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  • Interview: LIGHTS

    Tue, 08 Sep 2009 07:57:58

    LIGHTS just might be every "smart" guy's fantasy girl.

    Not only is the Canadian pop pixie stunning and immensely talented, but she also loves science fiction—big bonus!

    Her World of Warcraft fixation even bubbles up in the lyrics of tracks like "Lions" from her majestic space pop debut, The Listening (Due Out October 6th, Warner Bros).

    LIGHTS isn't simply writing about "boys" like most girls her age—she's got a quest. That quest is to make meaningful and magical music. The best gateway into LIGHTS' world is her brand new Saviour EP, available now!

    LIGHTS spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about The Listening, some of her favorite fantasy flicks and the world-saving journey she's on.

    How do your songs typically come together?

    I love coming up with crazy things that I've never heard before. What I'm attracted to is being taken off guard—hearing something that's soothing, yet different. It's like you're getting a bit of an abrasion but it feels really cool. When I'm recording, I come up with the melodies and I write the songs with a good structure. When I'm finally putting everything together, I blitz through my synths until I find something that sounds cool. I play with it and form a melody around the song. It's like I'm reaching into outer space. I call it, "Intergalactic-electro-pop," because I feel like I'm losing myself in some other world while I'm looking for the sound.

    The music is really cinematic in many ways. Do you watch a lot of movies or read a lot while you're writing?

    I definitely watch a lot of movies. I'm a big fan of sci-fi movies like Logan's Run and Star Trek. I'm also a big fan of fantasy games; I play World of Warcraft a lot. I'm very inspired by the epic nature of these fantasy and sci-fi flicks. It definitely comes across on the record. For example, if you listen to the song, "Lions," it has the lyrical sentiment of the quests that you receive in World of Warcraft. That vibe gets translated in the dynamics of the songs. An epic chorus and a string bridge will tend to invoke a lot of emotions that you'll feel when you're partaking in battle [Laughs].

    What's LIGHTS' quest?

    My quest is to bring you to another world that is possibly a little brighter than yours for three-and-a-half-minutes.

    Do you spend a lot of time writing and thinking, or do you capture these emotions spontaneously?

    I definitely spend a lot of my spare time with production. For every two full songs that I write, there are five with just music. That's really fun for me. The most fun part of music is creation. When I feel like I can get down to business and do something serious, that's when I put all of my effort into the lyrics. It usually spawns from really dark emotional situations. Ironically, this music's very bright. I'm most inspired to write when I'm feeling really down. I think everybody gets like that. That's probably why people can relate to my music. I take these dark emotions and turn them into something positive where I can walk away feeling like a better person.

    Even though the song's transport you to outer space, there's still something very tangible about them.

    Thank you very much! I'm glad it's kind of working [Laughs].

    What's the story behind the "Saviour" video?

    The artwork surrounding my music and the videos for "Drive My Soul" and "February Air" takes place in what I call, "The Alternate Universe." It's this other world that I drift off to when I'm being creative. It's a metaphor for my world of discovery. There's a purple planet and astronauts in little space suits. I have a space ship and everything is very fun. You can see that in the first two music videos. Now, "Saviour" is a prequel to all of that, and it shows the story of how this world came about. In the "Saviour" video, I'm walking around my apartment and being inspired by things in real life. I'm sitting down and translating all of these ideas on to the page, and they're coming to life all of a sudden. You see similarities between me and the character in the alternate universe.She's saving little space creatures. That's your first look at the alternate universe where everything takes place.

    So "Saviour" is the world's gateway into Lights' universe?

    Exactly! If people want to know where my astronaut came from, they can just watch that video. It shows how this universe spawned. I'm working on a really cool semi-animated series with Marvel Digital Comics too. It's going to be on MTV in two-minute episodes, and it all takes place in this alternate universe. It's the same girl you see in the "Saviour" video. It's a different interpretation, but it's her. My music plays through it, and it's like a glorified comic book. She fights crime along the way as she looks for sounds in the universe. It's a great big metaphor for me [Laughs].

    How do you tell those stories on stage?

    There's a lot I would love to do, but I just don't have the resources yet. We're just a three-piece on stage now. I have a bunch of keyboards and some drums. We make all of these energetic sounds and have a lot of fun. At the core of it, that's what my music is about, and I'm hoping people take that away from the live show. Down the road, I hope I can embellish it with visuals, pictures of space behind me and cool light shows. At this point, I'm working with what I've got.

    Is there one story or thread through The Listening?

    It's mainly an emotional journey, because the songs were written over the course of a couple years. It's really about me discovering myself. I'm 22, and I've discovered so much about myself over the past two years just writing music. That's what the title The Listening means. I've learned more about myself listening to and creating music than anything else. Every song is a story. They're mainly put in order by emotions of the songs. In the title track, I realize that I shoot my mouth off sometimes and don't say the right things, and I've got to listen and be patient. Each song has its own story of self-discovery. I write very little about romance [Laughs]. This album is about life.

    —Rick Florino

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