I didn’t quite know I was going to lose all cool points whilst interviewing Lights, as our chat slowly drifted into how awesome video games and horror movies are.
Nellie: The name Lights is a pretty abstract term, does it reflect your personality in anyway?
Lights: Well, you know, my name is Poxleitner so it came from my last name and it just became a nickname, it’s actually what people still call me and my closest friends all call me Lights. I officially made it my legal name also in the last couple years, so my name is Lights Poxleitner.
N: So you’re from Canada, nice. Most of my family that live in Canada live in Ontario, in either Toronto or St. Catherine’s.
L: Very cool, I love both those cities. Surprise, my whole EP was made in St.Catherine’s. It’s a cool city because every summer they have a little festival called Scene Festival and lots of cool bands come through St. Catherine’s and it’s really cool.
N: Do you miss home a lot when you’re on tour; I think this is your first time in London?
L: I’ve been here a couple times but I’ve never played before so tonight’s the virgin show! It’s hard to miss home when you don’t really have a home to miss. I mean, I move around so much, my family live in Vancouver, which is the other side of Canada and I live Toronto so it’s hard to say what’s home when you’re on the road all the time. Home becomes wherever your friends are or wherever you’re having the best time. I wouldn’t say I miss home I try to have adventure but it nice at the end of the day to sleep in your bed so you can ahh.
N: So you recorded your six-song EP last year?
L: Yeah, it was kinda over the course of two years actually, in the end I wasn’t quite sure what I was gonna do and February Air was the first song and I wrote that three years ago in February and after that, I knew my place in music because before that point I was everywhere. I was in a metal band, doing a pop punk thing, an acoustic thing and R n B and I wasn’t sure what my place and I finally found it so the EP was kinda a collection of the best 6 songs over those two years and that’s the same with the full-length which is gonna come out at the end of August.
N: Do you have a theme or concept going on with that?
L: It’s kinda the same situation with the EP, it’s a collection of the best songs that I’ve written over the past year and half. It’s done, and I’m really happy with it and there are 4 from the EP and there’s 8 new ones and it’s a little bit deeper.
N: So where [someone texts me which ensues giggles from both girls] Sorry that was my phone…
L: That’s pretty.
N: So where do you draw inspiration from any bands or abstract things?
L: I always get inspired by new music, lots of what I’m listening to now is kinda too is where I get inspired for song writing, that’s the key to any good music, you have to have something good at the core. Song writing wise I’m a big fan of Mew, Björk and Phil Collins. (I burst out laughing because I automatically think of the Cadbury’s gorilla advert) He’s a great songwriter! The Beatles and Cyndi Lauper!
N: Everyone loves Cyndi!
L: Yeah, everyone loves Cyndi! As far as production, I’m always looking for cool new production ideas, I’m really into Chromeo and Justice as artist, I love M.I.A. I just reap wherever I see a cool idea so it could be weirdest things but whether I know where I got it from I just apply it to the songs.
N: And the songs just kinda come together?
L: Yeah, I look at it like building a cake, the cake part is the song, the most important song. So you get to put all the fun stuff on in the studio with the synths and the bass and the drums tracks and everything. That’s like the icing and the man and wife on top, y’know?
N: You did videos for quite a lot of your songs, 3 of them. Your latest being for ‘Ice’, did you draw the actual figures?
L: It took me forever! I worked a couple hours a day for about a week on the cut outs as well as the costumes. I worked with a friend around my little dress and I made everything exact to each other so when the transition happens into real life in the video, you don’t even know it.
N: Where do you get the ideas for your videos because February Air had a futuristic feel?
L: It’s also with Drive My Soul. I knew I was going to do a music video, I needed to think of something cool and I closed my eyes and all I could think of was this purple planet and I needed to get to this planet so I needed to build a rocket to get there. Every time I closed my eyes that was all I could think of so I elaborated on that idea and tried to find a director that would know what I meant and understand and be able to put that into real life and it happened! So Drive My Soul happened and then February Air was created as a kind of sequel to that so I closed my eyes and pictured paper aeroplanes and climbing a mountain epically with a hood on. Then Ice was actually made before the February Air video, because there wasn’t any kinda sequel situation there are still connections like the room I run to in the Ice video is actually the room for the Drive My Soul video
N: I hadn’t noticed that.
L: There’s all these similarities. The two monster guys that are in that are actually in my comic too.
N: I’ve heard you have a comic biography
L: Yeah, if you go onto IamLights.com, click on the story and you can see my story in comic form. One of the worst things you can do is deny your first thoughts about something. That’s what I’ve learned to go by, you can never forget that.
N: You’ve done a lot of touring; you did a big US tour in the summer last year. How was that because you are a one-woman operation, you have two guys touring with you. Do they always tour with you?
L: They’re my boys, I have two people on stage me, my live drummer to bring sort of a live, energetic element and my other keyboardist because there’s a lot of synth parts in my music and I can’t do it on my own, I’d need a hundred more arms. We’re a great little family that goes on the road. Touring is so much fun especially meeting other bands, learning and getting that much better at your craft. Last fall, we went on tour with Copeland who are one of my favourite bands.
