At first listen, you might think Bright Light Bright Light
is a project by some young house DJ, crafting disco-influenced remixes and remasters of obscure Elton John songs. And while Elton John does appear in Bright Light Bright Light projects, you'll notice the lead vocals are not quite Elton John himself. The voice is a little younger, a little fresher, probably a little higher, with its own nuances and character. That voice is Rod Thomas, the Welsh singer/songwriter who performs as solo act Bright Light Bright Light. The act crafts electronic pop music with bold dance and disco components, but don't mistake it for just any generic pop talent. Thomas seems to fit in with a long line of songwriting goliaths - Elton, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury - known for layering larger-than-life styles over a core of pure passion for the song itself.
Thomas came from Wales and an upbringing in which he says being a famous musician didn't seem achievable. When his career did start to gain traction, he had actually moved to London not for the purpose of making music full-time but instead to be a music publicist. Since being realized and building an audience, Thomas has gained the admiration of Elton John as well as glam-disco-pop legends the Scissor Sisters. Bright Light Bright Light's 2016 album Choreography
is full of featured appearances by this cast of royalty, as well as a somewhat surprising appearance by actor Alan Cumming. Choreography
is a massive celebration, drawing on musical and visual sources to craft a complete portrait of Thomas and his inspirations. You can even find a track-by-track description of which visual sources - namely dance routines from iconic 80s and 90s films - inspired Choreography
on the Bright Light Bright Light website
. If you share Thomas' passion for those iconic film aesthetics, his eager explanations should make you giddy as you listen to the sounds of Choreography
Musically, Thomas talent is versatile and strong, with a presence that wont lose you even in the midst of a deafening, crowded dance floor. His powerful voice spouts lyrics full of emotion, ranging from lust to ecstasy to heartache and hitting everything in between. Bright Light Bright Light brings just the right amount of stereotypical disco-dance flashbacks - the cascading horns of "All in the Name," lead track on Choreography
, seem to give a sly nod to the ubiquity of the Village Peoples "Y.M.C.A." The energy doesn't let up in Thomas songs, even in more tame and somber takes. At the height of this energy, euphoric cries often come before beat drops that rival some of todays catchiest EDM-pop creations. Thomas is a one-man dance party who brings his famous friends to join in the festivities. And they're not the friends who drink all your liquor and trash your place, they're the classy ones with their own musical flair. Everyone is here to have a good time on a Bright Light Bright Light record.
Thomas is certainly cutting his own path, acting as his own record label, manager, publisher, and even booking agent until last year. He runs the label Self Raising Records to keep the experience personal and self-controlled. This level of independence goes hand in hand with Thomas knack for loud and vibrant individuality. And the do it yourself approach means that when Bright Light Bright Light does blow up, and it will blow up, Thomas will know it was his work alone that got him there. Few artists with such dynamic sounds are able to keep themselves entirely independent and build a thriving career. Chance the Rapper comes to mind as a parallel for Thomas, obviously musically disparate but similar in approach. There's a joyful, passionate energy that oozes from Thomas in all that he's doing, and were excited to see where it takes him in years to come.
Bright Light Bright Light recently visited Baeble HQ for a Baeble NEXT session, playing three songs and telling us about his start, his creative relationships, and the incredible privilege of playing music for a living. With one old standard and two cuts from Choreography
, Thomas cut the energy and flair of Bright Light Bright Light to its core in session. Its just him and his piano, quite a different take from the electronic complexity of Thomas studio music. The session will be out next week on Baeble. In the meantime, get familiar with Choreography
and its vibrancy above and look forward to what's next from Bright Light Bright Light. A new EP, Cinematography
, which consists of covers of songs that inspired Choreography
, will be out November 25th. A cover of the classic "Maniac" is out now on Spotify, listen below.