Forgotten Gems of the Scene: LIGHTS

Photo by Lindsey Blane

Written by Julieta Vega

While jumping from genre to genre within the alternative music scene, someone that far too many people overlook is Canadian artist Lights. She gained popularity through her distinctive talent of blending electronic and indie music.

The singer received commercial success in Canada and continues to release music across all platforms. On top of that, Lights has a successful background in illustration thanks to her comic book series.

However, Lights has yet to receive a strong American audience compared to her Canadian fans. We decided to take a look at her incredible music background plus her success in storytelling and illustration.

Before Lights started her adventure with electronic and indie music, she was the lead vocalist of a metal/nu-metal group. The vocalist already had a bit of a following, as she had an influencer presence on MySpace.

At the same time, she released her first single, “Drive My Soul” which hit the Canadian charts. Soon after, she released her first EP, which was self-titled.

This release shines Lights’ use of illustration in her work as she colored and edited the EP cover on her own. “Lights” is a drastic switch from her metal background as it features high-pitched vocals and synthpop influences.

Thanks to the success of her EP, the Canadian was able to release her first album “The Listening.” This record also included synthpop influences, however, Lights incorporated the sounds of indietronica- the mixture of electric and indie music.

With the use of synthesizers, beat machines, and heavily edited vocals, “The Listening” was very well-received. However, many criticized Lights for her “overproduced” tracks and “auto-tuned” vocals.

Despite the criticism, her extraordinary debut won her a Juno Award for New Artist of the Year. She began to make waves with tours in Canada, the United States, and Europe with electronic pop artist Owl City and started to record her most well-known album "Siberia" while on tour.

“Siberia” featured the hit single “Toes” which kicked off her success in the US. This album saw the singer progress to a more mature sound.

Lights, as noted before, focused heavily on her high-pitched edited vocals and electronic influences. However, on “Siberia”, she incorporated new influences like alternative rock and dubstep.

Discussing this in an interview with Lemonade Magazine, she said “I was really inspired by it. I think the elements I was moved by were the grit of this bass, you know this multi-layer bass, a heavy beat that’s really slow...I felt like it was a progression in electronic and in music.” Lights continued to express that groups like Crystal Castles and Björk influenced “Siberia.”

Only a couple of years later, she released “Little Machines”, featuring hit single “Up We Go.” The Canadian also released an acoustic version of “Little Machines” titled “Midnight Machines”, letting her captivating vocals take center stage.

The adventure only went further as Lights released her most recent album “Skin & Earth.” In anticipation of the album, Lights released a comic book with the same name in which served as the writer and illustrator.

“Skin & Earth” tells the story of a girl looking for inspiration in a post-apocalyptic universe. In an interview with Billboard, Lights discussed that she wrote the album while simultaneously writing the comic, each issue coinciding with a single from the album.

Lights recently started to work closely with multiple DJs in the EDM scene. Collaborating with Felix Cartal, the duo managed to release a radio hit, “Love Me.” She has continued to release singles with multiple DJs like i_o, MYTH Deadmau5, and released an instrumental EP, “How to Sleep When You’re On Fire”, exclusively on Bandcamp in support of the Black Lives Matter fund.

Lights is an extraordinary singer, songwriter, illustrator, and storyteller. Her fusion of art-pop and indietronica sounds combined with her writing and drawing skills make her a serious contender in just about every field.

Lights' entire discography is available to stream wherever you listen to music, and you can support her by following her on Twitter @Lights or picking up some merch. Share some of your favorite forgotten gems with us by tweeting us @lgndsoftmrw!