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Introducing: Bright Light Bright Light

06 September 2010, 13:00 | Written by Jen Long

I’m not going to lie, Rod Thomas, the pop genius behind Bright Light Bright Light is one of my best friends. When The Line of Best Fit asked if I could interview him I was sat in his car getting a lift to work. And it’s not that I’m trying to name drop, but it’s quite obvious we’re mates in the course of this interview.

I first hung out with Rod properly when I went to interview him at the Cardiff Barfly for BBC Introducing in Wales. On my way there I got pushed off my bicycle by some young thugs and turned up at the venue covered in mud, bruises and tears. Rod gave me a hug and a beer and we’ve been friends ever since. I’ve watched over the past couple of years as his music has changed, become more complex, sophisticated, and pop.

So, Mr. Rod Thomas, tell me a bit about Bright Light Bright Light.
Bright Light Bright Light is a project that I started when I learnt to programme a lot better than I used to be able to do. I’ve always loved pop music and dance music so I wanted to make music that was more reflective of my personality and what I like doing when I go out in my spare time and other music that I was listening to.

So I ended up working with Boom Bip and then the stuff I did there was like the template for Bright Light Bright Light and then I made myself work a lot harder creating the sound and then it ended up as this ridiculous pop project, which is quite fun.

How did the collaboration with Boom Bip come about?
I just emailed him! My old manager, Sarah, emailed his manager and just said ‘Rod really likes Boom Bip, can he work with him?’ and he emailed back and said ‘Boom Bip really likes Rod’s stuff so yes.’ And I was just like, OH MY FUCKING GOD.

I literally was shitting myself because I love his stuff, I love Neon Neon and then I went out to LA to work with him. So I was really terrified and then turned up and we got on really, really well and ended up working together really well, which is amazing.

You’re like Mr. Collaboration. You’ve collaborated with so many people now. Give us the Rod Thomas star list.
I’ve worked with Boom Bip. I’ve worked with James Yuill. I’ve worked with Louis La Roche, Sound of Arrows, Roseanna, Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis, and Ian Masterson who produced Danni Minogue and Andy Chatterley who produced Kylie. Oh, and Jen Long!

The Del collaboration you did is the b-side to your new single, and Roseanna is the first release on the label. So, tell us a bit about the new label.
The new label’s wicked. I emailed Popjustice a couple of months ago when I put out a free download single and then we ended up meeting up and chatting about the single.

They’ve got their own little imprint with Virgin and the team are amazing, they’re all really fantastic people. Everyone working there is hilarious, really lovely, really excited and really interested in music. It’s really exciting to be part of and it’s really, really fun.

That’s so cool. And your stage show’s completely changed now.
Yeh, it’s a lot more dancefloor and it’s got a drummer and loads of samples. I’m trying to make it a bit more visual. My ultimate aim in the next few months is to build it up and make it much more like a visual experience that people can interact with and get really excited about.

The thing I like best about you is that you do put a lot of thought into every single detail. It’s not just going to play a gig; it’s the drummer, it’s the lights, the visuals. Is that something you think is important?
It’s definitely really important. Think about when you were thirteen or fourteen going to watch bands and how amazing it was and just what it was like to watch them for the first time and I want people to be excited to come and see us.

My favourite example of Rod Thomas thinking through every single detail is how you once told me you no longer buy clothes from H&M or Topman or something in case someone in the crowd is wearing the same item.
I always used to turn up and I’d be wearing something I liked from Topman or something and like four people in front of me were wearing the same thing and I was like… OH.

It’s bad enough walking past them in street but when you’re on stage and they’re right in front of you it’s just like, oh dear.

I like it. It makes me feel like I’m in a team. In the future, do you think that you and Chris (drums) could have costumes?
Could be very cool. I’d have to have a think about it. Something quite extreme. Hi-vis! Loads of hi-vis! Can you imagine? I love hi-vis tabards, they’re so funny.

So you’ve done the album now?
Yes. There’s one or two tracks I’m still working on but the skeleton of it is pretty much there.

You talked the other day about a video for each song. Is that happening?
I wanted to do a video for each track on the album, not just as a visual thing but to work with new directors and people who’ve got really exciting ideas and I’ve found a couple of people who’ve got really wicked takes on the tracks I’ve done and they’re really talented but they haven’t done much stuff before and they’re trying to expand their roster and CV.

If you’ve got a favourite album track, there’s probably never gonna be a video made for that, it’s just singles that get videos commissioned. So I thought it’d be quite cool if you have your favourite track on the album and you want to show people it and tell people about it you’ve got something that can accompany it.

That’s such a good idea. Whenever I listen to albums I always make up videos for the songs in my head.
Me too, yeah.

That’s probably why we’re friends.

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