BRIGHT LIGHTS, BRIGHT LIGHTS

He’s the gay man sin­gle­hand­edly rein­vent­ing shiny pop with a lit­tle help from his pal El­ton John. Meet Bright Light, Bright Light (not his real name!)

DNA Magazine - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view by Marc An­drews.

DNA: There’s a trend in pop for new artists to rad­i­cally re­name them­selves. Was this the think­ing be­hind Bright Light Bright Light?

BLBL: I just think Rod Thomas sounds so bor­ing [laughs]. When you cre­ate some­thing there’s so much to play with – sound, im­agery, video, cre­ative – why not do some­thing fun with the name as well? Re­ally, if peo­ple see some­one show up on a blog or charts or what­ever, it’s easy to as­sume it’s a per­son with gui­tar or pi­ano and po­ten­tially a lit­tle in­tro­verted. The aim for my mu­sic was to steer away from that. I thought a name would tie in all the pro­duc­tion, writ­ing, DJing, remix­ing and stylis­tics.

Why go dou­ble the Bright Light?

It’s a quote from the movie Grem­lins.

You’re quite pro­lific. What’s the re­lease plan for 2017 look­ing like?

[ Adopts Sandra Bern­hard voice] Oh honey, you can’t even imag­ine! Al­ways work­ing, al­ways cre­at­ing. I have the first month or two at home with­out tour­ing, so I’m look­ing for­ward to mak­ing some new ma­te­rial. I’ll be work­ing

Chore­og­ra­phy as an al­bum for a while, tour­ing and get­ting ev­ery­where I can, but there will be some new songs to add to the mix.

You’ve gar­nered a lot of at­ten­tion from the gay press. Have you courted it in­ten­tion­ally?

Ob­vi­ously my pub­li­cist pitches to gay press but the or­ganic reach to gay press has been re­ally lovely, par­tic­u­larly abroad. It’s been cool to see who’s read about the mu­sic from other sites or peo­ple, and how the mu­sic has found its way to an au­di­ence. Ref­er­enc­ing Era­sure, Kate Bush, El­ton John and Björk as my in­flu­ences, there was bound to be some gay con­nec­tion as au­di­ences go, but it’s been so bril­liant.

Where are you on the spec­trum of sex­u­al­ity?

I don’t of­ten think about it, but I guess I’m just a plain old, young, gay man.

El­ton John has been a big sup­porter of yours. How did you meet?

We met through his man­age­ment com­pany back in 2008 at an event. He’s been so, so good to me. I went to see him play a show in Philadel­phia when I was in NYC shortly af­ter we met and we hung out and chat­ted. A year later I left the man­age­ment com­pany but he kept his eye on what I was up to. He called me when he heard my first record and liked it and we quickly be­came good friends. He’s been en­cour­ag­ing in a world where the in­dus­try wasn’t look­ing to sup­port some­one like me. His sup­port was a god­send. I’ve never met a big­ger mu­sic fan and that’s the most en­cour­ag­ing as­pect of him – that his pas­sion for mu­sic has never faded. He took me on tour and I played 55 shows with him, and ob­vi­ously that helped im­mea­sur­ably with find­ing a big­ger au­di­ence and sell­ing records. That was so in­cred­i­ble.

He ap­pears reg­u­larly on your records. You man­age to keep twist­ing his arm?

Yeah, I have no idea [laughs]. He loves mak­ing mu­sic. He loves to col­lab­o­rate, as you can tell from his ca­reer, and as we’re good friends it makes sense to work to­gether. I just think, okay,

would El­ton like this song? I send things to him and if he likes the track he says yes. It’s mind­blow­ing to me.

Has El­ton given you any spe­cific men­tor­ing notes about sur­viv­ing the in­dus­try?

Yes. To keep fo­cused, keep level-headed and have fun. I look at his ca­reer and there’s al­ways so much hu­mour and joy in the vi­su­als that ac­com­pany the mu­sic. He’s been hav­ing a blast the whole time. It’s in­spir­ing.

Is it easy to fall into the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll life­style of a pop star?

If you find that kind of life­style ro­man­tic, I sup­pose so. I have zero in­ter­est in drugs and hav­ing sex with ev­ery man around the cor­ner. I feel most happy when I’m with friends or mak­ing mu­sic and feel­ing cre­ative so, for me, that kind of life has very lit­tle ap­peal. There have been plenty of times when peo­ple have made me feel su­per bor­ing for be­ing like that but, hon­estly, I want to make mu­sic un­til I die. If I party end­lessly I’ll have no voice. If I piss away my money on drugs and drink and go­ing crazy, I can’t af­ford to make mu­sic. I find wast­ing tal­ent and money so fuck­ing bor­ing. I’d rather be thought of as some kind of re­served Vic­to­rian and ac­tu­ally get to record, travel and have a bril­liant time than be a party an­i­mal and wake up next year with no money, voice or fu­ture.

