MindEqualsBlown: Your new album, The Listening, is your full length debut, and it’s been pretty well received. How does it feel to finally have released it?
LIGHTS: Awesome, for starters! It feels like it’s been a while in the works. It’s kind of a collection of the best stuff I came up with over the past few years, and it’s all really honest and heartfelt, and I’m actually really proud of it. Everything from the music, to the artwork surrounding it, to the comic that’s spawned from it, to the videos and everything, it’s just something that I’m so proud of, so actually seeing it out there and doing a tour on it, it feels almost effortless because it’s something that I’m so stoked on. It’s really, really cool. I feel legitimate! (laughs)
MEB: According to your MySpace page, you said that you don’t want to make people feel “sexy” happy, but “apple pie” happy. What influenced you to have that sort of style, rather than something like Britney Spears or Lada GaGa?
L: Well it’s just more of who I am, you know? I’ve always been kind of a hermit, I guess. Growing up I was a homeschooled kid so I just had a lot of fun making music in my room and drawing comics and being kind of a geek. That sort of semi-covered up, dancy kind of stuff – it’s not bad – it’s just not my thing, it’s not who I am. So it just came natural that I would be a representation of who I am as a person; it’s like that undeniable, heartwarming happy that you get when you have awesome apple pie. It’s the best feeling ever, and when I first started making this music, I’d not only write to bring myself out of dark places or change my mood around, but I also created sounds and really lush and ambient intergalactic environments around the songs that make me feel happy. There certainly are different kinds of happy, and this is a certain kind!
MEB: I noticed that a lot of your music videos are very artsy and galactic looking, did you come up with those concepts?
L: Yes, definitely. It all started with the “Drive My Soul” video. I would close my eyes and listen to “Drive My Soul” and all I could picture in my head was me creating and designing a spaceship in order to get to this purple planet with this astronaut waiting for me. There was just no other way to have it! Everything I write – audio – there’s always some visual component that goes with it, and that was the one that went with this, and I just needed to find someone to bring it to life, and that’s how it’s happened ever since. I have all these ideas and crazy concepts and it’s just a matter of finding other people to work with that will make it that much more of a reality.
MEB: You’re on tour right now, so how’s that going?
L: It’s awesome. I’m actually back in Toronto for a couple of days to work on some stuff for the Canadian tour which comes up in November, but then we actually go back out tomorrow to kick the tour back off. We took a break in the middle which is kind of weird, but we are back out tomorrow in Buffalo and I’m really excited, it’s been amazing. We’ve done about a week and a half of shows and it’s the first tour I have done in the States on a record, actually the first tour I’ve done on a record. It’s really cool seeing people come out and actually knowing all the songs as opposed to just knowing a few, because previously I’ve played new songs, but they weren’t really out there for people to know, so now people can actually sing along to the new stuff and it’s awesome.
MEB: You just announced a new city with Owl City next year. Are you excited for that?
L: It’s going to be awesome! It was kind of a long time coming. Owl City is awesome and reminds me of myself in many ways, so it seemed only fitting. We are going to play a lot of places I’ve never actually played in America, like in Alabama and stuff, so it’s gonna be fun!
MEB: You were on Warped Tour this year. Was it your first time on Warped?
L: I mean I used to go to Warped Tour all the time, as a listener. Last year we actually did the tour in Cleveland, just one-off, to get a little taste of it, but this is the first full on Warped Tour I’ve ever done, well we did a month of it, so it was interesting. It was actually a total blast, it was a party all the time. You get to see great music all the time and meet new people every day and win over multitudes daily, which is a challenge, but it was absolutely fun and I learned a lot.
MEB: Do you have any specific memorable Warped experiences that happened?
L: For starters, the weather. You get such extremities. You get days that its pouring rain – I remember one day in Montreal, it was just pouring rain, and Adam, my other keyboarder on stage, the water was pouring in his keyboards and his keyboards fizzled out mid-set, and half the stuff wasn’t working on stage and people were just drenched, but it was awesome. Listening to crazy, lush music and being soaking wet – there’s something that much more melodramatic about it. There was also Florida, where it was so incredibly hot, and I got off stage in Orlando, and pretty much threw up, it was so hot. But still, it was absolutely a blast.
MEB: You have been pretty much all over the US and Canada touring. What’s your favorite city so far and why?
L: There’s a few, for different reasons. It’s always cool coming back to Toronto because you know that you have a foundation there and there’s people that are going to come because I have been working out of Toronto for longer than anywhere. But there’s those hidden places that you wouldn’t think would be awesome, but they are. Like Texas – the music lovers down there are crazy. There’s tons of people that know my songs that I never would have even guessed knew them down there. And I always have a good time in Seattle or Portland, I love the West Coast. Same with Vancouver. Also, weirdly, in Denver, I love playing there. Also Boston (laughs).
MEB: Do you have any guilty pleasure bands?
L: I definitely would have to say I’m a huge t.A.T.u. fan, remember those two girls from Russia? I love t.A.T.u. and I’m not really ashamed of that either. I am an open t.A.T.u. fan (laughs). Other than that I mean there’s all the usual boy bands that are actually really easy to listen to because the songs are great. Also, one of my big pleasures is Cradle of Filth, they’re an awesome band. I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure but it’s kind of unexpected I guess.
MEB: What about if you could pick three bands, living or dead, that you could play a show with?
L: One of them would be ABBA, for sure. That would be a nuts show! I would love to collaborate with Supertramp. I don’t know how many of them are still around or not, but I love Supertramp, they’ve influenced my writing for so long. And I think it’d be stellar to collab with Justin.
MEB: I know you play World of Warcraft, tell us a little about your character.
L: Well I have a couple level 80s. The one I have been playing a lot lately is my Draenei, definitely. I’m having so much fun honestly. I’ve been doing a lot of raiding actually. She likes raiding with friends and she enjoys nice walks on the shores of Stranglethorn Veil at sunset. She goes for achievements a lot, I’m always working on the achievements. Right now I’m about to get the title for Hallow’s End. I’m not huge on PvP, but if I’m in a battleground or something, I’ll definitely make it happen. I’m mostly going for the experience.
MEB: How do you find time to do all that, with touring and stuff?
L: It’s definitely hard when you’re on the road. But when you’re backstage for example, and there’s internet in the venue, and the opening band’s on and you are just sitting back there thinking about going on stage, you get a little butterflies, no matter how many times you’ve done it. It’s nice to get your head out of the world and go into World of Warcraft for like an hour and run Trial of the Crusaders or something.
MEB: Do you ever play with fans?
L: I do, actually. I actually posted my character and server on my MySpace, which I have since taken down and transferred over to the server I am in now, which people are starting to find out about as well. Whenever I am in game or just doing dailies or something and I’m not too busy, people will whisper me and we will have full on conversations which is awesome. I’ve actually gotten together with people in-game for screenshots.
MEB: That’s all the questions I have, is there anything else you would like to add?
L: Well, on my website, iamlights.com, you can actually check out a semi-animated cartoon that I’ve released. It’s basically a comic book with music in the background and I am doing voiceovers, and they are two minute episodes. It’s called Audio Quest: A Captain LIGHTS Adventure, and they are playing on MTV in the States in the morning, and then weekly on MTV it goes on their website.