N: Being an electro-pop artist, there are quite a lot of males in this field but you’re the only female I can think that’s progressing within it. How is it knowing what you’re doing is male-dominated?
L: Essentially, a lot of music is male-dominated. I’ve never really considered it a disability or anything until recently people are saying ‘well this is weird, you’re one of the only girls’ and I’ve never really noticed. It was always kinda my own thing inside my room, my creations. I’ve never felt any pressure but I’m proud to be any kind of ground-breaking role, I’ve seen a lot of girls messaging me saying ‘I wanna start a band’ ‘I wanna do this’ and I always encourage them to because there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
N: So are there any artists that you like that do the same kinda thing you do?
L: I like Metric and Emily Haines is the lead singer for Metric and they’re awesome. Dragonettes, they’re also a Canadian bands well Canadian and half from the UK as well. They’re doing well as well, there a couple that are doing it and I think it’s awesome.
N: Because there are some that are good and some that are quite bad…
L: Yeah [laughs] let’s just talk about the good ones.
N: Do you think there’s a limit made when you record music at home or is better being made in a studio?
L: I think if you know what you want and you know what you wanna do, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do that at home. I knew exactly what I wanted and I didn’t know how to communicate that to other people so I just do it myself. Obviously, it started out really crappy but over the course of time you get better and you get better at communicating what you want so you can work with more people and get other ideas running. I think the reason people go to the studio and hire engineers is because they’ve been doing it for years and know the ultimate vision.
N: But it’s more in control if you do it yourself.
L: Absolutely, if you know what you want. If you don’t know what you want, just try to find someone to make it good. [laughs]
N: You mentioned you like comics, what’s your favourite comic book character?
L: I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan, I collect a lot of Wonder Woman… Several hundred Wonder Woman comics in my apartment. I also read Space Adventures from the 60’s and 70’s and stuff from the 50’s and 60’s when comics and sci-fi were such a new thing because no one really knew what was in outer space, so there was a sense of imagination which we don’t really have any more.
N: What would be the most epic fight between Wonder Woman and someone?
L: She’s fought so many criminals! One of her biggest battles was the Superman one and it was the only one she couldn’t win because she was in love with. He was being mind-controlled by Lex Luthor and so she had to fight him but because she was in love with him, she couldn’t do it. Love is the greatest battle, it’s corny but it’s so true!
N: You’re pretty knowledgeable in all of this.
L: I’m a fan of escaping away from real world.
N: I’m a games person, I have my favourite video games of all time.
L: What do you play?
N: Well, the first console I was given along with my brother was the Nintendo 64 so my favourite games are Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, I also love RPG’s so I’m a major Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy fan.
L: There’s so many cool games coming out. I play World of Warcraft a lot which dominates a lot of my time. I also play xbox 360.
N: Ooh, I have an Xbox 360 gamertag.
L: That’s cool, I don’t have Xbox live because I’m not home enough. I do play a lot of Dead Space.
N: Left 4 Dead!
L: Left 4 Dead’s amazing, I’m glad you said that. It’s such an amazing 4-player game.
N: It’s better being a zombie than it is being a human.
L: That’s so true because you get more scared when you’re that character. I often enjoy playing Dead Space at night when I’m at home alone.
N: I think it’s the same with movies.
L: I totally like to scare myself, give myself some thrills.
N: It’s a bit sad in my case because I know it’s only a movie and I go in knowing that.
L: …And you still get scared! Yeah, the only thing I really watch are thrillers and horrors and sci-fi action because if I wanna be sad, I’ll go write a song.
N: So what’s your favourite horror movie?
L: I think it’s The Shining. It’s a classical, beautifully done.
N: Loads of people say Nightmare on Elm Street and I watched that and I wasn’t really scared.
L: I wasn’t really scared with that either, I think some moments in it were scary but I think the atmosphere in The Shining, it was very chilled, which made it more scary.
N: It was a strange theory that they had with that film because it was with an average family.
L: The one thing I liked about it was the ending because it had a happy ending, most horror movies nowadays don’t have happy endings.
N: It’s kinda progressed into gore now and more about how much blood you can get on screen. Do you think you express your emotions predominantly through your songs?
L: Absolutely, my greatest songs have come from me being down on the floor and depressed. You’d be surprised, about 40% of my songs I’ve written when I was crying. I usually take those moments and turn them into something positive where I can look back at them and not be ashamed of those times but be encouraged.
N: So what is planned for Lights for the rest of this year?
L: A lot of touring, we’re gonna do Warped Tour this summer.
N: The whole thing?
L: Just the first month, then the album drops in August. We’re gonna do an official video for Ice next month. The other one I released now is more of a viral thing, I wanted to do something for special the guys online. I’m also working with a Marvel comic illustrator to make four short films to go on MTV. I’ve developed a character but I’m not going to go into too much detail but it’s so cool, the storyline’s amazing.
N: A bit of detail?
L: Okay, it definitely incorporates in the music because unfortunately that’s the only way to get your music on MTV now, if you do anything other than music. The character is myself, she always carries a laser gun and she always keeps it in her pants so I decided to go the whole nine yards [shows tattoo of a pistol on her hip] so it’ll just be about her adventures.
N: That sounds like it’s going to be pretty cool.
L: I can’t wait for it!
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