The women of Warped: Lights
(With the Vans Warped Tour coming to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on July 26, we're spending this week getting to know some of the women on punk's most pop-friendly summer tour. Today: Canadian indie pop sensation Lights.)
Her sound: Bouncy indie pop with lots of synths and keytars.
You‚Äôll dig her if you also like: Imogen Heap, Dido, Chairlift
Her story: With her sugary voice, trusty keytar and model-gorgeous looks, Lights doesn‚Äôt seem like your prototypical Warped Tour artist. But the 22-year-old Canadian does possess one big Warped bona fide: A giant Wonder Woman tatooo across her back.
"She‚Äôs battling Giganta," said the pop singer. "It‚Äôs the cover of Wonder Woman 2, vol. 3, and it‚Äôs cool because it‚Äôs very symbolic. I‚Äôm a small person, and she‚Äôs fighting this huge giant who‚Äôs 300 feet tall, but she can still beat her, and she can still look good doing it."
An aspiring comic artist herself, the former Valerie Poxleitner (she legally changed her name to Lights, a play on pox-LEIT-ner) is already becoming a hero in her homeland. At this year‚Äôs Juno Awards ‚Äî the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys ‚Äî she picked up the coveted Best New Artist award, a prize previously won by Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado and Feist, among others. But she‚Äôs just as thrilled to be on the Warped Tour, which she remembers going to as a teen, when her favorite bands included Silverstein, Underoath and Less Than Jake, who are among this year's tour headliners.
"It was like the highlight of my summer," she said. "I‚Äôve actually had the chance to meet Less Than Jake, which was cool ‚Äî the soundtrack to my summer years ago."
So how did this former moshpit kid end up playing pop so pretty it was used in an Old Navy commercial? "With my music, I always strive to stay honest, say what I mean and not fake anything. I think lyrically, what I‚Äôm saying is not that far off from what NOFX is saying," she laughs. "The music might sound a little different."
About the keytar: "It started out as something practical. When I first started doing shows, I felt a little constricted behind my keyboard. I felt like I couldn‚Äôt move around like I wanted to. I thought, ‚ÄòWhat if I get a keytar?‚Äô I found one in a store, thinking I would start using it, and for the first year I never used it all. I started using it out of practicality‚Äôs sake, then all of a sudden it became this big thing. I didn‚Äôt think much about how it could be kind of gimmicky when I first started using it, but then I would get it onstage, and more and more, the bigger the crowds got, they were like, ‚ÄòAw, sweet, a keytar!‚Äô Just yesterday, a girl came up to me with a roll of fluoresent pink gaff tape, and she was like, ‚ÄòCan you sign this? I‚Äôm gonna put it on my keytar.‚Äô I‚Äôm like, ‚ÄòAw, yeah!‚Äô"
If she could spend an hour one-on-one with any musician, it would be ... "I would have to say Bjork. She has influenced me definitely over the course of my life. And one of the things about Bjork is, she‚Äôs her own thing. There‚Äôs nothing out there like Bjork. And that‚Äôs essentially what I would like to be someday."
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo by Caitlin Cronenberg.