustice HiFi, Sept 2010, sold-out 500 limited edition gatefold CD, airplay BBC Radio 1

single - "Disco Moment" - The Blue Team, August 2011, airplay BBC Radio 1, Sirius XM

album - "Make Me Believe In Hope" - The Blue Team / Aztec Records, June 2012, CD, download, limited edition vinyl, extensive national press, airplay, and selling amazingly both UK and USA