After a lengthy departure from the UK, Lights is back and better than ever before with a new album under her belt and an edgier sound to her songs. We caught up with the Canadian beauty before her Leeds show to talk about how the sold out tour is going.
So you’re getting towards of the end of your UK tour now, how’s it been so far?
It’s amazing, it’s really surprisingly going well, not that I wasn’t expecting it to go well but not this well, you know, over half the tours been sold out before we even got here and the crowds just respond so well and you know, we haven’t been here since the new record came out and a lot can happen in a year and a half so things have been brewing.
Is there a lot of stuff off the album, Siberia, in the tour setlist then?
Yeah, we’re calling it Siberia tour so its essentially more that vibe with a lot of songs off Siberia, we do some older stuff as well but the vibe is definitely that grittier, edgier thing and you see the audience changing too, there’s a lot more dudes coming to shows and just like crowds are getting older too which is cool
So a lot of fans have grown up with you?
Yeah, that’s one thing that makes me really happy ‘cause when you make your second record the last thing you want to do is your fans to move on. It’s so important to change and evolve with them
Have you found you’ve gained new fans whilst the new records have been released?
Yeah yeah, totally, I think the new record is so different from the last one that people who may not have been into the first one can have a chance to get into the second one
So back home you can easily sell out big venues, yet over here the tour is predominantly in smaller places, do you prefer the intimate crowds compared to larger ones?
I mean, as a musician you love the intimacy with the crowd whereas a performer you really like that closer like right in your face, you’re shoulder to shoulder to everybody, I mean that’s what the fun shows really are. Compare that to, I mean I’ve never played in an arena but can you imagine it’s the complete opposite and very disconnected shows. It would be more a performance and less of an interaction. You take things for what they are, you learn how to perform differently for each of them. There’s always something really awesome about those intimate venues.
How do UK fans compare to those back home or in other places around the world?
You guys probably get the same thing said about UK crowds all the time but it’s essentially that’s it’s more fun, I dunno what it is, I think it’s a smaller continent in a sense really so more bands will come through and you can go to more shows and there’s more venues and there’s just a better breeding ground for music. People here are used to going to shows and go to shows all the time whereas it might be a little less common in Canada where you know if you live a few hours outside of a city which is not that uncommon, you’re not going to get to see a band come through your town. People here just know how to watch a show and they just get into it.
Back home you’re known for your ‘Lights Army’, have you found you have this kind of following in the UK?
There’s little groups of people all over, even a few shows in the UK tour there’re people coming in from Germany and Holland coming to shows like long time established fans that don’t get to come to you all that often so there’s peoples everywhere and it’s amazing to see.
Lots of fans have been making all different things for you, what’s the craziest thing a fans ever given you?
Back in North America, the fans are really connected which is really cool ‘cause we intended for that to happen when we formed the website a few years ago we wanted it to be like a social network, creating profiles and making friends and I’ve seen exactly that happen and projects like they did, this past tour, every major tour they’ll have a project and work together and this past one was the banner project where in every city they worked together (in the end each cities banner formed a big banner with the lyrics ‘if this war is never ending I’ll take this love down with me’). There are very few gifts that can beat that kinda team work and that kinda creativity when one person spurs the whole campaign and everyone gets involved. The year before that they did a ‘Keys’ project where every city gave me a key and this was all over Canada and the states and at the end they gave me a box and one of the keys worked the box and the outcome was loads of letters and things in it. It’s those kinda things that are pretty mind blowing when it’s not just one person’s vision it’s a ton of people working together.
So it must mean a lot to you that you have that kind of fan base?
100%, it’s amazing that your music can bring people together that’s kinda the idea I guess.
The music scene you’re in is very much dominated by males do you think it’s important for more girls to start getting involved?
For sure, I think just like anything it’s important that more women do it you see so many dudes on tour and very few girls and I see it changing, you see a lot more girls showing up even just as musicians not even front women which I think is so impressive and I mean on the back end of things, venue staff for house and lighting and stage managers, you see tons of women doing it and its always really impressive because you know they’re good at what they do because they probably had to work extra hard to get there ‘cause there’s just less girls so I’m hoping that changes a lot more in the future.
Do you enjoy being round the boys all the time or is nice to see girlfriends too?
It’s kinda funny, you develop this, you have different relationships with every crew you hang out with. I have band relationships then you have family relationships, romantic relationships and friend relationships. It’s less about being with boys and more just neutral sexes in a group but it’s definitely nice to be with a girl every now and then. One of my best friends who tours with us in North America she does merch and it’s nice to have another female in the line-up to work with.
Your sound is very unique, who would you say influences that?
It’s honestly such a combination of different genres and sounds. I’ve dabbled in a lot of things throughout the past year. I was in a metal band, then I was in a pop punk band, I did acoustic then I did like a r’n’b and you do a bunch of stuff until you figure out what your sound is which is what I generally did to get a combination of everything and I don’t sit there and strive to be something in particular you just make what sounds great. I’ll take an influence from a Bjork beat and then like a guitar sound from U2 and a metal breakdown and then you try and with lyrics that work with the mood so it’s literally just a vision of the sound you want and creating it.
Do you find a lot of songs are primarily focused from personal experiences?
Yeah, yeah for sure. It’s really hard to write about something you’ve not experienced, it’d be like lying. Whether or not it’s something I’m going through, something I’m feeling, something I’m observing it’s always something I know to be true and that’s how the song comes out of it.
You’re constantly busy touring or making albums, how do you find time for yourself?
There’s time in there, you find time, I mean for example, I’m taking computer science courses and when you’re travelling to Glasgow and on a 5 hour drive that’s when you get chance to do those kinda things so it’s all in those in-between times. You gotta make sure you ration your time appropriately so you have enough time to have fun so that music still remains the fun thing so you do other things like classes and I do paintings a lot to keep another side there for creativity flowing and then I do a lot of gaming so then when you get back to the real world it’s like okay let’s do it.
You said you study computer science, so you think education is just as important even though you have a career in music?
Oh yeah, 100%, I think it’s so important and I hope that people never lose that hunger for learning new things and always feeling like you don’t know enough. It’s one of the most important things to living a successful life – thinking you’ve lived to the fullest.
There’s so many bands that just assume they’ll be in a band for the rest of their lives and they don’t need education..
Ha-ha, well that’s not gonna happen, unless you’re U2 that is not going to happen.
Finally, what does 2012 hold for the future of Lights?
Erm, a lot more touring, Siberia’s pretty young still so there’s gonna be a lot of tour off that and hopefully going to Australia this year and further than ever before and I have put something out every year since 2008 so I’m hoping for a release this year it won’t be a full length album or anything like that but maybe just acoustic stuff and yeah, just keep on going.