Young artists to light up Bron­son Cen­tre,

The sopho­more al­bum by Lights mixes heavy beats with sun­nier sub­jects

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - BEN KA­PLAN

Be­hind the Re­gent Park School of Mu­sic in Toronto, a group of young girls are barely able to con­trol their emo­tions. “Oh my God, I can’t be­lieve I’m meet­ing you right now, I’m so ex­cited,” says Amelia Chu­ra­man, 15, to the pop singer Lights, who ar­rives at the non-profit mu­sic school to col­lab­o­rate with the bud­ding mu­si­cians. “You in­spire me to pick up the gui­tar and sing.”

Lights, win­ner of the 2009 best new artist Juno Award, re­leased her sec­ond al­bum, Siberia, last month and Ev­ery­body Breaks

a Glass, the artist-leaked sin­gle, has al­ready been down­loaded 150,000 times. The elec­tronic artist, just 24, wrote her first song on the gui­tar at 11 and was signed to Sony as a song­writer at 16. Sign­ing au­to­graphs, hand- ing out gui­tar picks and even tak­ing a pho­to­graph with a cu­ri­ous res­i­dent who’s wan­dered into the small court­yard — Re­gent Park doesn’t gen­er­ally wel­come too many pop stars — Lights says she knows what it feels like to be a mu­sic-mad kid.

“Not that I sound any­thing like her, but I grew up singing like Mariah Carey, and Cé­line Dion was def­i­nitely my favourite artist when I was 12,” says the na­tive of Tim­mins, Ont., who was born Va­lerie Anne Poxleit­ner but who is now known legally as Lights.

“I want to en­cour­age these kids; they’re awe­some! Look at them, there’s re­ally not that much dif­fer­ence be­tween them and me.”

Siberia marks a sig­nif­i­cant growth spurt from The Lis­ten­ing, Lights’ al­bum de­but, be­cause while her beats have be­come heav­ier, the sub­ject mat­ter has, well, light­ened up. Col­lab­o­rat­ing with Gra­ham Walsh and Brian Borcherdt, who record un­der the moniker Holy F —, the al­bum swings from dub-step to house and techno, while never stray­ing too far from Lights’ deeply en­trenched love of pop hooks.

“I want some­one to do some­thing I can’t do, and the al­bum’s grit and dark­ness is some­thing I don’t grav­i­tate to­ward, but Holy F — pro­vided that,” she says. “It’s funny be­cause the first record was a lot hap­pier-sound­ing, but it’s a sad record. This record sounds a lot darker, but it came from a hap­pier place.”

Lights at­tributes her new-found strength and lev­ity to grow­ing up as a mu­si­cian, and a per­son, on the road. An artist with a mas­sive online pres­ence, she sports a gi­ant World of War­craft dag­ger tat­too on her wrist. She also has the word “Un­stop­pable” tat­tooed on her back and a six-inch pic­ture of Won­der Wo­man slay­ing a gi­ant on her arm.

“I’m com­mu­ni­cat­ing this feel­ing of be­ing strong even though you aren’t, and that even if you’re not big, you can still be ex­tremely pow­er­ful,” she says.

“Now I’m not afraid of who I am, like I once was, and you can def­i­nitely hear that on the new disc.”

In to­tal, five young mu­si­cians ar­rive for the Lights jam ses­sion, rang­ing in age from 10-year-old Ben Aen­is­hanslin to 16-year-old Por­tia Siegel. Lights leads them through a few ren­di­tions of Drive and Toes, the record’s ad­dic­tive first sin­gle, en­cour­ag­ing them be­tween takes.

“Voices sound the best when you know that they are the best,” she in­forms her back­ing band at the end of one song. “Amelia, you’re killing it with that strum pat­tern. It sounds awe­some, you guys.”

Lights is tour­ing Siberia through the fall and into 2012, in­clud­ing a stop at Bron­son Cen­tre Nov. 23, and al­ready seems ex­cited about writ­ing new ma­te­rial. Play­ing acous­tic mu­sic in a back court­yard of the Re­gent Park School of Mu­sic, the singer says she feels em­pow­ered by the changes she’s made.

“I’ve grown up so much over the last cou­ple of years, not be­cause I’ve been jaded or weath­ered by the world, but be­cause I’ve learned so much about my­self,” she says. “I’ve learned how to be con­fi­dent and not be ner­vous in a par­a­lyz­ing way, and I’ve learned that it’s best not to close your­self off from peo­ple, you let peo­ple in.”


Juno Award-win­ning singer-song­writer Lights, who re­cently re­leased her sec­ond al­bum, Siberia, says she knows what it feels like to be a mu­sic-mad kid.

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