Lights. You might be thinking of the energy saving variety that you get at Ikea or perhaps a Philips bulb, but EQ would like to introduce to you the adorable and talented 21 year old Canadian electro-pop artist who goes by this monicker. After having signed with independent labels Underground Ops in Canada (Universal Music) and Doghouse Records (Warner Music) in the U.S., Lights, née Lights Poxleitner has already scored a Billboard Top 20 hit in her native Canada with emotionally poignant ballad "Drive My Soul". Her eponymously titled debut EP "Lights" was released July 2008 and she is now putting the finishing touches on her debut full-length album, slated for an autumn release. Lights will be touring the UK mid-April appearing at the Give It A Name Festival to be held at both Manchester and Brixton Academy. Taking time out of her hectic touring schedule in Canada, Lights took some time out to chat with EQ about her unique upbringing and what it is that inspires her.
Hello Lights! EQ is thrilled to chat with you for the very first time. For many of our readers who have not yet had the chance to hear your music, how would you describe your sound?
Hello EQ readers. I'd say my sound could be described as Electro-pop! It's like cake. There is a good, solid pop-song cake inside, covered and iced with colorful and tasty electro sounds.
Delicious! So much for watching our carbs (smile). We see that you have a very eclectic list of influences including Björk and even more surprisingly, Phil Collins. Although we might hear some of these influences in your arrangements and melodies, which contemporaries do you count as being most influencial in your music?
Right now I'm listening to a lot of Justice, MIA, Kanye West, Chromeo, Mew. They all score major points in production, melodies and cool-factor: check, check, check.
Prior to making your debut, Shania Twain was hailed as the pride of Timmins, Ontario – your hometown. With the amount of success you have been achieving, it's looking more and more like Timmins has a new sweetheart in you. Being the child of missionary parents, you also grew up in many parts of the world including the Philippines and Jamaica, what can you tell us about your experiencing growing up in such diverse surroundings?
Traveling a lot as a child brought me very close to my family, we were (and still are) very tight. We were this little island that relocated at least once a year. My parents raised me with the mindset that I could do anything I wanted in life! I wanted to be an astronaut and they would say, "Do it! Go find another planet". It was that kind of support that had me growing up with no limits in mind as to what I could achieve. I saw a lot as a kid, and I realized the world is really pretty small, and we're all just people trying to stay happy. It's a lot less intimidating to take on when everything is in perspective.
What kind of challenges do you face in writing pop music, considering you had what seems like a religious upbringing?
I've learned to simply write the way I feel and talk. The real challenge is saying exactly what you mean, not romanticizing any ideas with fancy, excessive lyrics (it's really easy to "over-cheezify" in pop music!). It's more a case of just not thinking about it at all, just letting it pour out.
It sounds like a very organic process from what you describe. Now an interesting thing that many people don't know is that you had a major career breakthrough in a modeling gig for a Walmart ad campaign. It was from there that you were "discovered" by your manager Jian who was curious about you after seeing you play the guitar in a photo. And it turned out that you actually could really play and sing. Is modeling something that you could see yourself doing again in the future or did you see it more as an opportunity to open the door to exploring your musical talents?
That was actually the first and last time I ever modeled! I don't consider myself a model at all, and I had no idea that little flyer would lead me to my manager, who has helped me focus my abilities to get to where I am now! It just goes to show, take the opportunities life presents to you, you never know where they will take you 🙂
Lights, we are very excited hear that you are working on your debut full-length debut album after giving us a taste of what you have to offer on your 2008 EP "Lights". Will this album include any tracks previously featured on your EP? What can we expect to hear and how is the album coming along?
Four of the tracks from my EP will cross over to the full length album, but there will be about eight brand new tracks too. The album is almost done, and should be out by this fall! It's still very much in the electro-pop sentiment that my EP was, although I'd say that the EP is just an appetizer to the full meal that will be the full length album!
We see that comics and animation are a very important part of the Lights visual aesthetic. Can you touch upon this musical-visual pairing for us?
Cartoons and music were always the two things I did for fun growing up, and now these two worlds are merging! I always have a visual in mind for everything I create sonically, and I tend to gravitate towards comic style graphics, so I guess it's only natural that they're paired.
You have a very unique sense of style. Who and what do you look to in terms of style inspirations?
Honestly, I get my style tips from Wonder Woman! Black boots, a blazin' tiara/headband circling the head, cuffs, tight little outfits. She's pretty magical. I like the retro "space" vibe of Barbarella too – very cute.
Now because many of our readers at EQ are curious, we'd love to know which openly gay artists have influenced your music?
Elton John is an incredible artist, he has some of the best songs of all time!
We're sure Lily Allen would have something to say about that! What promotional plans do you have for this forthcoming album? We see that your first EP is available on iTunes UK although not much promotion has been done outside Canada still. Do you have any plans to visit abroad in the near future?
This year is comprised of a lot of touring, including time overseas! I'll be appearing at the Give It A Name Festival in April! I'll be performing on nine dates across the UK.
Thanks so much Lights for taking the time to chat with us. We await your new music with anticipation and wish you all the best in this busy year ahead.
Thank you so much, EQ!! I can't wait for you all to hear the full length record! (smile)
Tickets to the Give It a Name Festival have just been released and for details on how you can see Lights live in the UK, visit Give It a Name's official Myspace page. To hear and learn more about Lights, visit her Myspace page.