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Latest ReleaseView All

Enjoy Youth

Release date: 5.17.24

Label: YSKWN! / Megaforce Records

Press Releases View All

May 17, 2024

Bright Light Bright Light Drops Euphoric New Album ‘Enjoy Youth’

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April 26, 2024

Bright Light Bright Light & Grammy-Nominated Mykal Kilgore Deliver Euphoric Anthem ‘Heartslap’, Out Now

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March 15, 2024

Bright Light Bright Light Collabs With Dance Music Legend Ultra Naté On “Every Emotion”

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January 11, 2024

Bright Light Bright Light Unleashes Ferocious Kiss-Off Anthem “You Want My…” 

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Biography View

I just wanted to feel fabulous and unstoppable,” states New York-based Welsh singer, songwriter, LGBTQ+ icon and top tier pop star Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, when asked what he wanted to achieve on his excellent fifth album, Enjoy Youth. “My natural disposition is to feel bashful and reserved and I just wanted to feel fantastic. I've toured the world opening for massive people, I've achieved a ton of stuff by myself and I wanted to let myself feel proud of that.” Let's list some of those achievements shall we, while also bearing in mind this has all been done as a fully independent artist from day dot: so there have been tours with Cher, Elton John and Ellie Goulding; collaborations with the likes of Erasure, Scissor Sisters, Elton and Sam Sparro; appearances on high profile chat shows; a number 1 on the UK dance chart with 2020's Fun City album and, earlier this year, Thomas soundtracked the recent documentary, All Man: The International Male Story, fulfilling a lifelong dream. “On Enjoy Youth I want to feel in charge and in control,” he continues. “It's not about youth per se, it's about a state of mind and the power inside of yourself. A lot of us forget that we're capable of doing really amazing things.”

Enjoy Youth, which features vocal assistance from Beth Hirsch, Berri, Ultra Naté and regular collaborator the GRAMMY nominated Mykal Kilgore, is another example of Thomas' ability to turn his hand at really amazing things. Packed full of glittering electropop, 90s house and big dollops of HiNRG synthpop, it's an album that acknowledges our dystopian times and offers up an escapist alternative. “Things are pretty shit at the moment and there are times where I really feel like magic has been taken out of the world,” he says. “I wanted to remind myself that life is pretty special and just focus on the joy we do have.” It's there on the playful, future live favourite, Boys Etc, and on the album's deliciously camp opener, You Want My …, which honours both the Pet Shop Boys and George Michael, while channeling the steely spirit of Lady Gaga. Keep, meanwhile, is a slow-burn glitter bomb that recalls a more pensive Girls Aloud, while the 90s throwback of the Ultra Naté-assisted Every Emotion, sounds unlike anything Thomas has done before. Featuring production assistance from Jon Shave (Girls Aloud, Miley Cyrus), Richard X (Sugababes, Will Young), Babydaddy (Scissor Sisters, Kylie) and regular contributor Ian Masterson (Dannii, Geri), Enjoy Youth is a trip into Thomas' world, where pop is a healing balm and FUN is at the forefront.

Things started out a little differently, however. With Fun City released in the midst of a global pandemic, the usual music industry patterns went out of the window. “That album campaign felt like it didn't really happen,” explains Thomas. “Usually you're doing album cycles and you release it and you have a year of intense touring and then it's out of your system and you move on. I was in this weird limbo period where I didn't know what to do as a next record, or what I wanted to say. I felt quite lost for the last couple of years. The last few years have been deflating as an independent artist with no real support after Covid, and having lost so much momentum with live shows being taken away. I didn't know if my career was over.” It's worth reiterating that Thomas' career is completely self-funded and that he's independent in a very real sense and not in a 'started-on-a-major-label-and-then-shifted-to-being-independent-after-cementing-a-huge-fanbase' kind of independent. “The only record deal I've ever had was Popjustice putting out my first single [Love Part II in 2010] and they paid me £1 for that contract,” he laughs. “I've never been signed to a label or had an inkling of interest from labels. Every penny that I make from DJ-ing, or residual royalties, or whatever, that is my budget to make and market a record. There's nothing else. My bank account propels me from record to record.”

