The last time I was fortunate enough to get the chance to speak with Ontario born artist Lights was under a tent at Warped Tour, during a horrendous downpour. Her stop in Montreal this past November was still rainy but this time we took shelter on her tour bus right outside the Corona Theatre where she would be playing later that night.
To say Lights has become a household name is not saying enough. Her fans are some of the most dedicated in the music world and they proved it by standing outside the venue hours before the doors even opened. Thirty to forty fans stood with their ponchos and umbrellas just waiting to catch a glimpse of the most unique artists in the Canadian music industry.
CONFRONT: How are you?
LIGHTS: I’m good! How are you?
CONFRONT: I’m great.
LIGHTS: Are you coming to the show tonight?
LIGHTS: Awesome! It’s going to be fun.
CONFRONT: So you have a new album out! How has the reaction been so far?
LIGHTS: It’s been great. I mean I knew it was a departure from the first record a little bit. Obviously it was where I needed to be and the record that I needed to make. I’m so proud of it. I was so ready to put it out but I was also ready for a bit of adversity, especially from fans that were expecting something. The way it’s been received is great especially live. The songs are coming across so well and everyone is singing along. I’m like “ahh!” I didn’t realize everyone knew all these songs already. It’s only been a month and a half you know?
CONFRONT: It always means its paid off when you hear everyone singing along!
LIGHTS: Oh yeah it feels good. Especially “Toes” and everyone rages. It’s so much fun.
CONFRONT: How would you compare it to your previous album?
LIGHTS: It kind of turns everything that was the essence of the first record on its end. The first record was perfect. Sonically and music wise it was all in place. It was prestine and sparkling. It was a perfect sounding thing which I aimed to change this time around with this new record. I wanted to make it a little darker and heavier. On a managers suggestion, who I’ve been working with for ten years, he suggested bringing Holy Fuck into the picture after we’d met at a festival in the UK. He said he believed they could bring this grit to it that you’re looking for and they definitely brought this gnarliness. It’s kind of the underbelly of electro as opposed to this surface level of electro. It’s like a dirty version of the record. *laughs* Not content wise.
CONFRONT: How do you come about creating these songs? Do you have a routine or is every single song different for you?
LIGHTS: It’s different all the time and that’s the beauty of it. Depending on who you’re working with or the mood you’re in or the place you’re in or the location. It’s all a variable of how the song comes together. A song like “Cactus in the Valley” I wrote just sitting there with my acoustic guitar and it came together in half an hour. A song like “Everybody Breaks a Glass” I was sitting there jamming with Brian and Graham from Holy Fuck. Bed tracks started to come together, we started to patch it together. Then we had Shad rapping it from Vancouver. We did it through e-mail. Collaborations can happen in any different way.
CONFRONT: Did you start playing the synth at a young age? How did you decide that it was kind of your instrument?
LIGHTS: You know what? I don’t even think I would say that it is my instrument. My first instrument was guitar! My biggest instrument for me is songwriting. To me that’s my biggest strength. Everything came after that, whether it was playing or singing. I mean I’ve always sang but that was just one aspect of it. It’s not even my strong point. It’s the song writing that I’ve really taken pride in. That is the most important part of my music. You can strip it down. Take a song like “Everybody Breaks a Glass”, play it folk style and it’s still a song. It’s still there. That’s the beauty of good songwriting. You can translate it on every different level. I think it was just that power in knowing that music had that ability. I remember as a young child, we traveled a lot and were missionaries, my dad used to play his acoustic guitar at night. It helped me fall asleep and it had this power; that power that music has that it can help you to fall asleep or bring you from being scared to being relaxed. It’s something really powerful.
CONFRONT: I’ve heard a lot of people mentioning you as a very positive role model in the industry. How important is that for you?
LIGHTS: It’s not my ambition to out and be a role model for anyone. I would never think that’s who I would be. I live my life the way I want to live it and if people want to emulate it then that’s cool. *laughs*. I mean I have standards and expectations of myself. I value things about myself that I think people should value about themselves and I think if that affects people then that’s good.
CONFRONT: Well I’ve noticed from your tweets and pictures you post that you have a love for Lord of the Rings and that you have a sword collection. It’s really neat to see how proud you are of these things since there are so many girls who would never come out and openly admit that. It’s not something…
LIGHTS: That’s the thing! I think people should be unabashedly themselves and nobody else. Who cares what other people think? I was raised as a homeschooled kid so I wasn’t raised around people my age or anything that taught me what was cool. I picked those things up on my own. Finally I went to school in high school and met the world. I was like “Wow…this isn’t very fun. How come I have to be like that” you know?
