Lights created a whole new world in her new joint album and comic book series
If you spend even five minutes with Lights, you’ll quickly realize she’s probably one of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet.
The 30-year-old singer has been on the music scene for a good 11 years now with two of her albums winning JUNO awards, a number of sold out tours across the US and Europe and thousands of fans that adore her so much, they’ll even get her face tattooed to them!
Now, Lights is taking on a totally new challenge by releasing her own comic book series, which is proudly soundtracked by her new album Skin&Earth, out today. I sat down with Lights and asked her all about breaking into the comic industry as a musician, her advice for revenge on shitty guys that screw you over and where all the inspiration for her many tattoos came from.
Tell us a little bit about your comic book series. What made you want to start this project?
Well, I love comics and I’ve been reading them for years. I think I’ve always wanted to see a direct album-comic correlation from a female artist and I’ve never seen it. So, I just decided to go for it. I didn’t really know how, but I just wanted to. Going into the project, I had a storyline in mind. At its simplest, without giving away too much, it’s a story of a young woman who becomes entranced by a spirit who becomes her darkest friend and she ends up having to overcome it and becomes stronger for it.
It’s a commentary on depression and mental health and things I’ve dealt with in the past. That was the route of the story and from there I wrote all the songs. They all fit into the storyline, they’re all written about the story. Then when the songs were written, I started writing the story and drawing the comic. I started a little over a year ago and I’m still finishing it!
I’m sure it’s so much work!
It’s been a lot of work but it’s super fulfilling and I enjoy every minute of it. I think it was an awesome challenge for me because it forces you to write from two facets of creativity. One of them is a real life facet, because the music is intended to stand alone too, you should be able to identify to it on a personal level. But when you pair it with the comic, suddenly everything has a new meaning. It’s intended to be inspirational lyrics commenting on breaking out of mundane life. But, in the comic there’s actually a physical wall that divides the two classes and there’s some commentary on social issues as well.
Were there any moments that you doubted yourself or this project?
Oh all the time! There’s a certain necessity for humility for going into a project like that and taking on an industry, that for all intents and purposes I don’t belong in. I didn’t start in comics, I’m a musician. I try to go into it with the utmost respect for the artists that I love and knowing that my project is nowhere near the stuff I’m a fan of. At least to me! I’m not holding myself to that standard but that’s the goal.
All the comics that I read like Saga, Wicked and Divine, Monstrous, Lock and Key… All these amazing works, those are my inspirations in the process. I’ve actually been given some great advice from the people I’m a fan of in the industry. I’ve actually felt really welcomed into the comic world, even though I’ve only got two issues out so far out of six!
The setting of the story takes place in a dystopian universe. What do you characterize as a dystopia?
I’m a huge sci-fi fan. A lot of what I’m attracted to in television, entertainment, video games is an apocalyptic, dystopian vibe. I think a lot of the fiction aspect of the story is in that world. When we’ve taken and taken and taken from earth and we’re reduced to this one oasis that can still provide life for the last of humanity, but humanity still continues takes from it.
I think that’s important to comment on because a lot of people are ignorant to climate change and it’s an important thing to try and be a part of the change. There’s a bit of that in the story as well and learning how to respect and give back and not keep taking from this world that’s been providing for us for so long. It explores the mental state of hopelessness and trying to find hope within that. I think whether you’re in a dystopian world or the real world, it does feel hopeless all the time, but there is always a mindset you can find to look for something hopeful.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Definitely teleportation! I’ve been discussing the idea of teleportation for a long time and how much time we waste when we’re traveling. I feel like the amount of time we could save from traveling and then getting to sleep in your own bed would be great!
You’ve compared your main character in the story to Wonder Woman, so if you could have a superhero squad who would be in it and why?
It’s funny because I think the common misconception about comics is that they’re all superheroes! Heroes are one thing, superheroes are another. But I mean Wonder Woman would obviously be one of them. I’ve been a Wonder Woman fan from day one. A lot of the comics I read have great characters in them. I’m trying to think who I’d want in my squad. Yorick from The Last Man, with his monkey! Wonder Woman, the couple from Saga, I would pair them in there.
What empowers you?
Other women, honestly. I turn to the women I respect. What would Patti Smith do, how would Joni Mitchell walk into a room and handle this? That’s where I pull the strength to believe that I can walk in here and own this, by seeing another woman before me who have done it.
