A conversation with Lights

NewsHouse sits down with Canadian pop star Lights to talk superheroes, black metal and bloodsucking moths.

NewsHouse: So you said you’ve been to Syracuse before. Do you have any memories from when you played here last?

Lights: It always seems like one of those stops we make on tour for some reason. It’s cool, there’s always been a little something. When we first came down here in 2008, we played the same venue a couple times. When we first started there were maybe like 80 people that showed up. It’s fun, there’s always people that show up. There’s definitely a special vibe.

NH: What’s the reception to the new album been like on this tour, and what have you seen from the crowd?

L: It’s awesome. This is technically the second leg of the Siberia tour because we started in October of last year. This is part two of hitting the cities we didn’t go to in states like Florida or Texas. In terms of response, it’s been awesome. I think subconsciously there’s something inside of you that knows what comes across well live, and after a couple years of experience touring after the first record, I applied that to the second record. The new stuff is so fun to play live and so energetic. People really respond to that physically, more than ever, so it makes playing the shows really fun.

NH: The new album has more of an electronic, gritty texture to it. Is that something you’ve wanted to incorporate into your music, or something that just accidentally happened?

L: Yeah, one thing I really wanted to do after the first record was, in an extreme way to say it, uglify it. I mean, the first record was perfect. Everything was in place and in time, and everything was glittering and polished, but I wanted to make the second record heavier and raunchier, to turn electro-pop on its underbelly and turn it into electro-grind. Bringing in Holy F--k really helped, and having Shad to rap on a couple songs, he’s an amazing Canadian rapper. So it really did achieve that, it brought this level of darkness to a really happy record. Which is a really nice juxtaposition.

NH: How does the concept of storytelling and fantasy play into your songwriting?

L: It’s a place you go. When I play Skyrim or World of Warcraft, or I read comics and graphic novels, you’re taken somewhere else. And that’s the beauty of it. You’re taken to this world of imagination, that’s not necessarily all candy, popcorn and flowers. It’s dark and it’s pretty frightening, but it makes you feel challenged. I think there’s something to be said for that. You can invent a place where you feel challenged, feel excited and can feel like a greater person than you are in real life. And then going to that world and writing in that place makes everything feel pretty awesome. It makes everything feel more than it is, which is why I think people listen to music, because it takes them away from what life really is. Which is sometimes pretty drab.

NH: Well that’s a pretty depressing statement to end on.

L: It is a little bit. But that’s art. People escape, and not everyone can afford vacations. So you take the cheap ones and look at art and play video games.

NH: With your broad range of influences, and doing guest vocals for some bands that your fans wouldn’t necessarily listen to (Bring Me the Horizon and Silverstein come to mind), tell me how that kind of influence plays into your music? And can you tell me how awesome black metal is?

L: Black metal is awesome. I started off playing guitar in a metal band. We were called Shovel Face and we were awful. I love Cradle of Filth, but that’s more poppy black metal, and Dark Funeral. It’s just something so different from what I do, I love it. It’s chaos in music. With electronic, everything’s structured. The beauty of pop music is I think everyone dismisses it often as being simple, easy and unrespected. But it’s actually hard to write within a structure, write within boundaries and make it still appealing and original. That’s a really big challenge. That’s why I like pop music and that’s why I do pop music. To make something that’s accessible but would otherwise be predictable, but not predictable. Black metal is essentially the opposite and there are no boundaries. Both are appealing and can change the way you feel.  On these collaborations, I think it’s cool to challenge yourself to do other types of music too. I realized it’s not changing your style to fit other styles, it’s about bringing your style to that music to infuse different styles.

NH: If you could bring one superhero back to life to hang out with for a day, who would it be?

L: Probably Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. She’s awesome, total girl crush. I got my hair cut like her a few years ago.

NH: Last one. Have you actually been to Siberia?

L: I haven’t. But that’s the thing, I don’t think many people have.

NH: But it makes it that much more of a metaphor that you haven’t.

L: Exactly. In the song I say “let’s leave Canada for Siberia.” It’s like you can leave home for wherever. Canada’s my home. And you could be anywhere, the opposite place from where you expect, and still be happy because it’s about who you’re with. The thing with Siberia is it’s so mysterious and cool. Now that I’ve written a record called Siberia, I get a lot of facts coming in from fans on Twitter, from bloodsucking moths to the apparent proven existence of Yetis which scientists all over the world are exploring. Weird things happen there, but it’s so mysterious and crazy and cool, and it’s scary but adventurous. That’s what it felt like making the record, but that’s why it makes sense.


Check out our review of Saturday night's show here.

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