September 21, 2017 Interview – Lights Talks Skin&Earth
Pushing the boundaries of creativity are essential for growth; without doing so, we may as well be just circling the orbit surrounding Earth. Speaking of Earth, the talented Canadian Singer-Songwriter known as Lights has tapped into a new artistic impulse in recent years drawing up the blueprint for a comic book series she calls Skin&Earth.
A passion project, Lights has balanced touring, spending time with her family, writing new music, and, of course, drawing illustrations. Reaching countries across the world with her 2014 chart-topping album Little Machines, she is set to follow-up with her latest music offering under the title Skin&Earth. A different direction for Lights, she is spreading her wings and expanding her horizons as a songwriter. Recently, we caught up with Lights to talk the creative process behind her new path, the concept behind the comic, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke, it was just prior to the release of Little Machines back in 2014. An exceptional album, you have kept busy over the past few years since also releasing Midnight Machines last year. What has the last few years been like for you?
Lights – A lot of it was spent sitting at a table somewhere hunched over a drawing tablet, working on the 160 comic pages of Skin&Earth. Outside of that, mostly between LA, Toronto, and Vancouver, working on music.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it was a very productive and creative time. As stated, you have kept busy performing live, balancing family, and writing music. In addition, you have launched the aforementioned comic book series. Tell us a little bit about the concept behind this interesting project.
Lights – The story itself is that of a young woman searching for hope in an apocalyptic world devoid of it. She becomes entangled with a dark spiritual friend who in turn becomes much more connected to the world around her than she ever thought and sets her on a journey that could change the course of everything.
I liked the idea of a conduit through which I could take a fresh perspective for the lyrical content of the songs, but in turn ended up writing a character so much like myself that the songs were actually more personal than ever before. I was able to tap into a new side of myself through her.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds very compelling and exciting at the same time to tap into something new like that. Being a musician, it is clear you are also quite visual judging by previously released music videos. Were the illustrations of the comic played out in your head years prior to its inception?
Lights – Having the visuals in my head while coming up with the story helped create the mood of the songs, and the songs further established my idea of the visuals, all before I even began drawing. I was actually flabbergasted when some of the stuff that was in my head actually began to manifest itself on the pages once I started doing the art; it was really rewarding.
CrypticRock.com – It is funny how things sometimes work out that way. Now you are set to return on September 22nd with your fourth studio album, also titled Skin&Earth. This album goes in a slightly different direction then Little Machines. What was the writing and recording process behind this collection of songs?
Lights – Everyone on this record was a new face; I didn’t work with any of the staple people I have for the years past. I really wanted to bring in some fresh influences. I introduced the comic concept and storyline at the beginning of every session and it really helped establish a creative environment which we could dive into right away. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had making a record, and walked away with some good friends too.
CrypticRock.com – Changing it up sometimes is a positive thing and obviously it worked well for you judging by the end results of Skin&Earth. That said, the electronic elements are still quite prevalent on the record. You had previously mentioned for Little Machines you in fact worked with some older synthesizers. Was that the case with this record as well?
Lights – There is actually very little analog instrumentation on this record other than live drums (from none other than Josh Dun!), live bass here and there, and guitar which I played throughout the record for the most part.
CrypticRock.com – There is certainly a distinctive tone to this record. One other aspect which stands out boldly is it appears you take your vocals to new heights. How did you prepare your voice for these songs?
Lights – I think my years of hiding behind myself are behind me. I used to tuck my vocals away for some reason, in hopes to let the songs and quirky instrumentation shine through. But I’m tapping back into my diva Lights on this record. I learned to sing listening to Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey, so she’s in there, just had to dig her up.
CrypticRock.com – You certainly can hear the power in your voice on these songs. As mentioned earlier, your work has a visual quality. With the comic series and this new album, what can fans expect from Lights’ live set on the forthcoming tour with PVRIS?
Lights – Because we are the support act we won’t be doing full force production for this run, just gonna get back into the swing, play a bunch of new songs and mix in some old, get the good vibes going. Once the comic series is out in its entirety (the last issue is December) then I’ll work that into the set much more prominently.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent! Well the tour with PVRIS, running through October 22nd, should be a great show each night. Seeing your passion for the music and a storyline, is there possibilities for a feature film in the future?
Lights – I definitely wouldn’t say no! I have big dreams for the world and characters I’ve created. The comic happened to be something I could do with zero budget, just a lot of personal investment of time and vision. If I ever had access to more resources and interest on a bigger scale, I’d say a show or movie are definitely not out of the question.
CrypticRock.com – That will be something to look forward to in the future. If you recall, CrypticRock covers both music and movies, with a concentration in Horror cinema. You had mentioned you do in fact love Horror films. What are some Horror films you have seen recently that you enjoyed?
Lights – It was as wonderful as we all wanted it to be. Also, Don’t Breathe (2016) is a high key recommendation of mine these days. Though, I wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as a Horror, The Girl with all the Gifts (2016) was incredible as well.