Lights returns to the UK after a busy couple years of recording a new album, getting married and starting a family. We caught up with her midway through her Little Machines UK Tour.
Welcome back to the UK, it’s really good to see you!
Likewise, I’ve been seeing you for years and it’s so nice to be sitting down chatting with you. Someone who has been following me for a long time, it always means a lot to talk to somebody who knows what they’re talking about. Talking with somebody who doesn’t really know much about you…it feels better. [About doing interviews] You get used to it, your answers evolve into, more of the right thing and it starts to shape your perception of how everything is and you have to keep yourself in check.
It’s crazy that it’s been 2 and a half years since your last tour!
We did a show in London in 2013, so two and a half years since the official tour, might as well be centuries in this day and age right? It feels like it’s been a lifetime.
Congratulations on your Juno Award nomination for ‘Pop Album of the Year’, how does it feel to be nominated again?
It’s nice, it feels like, it’s all your peers voting for the long-lists, it’s all the people you’ve met along the way. The Canadian music world is fairly small, fairly family-like and it’s nice to receive that kind of recognition for your work.
It’s much deserved.
Aw thanks. It’s an album that we worked really to make sure it was great, you don’t want to let any stone go unturned. Every little element about it was focused on, I think it’s the first time I really zeroed in on that, down to every breath on the album was thought about.
You’ve had a really busy year, I heard that you sang national anthems at a hockey game, how was that?
Oh man, it’s so hard to do that. There’s a few things working against you; a) it’s acapella, you don’t have any music behind you, so I had a little pitch pipe on my phone that had the key I was doing it in. I did both (Canadian and American) and the American anthem is very hard to sing so it’s tough. You go out there and you sing, and then you hear it a second later so you don’t have any monitors – it’s just echoing through the building. You’re hearing yourself after you sing it and it throws you off a little bit. And plus, it’s an old song, the lyrics are a little bit whack because we’re used to more contemporary language so you had to really focus on that. So it’s just funny, I walked out and it was totally different to anything I’m used to doing, it’s a really good exercise – performance wise, as it’s so outside your realm – that I really enjoyed it but it’s challenging for sure.
I bet Beau (Lights’ husband & blessthefall vocalist) was pretty happy about that..
He was stoked. He was doing a show two hours away at the time and I happened to be in Toronto and he was off to Canadian London. He watched the game from there, just stoked.
Your new music video came out for “Running With The Boys” this week, how was it filming that with all your best friends?
It was awesome. I came up with that concept thinking “I want me and my pack of girls to be able to look back and see ourselves when we were younger.” I thought, “if I think if I need to do this I need to have my real friends in this, I don’t want to cast friends!” because you cast people for your music videos. It was an interesting experience because both Ryan and Ashley work with me, so they would be there on the job but they were in the video. So it was this really cool, wicked experience, layer-on-layer of working with me, we’re with friends, we get to be friends in the video – it was fun!
It’s exactly what you want it to be and our first experience of being in anything together, like they’re usually behind the scenes. The little girls that played us were really cool too; they were in this band called Unfinished Business, an all-girl pop-punk band from Toronto, they’ve since broken up but they’re 11 years old. They’re more punk rock than I’ll ever be, it was awesome.
So far on the Little Machines UK Tour, which song has gotten the biggest response when you’ve played it live?
I think right now it’s ‘Up We Go’ because that one’s got the video and has maybe been heard more because of that, because people can find it on YouTube. And plus, it’s like a banger for everyone, it’s a custom made for that.
Everyone should be dancing along to that tonight! And how do you feel about the sold out shows on this tour?
Everything has been sold out except, maybe Leeds? We were really close there but everything has been sold out. Leeds is the only let down! [laughs] No, it was a great show and everything has been really cool!
It’s been so amazing to watch you grow after all these years, I’m happy you’re doing well.
We were reminiscing about all the shows we’ve done in London and we’ve had so many. We’ve played some shitholes, just recalling some of these places that I completely, in the moment, seemed so epic and then you move up and up.
Can you describe what it was like on your first tour in the UK (Give It A Name 2009), how was that and how does it compare to now?
It was my first experience being here and we were on tour with some really interesting bands.
VersaEmerge, In This Moment and Whole…
Whole Wheat Bread. It was such a strange line-up but we were just so excited to be here. Some shows the turn-up was brutal, some shows there were a lot of people, some shows liked a certain band more than others and it was just very cool, best thing I could ask for touring somewhere for the first time – you get a little taste of everything. A lot of the venues we came back and played a couple years later on our own and it’s just nice to see that there’s growth, things like that and festivals that have a name – people trust and go just because of the festival and they learn about new acts.
While you were on tour a couple years back, you wrote ‘Cactus In The Valley’ in Brighton. Have you had a chance to write much on this tour?
