If there is one lesson that Canadian electro-pop star Lights has learned over the course of the past year, it is that you have to believe in yourself.
Coming off two successful records – 2009’s The Listening and 2011’s Siberia – Lights found herself face to face with an intense bout of writers block while trying to compose the material for her third studio record.
Believing that her creative juices had perhaps dried up, the young singer-songwriter did the only reasonable thing: she put down the pen and the paper and immersed herself in other activities to help shift her focus.
“Last summer, I reached a crossroads of sorts where I had finished touring my second record Siberia but hadn’t amassed any new songs,” Lights says. “I was trying to figure out where to go next in terms of my sound and ended up feeling as though I was backed into a corner. I felt as though I was under a lot of pressure and needed to live up to the expectations of others. And of course, these are all things that are the total antithesis to the creative process. It was artistically crippling.”
Fortunately for the singer, both her record label and her management team reinforced their belief in her abilities. Rather than pressuring her to deliver a product that she would be dissatisfied with, they instead encouraged her to take her time and make the record when she was ready to do so.
“My label and manager were insistent that I create something honest and not force an album out for the sake of getting product on the shelves.
“I reached a point where I had to rediscover my passion for music and exert my creativity in a different way. So I pursued writing poetry and doing some painting and spent some time in New Mexico on a writing trip where I lived off the grid in an eco-friendly ‘earthship.’ ”
The trick worked, ultimately reigniting her passion for songwriting and helping her feel more confident than ever in her abilities. By the first week of December 2013, not only did Lights have a host of material that she felt stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her earlier work, the songs also represented a logical progression in terms of her sound and career.
Admitting that she took some creative liberties with her 2011 release Siberia, Lights says that she wanted to make her latest record Little Machines all about the songs again.
“My debut album was an unabashed electro-pop album where I was focused on the songs and the lyrics. With Siberia, I wanted to show a different side of my creativity and what I was capable of doing and so I completely dove into a kind of sonic creativity, emphasizing soundscapes but it was admittedly not as focused on the songs themselves.
“When it came to the making of Little Machines, I felt as though I could flex my creative muscle while still allowing the essence of the song to come through to the listener. It was the best of all worlds.”
Lights says that producer Drew Pearson (Switchfoot, Phillip Phillips) played an integral part of bringing the vision of Little Machines to life. Dubbing Pearson a “total synth nerd,” Lights is confident that he was the perfect foil with whom to make the record.
“Going into the making of this album, I had been testing the water and writing with a lot of amazing people. There has to be a certain chemistry there, though. You really have to gel with the other person.
“Drew and I immediately clicked in the songwriting sense. We ended up writing five songs together. He is a real synth head and knows every last little thing about the instrument, which was just amazing to be able to leverage. The way he approached the sonic qualities of the album production and his ability to lend an ambience truly served the album well in the end,” Lights says.
Recorded this past January and February in Vancouver and Los Angeles, Little Machines wasn’t the only thing that Lights created in the early part of the year. In February, she and her husband Beau Bokan welcomed a daughter.
Somewhat remarkably, Lights was back at work on Little Machines three days after giving birth.
“I didn’t take a mat leave!” she laughs. “But she is the most wonderful little beast. We couldn’t be happier.”
Once Lights has wrapped up her shows in Atlantic Canada, she ventures down to the United States for 14 shows while also performing in Toronto and a number of cities in Western Canada. The new year will see Lights heading to Europe for a dozen shows throughout the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Holland.
And though her upcoming show at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre will be just her second time headlining a show in Moncton, she is looking forward to returning to the city.
“I have only made it east a couple of times over the last couple of years but I have to say that audiences there are so incredibly great,” she gushes. “The first few years that I spent touring, we hadn’t managed to make it to Atlantic Canada and was never sure why, especially because we had always heard so many great things. When we finally got to the East Coast, it was everything we were told it would be.”
When: Tuesday Oct. 21, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $37.50 (plus service charges). Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone at (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca