Lights un­veils new LP, comic book se­ries

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NEWS - JANE STEVEN­SON Post­media Net­work

cana­dian elec­tro-pop singer­song­writer lights, a tim­mins na­tive, may have light­ened up her nor­mally brown hair to a “vi­brant red,” but she’s gone dark on her latest album, skin & earth, and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing comic book se­ries.

“it’s a whole dif­fer­ent look and that was in­spired by the comic,” she says.

“the char­ac­ter in the comic book, en, i de­signed her to have cool hair ‘cause in comics lots of char­ac­ters have nice bright hair. but i also modelled her look based on some­thing that i think i could pull off so i gave her kind of my hair­style. i landed on red be­cause i think i grew up lov­ing lit­tle Mer­maid.”

but the story of skin & earth isn’t any­thing like a dis­ney film as lights ex­plains.

“(set dur­ing) dystopian (times) be­fore fu­ture earth was built, it was just the idea of a young woman who has her heart bro­ken, she sinks into a deep de­pres­sion, and in her de­pres­sion meets a spirit and (it) be­comes her dark­est friend,” she says.

We caught up with lights in toronto re­cently to talk mu­sic, comics, ex-man­ager Jian Ghome­shi and more.

Why an album and a comic book?

it’s hap­pened in the alt-word, here and there, co­heed and cam­bria, My chem­i­cal ro­mance, but never in the pop world and never with a girl. so i was just, ‘Why shouldn’t i be the one to do it?’ i’ve al­ways drawn. My art it’s not pro­fes­sional and i had to take it to the next level on this project.

Why such a dark di­rec­tion this time out?

it was commentary on de­pres­sion and men­tal health, things i’ve dealt with in the past, and vices, and how it can be­come your great­est love and dark­est friend and thorn in your side. ba­si­cally she [en] has to dig deep within her­self to over­come this and come out stronger for those ex­pe­ri­ences.

Did you think you could al­ways be strong?

that’s the whole point of the story. there are times where you don’t think you can be one of those strong women. you’re not one of the lead­ers right? but that doesn’t mean you’re not. and that doesn’t mean you’re not a trail­blazer. i think no­to­ri­ously comics are about su­per­heroes, un­touch­able be­ings, but this char­ac­ter’s not. and that’s what i find i’m more at­tracted to when i’m read­ing books. it’s peo­ple who are real, flawed, make bad de­ci­sions and have to pick them­selves up again and find their strengths.

How re­cently did you ex­pe­ri­ence this de­pres­sion?

When i first moved to toronto [at 18], i was strug­gling with de­pres­sion a lot. Fac­ing the world on my own for the first time. i’m thank­ful for that time i had to self-re­flect ‘cause i learned a lot about my­self. and you kind of go through the ringer to fig­ure out how to go through it.

How hard was the split with your man­ager of 10 years, Jian Ghome­shi, in 2014 fol­low­ing his very pub­lic scan­dal?

at the time i didn’t re­ally have much to do with the whole thing. he was my man­ager for 10 years. i learned a lot from him in the in­dus­try. but i didn’t ac­tu­ally know him very well on a per­sonal level. We weren’t best friends or any­thing. so it all took me by sur­prise. and i think we were all dragged through this un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­body but luck­ily we came through it. ev­ery era is its own era and we’re into the new era. and it feels good.

The new album also deals with fight­ing, anger and sex, sub­jects you’ve said you have never writ­ten about be­fore. Why now?

i think in the past, i’ve put up these walls dis­al­low­ing my­self to sing about things that i thought would raise ques­tions about my per­sonal life. so i think what it took is for me to chan­nel through a char­ac­ter to tell these sto­ries of things that i’ve ac­tu­ally ex­pe­ri­enced. it’s funny it took a fic­tional char­ac­ter for me to be my most au­then­tic self. Could the comic book be turned into a TV show? i have ideas ... never-end­ing ideas of where it could go.

Why have you de­cided to re-record the first sin­gle, Giants, in four new lan­guages – Ta­ga­log (the lan­guage of the Phillip­ines), French, Ja­panese and Span­ish?

i want this project to reach as far as it can get. i want to make trans­lated ver­sions of at least ver­sion one [of the comic] that i can put out with these trans­lated ver­sions of the sin­gle. i’ll do hy­brid ver­sions. ta­ga­log will prob­a­bly be the eas­i­est one ac­tu­ally (to sing) be­cause i grew up there. the hard­est one will be Ja­panese.

Emma mel­drum/the Daily Press

The Stars & Thun­der In­ter­na­tional Fire­works Com­pe­ti­tion and Mu­sic Fes­ti­val pro­vided some­thing of a home­com­ing for pop sen­sa­tion Lights aka Va­lerie Anne Poxleit­ner, who was born in Tim­mins. Lights has just re­leased a new album and is launch­ing a comic book se­ries.

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