LIGHTS Talks "My Boots," Horror Movies and Going Acoustic
Mon, 15 Nov 2010 09:20:52
LIGHTS has quite the luminous sound, and it's only gotten brighter on her latest single, "My Boots."
Despite the "Boots" reference in the title, the song isn't a nod to Nancy Sinatra. Instead, it's a wistful and wintry dreamscape of a tune. Utterly infectious and sweetly vibrant, "My Boots" steps into new territory for the singer. However, LIGHTS has been no stranger to new territory this year. In the summer, she dropped her Acoustic – EP showcasing stripped-down renditions of some of her most poetic numbers. LIGHTS has merely started to shine though, and she's got all kinds of surprises up her sleeve…
LIGHTS has got the voice, style and heart that pop music needs right now, and she's about to brighten everything up.
LIGHTS sat down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about her favorite horror movies, bringing winter back on "My Boots," Ferngully, going acoustic and so much more.
Did you aim to go outside the box with "My Boots?"
I wanted to try a couple of different things. With "My Boots," I really focused on putting less tracks in the song, but I put a lot more attention on each track. So, there's probably half the amount of things going on in the song, but each one has more quality. I think it goes along with trying to get better at what you do [Laughs].
What's the story behind the song?
I wrote it back in January. I've been living in Toronto for almost five years now. However, I was raised in Northern Ontario, so you get to see winter at its fullest there. Living in the city, winter is just a mess. It's dirty, slushy and gross, and you don't enjoy it at all. There are so many awesome and beautiful aspects of winter though. We were working on the song out at this cottage on a lake in the middle of the forest. For the first time in a while, I saw winter looking really fresh and beautiful. On The Listening, I wrote a ton about things I was going through. It was the story of my first couple years on my own and figuring things out in that process. I wanted to write a song that was really effortless and about something kind of arbitrary. I saw how beautiful winter was and I said, "I'm going to write a love song to wintertime!" It's about how you can look beautiful in the right conditions and if you're dressed the right way [Laughs]. That can go for anything. The desert can be beautiful if you're dressed appropriately.
It definitely conjures those winter visuals.
I was trying to do that with the sparkly guitar and high-end synths. I wanted to get that Narnia feel [Laughs]. With winter coming, it's all going to change soon, and I think people are going to relate to this song a little bit more.
How else do you feel like you've evolved since The Listening?
It's really hard to pinpoint where you mature. It's like growing up and knowing how much you've changed. However, I think there are some things. The phrasing of the chords is a really big thing. That's how you put chords together. If you listen to "Plastic Beach" by The Gorillaz, there isn't any single chord in there that's just a chord. There are so many other notes on top of that. It's little things like that which make all the difference in the ambience of the song. We also worked really hard on getting good quality sound for the beat and we live bass and guitar as opposed to synth bass. So there's progression a little bit in terms of musicianship, not relying so much on quantization.
Was it fun for you to strip everything down on the acoustic EP?
Yes! That was a really fun adventure for me. I did that in March in my apartment studio on my own. I didn't expect it to even really be released. It was a nice chance for me to just be exactly what I am when the doors are closed, the lights are off and I'm playing. It was actually kind of hard. My instinct is to make things sound as perfect as I can. That's my music. I love that! I love things sounding timed, in-tune and beautiful in one big arrangement. I had to really force myself to not go there. I had to force myself to be okay with the fact that it was really stripped down and simple. It was a little uncomfortable because I'm used to everything sounding so electro. It was such a good challenge. Artists need to take those on! It's a big step.
What do "February Air" and "Romance Is…" mean to you?
"Romance Is…" is actually a song that I wrote when I was seventeen. When I moved out west for the first time, I started doing a bunch of coffee shops. There was a little indie coffee shop that I used to play at all the time just with my acoustic. I wasn't happy with any of the songs I'd written up to that point. I'd write entire sets of songs that I'd play just for those nights. They would disappear or I'd forget them. One or two of those songs hung around and stuck. That was one of them. It's one of those things that never died. It was always there in my head. I thought it might be a nice choice for the Acoustic – EP. It's new to everybody else and pretty comfortable for me. "February Air" was originally written on an acoustic guitar almost exactly like you hear it on the EP. I added a couple little guitar flares, but exactly as you hear the strumming pattern is how I wrote the song originally. That was the first song that I chose to do entirely electronically in terms of finding my sound. Before all that, this is exactly the way it sounded.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Contrary to what the music presents, my most absolute favorite genre of film is horror! I've watched almost horror movie—even B-horror movies, C-horror movies and Z-horror movies. I love them all! That doesn't necessarily lend to my vision as an artist, but it really gets that side of me out. Ultimately, I'm a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy. I love movies where you see things happen that are clearly invented by somebody, but you can believe it because it looks so convincing. That isn't necessarily in graphics, but the way they're presented. I think of something like Logan's Run. I love these old sci-fi movies where there's this whole idea of what the future's like and how they treat people. I think that's so inspiring in terms of that freedom to think of anything you want and make it real. That's why I like video games and comics. There are no limits as to the amount of creativity you can put into something. It's freeing in terms of production and songwriting. You don't have to think inside that box. I get inspired by things like that.
Which horror movies do you come back to?
One of my all-time favorites is The Shining. It's one of the most beautiful horror films ever made. That's definitely in the top for sure. It's stunning. There isn't really gore in it, yet it's one of the most chilling movies ever. All of the ideas incite more fear than the elevator with blood coming out of it! [Rec] was amazing. Martyrs is a great horror movie. It's really scary! It's such a good movie! You don't figure it out until like three-quarters of the way through. Human Centipede has to go in the top too.
If you were to compare your album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I've never been asked anything like that before! It's a good question! I would love to see a visual alongside The Listening that's comparable to Avatar. The fact that it's another world and it's so convincing and stunning, another option would be Ferngully.It's kind of a scary movie, but it's beautiful and this other world. Ferngully's great.
Which records shaped you?
One record for me that I think is stunning is The Joshua Tree by U2. That's definitely always going to be there, and it's never going to change. Another one is Face Value by Phil Collins. The songs are incredible, and the production's great. The use of synths is spectacular. There's a lot of '80s new wave stuff that's really thrilling to listen to even today like Human League, Pet Shop Boys and New Order. I could go back to these guys every day and still find something new in the music.
Have you heard LIGHTS yet?
Download My Boots at iTunes.