"You can't know where you are going, until you know where you have been." This quote always seems to take on more meeting when we find out the varied paths that people get to where they want to be. We sat down with Lights (Warner Bros Records) to find out how she got into the industry, her upcoming tour next year, her new Skin&Earth album, which also includes a series of comic books, her favorite travel destinations and how she defines balance as a songwriter, performer, wife and mother.
ATHLEISURE MAG: How did you get into the music industry – tell us a little bit about your journey.
LIGHTS: That’s a loaded question! I started out having no idea about how to get into the industry and I don’t think that anybody does. And there really isn’t one specific way to do it. I
think at the beginning, I had a pretty skewed view of how it was to be done and how it would pan out. I did music because I loved it and I started writing songs when I was 11 – I had my little
8-tracks and I started producing when I was 13. By the time I was 15, I had multiple albums of music and at that time, it was before MySpace, Peer Volume or YouTube and there was no place to put it. You actually did have to have a way in. So I enter contests like songwriting
contests, local singing contests and stuff – just to see what would happen.
Randomly, my way in came. My mom worked at Walmart. She was an employee, so you could be in the flyer. We took a picture which they selected and we had the opportunity to be in
the flyer. The photo I sent in had me with a guitar and they picked me. They came to my town and shot some pictures of me and a few other locals for the Walmart flyer. I got $30 and modeled their turtleneck – it was great. So the makeup artist said, “oh the picture that you sent in with you in the guitar – do you actually play?” I was like, “Yeah, I have a whole EP.” I was like 14 or 15 at the time. So he asked me to sing for them and I did a Mariah Carey song in the trailer and he asked me to bring the EP by his hotel, which I did and then he brought it to his friend who was in the industry that happened to be coming into the area later that summer for a
festival and he ended up becoming my manager. We worked on the music for a couple of years and then shopped it to the labels and then a couple of years later, I got a development deal with Sony and then I made some connections in the industry and 2 years after I was dropped from the development deal, I got signed to publishing which is songwriting for TV shows as well as working on my own music with sessions with other writers.
At this time MySpace came along and that’s when I was able to put my stuff up and everything changed. It wasn’t the label that launched my career but an online platform that allowed other
people to have access to me. Then Old Navy used a couple of my songs in their campaigns and that is when other people found out about me and then I got signed on from there at 19 with Warner – everything went from there!
AM: We never figured that Walmart would play into this story!
L: You never know where your break is going to come from! The most important thing is to do what you love and to take the opportunities that present themselves. You never know where it
will lead to! With that said, many people ask me what way they can get into the industry and I tell them that they have what they need right in front of them as the access is online to get your music out there!
AM: We’re beyond bummed that we missed your show here in NYC earlier this month, but what can we expect when we go to a Lights show and what kind of music is it that you are doing?
L: It’s really about putting my shows into a story arc and that’s even more imperative now with the comic that comes with the record as we will be implementing that into the next tour. It's an emotional journey and it starts out energetic as I want to make sure that everyone is comfortable and singing along. My favorite part is to see that in a show and then I like to break it down to more of an intimate tone and then end it on a high note. Set lists are always really well thought out. People should come ready to dance and ready to sing and of course there are cool lights – literally, which is really cool.
AM: What is your personal style in terms of dressing at your shows versus out and about with you and your family?
L: It’s interesting how I dress for a show isn’t too far from how I dress day to day, it’s just more amped up. It’s more extreme and over the years, I have come to know that how I dress really affects how I walk and how I am on stage. I need to feel empowered and I need to feel like a woman. It’s somewhere between Lara Croft from Tomb Raider with short shorts and big boots – I always wear big boots and big socks even in the summertime. I love a crop top that channels my whole Anime Manga face with the bright hair. I like a little spice of fantasy mixed in with a bit of a warrior.
AM: Obviously you are extremely talented, how did the comic book into this portion of your music as well?
L: I have always loved comics and have been reading them for years. I think that comics, like music is one of those forms of entertainment that all the fans want to become the creators.