Were you bul­lied at school?

There were a few lit­tle things but I was fine. I was pretty lucky.

Who were your mu­si­cal idols when you were grow­ing up?

Peo­ple with strong iden­ti­ties who were very clearly iden­ti­fi­able no mat­ter what they did: Björk, El­ton, Grace Jones, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Pet Shop Boys, Era­sure and Ge­orge Michael. They are the peo­ple who helped me dream big and in­spired me to look a bit harder at the world and see what magic was just over the hill.

Who’s your diva?

It’s a very close tie be­tween Mariah Carey and Bette Mi­dler. I love them both so much. Prob­a­bly Bette’s The Divine Miss M is my most lis­tened to diva record, but Mariah makes me so happy. I’ve been to her Christ­mas show the last two years and she’s so in tune with all the diva ridicu­lous­ness that makes her fans happy. She’s su­per smart and re­ally fun. But Bette’s story, her ca­reer, her voice… I mean, so f law­less. I was watch­ing an old video of her bath­house

The pop star life­style? I have zero in­ter­est in drugs and hav­ing sex with ev­ery man around the cor­ner.

per­for­mances the other day and it’s just so magic.

When did you re­alise you wanted to be a full­time pop star?

When some­one told me I never could be.

What kind of day jobs did you give up to pur­sue your dream?

I worked at a mu­sic com­pany that dis­trib­utes lots of in­de­pen­dent record la­bels for two years at an ex­cit­ing time in mu­sic. I learned so much from them. That’s how I knew how to run a la­bel and re­lease my own mu­sic. They dis­trib­ute my records now, so it’s been a lovely full cir­cle. Oh, also bar work and some crappy temp jobs. We’ve all done those.

Are you cur­rently ro­man­ti­cally at­tached?

No.

What do you look for in a part­ner?

Funny and fun, in­ter­est­ing and in­ter­ested, did not vote for Trump.

What do you con­sider you best at­tributes and your most beau­ti­ful flaws?

I think I’m pretty funny, mostly, and I have a great record col­lec­tion. My most beau­ti­ful po­ten­tial f law would be my love of ’90s pop cul­ture. But I’m will­ing to broaden my hori­zons [laughs].

Im­por­tant DNA ques­tion: speedos, board shorts or nude at the beach?

What the fuck are board shorts? I’m gonna say those so I sound like I know the lingo.

Have you had many gay stalker fans?

Um­m­m­m­mmm… not as such.

That doesn’t sound very con­vinc­ing.

There have been one or two peo­ple who have been bor­der­line in­tru­sive, but mainly on­line and you can shut that off if you need to.

What causes are close to your heart?

I be­came an am­bas­sador for Lo­cal Giv­ing in 2015. It’s a char­ity that helps small, lo­cal char­i­ties. They’re amaz­ing, and I worry that peo­ple aren’t aware of char­i­ties that aren’t the main ones. Ob­vi­ously, El­ton John AIDS Foun­da­tion, Het­rick-Martin (NYC LGBTQ Youth) and so many of the amaz­ing AIDS/LGBT char­i­ties who work tire­lessly. I’m al­ways blown away by how gen­er­ous peo­ple can be. I try to do what I can to help.

What’s your best move on the dance floor?

I couldn’t even say… it’s just all in the mo­ment, isn’t it? Cue, no idea, to­tally on the f ly.

We hear you also love a show tune.

God, I love mu­si­cals. My par­ents took me to see shows all the time grow­ing up – you know when your lo­cal theatre has pro­duc­tions. Lit­tle

Shop Of Hor­rors was my favourite and that re­ally in­flu­enced my fix­a­tion on sto­ry­telling in my songs. I love that there’s real nar­ra­tive in short­ness, and the drama and the over-the-top emo­tions get me ev­ery time.

What’s your mes­sage to the read­ers of DNA?

Dream big. Go out and live your best lives. I come from a small coal min­ing val­ley in Wales where noth­ing hap­pened and peo­ple told me I’d never get any­where in the mu­sic in­dus­try. I worked su­per hard and dreamed huge and now I work with El­ton John and have a Billboard hit al­bum with no la­bel help. If I can do it, you can do it. Go for it!

Bright Light Bright Light: “I’m just a plain old, young, gay man.”

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