bill bodkin interviews the Uk electro pop artist…
The world of dance music doesn’t get a good rep these days. When you think of the genre you’re brain immediately conjure up an audio assault of the unwielding “wub wub wub” of dubstep or the sweaty, popped collar, fist pumping inducing bass of house music.
Rarely do we think of highly emotional and thoughtful lyrics or tastefully constructed beats. However, when you push play on Rod Thomas AKA Bright Light Bright Light’s debut album Make Me Believe in Hope — that’s exactly what you get. The British mixmaster and dance artist provides an intelligently fun and emotional record of marvelously produced electro-pop. It’s a delightful breath of danceable fresh air, that reminds you just what good pop and dance music can be.
Recently Pop-Break caught up with Bright Light Bright Light as he gets prepared to embark on a brief US tour in New York City at Eastern Bloc on August 1 and Pianos on August 2.
Pop-Break: I’ve read that when your write your songs you often write about your friends’ lives and what they’re going through — like you’re watching what’s going in their lives and writing a story based on what you think it must feel like. This is a pretty unique approach as a lot of songwriters seem to base their songs on their own experiences. Why take this route of songwriting instead of a more personal and introspective approach?
Rod Thomas: Who wants to hear 11 songs about one person! Seriously though, I think I’m more of a storyteller than a diary keeper. I’m really interested in how people connect with each other and with their surroundings, so I guess it’s just second nature to me to take in what’s happening to people I know and find lyrical inspiration in it. I don’t want to hear a whole record from my perspective so I can’t imagine anyone else does too! I wanted to make a record that had a little of a number of different perspectives so it shows a few angles on a situation.
PB: Which song do you feel was the personal that you wrote for this record and why?
RT: “Immature” is the only song really that was directly for me. I think when you do something captive – and unstructured – like music full time, it’s easy to get caught up in it and lose grounding, so I wrote it as a “keep yourself in check” note. It was the final song written for the record, so for me it it a direct note to myself and it’s the one in happiest with I think as its not about love in any shape or form, just about a person and how they see themselves in relation to the space around them.
PB: Can you talk about how you come up with the beats and music for your songs? Do you work on songs on the piano or guitar first then move over to the computer or does it vary from song to song?
RT: It is completely dependent on the song. For example, Grace started with the guitar notes, then the drums, then the rest. “Cry” at films started with piano, “Disco Moment” started with the kick drum and synth arpeggiated line, and “Debris” was improvised. As I went along I learned more about production and so that started to creep into the initial stage of songwriting, but I tend to get ideas for new songs in all sorts of random ways!
PB: You’ve worked with the white hot Ellie Goulding in the past, remixing “Under the Sheets”. How did you come to work with her and what do you think about her current success in the pop scene? Do you think someone who performs her style of music can have a lasting impact?
RT: I think she’s tapped into a very real fan base who love her very much, which I’m so pleased about i think she’s great. I did the remix because I’d had an operation, couldn’t leave the house, and loved the song so it was something to do, then I sent it to someone I knew working at her label and it ended up flying around the Internet. I think she works extremely hard, and has a huge talent so I’m really happy she is doing so well.
PB: This might seem like a silly question, but which is harder — creating your own song from scratch or remixing someone else’s work and why?
RT: It depends on the song you have to remix, but generally it’s a little easier to remix as you have a starting point. What gets exhausting sometimes when you’re a songwriter is finding point A as you often write when you have time, rather than when you have ideas. So if you’re given a vocal line for a remix, you have your point A. Saying that, when the mood takes you, starting from scratch is so exciting … So it’s not a clear cut easier / harder.
PB: You’re based out of the UK and will be touring in the US soon, has the reception to your sound differed in these two countries?
RT: I’ve had an amazing response from US fans I must say. I get a lot of messages from fans in the states who are so so loyal and it gives me an awful lot of hope for the future. The uk has been so much fun, but I really can’t wait to be able to tour the US properly. I think maybe there are more electronic pop people in the uk, so I think I’m regarded more as a “something new” in the US, especially as I toured a lot solo under my own name in the UK before starting Bright Light Bright Light.
PB: You mentioned you’re a big Ace of Base fan — if you had to only listen to one song by them for the rest of time — which would it be and why?
RT: Oh God … “Dancer In A Daydream.” It’s amazing. Super-cool production and I love the lyrics.
PB: Speaking of fandom, I read you’re a big fan of David Lynch films. So here’s a hypothetical question — if you could go back in time and score any of his works both from film and television — which would it be and why?
RT: Now, I’m a huge, HUGE Twin Peaks fan, but I don’t think I could do anything more perfect than what he and Badalamenti achieved, so maybe I’ll say Mulholland Drive. I love the cast, I love the feel and the look, I love everything about that film.
PB: What are your plans for 2012?
RT: Touring, writing, probably a remix here and there… Listening to lots of records as I travel, spending more than I should on records as ever, a new single and djing a lot. Busy and fun.