Rod Thomas was one of  the SXSW Artists that we featured in a popolio pop quiz here and sxsw show pic-olio here.  Last month he announced a name change from Rod Thomas to Bright Light Bright Light.

Get a taste of the BLBL sound with “A New Word To Say” before reading our 10Q interview with the Artist Formerly Known as Rod Thomas about his new status quo.

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1. So, why the change of name from Rod Thomas to Bright Light Bright Light? The last year or so I’ve been working hard on my production skills and live set and it’s much more layered and textured, with some shimmering synth parts weaving between more organic sounds.  I DJ and remix a lot, too, so the name change reflects the more rounded nature I guess. 

I think if you have a “firstname” “surname” identity, people often presume you’re an acoustic act, which is not what I am.  Also having a pseudonym means you can have a bit more fun, too, with the detachment from your own personal life I think.

2.  Does this mean we have to refer to you as the Artist Formerly Known as Rod Thomas? YES.   (haha, no not at all!)

3. Is this partly because there’s already a Rob Thomas out there? For publishers/labels I suppose yes.  Especially stateside.  Everyone was aware of him in the UK, but in the US he’s a multi-million selling artist, so that’s a bit of a problem.  That’s not the reason for it, but it sidesteps it.

4. Since the name is a Gremlins reference, what other 80s movies do you love and why? I absolutely love Mannequin, Gremlins 1 & 2, Splash, The Breakfast Club, Back To The Future … God there are SO MANY amazingly nostalgic/well-soundtracked films from the 80s!  Such an era for an equal number of duds and TOTAL classics.

5. And if the reference is lost on folks is that okay?  Yeah of course.  It just came into my head straight away.   It’s not DELIBERATELY a reference of Gremlins as in that I wanted to connect my music to it, so there’s no requirement for people to notice it.

6. Does this mean there will be an 80s vibe to your [new] work? For certain songs maybe.  Like I worked on “A New Word To Say” and “Disco Moment” with Boom Bip who’s famed for 80s project Neon Neon, so there’s obviously some 80s references.  But, it spans 90s references.  There are some real campfire folk influences in the album and some disco/Motown strands weaved in, too.  But, I guess, yes, there are 80s vibes in terms of strong melodies/big beats.

7. Sonically, how is Bright Light Bright Light different from Rod Thomas?  In other ways?  I don’t think Bright Light Bright Light is intended as a severing point, but it’s definitely less soft than Rod Thomas, mainly for the reasons above. 

It allows me to be seen less as a vulnerable man on his own with his songs and more as a body of music, I guess.  A collection of sounds and ideas.  I guess “he’s” shinier, more intertextual, maybe more experimental.  Even though Rod Thomas was doing that, just nobody really paid attention 😉

8. Are there any remnants of Rod Thomas left?  Some people liked him and his sound.  He did have fans, you know.  Yes, a lot is left.  The live set incorporated a lot of Bright Light Bright Light. The name stems from the sounds I create live.  Plus material-wise, I still use “Your Love Is A Tease,” “You Get Goodbyes,” and “Debris” from the Rod Thomas catalogue.   I’m glad he had fans, I’ll let him know!

9. Well, the level of success of name changes in the music industry is debatable.  Please share your thoughts on the following —

 • Prince to The Artist/The Artist Formerly Known as Prince/that Symbol and back to Prince again Kind of ridiculous, but also very interesting.  The idea of not having a recognisable name is really something quite bizarre, but intriguing.  Especially as it suggests hearing the music without attributing it to a personalit while also suggesting a personality so large it doesn’t require a specific name.

• Puff Daddy to P. Diddy to Diddy Totally pointless.

10. What shiny and new things (couldn’t resist) can fans look forward to in the future? The future brings lots of exciting stuff.  I worked with Boom Bip on two tracks I’m so very happy with and I worked with a guy called Andy Chatterley (KanYe West/Pussycat Dolls/Underworld/Unkle) on a track.  I’ve been re-working the live set for a band and have 2 weeks in New York at the end of July/beginning of August.  I’ll be writing with my friend James Yuill, and gigging a lot as well as releasing the first bit of BLBL material, too.  So, very busy, but hopefully very fun!