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How a passionate artist turned his dreams into a musical success story

Indie music artist Bright Light Bright Light celebrates a chartbusting album, thanks to the power of love on social media.
Bright Light Bright Light

Musician, singer and DJ Rod Thomas, AKA Bright Light Bright Light is a real grafter.

When you attend one of his gigs, he is on the merch stand at the interval and at the end, he does his own social media, and his last few albums have come to be, due to crowdfunding.

And similar to queer author, Matt Cain who raised money from friends, family and strangers to publish his first novel, The Madonna of Bolton, his sales have picked up so much, he is in every chart going at the moment.

The new chart-busting album Enjoy Youth (his fifth) is his most successful yet and it features Richard X, BabyDaddy and Ultra Nate and it is an electronic queer celebration of the power of dance and pop music.

He has come a long way since his first album gained him a fan from none other than Elton John.

We caught up with Bright Light Bright Light (yep named after a line from the film Gremlins) before he comes to Manchester next week, to celebrate the success of Enjoy Youth and perform these tracks live, alongside many other fan favourites.

When and how did you get started in music?

I started writing songs aged around 13 or 14, started playing shows in Swansea when I was 17 at local nights, and carried on playing and writing through university and my first job in London working in music distribution.

I quit that with no job to go to (NOT RECOMMENDED!) and I busked on the London Underground for three years while also doing bar jobs and some temp work until I had played enough shows and recorded demos to get some interest from BBC introducing who then helped kickstart my career.

It just kept going really and I’m still going!

If you could choose three artists as your desert island playlist, who would you pick and why?

Grace Jones – I listen to her every day. An icon.

George Michael – I could never not hear his voice again, it’s perfect!

Kylie Minogue – at some point the island needs to feel like a gay bar! I love that woman so much.

What inspires you to keep on making music?

It has never crossed my mind not to.

Your new album Enjoy Youth has become a huge hit. Does success feel sweeter as an independent artist?

I definitely feels pretty amazing to have achieved this much without the money of a major label.

I’m so very grateful to the fans and friends who really took this album on and ran with it, and got it out to so many more people than I ever expected! I don’t take anything for granted as an independent artist, so every sale or stream is so appreciated. It’s felt incredible.

Why do you think it has sold so well?

I don’t know, honestly! It was really amazing to see friends on Facebook REALLY rally around the album as the week went on, and share with everyone they knew. It was quite overwhelming and very emotional.

I really hope that this reminds people the ENORMOUS power you have on social media even if you don’t have a public following. My friends and family literally shared the album on their feeds and some of their friends loved it and bought it and it worked! It was just so special.

For anyone who does not know, how did you get to work with Elton John?

He’s someone who is always championing new music. My old manager in London started working with his management company, so by proxy I was managed by them, and they had Christmas parties, so I met him briefly and he kept tabs on what I was doing. Eventually I switched from just Rod Thomas to Bright Light Bright Light and he saw the review for my first album in Q magazine and phoned me and invited me for lunch and we just became good friends and then shared music, and worked together for my second album. He just wanted to help me as he believed in what I was doing and it was absolutely magical!!

You have worked with some brilliant and under appreciated singers on some of your albums. Do you have a wish list of others that you would love to work with?

OMG yes, my wish list is like the Never-ending Story … people on the “emergency” top list of people I’d like to work with are MNEK, Kylie Minogue, Grace Jones and Alison Goldfrapp. I also love Tsatsamis, Agnes and Pet Shop Boys. Infinite choices.

I love to be able to work with – as you said – under-appreciated singers on my records. Every guest is someone personal to me, and it’s so rewarding to have people who I genuinely love and listen to on my album.

Your tour brings you to Manchester next week, what do you love most about the city?

I love the energy of the city. The creatives living in Manchester have such spark to them. I’ve always loved Manchester, from days of playing at In The City to doing shows at venues big and small through the years, it’s just such a diverse and fun place. I’m always so excited to get back!

If someone reading this has not seen you live before, what can they expect?

Fun, joyful, uplifting, dramatic, camp. Since COVID where there were practically no shows for 2 years, it’s now just so exciting to get to do shows again, and I cannot wait to be singing these new songs on stage and seeing people in the world again!

Bright Light Bright Light performs at Night and Day in Manchester on 3rd June and you can buy tickets here and you can buy the new album Enjoy Youth here.

You can buy tickets to Bright Light Bright Light’s Manchester gig by clicking here

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