From Issue #31
LIGHTS: BORN TO SHINE
By Dana Marie Krook
Everthing seems to be 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 fi rst 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.
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
We talked to LIGHTS about our green
efforts at Faze, and she was totally
excited and definitely on board!
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
-Turn lights off when not
-Use a refillable coffee
cup (which makes it
-Purchase locally grown
-Put the computer in sleep
mode when not in use
-Donate clothes and other
-Walk, bike or take
public transit to work instead of driving
What green step she plans to take next:
Replacing plastic bags with reusable ones.
What’s YOUR next green step?
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!)
"What was the last thing you....?"
heard on your iPod: Kanye West
saw on YouTube: someone beatboxing
my song “February Air.”
It was wicked!
had to eat: yoghurt
dreamt about: getting in a fight
with my band members
laughed out loud about: I laugh
all the time; it’s always gutwrenching!
forgot: the plug-in for my
computer; I left it at the hotel!
said to your parents: I love you
added to your MySpace: a video
thought about as a goal for the
future: making an animated
LIGHTS HAS TATTOOED
ON HER ARMS?
Lyrics from a song she loves, translated into German, about a "father's blessing and trying to stay blameless."
LOTS MORE PICS COMING SOON! CHECK BACK HERE!