Bright Light Bright Light’s Rod Thomas is showing off his DJ skills at the Eagle this evening. Making the most of his visit to Seattle, he is opening for Elton John tomorrow and performing at Neumos on Monday with Hercules & Love Affair. Get tickets to Neumos here.
Earle Dutton: How did you meet Elton John?
Rod Thomas: It happened a long time ago. I was managed by his management company, Rocket Music. We met briefly early on. When my first album came out, he rang me to say that he saw the reviews and like the music. We started to meet up for lunches and talk about music. We realized we had a lot in common and became friends over the next couple of years. So as the friendship grew we decided to do some work together. We ended up do a song together and it was kind of amazing.
ED: Who were your musical influences growing up?
RT: Kate Bush, Björk, David Bowie, Elton John obviously, Pet Shop Boy, Depeche Mode, Erasure. Lots of people in that synth pop sort of category. Kate Bush, Björk and David Bowie all had really strong identities. They all tried lots of different guises and styles but you always knew it was them. I thought that was kind of inspiring. I liked that they could have a character could change but be very uniquely them.
ED: People love to label everything and put it in little boxes. As an artist, how would you describe your music?
RT: (Laughter) I guess it is sort of nostalgic electronic pop music. It has inklings of eras that I really enjoyed. It reminds me of a lot of the music I discovered in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It is all from a very human place. It is about emotions, families and relationships with other people but it is kind of thrust into a dance floor world. I wanted it to have a lot of energy and rhythmic textures. I wanted something that connects with people’s bodies and their minds. You can move around to it. It is not really morose but it is not vapid.
ED: What was it like to be signed to Rocket Music so early in your career?
RT: Kind of daunting, I suppose. It is very surreal when you never expect something like that to happen to you. I come from middle of nowhere in Wales and it is very remote and distant from that sort of world. Growing up all those people were very distant and just people on the television or radio. They didn’t seem real. London wasn’t even a real place to me then, let alone New York and America. It is quite odd to be connected to someone that you heard actively and passively on every sort of media. It was quite unreal. Then it becomes reality and you realize actually everyone making music is just people. You sort of reassess everything and it changes your outlook a little bit.
ED: How did you settle on the name Bright Light Bright Light?
RT: Well, Gremlins is one of my favorite movies. Just by chance then an old manager of mine was talking with me about what I wanted to be called. I suggested a moniker. Bright Light Bright Light immediately popped into my mind. I don’t know why. I kept thinking there must be something better and I spent months trying to think of something different. I was never able to come up with anything. I thought it suggested something shiny and pop and even dance floor friendly. I liked the repetition and thought it sounded quite strong. It also had the hint of the 80’s and 90’s that is in the music.
ED: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
RT: Kate Bush! I think she has one of the most heart-breaking voices I have ever heard. I would love to do some kind of vocal duet with her. I would love to sing on a Röyksopp track. I would love to tour with Depeche Mode. I think they are one of my favorite bands. I can’t believe how good they are and how extensive their catalog is.
ED: Is there a message you would like send out to LGBTQ youth?
RT: Yes, I think it is very difficult to see outside the walls of youth. When you are in school, anything that happens at school seems like the end of the world. When you are able to see outside of that tiny little part of your life you realize that anything is possible. The moment you give up is when you have lost. You need to believe in yourself and have faith that things will be fine. It is very hard to phrase and give good advice because you realize how it sounded to you at that time in your life. It is very tricky.