CONFRONT: Is there one thing in your collections that you would say is your favorite?
LIGHTS: I love so much of what I have! I’ve honestly sat there and gone “What would I take if there was a fire?” I don’t want to lose any of the stuff from the comics I collect to some of the weapons that I have to figurines to things that fans have gotten for me. I don’t know! My instruments, my laptop, it would be so hard. I think in terms of collectible items, my parents got me Arowens sword from Lord of the Rings. It’s a wood hilt with gold engravings and a silver blade and it’s just beautiful and pretty strong. It has a great message on it as well. In Elvish it says “Daughter of the Rock” or something really cool. I would probably take that.
CONFRONT: It seems that you really value everything and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that!
CONFRONT: What’s one thing that fans might not know about you? I mean you post a lot of things on Twitter and you seem to be fairly open about everything.
LIGHTS: I’m pretty open about everything! I’m pretty sure there are things that people don’t know about me but that’s just because I don’t think of saying them. Let me think. I play Scrabble on my iPad every night to fall asleep.
CONFRONT: That game is so addictive!
LIGHTS: *laughs* Yeah! It’s like “Oh gotta go to bed…gotta play a game of Scrabble first.”
CONFRONT: Are you good?
LIGHTS: I’m pretty good! *laughs*
CONFRONT: That’s awesome! I have a couple of questions off topic to let fans get to know you a little bit better.
CONFRONT: If you could be on any reality show which would you choose?
LIGHTS: Does Talking Dead count? It’s the talk show after The Walking Dead!
CONFRONT: I’ve never heard of it!
LIGHTS: I would love to be on Talking Dead. Other then that? I actually don’t watch much television. If I had to be on a reality show I’d say Survivor?
LIGHTS: And Talking Dead. *laughs*It’s just a talk show that talks about Walking Dead after Walking Dead is over. Then there’s a talk show about Talking Dead. So it’s like an after show to an after show. They have guests from like comedians to zombie specialists to characters from the show.
CONFRONT: That sounds pretty interesting.
LIGHTS: I think I’d have a lot to say.
CONFRONT: Do you have a pet peeve? Something that just drives you crazy?
LIGHTS: When people call me by my old name. When I interrupt people, which is actually a pet peeve of mine that I do that I just hate. I do that a lot.
CONFRONT: You have a lot of tattoos. Do you have a particular favorite one? Your first one?
LIGHTS: My first one is definitely not my favorite. That goes for a lot of people too. That being said I would never get something that I didn’t want. Thankfully I like everything that I have. One of my favorites is the twinblade of the phoenix which is from World of Warcraft. The only thing I have on this arm is a sword and it makes me feel strong!
CONFRONT: That’s really beautiful.
LIGHTS: Thank you!
CONFRONT: Who’s one band or artist that you would love to tour with?
LIGHTS: I would love a tour with Mew for some reason. I really love Mew.
CONFRONT: What are your upcoming plans?
LIGHTS: Lots of touring! Record has a lot touring left in it. We’re actually going to the East Coast for the first time mid January. We’re going to start there and keep going. We’re going to go to Australia for the first time and back into the UK and into the States.
CONFRONT: Is there one place that you love to visit?
LIGHTS: That I love or that I would love?
CONFRONT: That you love.
LIGHTS: There are places I love visiting and places that I love playing in. Both are kind of different. I love playing in the UK. In Europe people watch shows differently. In North America it’s a bit more reserved in terms of people’s willingness to just get into music. I think it’s been lost with peoples insecurities. I don’t know what it is. I’m the same way. When I go to a show I just watch, I don’t really get involved. Over there it’s different. I don’t know what it is exactly but it’s really cool so I love playing shows there. In terms of places that I just love to go. I love going back to the Philippines. I went back last year and I’ve been involved with World Vision. I brought them out on this tour and you can sponsor kids right at the merch table. I’m working closely with 30 Hour Famine and just seeing things change. I go back to places where essentially I spent a lot of time growing up. Being able to work in those places and help out is awesome.
CONFRONT: Where do you hope to see yourself in 20 years?
LIGHTS: I have no idea! That’s the beauty of it. I don’t want to know.
To learn more about Light’s check out the websites below: