Juno win­ner re­leases new al­bum

Mid­town elec­tro-pop artist Lights is back

North Toronto Post - - Arts - By Darcy Stre­it­en­feld

With her shock of fiery hair and a voice that doesn’t quit, it’s hard not to take no­tice of Lights. The Cana­dian elec­tro-pop song­bird’s 2014 al­bum Lit­tle Machines was a tour de force, gar­ner­ing end­less ac­co­lades and a Juno to top it all off. We caught up with the mul­ti­tal­ented mu­si­cian in the days prior to her fourth stu­dio re­lease, a con­cept al­bum ti­tled Skin&Earth.

All sum­mer long, Lights (real name: Va­lerie Poxleit­ner) slowly fed her fans a gritty, postapoc­a­lyp­tic, six-part comic se­ries that cul­mi­nated with the re­lease of the al­bum on Sept. 22. The im­mer­sive, mul­ti­me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence pro­duced by this dual re­lease marks an un­prece­dented level of cre­ative out­put for Lights.

Since re­lo­cat­ing from Toronto to Mis­sion, B.C., the singer has un­der­gone a three-year pe­riod of im­mense growth. Lights at­tributes much of this evo­lu­tion of spirit and artistry to the birth of her first child, Rocket Wild, with hus­band Beau Bokan.

“I have never owned my cre­ative power, my sex­u­al­ity and my ca­reer more, since be­com­ing a par­ent. It’s a de­gree of lib­er­a­tion you get from strip­ping away nar­cis­sism. My world has never opened up the way it has since I was a mother,” Lights says.

The new record keeps true to Lights’ elec­tro-alt pop ori­gins. How­ever, Skin&Earth boasts songs with a slightly edgier and more con­trolled ap­proach, of­fer­ing a so­phis­ti­cated sound un­matched by pre­vi­ous ef­forts from the artist. The singer-song­writer at­tributes this shift in sound to the medium of a con­cept al­bum — in singing not as her­self, but as the lead char­ac­ter of her comic.

“Singing through the lens of a char­ac­ter al­lows a de­gree of sep­a­ra­tion lyri­cally,” she says.

Lights picked up a gui­tar at a young age and kicked off her pro­fes­sional mu­sic ca­reer in 2007. Since then, she’s earned $200,000 in U.S. al­bum sales, picked up two Juno Awards and se­cured a ded­i­cated fan base. She’s toured the globe per­form­ing for those fans and is cur­rently hit­ting venues across the U.S. When per­form­ing, the singer-song­writer is known to switch it up be­tween the gui­tar and the key­board.

When it comes to the il­lus­tra­tion por­tion of this Skin&Earth, Lights be­gan her jour­ney to comic book artist in 2016. In the end, she wrote, drew, inked and for­mat­ted each page of the Skin&Earth se­ries. Each page took 10 hours.

The comic se­ries is a postapoc­a­lyp­tic nar­ra­tive that fol­lows a scar­let-haired char­ac­ter who searches for hope in a world de­void of it. The hero­ine nav­i­gates a bleak land­scape, over­run by cor­po­rate greed and ex­treme clas­sism.

Above all, the uni­ver­sal mes­sage of Lights’ tan­dem al­bum and comic se­ries re­lease is one of per­se­ver­ance. Both in the story and in her life, Lights worked hard and per­se­vered to cre­ate some­thing she is truly proud of.

Skin&Earth is avail­able on iTunes and all ma­jor stream­ing ser­vices. Skin&Earth, the comic se­ries, is avail­able through Dy­na­mite En­ter­tain­ment.

The lat­est re­lease from the Cana­dian artist in­cludes a self-drawn comic se­ries

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