Bright Light Bright Light's Rod Thomas grew up in a small town in Wales. That he can now count Elton John, Alan Cumming, and the lads of Scissor Sisters as friends is quite remarkable. Thomas is an only child and while he spent his childhood locked away in his room discovering instruments, a career on stage didn't seem possible. Instead he pursued a career in PR and made his music on the side, playing shows when he could. Throughout the years, those shows have grown much, much bigger.
Thomas recently visited us at Baeble bringing three songs from his latest album, Choreography. It's a bright and bold explosion of 80s-inspired dance music. "For Choreography I wanted it to be like a big, pop kind of celebration," Thomas told us. "So I wanted to get some of my best musician friends on the record. And it just so happens that some of them are super famous." Hence why all the aformentioned artists appear on his record.
In session though, Choreography is a hard sound to replicate. So Thomas took things in a completely different direction, showcasing his oh so impressive vox over some beautiful piano. It's a stunning presentation of three songs from the album. In between cuts we talked to Thomas about his background, his unlikely success, and what it all means to him. "Being able to play music for a living is just wild because I never thought I'd be able to do that. I never thought I'd be able to sustain that," Thomas admitted. "So each day is a reminder that 'oh, if everything goes tits up' I've done something right." Indeed he has.
Bright Light Bright Light. You left lines all over my heart I trace them with my fingers as I'm laying in the dark I grew up in Wales, which for my American friends is part of the UK, it's not part of England. So when I was growing up, I'm actually an only child, so I had a lot of time after school to sort of retreat into my own mind and I started playing instruments. I just really liked it, so I just kept doing it and learning to play lots of different instruments. I played an open mic night when I was 17 or 16, and played my songs, my own songs to people where it was just like terrifying. And yeah, just kind of kept going until eventually some of the songs weren't dreadful. You figured it out, the trick to the game You made the fires bloom and got me so drawn to the flames that I changed It's true, midnight and you, you're the same You come to me once a day And every time that I ask you why, you say 'cause you know just what it takes Just what it takes You say you know just what it takes So when the night falls and my mind drifts into space and I know that I'm dreaming Even that can't take away your hand from my shoulder You found a way to keep me running back to you, to keep me running back to you You figured it out didn't you? I felt you re-write the rules I felt every inch of the flames burn your name It's true, the oceans and me, we're the same. We both come in waves, but you You learned how to sail these blues until they welcome you and you say you know just what it takes So when the night falls and my mind drifts into space and I know that I'm dreaming Even that can't take away your hand from my shoulder You find a way to keep me running back to you, to keep me running back to you When I'm at my limit when I'm at the point where I might say Gotta pull my heart out, I need to keep some space Gotta keep some distance You find a way to keep me running back to you You work me hard in the days till I forget a world without you You found a way to work that heartbreak feeling to keep me running back to you to keep me running back to you So when the night falls and my mind drifts into space and I know that I'm dreaming Even that can't take away your hand from my shoulder You find a way to keep me running back to you to keep me running back to you When I'm at my limit when I'm at the point where I might say Gotta pull my heart out, I need to keep some space Gotta keep some distance You find a way to keep me running back to you To keep me running back to you - Where I'm from, I think being a professional musician isn't really that common, so it wasn't something I ever thought was acheivable, so I always thought I'd be doing that alongside other work. When I was in school and then in college, my dream was to be a music publicist. So I wanted to move to London and promote bands, and doing music press was always really cool because I just loved discovering new bands and listening to music when I was a kid. So I just thought I could do that and then I'd play my songs on the side and no one would ever really care. But they did, kinda, so I kept going and now I get to do it full time. On a good day I can see forever I can take my time and get to know who you are It's a mystery, it's never in the stars It's in your blood, tears and heart And there must be a good reason these things take time Love is only a season in the year of your mind And I'd like to think that I'm honest It's better for your health but well sometimes I fool myself The symmetry of two hearts is never easy I never know where to start but I really try Even if we're two parts of one puzzle I still, I still wish we were one And in the mornings I tend to find myself Overthinking Worried that someone else might not remember the little words I say Oh what a waste of time and a waste of space When one mind can only hold on to so much: A kiss, a moment, or a touch And there must be a good reason that some people forget Instead I just remind myself that That the symmetry of two hearts is never easy I never know where to start but I really try Even if we're two parts of one puzzle I still, still wish we were one One kiss and the ice might melt, remember One word and the world might fall at your feet Because one dream can be shared by more than one mind, but they're just so hard to find The symmetry of two hearts is never easy I never know where to start but I really try Even if we're two parts of one puzzle I still, I still wish we were one I still wish we were one I still wish we were one I still wish we were one - So for choreography, I wanted it to be like a big pop kind of celebration. So I wanted to get my best musician friends on the record, and it just so happens that some of them are super famous. So there's Elton John, who did sing on my last record as well and I toured the world with him for a year, which was just the most mind-blowing thing in the whole universe to me. I never