Yeah, I write as much as I can. In fact, Beau is working on his new album right now so he spends a lot of time with his headphones on and I’m helping him edge his vocals and so, when he’s working on his stuff, I work on stuff. I have a track with Bourgeous coming out called “Zero Gravity“, really cool song. He’s played it on his radio show so I think it’s floating on the internet but it should be out really soon. Did a couple of other things and just working on stuff on the side, I keep it’s good to keep the muscle going whether or not it ends up going anywhere, it’s really important to keep that muscle up.
What’s your typical day off while on tour?
Waking up as late as possible, as late as Rocket allows. Locating the nearest Starbucks on GPS, going to Starbucks and planning attack from there. “What do we feel like doing, do you want to wander round a shopping section , do you want to sightsee?” And then that’s your launching point. We’ll usually find a shopping section of town , wander around there and if we see a park, we want to exercise and stretch our legs and go find dinner somewhere. It’s pretty chill.
Having spoken about lovely Beau and your baby girl, Rocket; what’s it like having them on tour with you?
It’s awesome. It’s so unbeatable. Beau isn’t going to be on the next tour but I feel so lucky driving round with my baby and my man.
Have you had any trouble getting Rocket in?
Tonight they want to kick her out too! But I think that they’re just, there isn’t much of a standard of women with children touring. I’m hoping that’s something that changes as these places aren’t accommodating to children, they’re not really a great place to put them. I have no choice, it’s my career and I’m trying to be a good mom at the same time. You just have to make do with what you have and you learn to be resourceful in certain situations. I’m hoping down the road, as more women get into touring, there’s less of a negative stigma being a mother. I think people right now think that when you become a mother, you drop everything. You can if you want but you don’t have to; it just advances your life and changes some things around but it doesn’t make you less close, it’s just another layer of your life.
What’s been your favourite experience of this tour so far?
Bristol was a fun experience, I really enjoyed playing at Thekla which is the boat venue. I don’t normally like boats, I kind of have this like..I get scared; but it’s parked and it’s not going anywhere. The area in Bristol is really nice, we walked around a little bit round the river which kind of reminded me of Amsterdam, but British.
Another great thing that is happening this year is that you’ll be playing Coachella, and on your birthday!
I know! I’ve never been to Coachella and it’s huge and to be going for the first time and playing is hugely special. I love that there’s two weekends so you can have two shots at it. There’s something great about festivals and that there are some people that are just there for music and everyone’s there for that reason. Most people don’t know who I am, some of them will, some of them won’t; but it’s an opportunity to show them what you’ve got – they’re there just to absorb a great listening experience, that’s what I want to give them. Everyone’s going to be super high and you give them some good high music, Little Machines is all about enjoying the moment! Be as high as you want!
Are there any other festivals you’d like to play at?
We’re playing “What The Fest” in Brampton, ON this summer. And heading to South East Asia for the first time.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of the fan-base, is there a ‘Little Machines’ Acoustic album in the mix?
There’s talks about finding an opportunity to get into the studio to record a little bit because there’s a lot of touring and we’ve got very little time to sit down to make that happen but there are few songs that have already been played acoustically with Brodie, he does a great job right?
Yeah, the new tour member!
He’s great, I’ve known him for a long time as a friend of mine. I’ve known him longer than the other guys, I met him when I moved out west. He’s a really talented kid, he’s older than me so I probably shouldn’t call him a kid [laughs] not by much – two months, but I’m hoping at least a partial release or something…there’s nothing planned right now but I do know the reason I do these is because fans want it.
I think we’d love to hear more acoustics and even more covers..
There’s some really intimate moments like ‘Muscle Memory’ is really nice and it’s nice to show that side of it.
Some quick fan questions! @Helenarth asks “Space is often a theme in your songs/videos, why is that?”
I guess I’m kind of interested in the idea of limitless possibilities, there’s so many unknowns and there’s something inspiring about that there’s a whole other complete reality … and that’s so much more exciting than just reality. I’ve always found that necessary to creativity, to be able to just dream up whatever you want. But when it really comes down to it, I would never go to space, I’m a chicken! I’ll stay on Earth thank you! [laughs]
@FieryCoD says “How different is the vibe from the North American tour compared to the UK/Euro Tour so far?
I saw him tweet that to you! It’s not actually that different, smaller venues but everyone’s cool and my shows are always a mixed group of people. There’s always people with different walks of life, it’s nice to see it’s not just one type of person. People come if the music resonates with them.
My favourite question comes from @Mike2025 asking “What is the strangest dish you’ve smothered with cheese?”
You know actually, growing up, one of my favourite things to have was peanut butter and cheese sandwiches. I don’t know if anybody has tried that but peanut butter and mozzarella cheese on a sandwich, that’s [puts both thumbs up]..I mean I put cheese on everything but that is good. Try it Mike!
Thanks for your time! You’re about to headline Scala in London!
Yeah! Nice talking to you, Mel! Enjoy the show!
Check out Lights’ new video for “Running With The Boys”: