By Alexa Goins, Contributing Writer
Living in the moment, finding your purpose, longing for the innocence of childhood: These aren’t your typical pop song subjects, but then again, Lights isn’t your typical pop singer either. It may be her positive, happy-go-lucky-we’re-gonna-overcome-this songs that set the 27-year-old singer-songwriter apart from the rest, or perhaps it’s her unprecedented, innovative electro-pop sound. She’s fresh off the release of her third album, “Little Machines”, and one thing is clear: Lights’ music career only goes up from here.
AG: A lot of your music gives off a hopeful, positive vibe. What’s your ultimate goal when creating music?
Lights: Well I think it’s exactly that. I found out from a young age that music is powerful. It’s magic pretty much. And if you have that power, use it for good. I always feel like writing something that’s reflective on experience but in a positive way. Every time I write a song, it’s got a bit of a resolution. So it forces me to look at my experience and figure out where I’m at. As a result, I think it’s something that can be there for people that are going through the same thing. I think that’s the best thing about music; it’s something that makes you feel good.
AG: You just put out your latest album, “Little Machines”, a few months ago. Can you tell us about the journey of creating this record?
Lights: With every record, I think it gets a bit more challenging to figure out what you want to say and what sounds you want to create. This time around I was launched into a really frustrating bout of writer’s block. So I just kind of took that opportunity to do different things artistically. I painted a lot, wrote stories and wrote poems. I listened to albums that I wouldn’t typically listen to. It reinvigorated my passion for music, I think. And in the end, I just realized that that’s the point: you really have to love what you do or there’s no point in doing it.
AG: You spent your childhood as a missionary kid in Jamaica and the Philippines. How did that shape your worldview as an artist?
Lights: It makes me more aware of the world outside the western world because in third world countries, it’s a whole different situation. I’ve seen a 60,000 person community built on reclaimed ocean that people are living in, in shacks that are flooded 24/7. I mean these people are going without the basics all the time. I was raised around that and that’s always in the back of my mind. It’s one of those things that you see those infomercials on TV about, like World Vision, or other companies that are going over there to try to end world hunger and sponsor children and it’s hard to believe that it’s true without actually seeing it. So I feel very lucky that I was able to grow up around it, understand and use the platform that I’ve earned over the course of my career to benefit that as much as possible. I’m a World Vision Ambassador and I sponsor kids. I take them out on a lot of my tours.
AG : A lot of the songs on Little Machines explore the themes of nostalgia and childhood. College is a very transitional time where you experience a lot of feelings of nostalgia and the reality of having to grow up. What advice would you give to college student?
Lights: It’s obviously a really hard thing to do, but spend time to get to know yourself before you rely on other people to give that to you. I think a lot of people feel like they need other people to help identify themselves, whether that’s friends or relationships or whatever that may be. Now is the time in your life to [figure out who you are]. So if you want to explore, go do it. If you want to try different types of art, do it. Try your hand at everything. Figure out what your space in the world is and take it. Then you can let other people in who will celebrate that about you, not try to turn you into something else.