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Name: Rod Thomas
Location: Brooklyn, New York
In the last few years Rod Thomas AKA Bright Light Bright Light has released two critically acclaimed albums, won fans across the world including some of his favorite artists like Pet Shop Boys, Scissor Sisters and Elton John, with whom he collaborated on a duet for his sophomore record. Born in the South Wales, Rod now lives in Brooklyn when not on tour.
What are you most proud of?
I'm very proud of my ability to pun on the spot. It catches people off guard sometimes and when people hear some of my songs they perhaps think I'm a little more serious than I really am.
What was the best gift you’ve ever received, and who was it from?
I went on a date with someone a long time ago, and we ended up listening to record at my place. He left the city the next day, so I didn't know when we'd next see each other. A week later I got an Annie Lennox mask postcard in my mailbox, where he'd seen it in a flea market in Paris and Google map searched where we were to find my address because he remembered that record's artwork in my apartment. A lot of thought went into that and it really blew me away. We're still good friends.
When traveling, what do you never leave home without?
My notebook. A lot of my inspiration for lyrics and melodies come when I'm not in my studio, so I have my notebook to write down ideas wherever I am and draw out little melodies on paper. Ideas always come when I least expect them!
Where is your all-time favorite travel destination?
Honestly, New York. That's super boring as that's where I live, but I love the city so much. There's so much to discover, and as I saw it in so many of my favourite films growing up, I really can't believe I am living here. Everything from the architecture to the culture, but especially the people, make me so happy on a daily basis.
What is your favorite neighborhood in New York?
I really love Crown Heights where I live, but I'm going to say West Village. In some ways the architecture reminds me of the older streets in London, but there are some things I really love specific to the area: Julius' - a dive gay bar which has so much history and an amazing crowd (and great jukebox), The Rusty Knot - another bar right on the river where JD Samson does her Sunday party, it has great decor and a great vibe, Joseph Leonard - the food and cocktails are brilliant, Christopher Street and its history, The Little Owl - we'll come to that later, I love that this neighbourhood breaks the grid system and really confused people. I want to live in every building, and I want to eat at every restaurant. I think it's a really unique part of the city.
What is your favorite restaurant?
The Little Owl is my favourite restaurant. It does really good meat and fish dishes, has great wine selection, is small and cosy, and the staff are amazing. It's also at the foot of the building that Monica's apartment in Friends was set, so it has a little 90s pop culture value for me. It's on a really quiet beautiful street and everyone I've taken there has loved it.
If you had to give a visitor one keepsake from NYC, what would it be?
A bagel. It's my favourite thing. I mean, London has bagels, everywhere has bagels, but New York bagels are so amazing. So giant, so delicious. They're the reason I go running so much. Bagelsmith, Bagels on the Square, and Bergen Bagels are my favourites I think.