Lights reveals inner workings of her Little Machines

Lights reveals inner workings of her Little Machines

Direct from Canada, all-round talent Lights sits down for a chat to talk about the art of creativity, and how to keep your ideas fresh

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Lights is currently on tour, bringing Little Machines to fans in Europe.
Lights is currently on tour, bringing Little Machines to fans in Europe.
Photo: Warner Music

Not many artists have the credentials to even hint that their music paved the way for Lorde or Taylor Swift, but Lights (born Valerie Anne Poxleitner) is the real deal. She's a music industry veteran - at the age of just 27.

Lights started out as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Publishing in 2002 when she was 15. A little more than a decade later, she has three albums and four EPs under her belt.

Her music has a retro-throwback feel to it. A knack for creating the perfect balance of new and old has made Lights a trailblazer in the electro-pop genre. This edge propelled her to the height of MySpace fame in 2008.

"It felt like my music was at the forefront, because I didn't have any reference points then for what I was creating," says Lights. "Everything I was doing was just because I liked the way it sounded. There wasn't the genre of electro-pop, but in the last six years, it has emerged. There seems to be something more paved out now."

Even after winning the Juno Award (the Canadian version of a Grammy) for New Artist of the Year in 2009, and having two of her albums certified gold, Lights still keep things, well, light.

"I think I should have felt more pressure, but I'm glad I didn't," says the artist. "I only started to feel the expectations of the world around me in the last couple of years, because I felt the worst writer's block writing for [Little Machines]."

For Little Machines, her latest release, Lights accessed her creativity in different ways. "It's all the same muscle. If you don't use it, it's going to get out of shape," she says. So she painted, wrote poetry and did everything but write music.

"This helped reinvigorate my purpose, and I can't do anything if there's no purpose behind it. It's everybody's journey to figure out their purpose in the greater scheme of things. I rediscovered that music is magic, music is a power - it's a superpower," she says.

"You've got to use that for the right reasons. I just wanted to create something that makes people feel good, energises you, inspires you, whether it moves you to create, be a better person or if it moves you to love a little bit more, that's the purpose. I had a lot of fun making the record after that."

With the music industry changing, Lights always reminds young, aspiring musicians that they need to be the complete package.

"A lot of people, with YouTube, The Voice, and American Idol, expect that someone's going to pluck them out and make them an artist, but you have make yourself an artist before anything's going to happen," says Lights. "Don't wait around for someone to discover one facet of your talent. Discover all the facets of your talent and make something that is irreplaceable."

Her advice is simple, but speaks volumes about her career, which is built on her originality.

"Carve out your own niche, your own corner. It takes a long time, a lot of patience, and a lot of discovery, but that's what makes what you bring to the artistic table indispensable," she says. "That's what I felt I was doing in the beginning, and is what I encourage people to look for."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Shining a bright light

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