I would ask you all if you remember a few years ago, when a young girl from Toronto, Ontario released a bouncy synth-pop record called The Listening? However that would be a stupid question based on the beyond maximum capacity crowd that filled El Corazon after my interview with said girl on a mild autumn evening in the Emerald City; Seattle, WA. The adorable and infectiously enthusiastic girl we are talking about is of course…Lights.
Since The Listening, Lights has shown us she can mix in different flavors all the while keeping with the formula we love so much. Last year she released an acoustic EP, that received 5 stars from Lemonade, and this year she released her second full length album, Siberia. During our interview we got a chance to talk a little about Siberia as well as her current North American tour. Check out what she had to say.
Lights: No way! That is so cool! Thank you so much!
LM: How has the tour been so far?
Lights: It’s been really awesome. We’ve been out for about a month now, I guess, and it doesn’t feel like that long. We are starting to get a little tired, but it hasn’t felt grueling. It’s just been so good to have all the new material and be able to change it up a bit since I had been playing the same stuff for years. Plus the new stuff, after years of touring, your subconscious naturally gravitates to wanting to make stuff that will be received worldwide. These songs are so much fun to play and seeing so many people show up is a really great to be honest as opposed to less people. *laughs*
LM: It’s incredible how diehard your fans have become. Just today I posted you were going to be on the cover and I received tweets like, “What!? You’re interviewing her!? Give her a hug for me! Tell her I said hi!”
LM: All your fans obviously really love you, but what have you felt has been the reception on the new material from your early fans?
Lights: It’s been great! I was aware going into it, that this new album was a little different in contrast to my first stuff. It was important to me that I made a record that was me, regardless of what expectations were put out there by myself or by anyone else. Because of that, I was prepared for some adversity from hardcore fans, you know?
We released “Everybody Breaks a Glass” as sort of a teaser track and I was like, “My palms are sweaty! I am so nervous. I am so proud of this album, but what’s the reaction going to be?” People seemed to be all for it; all for the change and all for me staying on the cusp of my art. I’ve been really blessed with it. I didn’t expect it to be received as well as it was.
LM: I remember reviewing your acoustic EP a year or so after I had first heard The Listening and thinking, “Why doesn’t she do more of this? This is so good!” Fast-forward to me listening to Siberia and I was thinking, “Okay, I now know why she does what she does!” You’ve added some dub-step, as well as some hip-hop. Tell us a bit about that.
Lights: Well, it wasn’t necessarily because I wanted the album to have a rap part. It was because I really wanted Shad to be on it! He is an AMAZING rapper and his natural delivery, his humility and the way he approaches things, he doesn’t say things that he doesn’t mean. I just respect his work a lot and I have for a long time. He’s been kind of a common acquaintance through our friend, Rob Dyer, who runs Skate 4 Cancer, a charity that I am involved with.
He introduced us actually. So when we wrote the song, “Flux and Flow”, which I love and feel like it really represents the record with this mixture of soft and hard, anyway, when the bridge came around I was like, “Okay, I really want Shad on this!” We called him up. He’s from Vancouver and we were making the record in Toronto, so we did the whole thing long distance through email. It was really awesome.
LM: That IS awesome. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks on the record and you’re right, his delivery is so good.
Lights: I know, I was like, “You’re gonna kill this!” and he did.
LM: You mention the record being a mixture of soft and hard and I think that really describes your use of dub-step on Siberia. It’s really unique, because you have that hard dub-step sound, yet it still has your softness. Did you feel pressured at all to include dub-step with all the dub-step that is out right now?
Lights: Not really, I remember at the time thinking that I really loved the elements of dub-step, but it wasn’t at the peak that it is now. Basically it was all triggered by one night. I was at a DJ night in Montreal and I just loved the way that it made me feel because it’s a new sound that is kind of a combination of a bunch of different genres. I feel like it has elements of metal, hip-hop and electronic in there.
I was really inspired by it. I think the elements I was moved by were the grit of this bass, you know this multi-layer bass, a heavy beat that’s really slow and not a whole lot of anything else. It’s really cool you can capture so much energy in such a slow beat. I felt like it was a progression in electronic and in music and I don’t feel it will disappear. Dub-step may fade a bit as a genre, but I don’t think these elements will ever go away.
LM: We’re heading into the end of the year awards issue here at Lemonade. Who’s been inspiring you the most this year?
Lights: Does it have to be music? *laughs*
LM: No, go ahead with whatever you got!
Lights: Well, with this record, probably a few of the key inspirations for it were some heavier electro stuff like Crystal Castles and also the melodic properties of artists like Bon Iver, in the sense that he just calms it down and you can capture a moment. You can incorporate that into a heavier song too, like “Everybody Breaks a Glass”, and you can have those quieter moments and then contrast them with a heavier moment.
In terms of something that isn’t musical, the entire time I was making this record I had this book by an artist named Clyde Caldwell. He does fantasy art for like Magic The Gathering and Heavy Metal, so his work is of these kind of dark, sci-fi/fantasy girls and I just loved this book. I brought it with me every single day we made the record. It really helped get me to another world, so there was a huge artistic influence there.
LM: Seattle is your last stop in the USA. Now you head to Canada. What are you most looking forward to getting back to your home country?
Lights: Tim Horton’s! *laughs* The venues in Canada. I have been up there longer obviously and the fan base has been bubbling there a little longer, so the crowds are really lively. Not to say the crowds in the US haven’t been. They’ve been insane actually! This tour has been mind-blowing. It’s just a totally different thing going into Canada. In much of the US people don’t hear you on the radio all the time like they do in Canada. They know of you because they heard about you word of mouth or they found you on the internet. It’s a different balance and it’s nice to take each of them in moderation.
LM: Last question. Given my Canadian heritage and your being a citizen, which hockey team are you cheering for?
Lights: It’s so tough! I am geographically split, my family lives out west and I lived out west for a while, all my friends who live out west are Canucks fans, but in Toronto, because I live there…..you can’t not say you’re a Leafs fan! I don’t follow it as closely as some people, but, ahh, it’s so hard to pick, but based on my geographical situation I would have to say the Leafs.
LM: I understand…even if I am a Canucks fan.
Lights: I wish we could like both, I mean it’s like saying you have to like Star Wars or Star Trek better.
LM: Well, which side are you on there?
Lights: You don’t have to pick either! That’s the thing!
Pick up Siberia by Lights on iTunes and most major retailers.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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