“When I was trying to think of some kind of moniker,” Rod Thomas explains, “the term Bright Light Bright Light immediately came into my head out of absolutely nowhere.”
It’s a signature phrase said by the lead Gremlin Gizmo in the movie Gremlins, released in 1984, one year after Thomas was born. “I thought, ‘Oh god, I hope I find something better,'” he continues. “And I couldn’t think of anything I liked more, so I just stuck with that.”
In the past few years, recording artist and DJ/producer Thomas has generated acclaim as Bright Light Bright Light — often stylized as BrightLightx2. Elton John has become such a fan of his work, including his 2012 debut set Make Me Believe in Hope, he brought Thomas on tour as a supporting act last summer and also recorded the duet “I Wish We Were Leaving.”
“I grew up buying his records. It’s just so surreal,” Thomas says. “It’s even weirder that it’s not weird anymore, you know? We talk all the time…and bounce song ideas off each other. And then I remember who it is, and I’m like, ‘Wow.'”
The Welsh-born Thomas, now based in Brooklyn, has become even more associated with the Scissor Sisters, having worked with both Ana Matronic and Del Marquis. “They’re excellent people. They really did open a lot of doors for gay artists and gay people in mainstream pop,” Thomas says.
Thomas cites the Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and Elton John as among his influences as a gay singer-songwriter, and chances are he’ll play songs by those artists and others at Green Lantern’s Otter Crossing next Friday, Nov. 6. The scruffy, thin Thomas isn’t sure he qualifies as a gay otter (“I asked someone the other day if I was and they said ‘No,’ so I guess not”), but he’s looking forward to the party, and inspiring hirsute men to dance to songs that they know and love.
“I tend to play a mix of ’80s and ’90s club stuff,” he explains, “and pop songs that feed into that — Jam and Lewis with Madonna or Mariah Carey, and remixes by David Morales and Todd Terry. The odd anthem or two and then some songs that maybe are less…played out, but by the same artist.”
Just don’t expect to hear any of his own work. “I don’t really DJ my own stuff,” he says. Even if someone requests it? “I don’t know,” he laughs. “I just feel like such a massive twat if I play my own songs.”
Bright Light Bright Light performs Friday, Nov. 6, after 10 p.m. during the 4th anniversary of Otter Crossing at Green Lantern, 1335 Green Ct. NW. Cover is $10. Call 202-347-4533 or visit facebook.com/ottercrossing.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.
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