Q&A with hot new British dance artist, Bright Light, Bright Light

Bright Light, Bright Light Photo: Christa Holka

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Do you go by Bright Light, Bright Light, Rod Thomas or both? How did the name come about??

BLBL: Well Rod to my friends! Musically now, Bright Light Bright Light. It’s a quote from Gremlins, one of my favourite films. I wanted to find a moniker that suggested something shiny and pop, that would tie together all the strands of music I do : production, remixing, DJing. So that when someone sees the name, they’d be able to take a stab at the kind of music, as the production stems from my musical tastes, which I tend to DJ out, and my remix sound is linked to my production.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: If we researched your earlier works, you had a different sound, almost folk. What was the choice to go in the dance music direction?

BLBL: I wanted to have more fun! I wanted to push myself and see how much I could improve my production skills, as I had lots of ideas, so I worked hard at not simply working within my means as I did with my folkier stuff, but invest in new equipment, learn new techniques and think outside the box a little.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Your music on the new album, “Make Me Believe in Hope” is very soulful yet carries thoughtful lyrics and driving dance beats. It reminds me of some of my favorite artists like Lisa Stansfield, Rick Astley and Cathy Dennis. Do you feel there’s a void of this type of music currently out there?

BLBL: I don’t know – maybe? There’s a lot of 90s throwback stuff happening, for example Calvin Harris has really channelled the 90s dance sound, but maybe you’re right that there’s not a lot of that 80s/90s soul-dance combo. Which is what I tried to do with Cry At Films. Driving beats but with heart. I’d like to hear artists song more about actual things than “going to the club” which bores me to tears.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: What is it that was so special and unique about 90’s dance music?

BLBL: Huge, huge vocal toplines. Corona, Black Box, Livin Joy, Bizarre Inc … they all had such distinctive vocals, and whether they were stolen from old records, or session singers with models miming, they all had these unforgettable vocals that were so arresting on a dancefloor. I loved how tongue in cheek a lot of the music was. And how much fun there was in music with lots of very kitsch bands, gaudy colours, but lots of energy. I feel like a lot of stuff now is very well produces, but there’s sometimes not enough human in it.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Who were some of your favorite 90’s dance recording artists that inspire you?

BLBL: I love Bjork, and all her 90s output to bits. Livin Joy, Eternal, Dubstar, Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Behaviour’ album and Ace of Base were the things I listened to obsessively from that time. But I was a HUGE indie kid, so Elastica, Sleeper, Kenickie and Tori Amos (particularly her ‘Boys For Pele’ and ‘From The Choirgirl Hotel’ albums) were on constant loop when I was growing up.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: On your new album, your lyrics take us through the many stages of love from falling in love, yearning for a new love and the breakup. Are most of your lyrics based on your experiences in and out of love?

BLBL: Some are, but some are about things that have happened to friends, for example ‘Grace’ and ‘Moves’. ‘Immature’ is actually nothing to do with love. It’s about checking yourself when it’s easy to become too focused on one thing and forget the simple things in life. ‘Feel It’ is more about desire than love. So it’s more about connections as a whole. Love is a strong connection, but then the variants of it like friendship, lust and hate are all powerful connections between people and places.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Even though you’re a fan of 90’s dance music, are you happy to be coming onto the scene now in 2012 as an openly Gay artist , and do you think it’s less of a big deal to be a gay recording artist,  like it may have been 10-20 years ago?

BLBL: I can’t really imagine what it was like being openly gay in the music business 10-20 years ago. Although really, even in the 90s there was accepted homosexuality, like Skin from Skunk Anansie having a girlfriend. I guess today it’s less of an issue, depending on what music you make. It’s probably ASSUMED if you’re a male making pop you’re gay isn’t it? Which is probably just as destructive. For me, I’ve had no particular hurdle due to my sexuality. But I don’t want it to be a huge part of my music, it’s one part of a number of things that make up who I am.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: I’ve seen videos of your live show and you play keyboards and your voice is just as strong, or stronger than the original recording. Do you think there’s a void of dance music by artists that can truly sing?

BLBL: (Thanks) I don’t know about that. I guess what makes performing dance music live harder these days is the number of effects that get put on the voice on a dance track for certain types of track. Obviously, you sing those live without the effects, and even if the delivery is perfect it sounds wrong. I don’t think there are any vocalists as powerful as, say, Martha Wash, or whoever sang the Corona tracks, but I’m not sure about a void. Kelis and Robyn can definitely sing live for example.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: I take it by the title of your album and your lyrics you’re a romantic and optimist? Single, attached or looking??

BLBL: I like to think I’m an optimist!! But then hope is double edged – it’s optimistic, but it’s also a little sad, like you have to hold out hope as things aren’t great, so it’s also quite a fragile state. I’m single, yes, as you might be able to deduce from the record! Haha.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Will you be touring in the States for this album?

BLBL: I really, really hope so. I’ve had a blast every time I’ve played in the States, and there are SO many places I have never been.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Besides playing your own solo shows, if you could open for any superstar out their right now, who would it be?

BLBL: Kelis, Depeche Mode or Scissor Sisters.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: Madonna or Gaga??

BLBL: Madonna.

PROGRESSIVE PULSE: What’s your favorite way to keep in touch with your fans: Facebook, Twitter, other?

BLBL: Twitter’s pretty cool. I like how concise it is. Facebook is way too intrusive.

Get Bright Light, Bright Light’s “MAKE ME BELIEVE IN HOPE” Make Me Believe in Hope - Bright Light Bright Light Now streaming tracks from album on our MUSIC page!