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John Grant Vs. Bright Light Bright Light
The Quietus , April 17th, 2014 06:39

New mag Loverboy launches, John Grant and Bright Light Bright Light have a chat about confessional lyricism, coming out as a gay artist, and why diver Tom Daley is a hottie

Welsh synth-pop songsmith Bright Light Bright Light and tear-jerking songwriter John Grant have met up for a tete à tete to help launch new gay monthly magazine, Loverboy. You can read an excerpt of the interview below, in which they discuss coming out and collaborating, among other things. You can find the magazine's website here.

BLBL dropped a new EP this Monday, entitled I Wish We Were Leaving, and its self-titled lead-out single, a floaty, self-help floorfiller featuring Elton John, can be heard here:

Guys, you don’t hold back and both get a little emo on your albums. Do you ever want to keep some stuff private?

BLx2: I’m more of a storyteller than a confessor. All my songs are about things that happen to friends. The song that I did with Elton is probably the most confessional song I’ve done. It’s about a guy that broke my heart but you realise it’s not intentional. Have I been holding back? I just think there are more exciting things to be writing about. I don’t tend to confess all that much because it would just be the same thing, ‘Oh I’m still single. Oh.’

John Grant: People say I am a big confessor but I don’t see myself like that at all because I don’t feel like I need to confess. I am observing my experience. I am fascinated why I became the way I became, why I developed these addictions, why I developed this depression, why I developed all these things. I suppose it’s my way of working through it. People always ask you if it’s cathartic or therapeutic and it appears to be to some extent. But I don’t think it can be compared to going to a psychologist and really working through shit.

I don’t feel like my life is that interesting to anyone else either but it is interesting to me. I imagine that as I work through certain things I’ll turn into more of a storyteller or maybe I’ll just turn into a narcissistic cunt and talk about myself.

Elton John, Sinead O’Connor, Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters. You’ve collaborated with some big names between you. Do you enjoy collaborating?

BLx2: I really love collaborations because you work with people’s ideas and you get a different starting point. Your brain goes in little directions which you would never go in if you were working on your own, whether they are good or bad, it’s nice to have different protons and neutrons, options of a wider landscape. I think it’s really cool when you’ve got two brains and you see what they can come up with. Different personalities.

If it’s someone you like, like Elton or Ana and Del [Marquis] from Scissor Sisters, it’s amazing to work with someone you have followed because if you come from a coal mine valley you never ever think that would happen to you. It reminds you that life is full of options, nothing is impossible if you really want it or if you really try. It’s a nice feeling that you’re doing something right.

JG: I find it very difficult to collaborate with people. I am very uncomfortable with it. I do my best on my own. I feel like when I am with other people I am always trying to be something and not just be. I get scared. I worry that I’m going to get in the studio and learn that I don’t know shit. I’m going to look stupid in front of them. They’re going to regret that they asked me.

But then I also just like being on my own. I’m forcing myself to be more open and I feel like I haven’t done my best work when I’ve collaborated with other people. It’s difficult for me to come up with a song in a matter of minutes. It can be done, of course, but I don’t think that is my best work. My best work comes from distilling things down to their essential parts. Stripping away all the layers. And sometimes you poop out a masterpiece, at least what you consider to be a masterpiece. Things like ‘Queen of Denmark’ or ‘Drug’, songs from my past happened so fast. But usually it doesn’t happen like that.

Do you think gay artists have an obligation to come out?

BLx2: Absolutely not. I got criticised by this gay publication for not being that vocal about being gay even though I had played at ten Prides that year and had been in both Attitude and Gay Times. They were like, ‘You don’t talk about it enough. You’re not vehement enough about it.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not a pioneer for gay rights. I don’t claim to be. I don’t know enough.’

JG: You don’t need to be. That’s not your job. You don’t need to be anything. You need to be yourself and you need to talk about things that you feel comfortable talking about. Saying you’re not vehement about things, I’m sorry but that is just absurd.

I feel like I talk about it because I was ashamed about it for a long time. Not that anyone would give a fuck but it was important for me to say who I am and how I feel. If anything I am a role model for how you should not live your life. At least up until recently. Destructive behaviour has got to be what I would be more of a role model for. Rejecting yourself. Being ashamed of yourself. I do feel strongly about these things but gay people got quite beaten up by the world and we need to be tender hearted with one another. Let people be what they need to be. What’s worse than coming out to your family is coming out to the gay community. It can be ruthless.

BLx2: There’s always a snide comment. I hate Facebook when someone like Ellen Page or Tom Daley comes out and people make these snarky remarks. I’m just like, ‘You’re just this bunch of gays living in London and you’re rejecting somebody coming out. You’re making fun of it. What do you think straight people in Afghanistan are going to say? You don’t even want to support someone’s decision to come out.’ It’s so gross.

JG: it’s totally gross. What about if Tom Daley is too scared to say he is gay yet? Big fucking deal. I think he’s hot. I like that little caboose he’s got on him. I like that he doesn’t shave himself either. Super hot.