Bright Light Bright Light is the moniker of Welsh born, London/New York based, Rod Thomas who released his debut album Make Me Believe In Hope in 2012 and followed up with 2014’s Life is Easy. The later garnered rave reviews from the likes of Billboard and The Guardian who described him as “completely irresistible”.
When he’s not recording or touring with the likes of Elton John he is usually remixing other artists, creating brilliant song mashups or throwing dance parties around NYC. Most recently he has been DJing a monthly Romy and Michele themed afternoon tea dance in Bushwick at C’Mon Everybody. So on an unusually warm, for December, Saturday afternoon we grabbed our giant notebook and went along to check out the Christmas edition while also having a quick chat with the DJ himself, Bright Light Bright Light.
Play Too Much: Aside from your obvious love of the movie, tell us how this monthly party came together?
Bright Light Bright Light: One of the things I love about living in New York (as opposed to London, say) is the number of daytime parties that happen. I love Occupy The Disco, and Scissor Sundays, dancing to great music in the daytime. But I couldn’t think of any that happen on a Saturday regularly, so I thought I’d start one. And because I talk about the movie all the time, I was talking about my idea with friends, and when they asked what I’d call it I joked “Romy & Michele’s Saturday Afternoon Tea Dance” … and then really liked that idea!
PTM: Obsessed with the button badges and post it notes everywhere. How much does the movie influence the music you play?
BLBL: It influences the music in as much as I want it to be really fun and be a place where I play songs that mean something to me, or to the people who come. Like how they’re listening to “Footloose” in the car because it reminds them of youth and they love singing it even though they don’t know the words. But it’s music from Billie Holliday and Chet Baker to Eurythmics to Björk to Carly Rae Jepson, Blur and Chemical Brothers. It’s not a nostalgia trip, per se, just a place to play records that aren’t all hits, and aren’t all well known, so you might find a few new favorites too.
PTM: We love that these monthly events are all about the music and a celebration of pop/dance/disco and some rarities . Normally DJs in Brooklyn don’t encourage song requests but you guys have a post it wall to take requests, how do you balance curating the sound and taking requests?
BLBL: I try to play music that’s inclusive, and lets people have a really great Saturday afternoon, so I think naturally a request or two is part of that. I don’t try to interrupt the flow too much with a request that doesn’t fit, but I pick my favorite ones and try to build up to them. Most people who come to the party are on the same page and almost all the requests so far have been really brilliant, and really fun suggestions!
PTM: Recent pieces in Paper Magazine and Time out NY are claiming a resurgence in the NY Club scene especially in Brooklyn, your event is very different than the norm (day time, no cover, no promoter) which we love. Did that come out of you wanting to create your own events/nights versus what was going on around the city?
BLBL: Like I said earlier, it came out of wanting to do something on a Saturday day time, as opposed to Saturday night, or Sunday daytime, as I still want to be able to go to the Sunday parties I love! But I also wanted to create an event which wasn’t tied to one genre of music, or wasn’t a “90s night” like Finally that I DJ at Nowhere Bar, or a “pop party” or “dance party” because I love the calm moments just as much, like Bette Midler and Chet Baker in the same 5 hour set as Pointer Sisters and Disclosure. I like the freedom of it, and think it teases out some really unexpected song choices.
PTM: When you are not DJing or touring what nightlife/DJs do you like to catch around the city?
BLBL: I LOVE the Spank and Xanadude parties, I love JD’s Scissor Sundays, Occupy The Disco, but I also love just seeing friends at Julius or Metropolitan and seeing what comes on on the jukebox, or who happens to be DJing that night. I go to a few live shows too. Naturally, as a musician!
PTM: You just finished up a big tour and promotion of your album this year, are you back in the studio writing new stuff and if so when can we expect to hear it?
BLBL: I am indeed. It’s been really nice having a little break from the road – both to do these parties and to be back in the studio. Next summer there will be a new album.
PTM: Ok have to ask, favorite song from the movie and your favorite christmas/holiday song?
BLBL: From the movie, “Time After Time” is very hard to beat, although the Naked Eyes’ version of “Always Something There To Remind Me” is so amazing. Favourite Holiday song … The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” for an upbeat number, and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” equally by Mel Torme and Tori Amos.
One thing’s for sure Bright Light Bright Light has a love of all things pop regardless of decade and did not disappoint in busting out some christmas classics, along with some rarely played but memorable songs like Roxette’s “Joyride” or Jade’s “Don’t Walk Away”. While this musical trip down memory lane may not necessarily impress all the “cool kids” he knows how to throw a joy filled dance party that appeals to everyone, and I mean isn’t that what Christmas parties are all about?
You can check out the next Romy and Michele’s Afternoon Tea Dance the second of Saturday in January.