March 10, 2008
Three main indications you’re rapidly becoming successful include bringing a venue to maximum capacity, hitting the number one spot on the Myspace music charts and having your songs featured in a North American commercial campaign. Toronto singer Lights has a huge list of accomplishments to put under her tiny belt…or perhaps tuck under her headband.
“I had some songs on Myspace and I guess one of the artistic directors down at Old Navy heard my music about a year ago and kind of bookmarked it and liked it,” Lights said. “I guess it got stuck in his head and it started inspiring the ideas for the ad campaign. He contacted me and that’s how it all first got born. They flew me down to Argentina to do it. It was unbelievable actually. Twenty hour flight there and back for four takes. It was an intense, intense shoot. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was awesome, I saw one of the playbacks afterwards and it looks really nice.”
Her performance was dynamite. Joined onstage by keyboardist Adam and drummer Maurie, Lights sounded a little nervous at times, but had no problems engaging the crowd with cute banter and adorable smiles. An unusual thing happened at a CMW show – when she played “February Air,” one of the songs featured in the Old Navy campaign, it seemed everyone in attendance knew the words.
“It’s kind of a charm that is starting to become known to me in that people are actually singing along to the words that I wrote at one time in my life. That’s really, really cool and tonight I heard some people singing along and it totally won my heart,” she said.
Lights is not actually native to Toronto. She spent her life as the daughter of missionary parents, moving from the Philippines to Jamaica to various other parts of the world. Two years ago she left home (Vancouver at the time) and moved to Toronto to pursue her music career. She writes half of her music by herself and then co-writes and co-produces with local Toronto musicians Todd Salter and Dave Thompson for the other half.
“I knew I needed to take my music live out of the bedroom, so I posted some ads. I didn’t know anyone in the city so I was like what am I going to do how am I going to find musicians. I posted some ads in music stores and online and Craigslist and I got a lot of response from drummers,” Lights said.
She met various drummers at Starbucks, judging them more by their shoes than anything else. She found a drummer, but he soon left for Sweden. Adam was the only person to respond for keyboards and he happened to work out perfectly.
“I was like let’s start jamming so we did and it was really cool. Maurie is a local drummer, he plays for a band called 6ixty8ights, awesome local indie bands and he got involved. It’s been a really tight fit ever since,” she said.
As for Maurie’s shoes? “Maurie had dirty Cons on and I was like that’s my boy,” Lights said.
It’s possible Lights is equally known for her delightful music and consistent sporting of elaborate headbands as she is for her ambiguity. She refuses to reveal her age or real name, preferring to leave everyone guessing.
“Lights has always been my nickname for starters and it does come out of my last name. It’s kind of what people have been calling me for so long and it totally explains what my music is about, it’s about lightening people’s moods and stuff. I’ve always loved writing L’s and my real name does not start with an L,” she said.
In April she will be heading on a mini tour with Protest the Hero and Chiodos that will take her across Ontario and to Montreal. If you can’t wait that long, you can see her March 14 at the El Mocambo, or download her music from iTunes on March 11. You can also purchase your 100 per cent certified Lights headbands.
“They’re custom made. It’s straight up Lights headbands. I have a lot of headbands, I know which ones I like the best. I want people wearing only the ones I like wearing. It’s hard to find a good headband so I am going to make one!” she said. “I always think about that. People have to have one thing to make people remember them, so maybe it’s the headband.”
Don’t worry Lights, it will not be just your headbands that make you famous.
Check out Lights at www.myspace.com/lightsnoise.