Canadian electro pop queen Lights rolled into the capital on Thursday for her first London show in almost three years. We caught up with her the morning after to talk touring as a young mother and how the prospect of parenthood shaped new album 'Little Machines'.
Lights performing at London's Scala, January 29, 2015
HI LIGHTS! HOW WAS THE SHOW FOR YOU LAST NIGHT?
“It was exactly what I wanted it to be. London crowds and New York crowds have this kind of stigma about them where everyone just has their arms crossed, and my shows haven’t always necessarily been like that. We were going into these shows hoping that nothing had really changed over the last couple of years, and sure enough everyone was singing and moving and had their arms up and cheering and were totally with us every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for anything more. That was actually the best show of the tour so far as well, it was honestly exactly what I was looking for.”
IT WAS A VERY POLITE CROWD – YOU’D FINISH A SONG, THEN THERE’D BE A SUPER ATTENTIVE SILENCE. IS THAT A COMMON THING AT YOUR SHOWS?
“To be honest, it’s been like that almost every night [on this tour]. Everyone’s really excited, but then polite. I’ve never experienced that anywhere else. I don’t mind it – it’s cool! I hear that happens in Japan and you can hear a pin drop, but it’s cool. They’re attentive. For me, I was thinking about where that was coming from. I have a really dedicated fanbase and they’ve been with me from the beginning. We haven’t been back [to the UK] in a few years and a good chunk of those people that bought tickets right away were those fans that have been waiting for years. They’re watching the show and they just want to come and soak it in… I think!”
YOU HAVE A VERY DIVERSE FANBASE AS WELL. IT’S NOT JUST TEENAGE GIRLS LIKE SOME PEOPLE MIGHT THINK.
“I’ve really noticed the evolution of my fanbase and the attendees of the shows over the last few years of my career. It’s been crazy. When I first started playing shows back in the day it was lot of young girls and I’ve seen those girls grow up, and they’re now in uni or college, but I’m also watching new people coming in. With the new record [‘Little Machines’] I was really focusing on something that’s really classic, electronic sounding and I don’t think you necessarily have to identify with a specific genre to enjoy it. It seems to be available to more people. And I’m seeing that change at the shows. It’s a total mixed bag!”
THE BIGGEST CHANGE FOR YOU SINCE YOU WERE LAST HERE IS YOU’RE A MOTHER NOW. AS WELL AS PRESENTING ANY NEW PARENT WITH A WHOLE NEW SET OF OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME, LAST NIGHT YOU WEREN’T ALLOWED TO BRING BABY ROCKET INTO THE VENUE. IS THAT A COMMON PROBLEM?
“It’s not that common, but every now and then there’s a sort of blurry line with licensing laws and venues where they don’t allow anyone underage into the venue. It frustrates me because it seems unfair. There’s got to be some sort of amendment to it to cater to performers with children. The problem is there aren’t many women touring, and of those women very few of them have children so it’s not something that has to be dealt with [all that much]. But now that I’m a touring mother who needs to have her baby with her – I’m still breastfeeding, and you can’t take her away for more than a few hours – so we sort of had this battle with the venue for a few hours. It’s frustrating. They were afraid to lose their licence, which is fine obviously, but then I just want her to be safe and be with me. There’s definitely a big grey line there and we ended up having to get a hotel room and take her there. I’ve had to deal with that a few times and I’m trying to decide what the best way to go about it is. But I don’t really have a choice you know?”
Lights with husband Beau and daughter Rocket Wild
HOW ARE YOU FINDING BEING BACK ON THE ROAD AS A WHOLE? IS IT QUITE DIFFICULT TO JUGGLE THE TOURING LIFE AND THE FAMILY LIFE?
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s not… hard. It’s kind of awesome because I had no idea what this was going to be like when I had a baby. We had all these tours coming up and was like ‘I need to take this a day at a time’ because it’s really overwhelming and that’s what I’ve been doing. But every day has been so much fun. What’s added on with a little bit of extra work is made up for with the amount of joy that you get wandering around the world with your family and getting to see her grow up and soaking in every moment. It sounds so cheesy, and it’s really cliché, but it’s true. It makes me less stressed about everything!”
YOU HAD A SIMILAR UPBRINGING WITH MISSIONARY PARENTS WHO MOVED AROUND THE WORLD A LOT. HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO GIVE THOSE EXPERIENCES TO YOUR CHILDREN?
“It’s definitely important to me. What I loved most about [my upbringing] was having a great family connection and not feeling separated from my loved ones. I just grew up having a really good relationship with them, and I hope the same for [Rocket]. Because of our situation we don’t put her in a crib and put her away for the night. She’s always with us 24/7, and in some ways a lot more than most kids would be with their parents. Beau will be here for a month at a time then gone for a couple of weeks, so we have different intensities and chunks of time with it, but she’s definitely going to have a different upbringing to most people! And it’ll be different to me; we’re travelling around in a steel tube everyday which is a rare way to grow up.”
Lights' new video for 'Running With The Boys'
HOW DID THE PROSPECT OF MOTHERHOOD SHAPE YOUR NEW ALBUM ‘LITTLE MACHINES’?
“I wrote all the songs [for ‘Little Machines'] before she was born, and that was affected by my pregnancy and the knowledge of moving into parenthood, but I really had no idea what was going to happen. I was just like ‘Oh, there’s this lump in my stomach that’s growing!’ I think ultimately I was coming out of a really tough bout of writer’s block. That comes from a loss of vision. You don’t lose your talent, you just lose your ability to decide what it is you really want to do. I really had to rediscover what I love about music and what I have to say and what’s the point of it all. Ultimately, I went back to my own youth and being faced with knowing I was going to be a mother I was asking myself ‘What are the priorities? Why did I used to enjoy this so much?’ And then I just lost myself in being reminded of how much I love making music. And how much I love losing myself in the discovery of sound and writing songs that are influential and effective and understanding that I was going to be a mother brought this whole new respect for living in the moment. That’s what I’ve really written about a lot. It’s all about recognising a moment that’s really good and at least acknowledging how great it is. That’s something I think we – especially when we’re younger – let slip by. Life always goes by so fast and we’re always looking forward to the next big thing and forgetting about the great things that are in front of us right now.”
Lights' third album 'Little Machines' is out now. For a full gallery of photos from the London show, head to this gallery.