The New York-based singer has unveiled the fabulous video for new song It’s Alright, It’s OK – a collaboration with Caveboy. We caught up with him for a chat about new album Fun City.
If you’re not familiar with Bright Light, Bright Light – aka Rod Thomas, the charming Welsh-born, New York-based singer – where have you been? It may be a bold statement, but he’s one of the most well-connected members of New York’s LGBTQ+ scene.
Having toured with Cher and Elton John, he’s about to release a new album, Fun City, which features effortlessly cool collaborations with Scissor Sister Jake Shears, Erasure’s Andy Bell, Mark Gatiss and Sam Sparro, amongst many others.
It’s an impressive achievement for an entirely independent artist with no major label backing.
Today we’re excited to exclusively reveal the video for new song It’s Alright, It’s OK, a collaboration with Canadian pop outfit Caveboy. The video stars Glow Job, a gender fluid drag performer and activist based in New York, originally from Honduras.
As well as exploring self-expression, gender expression and identity, the video plays with the reality of drag life in lockdown, where Glow gets all dressed up to be herself, but instead of going out, her rooftop and her home become her stage.
You can see the video right here:
It’s pretty neat huh? It’s Alright, It’s OK follows on from the videos for I Used To Be Cool and This Was My House, both lifted from the new album and released over the summer. If you haven’t caught those two videos we’d recommend checking them out, they’re good fun.
It’s Alright, It’s OK features on new album Fun City, which is released on September 18th. We’ve been given a sneak preview and it’s absolutely full of bops – a massive celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, with a heavy slant on intersectionality, it’s a big, fizzing pop feast of queerness. The album explores the ways in which marginalised people stay strong, focused and creative through times of social and political hardships – frankly, it couldn’t be more timely.
We had a catch up with Bright Light, Bright Light recently about Fun City and the videos and, as we’ve come to expect, Rod was an absolute delight.
Your new album Fun City is out September 18th – in a nutshell, what can fans expect from it?
It’s kind of like a fairground of songs about the LGBTQ+ world. You have your thrill rollercoaster-style rides (Sensation), your Haunted House (This Was My House), your Waltzer (It’s Alright, It’s OK), your candy floss stand (I Used To Be Cool) and then at the end some more introspective songs like Saying Goodbye Is Exhausting, or Next To You, filled with all the LGBTQ+ guests on the record as the friends you take each ride with.
It feels like more of an overtly political record than your previous work – you’ve described it as “pop with purpose”. What is the key theme?
LGBTQ+ life is the theme. I wanted to make a record that shows our community, all its highs and lows, successes and losses. With all the uprising of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, xenophobia and rolling back of rights, I thought it was important to make a record as a statement that everybody deserves to feel safe, valued and heard.
What music is inspiring you at the moment?
I really love Caveboy, who feature on the album, as well as Shea Diamond and Bronze Avery as my new musical discoveries. MNEK is one of the best songwriters in the UK and his show in NYC last year was an absolute triumph. Also Cavern Of Anti-Matter’s soundtrack to the British horror film In Fabric (it’s so camp and such a blast) is my favourite soundtrack of the last few years.
We love Sensation, your new song with Jake Shears – we can’t wait to bop to it on a night out when that sort of thing is allowed again. How did the collaboration come about?
Oh Jake and I have been really good friends since I opened for Scissor Sisters back in 2012! He’s such a hero to me. When Scissor Sisters took over the music world with their debut album, they totally changed the landscape for queer musicians. There was no way I was going to make an album without him on, so I asked him to sing on the most euphoric, uplifting track because his voice fills me with so much happiness and hope. He’s such a star.
We saw the video for I Used To Be Cool and I guess we’re now all pregnant. Congratulations are in order! What was the inspiration for the video?
Finally I am a daddy! The inspiration for the video was to play around with old 80s American references like Desperately Seeking Susan, Fast Times At Ridgmont High, some old The Cars/Billy Idol videos and take a dip into the more exclusive gay male world that I don’t belong in, and be silly, delusional and decadent for a minute. There’s a type of wealthy gay man who has the house on Fire Island, or the upstate retreat, and I wanted to have fun with that. To be clear, it’s not portraying this as aspirational, but it’s toying with the idea of fantasy and delusion which I’ve definitely had growing up as a gay man from the valleys, and longing for that classically handsome man who’s way out of your league. But Christian is a total sweetheart! Three of us are foreigners living in the US so we had fun feeling part of the 80s American Dream for a minute!
We don’t want to give too many spoilers away about the new album, but we also adore Good At Goodbyes, your song with Erasure’s Andy Bell. It’s got some great lyrics. What inspired it?
I was sent the backing track to write the vocal part to by a songwriting team in the US, initially to pitch for someone else, but I thought it was so campy and dreamy, I ran with it and loved it so much I wanted to keep it. I imagined myself as a kind of spurned lover, sat on a lilo drinking a Martini thinking longingly about my old lover. Kind of like Shirley Valentine meets Wham!, with a lover that you know you should, but you really don’t want to close the door on. The instrumental really made me think of The Birdcage, of ABBA, of lots of faded glamour, so I wrote a song as a sentimental moment for the record that also you can have one too many gins and dance along to.
2020’s been a strange one and we’ve all experienced it differently. Our readers will be pretty clued up on the UK situation – how are things on the ground in the USA?
Horrific, honestly. Between the Administration’s denial and then politicising of scientific information about COVID, to rolling back LGBTQ+ and, in particular, trans rights, to pushing for children to return to unsafe schools, to the inflamed racism and racial divide, it’s pretty horrific. It’s really hard to explain how the police system, and political system operate here, it’s so different to the UK, but learning first hand has been wild, to say the least. On the flipside, there has been a huge surge of kindness, activism and community strengthening among the good-hearted people across the country, and people are finally starting to pay attention to the world outside themselves, but the super right-wing people are also getting more wild, so the country feels very divided. It’s an extremely tense time. I feel for people back home though, as I feel the UK government are absolutely appalling and people like Michael Gove, Priti Patel and the living disgrace that is Nigel Farage have done nothing but demonstrate that it’s very possible to be born without a soul.
The current situation must make traditional promo opportunities a bit tricky. What plans do you have over the coming months for your new music?
It’s taken away a lot of what I was planning to do. We had a few Pride festivals booked, and I’d been planning for over a year to work with local LGBTQ+ talent and charities across the UK and US to bring the album’s world to life, but, there we go. It’ll be mostly online, which isn’t hugely rewarding for anyone involved, but it’s the best I can do right now. I still do weekly online DJ sets on my Twitch channel where people can make song requests, so it’s building a nice community. The album is about inclusion and community, so everything I can do to nurture that – with no physical spaces open – I’ll be trying out!
You opened for Cher on her recent tour, which you’ve described as amazing and also the gayest thing you’ve ever done – quite the accolade! Do you have a fun story you can share or any backstage gossip?
Ha! Definitely the gayest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve toured with Elton, Erasure and Scissor Sisters! Cher was so friendly, super sweet and looked about 20 years younger than me. Honestly we weren’t hanging out – the headline act almost never is on the same schedule as the opening act – but her whole team were totally fab and made us feel like part of the family. The last show we did was our biggest – and her biggest – ever audience: 30,000 people in Stockholm! I remember someone backstage saying that Cher was nervous and I thought, fuck me, if this global superstar can be nervous, I guess it never really goes away does it! Needless to say, she put on the show of her life as if it was nothing. What a legend!
Fun City by Bright Light, Bright Light is released on 18th September. Preorder on Apple Music here.