Once you read comments you want to make it, you want to try it – to create the content. I have always wanted to do it and it has been a dream of mine for a long time. Part of that dream has
been wanting to see out in that world a music comic project, by a woman. It just didn’t exist and there were a few things here and there and even with dudes, it wasn’t that common. So I
wondered, when is a girl going to do this? One day I was like, “why can’t it be you – get to your computer girl!”
I shrugged off the fears of not knowing how to do it as I think that is one of the major factors that holds us back from doing what we want to do because we feel that we don’t know how
to do it. I just taught myself how to do it! I did the research, I got the books - went online and watched webinars and tutorials and I just had to start from somewhere. I have seen my dreams come true in putting this together over the last year. It’s just been amazing. I did a lot of work – I write it, draw it, render it, color it, package it and ship it! I send it to the publisher and it’s from my heart and mind and it’s so cool to see it all come together!
AM: That is so cool so do you go to Comic Con with this?
L: Yeah! I have always gone to Con as a fan and last year I was at Toronto Fan X which I have gone to for 10 years as a fan. This year, I was there as a guest with a professional pass and people were CosPlaying as my character! It was so awesome!
AM: This is so inspiring and once again, we’re bummed that we didn’t see you tour!
L: Well, when we came through the fall last year, it was a shorter set as we were supporting Paris but next Feb/March when we come through, it will be a full production experience and a
full set! It will be directly related to the comic.
AM: Obviously you travel a lot, what are some of your favorite places that you love going to?
L: Oh one of my favorite cities to go to is Amsterdam! Everywhere you look is an Instagram shot – it’s so scenic and there are flowers all over the place. It’s gorgeous and I have even more of an appreciation for it especially doing the comics – as an artist now. You have to do studies and backgrounds in art and lighting. I’ve noticed things in the environment that I would have never noticed before like the way a shadow falls – so you notice your surroundings more and Amsterdam is one of those cities that everywhere you look it’s picturesque and inspiring. Another area is Mexico – I love the beaches and it's one of my favorite places in the world.
I grew up traveling and last year, my husband and I went to Thailand and explored the jungles and then we went to Tokyo – that trip itself was a bit of a catalyst that made me really want to
do the comic and a month later I was drawing!
AM: We love Tokyo, being there really changed the way we looked at things for sure!
L: I know – when I got there I was like, “I want to do music and have it played here – how can I make this happen?” So, we have Giants in four different languages and Japanese is one of them!
AM: This holiday season, are you doing a lot of performances, will you be doing festivals for 2018?
L: Yeah it’s going to be a festival summer this year I think and our tour is 2.5 months in the spring with the festivals in the summer and then touring in the fall. The final issue of the comic comes out next month and then we will be packaging it into a graphic novel and then will tour on that in comic shops which will be some pretty cool stuff on that as well.
AM: Clearly your busy, how do you take time for yourself – are you a yogi – what do you do?
L: I do a bit of that. It’s all just balance. I’ve learned a lot over the years and still have a lot to learn about getting work done and taking time. I mean it’s not about saying I’m going to work here this week and then take time out here on this day. There was a time in my life, that I thought that was the way to do it. Instead it’s more like, today I am going to work 4-5 hours and then have dinner with my kid or spend some time tonight to do whatever. Everyday is in
front of you so you need to take the time daily you need to do the work but you need to take the time. I mean life moves and we spend so much of our time waiting for life to happen and
it’s right now and we need to enjoy it while getting stuff done.
AM: What would you like to share with Athleisure Mag’s readers that you may not have been able to share?
L: I’d say check out the album …… it’s my Opus and the greatest thing that I have done so far and I’m proud of it. Listen to the music on its own, read the comic on it’s own and then do so
together – it’s a totally augmented experience and check out the Instagram page @SkinAndEarthWorld – it’s a map of the world from within the comic and its interactive - click through the various accounts and explore the world and go to different locations and find hidden song clips. It’s just a fun way to experience the world without having to pay for anything right now.