Get ready to dive into a world of radiant melodies and synthy bliss with a new album, Little Machines, by Canadian electropop artist Lights. In the three years since her last release, Siberia, Lights has really grown up. She and her husband Beau Bokan, frontman of Blessthefall, welcomed their first child into their family earlier this year. Her sound has similarly matured, with shimmering new production and stronger songwriting than ever before. Lights took some time to speak with The Daily Californian over the phone about the new record and the unique experience of taking a baby on tour.
The Daily Californian: So you just released a brand new album. How would you describe the change in style from Siberia to Little Machines?
Lights: I think, ultimately, when I look back, the major difference would be that in previous albums, I wasn’t all about trying to push the limits sonically. With Siberia, I really wanted to make cool sounds and convey the energy that was inspiring me at the moment. It wasn’t all about songwriting, whereas this time around it’s all about making songs sonically feel good and writing the best songs that I possibly can.
DC: How is it different lyrically?
L: It’s kind of funny looking back on my body of work because I can tell where I was emotionally with every record – it’s almost like this cryptic diary. The first one, The Listening, was all about my emotional journey. I had just moved out on my own and was dealing with depression and things like that, and that record actually got me through a lot of that. And Siberia was all about falling in love for the first time. This record, Little Machines, is about enjoying life: living in the moment and feeling good. I’ve really discovered that, now that I have a kid, having kind of been to the edge and back in terms of where I am as an artist.
DC: So you’re taking your family on tour this time, correct? How has that been so far?
L: It’s been awesome. One of the hardest things about touring is not having your family and missing them, but waking up with them every day takes that whole element away, and I’m kind of just enjoying it. It’s like family vacation but doing shows on the side. I actually enjoy the experience more. It’s an added layer of work, and you don’t get a good night of sleep ever, but at the same time, it forces you to level yourself every few hours.
DC: It’s been three years since the last record, Siberia. What was the writing process like for this record?
L: A lot of meandering, a lot of trying different things … I did a lot of different things creatively to try different angles. One of them was poetry — I tried to write a poem every night to try to loosen up my mind lyrically. I did a lot of painting to loosen up my visuals because music is pretty visual, too, even though it doesn’t necessarily come across.
I did some interesting writing trips, too. I went to New Mexico and really zeroed in on songwriting there … There are songs like “Portal,” which was a poem that I put to one chord. Some of them were written just on guitar. “Don’t Go Home Without Me” was actually written on an omnichord … In the end, we had 14 songs that ended up on the record.
DC: On the road, what’s been keeping you inspired lately?
L: I’ve been actually playing Resident Evil 5. And that is probably not that inspiring but it’s a way to take a break and that’s pretty awesome. I think that’s what I love about video games. The escape in itself is an inspiration because when you come back to reality you’ve been porting between worlds and that’s exciting.
DC: Do you have a certain way of getting pumped before you play a show?
L: What we usually do is me and the boys (her backing band) all sing a couple of the songs. Some of the songs will have harmonies in them or something, and we kind of just hop around and sing and joke. Sometimes we’ll do a shot or drink a glass of wine; we just hang out together before we all go on. And then we all do a big hug — there’s lots of love in the group.
Lights is playing the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on Thursday.