Working on the music for the documentary helped not only boost Thomas' confidence (and bank account, let's be frank), but also got him thinking about musical ideas while he waited for the lyrical ones to make themselves known. He also looked into his own vault of older tracks for inspiration. “Some of the songs I wrote a really long time ago and just didn't know what to do with. Like Sweetest Waste – I wrote that with Babydaddy in around 2014. Then other songs I wrote three weeks before we finished.” To help him focus, he asked Jon Shave if he had any demos he could send over from the UK (the album was mainly created remotely between New York and London) and got to work on his favourites from a folder of over a ton of musical ideas. “A couple of them I loved so I took them and rearranged them and sliced them up and made songs around them,” he says. “They made a natural joining point with the other songs I had already. It wasn't until May or June of this year that I actually felt like I had an album to release.”

The album's title is more than just a neat phrase, too. Its inspiration comes via one of Thomas' oldest friends, Janice, who he met on an AOL forum when he was 14. A year later, Janice left her home in Scotland to become an au pair in Paris, a move that stunned a sheltered Thomas growing up gay and lonely in a small mining village in Wales. “When I was 17 I went to Paris to meet her and we became best friends,” he says. “I went to stay with her in this family's wildly lavish apartment. There was a grandmother that would come and stay and one night we were sneaking out to go to a club down the back stairs and the grandmother opened the door and she was like 'where are you going?'. We told her we were going clubbing and she said 'oh enjoy … YOUTH!'. I thought it was the funniest, most fabulous, most camp thing. She was the embodiment of youth as an older person. She was so happy and vibrant.” The album is dedicated to Janice. “She really inspired me to do things with my life and not be stuck in this box, or in the expectation of what your life will be when you grow up in the middle of Wales like I did. 'Dream big' was not a sentiment that existed for me at that time. I credit Janice for making me believe I could achieve these things I dreamed of.”

The beautiful title track, which closes the album, not only tells their story but also features vocals from Janice's favourite singer, Beth Hirsch. “When I was in Paris with Janice we'd listen to Beth Hirsch all the time. We were obsessed. I became friends with Beth over the years – I interviewed her for my student paper at Warwick university – and we kept in touch. So I asked her to be on that song. I wrote it for my best friend and her favourite singer is on it.” It also means the album starts with the word “sex” (the word that immediately kicks off You Want My …) and ends with “life”, with everything in-between touched on via the album's other tracks. Snap!, for example (and yes that title is a reference), is about “finding joy again after feeling really low”, while I Don't Know What I'm Gonna Do mourns a former lover over a textured synthetic pulse that recalls Robyn.

After reflecting on gay history on his last album, Enjoy Youth turns the mirror inwards and reflects back the joy Rod Thomas is keen to share. It also charts his own musical journey via its cast of collaborators. “It is a snapshot of things that made me happy when I was growing up as a fairly lonely gay teenager. So Richard X's productions showed me how fun pop could be. Ian working with Dannii and Geri, who I loved. Jon being involved with Girls Aloud, which I didn't realise until I met him years later. Then there's Babydaddy – Scissor Sisters were a band that blew my fucking brain at University. The Scissor Sisters taught me that you could be gay and have success. They taught me that you didn't have to fail if you came out. They're the writers and producers that shaped me. Then Ultra Naté, who inspired my love of dance music. Beth Hirsch. Berri, who I was obsessed with even though she only released two singles. And Mykal Kilgore who I met even before moving to New York when Del Marquis (also of Scissor Sisters) got him to record the wild vocals on Feel It on my debut album and I’ve been in love with ever since.”

Packed with pure pop majesty, lyrical bite and undeniable melodies, it's a statement release from an artist who has done everything on their own terms. It's a big rainbow across a darkening sky. “I really hope to bring people joy,” Thomas says, with future live shows being part of that. “I had so much fun on the last UK tour, with people turning up ready to have a good time. The whole purpose of my music is that it's not just about me - when I do live shows I get local LGBTQ+ acts to open for me. I want to create community, or lead people to other artists I collaborate with. I just want people to have a great, uplifting time with the record and the shows around it.” It's a simple plan, perfectly executed.



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