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Lately I’ve been feeling like the Canadian Ambassador for the music scene in Boston and I am one hundred percent okay with that. It’s been a lot of the boys but Saturday night, I sat down with a lady that has been killing it in both countries and around the world for the last ten years or so, Lights! She is currently about half way into an incredible US run, including selling out Boston that night.
Her latest record, Little Machines, has had much acclaim and produced several big hits with Lights also winning a Juno (otherwise known as a Canadian grammy) for the record. In my chat with her, she told me about the acoustic record that her and her band have been working on as well as the fact that she has a good storage of new material that she has been working on. Read our new one below and if you’ve been sleeping under a rock, quickly put this lady into your music rotation. Lights is incredibly talented and completely deserving of her success!
A soft one to start, I know you’ve been doing this tour for a while. I know it’s been a minute since you’ve been in the Boston, the tour is going really well having sold out dates. How has it been going so far for you?
Oh it’s been so fun. I think this set that we’re doing on this tour is my favorite that we’ve done so far. There’s a bit of all the records in it and there’s a huge dynamic in it. We have these really cool surreal moments and these really super intimate moments and that makes the journey for me go by really quickly and that’s when you know you’re having fun I guess.
Maybe how has it been to kind of return and play to these crowds? You have steadily toured the states which a lot of Canadian artists don’t do. You did have a little bit of a break you know obviously you had your daughter which is kind of a big thing.
Yeah I haven’t had a break since I had her (laughs). Since I’ve had her, we’ve been on three US tours, four I guess. So a lot of these cities we were in, if we weren’t here last fall, we were here in February and March playing shows as well. So it’s kind of amazing to be able to come back once or even twice, three times in a year, and people are still coming to the shows. That’s pretty special. I mean it’s a grind. We’re out most of the year but I get to see a lot of familiar faces and meet new people every time we come through. Boston is actually one of my favorite places to play. The Boston date of the last tour which was a year ago was my favorite show of that tour. It was amazing so I’m excited to play tonight.
Then you pretty steadily release new music and Little Machines is just over a year old. There was a lot of success with it, you won a Juno for it. Maybe are you currently working on a new record or do you think that’s still something that’s a little bit away?
I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been filling the time that I’ve had in-between tours and promo with writing so I think I have two albums worth of material. I think it’s just important to keep the muscle going because I’ve learned that the hard way the last time around. I toured without writing then when I got back into it, the muscle was out of shape and I went into this severe bout of writer’s block and the story unfolds from there but to counter that this time, I’ve just been writing a lot. In all the spaces in-between but actually in terms of releases coming up, we have an incredible stripped down acoustic version of Little Machines waiting to come out. I can’t wait for people to hear it. It’s a selection of songs that you wouldn’t the least expect to be turned into acoustic versions on the record. We brought in a string quartet, we brought the band in to sort of play these late night drunken versions of the songs. It’s one of my most powerful pieces I think. I can’t wait for people to hear it. Next few months, next few months!
Next few months? And that’s something you’ve done before. I know you did the acoustic tour, an acoustic release. Is that something you think you’ll continue to do in the future considering what you’ve done with it so far?
Yeah! The reason I did it in the first place was because fans wanted it. I would do stripped down versions because it was easier for in store appearances or radio visits or whatever it may be but fans really gravitated towards the intimate version of the song as well as the full version. So that was why I put out the first acoustic EP in the first place but then I kind of set this precedent of putting out acoustic versions of all my stuff. So this time around, I really wanted to do something like that but with a different twist on it and that’s why it’s sort of stripped down. It’s these different versions of it that are really light and kind of emotive and cool. That is an important aspect for me because as a songwriter, you want your song to be able to shine no matter what it’s dressed up. Whether it’s full of smoke and lights and all the keyboards and bass and drum or stripped down and just one on one. If a song can shine that way, you know you have a powerful piece. I actually experimented this time around with taking the ones that you would least expect to be turned into slow versions and making them into an entirely new song. It’s kind of cool because a song like Up We Go, I think that was the one that had the biggest transformation because the full version is like an anthem. The stripped down version becomes this really sad song and it’s amazing how a lyric can take on a new meaning.
That’s really amazing.
Yeah, I can’t wait for people to hear it.
And you’ve been doing this for so long. Like you said you experienced a pretty severe writer’s block and you’ve written several records now. You’ve obviously experienced a lot these past few years being in a different position then you were when you started performing as Lights. Life happened.
Yeah (laughs) as it does with all of us.
Yeah, exactly. You grow up but do you think the writing process even though you’ve been doing this for so long, do you think it still changes sometimes? Do you think you go about it differently?
Yeah, I mean I think ultimately the way I build a song is the same but my flexibility with the different people I can write with or the different situations or the different things I can draw from has evolved and changed or maybe expanded since the beginning. I used to only be able to write on my own or with one or two other people that I knew very closely because I’m very intimate with my music and it comes from a very personal place. But over the years, you learn your strengths and you know how to bring that into a scenario, into so many different scenarios and still be productive in the process. So I think that for the most part, the writing process is still the same but I’ve just learned how to get more out of my time because as you get older, you have more responsibilities I guess.
Certainly and do you think it will still be a while, I mean we talked about the acoustic record that you’re doing, but new material-wise. Will it still be a while since you’ll know be deciding what you want to put on that record, the direction you want to go with?
Yeah, I mean the gap everybody likes between records is two years. With the last record, it was three because I ran into some issues but the hope is obviously for something new next year but who knows? The world of music especially in terms of the sales side of things and the consumption of the music is changing so much that I don’t know if it really matters. As long as you have stuff there for people and that it’s good, that’s all that matters to me. I’m not going to rush something just so I can have it out next fall but that’s always when people want something. If it’s ready and I feel like it’s right, it will be next fall but who knows.
Take your time, your fans are pretty dedicated. I think they’ll stick by your side.
Yeah and I feel very lucky. This tour has proven that to me because some people will come up to me and be like man, I’ve been a fan of you since the Myspace days ten years ago and I’m like fuck that’s been a long time. It’s been a long run. We’ve been going very strongly and I’m lucky that this is my job and that I’m still here and that some of these fans have been with me for ten years and people have not left my side. So it makes it feel really amazing.
That must be insane though.
I mean you’re obviously a hard worker and you’ve been doing this for a very long time to have the same fans still be here.
It’s powerful. I would never take it granted for any minute. I mean they invest so much of their lives into what I do and I feel lucky for that.
Perfect then to end it off, you did talk obviously earlier about the acoustic record and you are working on new material but you still have a good portion to go in this run. Maybe what’s coming up? Do you think you’re going to keep on touring, take time off to work on this record?
Well, we’re going to finish out this tour which is about another month. A little bit less than a month. I think a few dates are going to come in but we’ve confirmed the Parahoy cruise for March which is going to be amazing. Cruise with friends’ bands like X Ambassadors, Chvrches and Paramore and hopefully we’ll go back to the UK after that for a little bit. Then maybe kind of hunker down and work on the new stuff pretty hard but yeah there’s still a bit more of touring left to go even though we’ve been out for literally a year. It’s the power of the record I think. It’s something I’m really proud of and it’s been keeping us on the road straight so may as well keep going with it!