thought I'd get to do something like that. But he's been amazing, he's been like a mentor and a friend and he's just the biggest music fan, so he's always looking for new musicians, always checking out new releases, and really took me under his wing and gave me such a platform to meet new people and meet different audiences. It's really useful when you're doing any kind of creative job to have somebody give you some kind of advice, direction, or source of confidence, so I'm very lucky that I know a lot of people who are very successful in that field, but they're also not the kind of people who had everything given to them. They worked really, really hard to get where they've been and done it largely through their own kind of graft. I'm my own record label, I'm my own manager, my own publisher, and I was my own booking agent up until last year. So they've been able to give me a really good idea of what I need to think about, and that's been completely invaluable. Life is easy, sitting in New York Streets are loud so I never have to talk Days are long so there's time to forget Lift my eyes to the beautiful sunset Keep my distance except when I want to Feel the colour of what I learned about As a boy in the glow of a screen Set on leaving to make my life the dream Fill my mouth with the language of others Paint my skin with the shade of my lovers Hide the cracks with the smiles that they see Learn to be strong, and learn to be free And I know that to your eyes it seems like I'm alone I know that where you are I feel too far from home And I know I spend these days too far for you to share But somewhere over the water all my dreams are still in your care Every year as we crawl to December Count down the days till you think I remember Where I am from, and the life that you gave me If only you knew you were wrong 'Cos it's in the music, the words I've been singing It's the colour that never washes out It's the beat in this heart you've been missing It's the taste of the things you're wishing for Though my mouth moves in different directions And my skin knows another's touch by now All the cracks are as plain to see But I learn to be strong and learn to be free And I know that to your eyes it seems like I'm alone I know that where you are I feel too far from home And I know I spend these days too far for you to share But somewhere over the water all my dreams are still in your care Life is good out here in New York I miss my friends, I miss the rain But I catch a glimpse of you there in the rear view Hear you laugh in the words that I say I hope that you're okay I hope that there's colour in all your days And when I look out to the sea I hope that you're strong and I hope that you're free And I know that to your eyes it seems like I'm alone I know that where you are I feel too far from home And I know I spend these days too far for you to share But somewhere over the water all my dreams are in your care And I know that to your mind it seems like I'm alone I know that where you are I feel too far from home And I know I spend these days too far for you to share But somewhere over the water all my dreams are still in your care Life is easy over the water Life is easy over the water Life is easy - "In Your Care," the last song, that's from the last album "Life Is Easy" and it's a song I wrote about moving to New York. So it's a really special track for me. I love living in the city, I think the people in New York are incredible and the energy of the city is incredible, but it's also kind of bittersweet because it means I'm very far from my family. So the song is about how you end up in a place that makes you feel great but ends up making you miss a lot of what did make you feel great about back home. So the distance between my family and my old life and also the kind of joy of having a new life. Being able to play music for a living is just wild, because I never thought I'd be able to that. I never thought I'd be able to sustain that, so it's like each day is a reminder that like, "Oh, if everything goes tits up, I've done something right. " For a while. Over the water... Life is easy over the water Life is easy
Bright Light Bright Light is the moniker of Welsh born, London/New York based Rod Thomas whose albums to date 'Make Me Believe In Hope' (2012) and UK & US charting 'Life Is Easy' (2014) have won fans of critics and artists alike.
Rod went on tour opening for Ellie Goulding, Erasure and Scissor Sisters on their sold-out UK tour. Pet Shop Boys themselves praised his cover of 'West End Girls recorded with Scissor Sister Ana Matronic for US charity Hetrick-Martin. Other Sister Del Marquis brought him into his solo project Slow Knights as key songwriter and vocalist in the live shows. And, unbelievably to Rod, Elton John loved his work so much he joined Rod on duet 'I Wish We Were Leaving which features on second album 'Life Is Easy, and signed him up as the support act for his world tour 2014 to 2015 for 55 live dates .
As a remixer, his Kelis, Ellie Goulding, Erasure, VV Brown mixes and his series of bootlegs have hit blogs and clubs. He made DJ mixes for Ministry Of Sound, Butt Magazine, fashion brands and magazines, DJd at Glastonbury, Bestival, Festival no.6, numerous Pride events, and runs successful London 90s clubnight 'Another Night' and NYC Tea Dance 'Romy & Michele's Saturday Afternoon Tea Dance'.
'Choreography', his third album release, ups the game even more as alongside Sir Elton John, it has a cast of Alan Cumming, all Scissor Sisters members (Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, Del Marquis & Babydaddy) and The Wiz Live star Mykal Kilgore. The album is a big, bold pop record inspired by his love of cinema, dancing and classic songwriting. He created the album's visuals in collaboration with Steven Hoggett - award winning choreographer for Once, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time & Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - in a series of videos, the first of which is for lead single 'All In The Name'.
'All In The Name', the lead single features all guests on the record and launches a bright and colourful record with an impressive Graham Norton live performance debut. With songs inspired by Mannequin, Flashdance, Alien: Resurrection and Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, 'Choreography' is the most true reflection of Rod's personality and love of popular culture, presented in 12 songs.