You mentioned some pretty iconic names, if you could ask them or anyone else that you look up to any question what would it be and why?
You know, if I could talk to Patti Smith I would ask her how she did it when she was younger. I’m looking to the women who were before me, and who were before her, and I’m sure she had a slew of names and I’m sure that was where she drew inspiration from. To walk into a room, especially in her time in a male dominated industry, and kill it. I read all of this stuff about her, she used to do poetry, like spoken word, and she was really animated and everyone loved her and would go to her shows and she would throw chairs. It put the emphasis on words and poetry and the power in what you say. I would probably ask her where that came from, what made her want to do spoken word?
Going off of that, is there a quote from her or anyone else that you live your life by? Something that describes your life mantra?
There’s a few of them that I cycle through. I think one of the things that I tell myself all the time, in a more eloquent way I’m sure it exists, but be unabashedly you, be into the things you’re into. There are no rules about what interests you can have and life is so much more fun when you entertain your own.
I have the things I’m passionate about and I think there’s a little bit of fear in people to do the things they love. I think we’ve cultivated this way of life that we have to sacrifice to be to be successful or do great things. But I don’t think that’s true, I think you just have to follow your dreams as cheesy as that sounds. I think we’re all meant to do the things we love and there’s no sacrifice, there’s hard work. But if you love what you do you’ll love the hard work. Do you! That’s my line.
So you have a song out called Savage, which talks about a guy who kind of unexpectedly screws you over. What’s your way of getting through those situations or getting over guys like that?
Yeah, well we’ve all experienced it! It was a direct reference to what happens in the story which was a direct reference to things I’ve experienced in my life. It is tough, but one of the things I’ve learned that I’ve learned through my life is that you have to spend enough time with yourself to understand yourself and love yourself enough to know that doesn’t shake you, that doesn’t change you.
Another great piece of advice that I’ve received is that it’s okay to have weakness. Let yourself bum it out for a while and then love yourself. Don’t let your sense of confidence rely on somebody else. Let yourself spend enough time with your passion and your interests to know that you will continue whether or not that person is in the picture.
Obviously, when someone screws you over the first thing you want is your revenge. What do you think is the best form of revenge?
There are obviously two ways I could go with this… In the comics, what you’ll see in upcoming issues, is the way that this character decides to handle it with the help a mischievous friend who probably doesn’t bring out the best in her. So that’s one way you could go with it and go and seek revenge.
But I think the best revenge is living your best life and with Instagram and Facebook we have a thousand ways to show that off. I think the there’s nothing that hurts more for somebody who cares is just seeing that you don’t care.
It’s the best revenge! Happiness.
So you have some really cool tattoos, which one of them is your favorite?
They all have a mean something, everything has a story. I usually have a memento from every record. I have a rocket right here [points to thigh], my daughter’s name is Rocket, and it says her birthdate on it as her launch date. So that’s probably my favorite!
I saw on your Instagram someone got your face tattooed to them!
Yeah! There have been a couple of those, it’s been awesome! It’s one of those things that makes me try to maintain quality content and put the most into my projects because I don’t want them ever to feel regret for that tattoo. If I ever did something to bum them out that would make me very sad.
If you had to get anyone’s face tattooed to you, who would it be and why?
Believe it or not, I’m married and I have my husband’s face! As King Varian from World of Warcraft, so he’s in armor.
It’s funny because years ago before we met, I came out of a relationship that sucked and I wasn’t interested in real people but I had a huge crush on King Varian from World of Warcraft, he was my celebrity crush. He’s a fictional character!
Then I started drawing pictures of King Varian and I posted one of them one night that I’d drawn and someone goes, “That looks like Bo!” And I didn’t know Bo yet, and then I met him and he looks like King Varian! It was just this weird meeting of fate and then we ended up getting married so I merged them together.
That’s so funny. Are you getting any new ones any time soon?
I have a plan for new ones, they have to do with the comics but I won’t get them until they come out so I don’t spoil anything!
Lastly, you’ve got some new music coming out, but what’s your top played song right now? What’s amping you up?
It’s from Com Truise’s new record, I listen to that record front to back when I’m drawing, it’s instrumental and I love Com Truise, I’m a big fan. It’s called Propagation! That’s the song that’s on repeat for me.
Photography by @photosbykeridolan