A rural town near a coal mine in Wales may seem an unlikely place to find an electronic singer/songwriter. As a child, Rod Thomas, known to music connoisseurs as Bright Light Bright Light, spent weekends on his grandmother's farm and evenings absorbing music through the radio. Even at an early age, he remembers devoting nearly all his creative energy into musical interest. "I would say music isn't an escape as such, it's more of a backbone."
He doesn't dwell much on his early school years, but once he entered college, he found himself confronted with the realities of adulthood.
"In university I found myself very lost," he says. "I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be." Even more pressing than that, he faced the terrifying truth that he was gay. "It's very strange thinking you have to 'own up' to something that you haven't chosen to do."
Once out of school, Thomas immersed himself in music and took a methodical approach to the industry. He took a job at a local indie record shop, acquainted himself with the distributors and talent, and in turn, took lessons from those mentors to begin building a sound of his own. In 2006, under his real name, he produced his first track, the acoustic and wistful "Good Coat" which is a perfect example of his smooth vocals, ear for melody, and complex lyrics. Eventually his attention transitioned from acoustic to electronic. With a new sound and a fully formed idea of the musician he wanted to be, Bright Light Bright Light (a homage to one of his favorite films, Gremlins) was born.
His debut album, Make Me Believe In Hope, released last month, has already claimed the number 1 spot on indie music blog Gigwise's list of the "Top 25 Pop Artists Worth Listening" to, and a week later was named on the BBC Music Blog as one of the "Best Albums of 2012, so far..."
"Someone told me they thought the word 'hope' was negative -- that it's indicative that things aren't working at that point in time, which was never my main thought about the word, so I'm careful when I use it," he says.
While much of the lyrics on the album are about love, sadness, and want, the music doesn't play from a place of heartbreak. The album itself is independent and nostalgic, yet fresh. The themes are complex, adult, and poignant. "Grace" speaks to the gradual and calculated decision to end a relationship, while "A New Word to Say" sings about two people desperately working to make their incompatibilities fit together, and "Waiting for the Feeling" is a power-pop track about taking back control of your life.
As hope is the title focus of the album title, Thomas explains, "I try and remember to be grateful for what's happening and what I have, rather than feeling that what may come is always going to be better or more exciting."
Watch the video for "Make Me Believe In Hope" below.