Everthing has been falling into place: an in-demand EP in stores, on iTunes and shining through the radio; an album ready to drop this fall, a tour across North America in the spring and the infamous Warped Tour ’09 planned for the summer. The little ACTION, CAMERA, LIGHTS!
The tiny—but mighty—girl behind the bright name of LIGHTS, who is currently sweeping across the country with her unique sound, in hits like “Drive My Soul” and “February Air,” is one major force on the horizon. Taking her inspiration from the iconic Wonder Woman, LIGHTS sees herself as a fun, fearless female who comes up against things much larger than her and not only survives, but prevails as reigning champ. Both in music and in life, she sees a challenge where others may see a problem and goes headfirst toward the conquering.
A short form of her much longer last name, Poxleitner, LIGHTS came about originally as a nickname during her time as an air cadet. There, everyone was referred to by their last name, and the lengthy Poxleitner quickly became LIGHTS, which quickly caught on among friends and fans outside that group.
“It’s kind of like an alias—superheroes get them!” she says of her new name. “I think you create yourself more the way you want to be over the course of your life, and you shouldn’t let the world do that for you.”
The events of LIGHTS’ life, of course, have led her to great success already in the music industry, but the proverbial “road less travelled” is more reality and less poetry for this girl’s story.
A daughter to missionary parents, LIGHTS grew up all over the world, living in countries from the Philippines to Jamaica. Because of their constant travels, she and her younger sister were home-schooled by their parents up until her teenage years.
“One day out of every week my dad would take over [teaching], and that was the day we got to do music,” she remembers. “It instilled a passion for music in my early days. I got a guitar when I was 11, and my dad taught me like three chords, and I immediately wrote the first song. I started writing constantly after that.”
Realizing that there was so much more to song-writing than a few chords and some lyrics, LIGHTS added producing to her resume at 13, buying herself an 8-track to include the sounds of drums and keyboards in her music.
“I NEVER REALLY HAD A PLACE IN HIGH SCHOOL.”
While still trying to focus on her passion, LIGHTS suddenly found herself in unfamiliar
territory: in the maze of halls of a public high school. It was harder than she imagined to find her place in that world because of having been so isolated from certain social settings in the past and because her family continued to move around.
“I went to six different high schools…I would always be the one sitting by my locker, doing my homework,” LIGHTS recalls, but seemingly without any regret. “I never really had a place in high school; I just made some friends here and there, but focused on what I loved to do and tried not to let everything that was around get me down.”
Holding on to the solid relationship she had built with her family, LIGHTS could
sweat the not-so-small stuff of not fi tting in. But apart from academic endeavours (she “always got good grades”), she realized how difficult it was to deal with everything else in high school. But though it may not have been easy, LIGHTS seemed past the age where the taunts and insults from others could affect her too much.
“You grow into everything you hate about yourself, over time,” she notes.
Voted “most unique” in her last high school (“I took it as a compliment, but I
think it was a nice way of saying, ‘you’re weird’”), LIGHTS was surprised to even
see herself in the yearbook at all. She had spent all her spare time in her attic, dubbed “Starry Night Studio,” and had set herself on a track that had nothing to do with the influences of the institution.
Her philosophy for life—“Get out there and try stuff”—seems simple, but therein
lies the beauty of it: in a world that can sometimes appear daunting, and even a little harsh, you have to actively seek out a variety of things, in order to fi nd your place in it. And that place may have nothing to do with your label in high school.
“I know, every time I thought about something I wanted to do, like rock-climbing or snowboarding or be in a band or start playing a certain instrument, I would just up and make myself go do it. Like, I wanted to learn cello once, so I rented a cello for four months and taught myself how to play it…if you do enough things, you’re going to eventually narrow it down to the things that really make you happy.”
LIGHTS even went so far as to apply this way of thinking to her greatest fear: spiders. Arachnophobia is something a lot of us can identify with, but true to the spirit of Wonder Woman, LIGHTS decided to face her fear head-on.
“I went to the pet store, and I said to the pet guy, ‘put him on me,’ and he did. I fell in love with him, and I was never afraid of
Lance, the “docile” tarantula, has been with her now for over four years and even shares the stage in some of the video blog posts on her website.
With her perpetual fear-conquering, LIGHTS has refused to take a back seat in her journey, and you might say that has made all the difference. From buying pet tarantulas, to auditioning for plays when she hated the stage, to trying out for cheerleading (apparently it was “awful”), she has actively pursued her place on the world stage. As a result, her unique personality, music and sense of style shines through the masses; it speaks to those of us who also aspire to embrace what makes us different, rather than hiding it.
“You have to be uncomfortable in order to be successful, in some ways. Because if you stay in your comfort zone, you would never do the things that you need to do.”
LIGHTS is clearly a girl who didn’t fit in— because she was born to stand out.
GREEN LIGHT, GO GIRL
Here are some of the simple things LIGHTS does in her daily life to make our planet a little cleaner:
-Do laundry in cold water
What green step she plans to take next:
Q&A with LIGHTS
Googled: a video for Protest the Hero (I was in one of their videos as a vampire dentist, and I heard that they cut my part out and they totally did!)
heard on your iPod: Kanye West
had to eat: yoghurt
forgot: the plug-in for my computer; I left it at the hotel!
said to your parents: I love you
WONDERING WHAT LIGHTS HAS TATTOOED ON HER ARMS?