Lights Valerie Poxleitner (born Valerie Anne Poxleitner 11 April 1987), known professionally as Lights (stylized LIGHTS) is a Juno Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter. She is known for composing and performing synthpop music such as the songs “Drive My Soul”, “Ice”, “Saviour”, “Second Go” and “February Air” and has performed internationally.
Lights was born in Timmins, Ontario. She was raised by missionary parents and spent much of her childhood in various parts of the world, ranging from the Philippines to Jamaica to Ontario and Vancouver.Since the mid 2000s, she has lived in Toronto and had changed her legal name to Lights. When asked about changing her name, she said her former name was a chapter of her life that was over; it was an easy change for her to go through and seemed almost natural. In multiple interviews, she stated that the changing of her name has great significance for her.
In a self-interview she asked herself about her first song and said “I was 11, and I learned three chords on the guitar. It was the first time I really learned how to play guitar and I wanted to write a song with them so I went down to my mom and I said pick a number between 1 and 150 and she picked 5 or something, I can’t really remember the number, but I went and opened up the Bible and there was 150 Psalms already written so I went to the number she chose and wrote a song with that and that kicked off the biggest thing of my life.”
Lights started her career being a writer for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Lights was among the songwriters who composed music for the television series Instant Star. She and Luke McMaster are credited with composing “Perfect,” sung in the role of Jude Harrison on the show by Alexz Johnson.
In late 2006, she worked with Canadian photographer Marc Lostracco to film her first music video, February Air, for a Sony promotion. However, Sony never went through with the deal.
She was discovered by Jian Ghomeshi who remains her manager as of December 2010.
2008–2009: Lights and The Listening
Starting in early 2008, Lights toured cities in the Great Lakes region, in both Canada and the United States. In late 2008, she toured the United States.
In August 2008, Lights entered into a record deal with Underground Operations as well as signing a partnership with Warner Bros. in conjunction with Doghouse Records. Around the same time, her song “Drive My Soul” peaked at #18 in the Canadian Hot 100 in 2008. After signing with them, her EP was released in stores on 16 September. Her second single, “February Air”, sold 12,000 copies in early 2008 after it was featured in a commercial for the Old Navy clothing store chain. It was later released in December 2008.
Lights appears in the song & music video for the song Every Day by Ten Second Epic (from their album Hometown). The song appears on the Big Shiny Tunes 14 music compilation & the music video was nominated for Best Independent Music Video at the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards. She is also featured in the song by The Tremulance: “You Got The Girl”, and also on the soundtrack (songs “Ben” and “Climbing”) for the 2008 Canadian film One Week, starring Joshua Jackson. She was featured as a guest vocalist on the album A Shipwreck in the Sand (2009) by post-hardcore band Silverstein from Burlington, Ontario. She is featured as a guest vocalist in the song “The Yacht Club” by Owl City on his album All Things Bright and Beautiful, which was released 14 June 2011.
In 2009, Lights released her third single to Canadians radio called “Ice” with a self-made video released via her MySpace. She also released a second video for ‘Ice’ in Canada on 10 November 2009, and in the United States on 11 November 2009. On 10 August 2009, her music video for “Saviour” was released. In an interview for the musical website Hall-Musique, Lights announced she was hoping to release her debut album in Europe by the beginning of 2010.
In March, Lights was named one of American music website – Shred News’s ‘10 Artists to Watch in 2010’
While touring in the summer of 2009 on the Warped Tour, Lights’ single “Saviour” premiered on Canadian radio on 6 July 2009, which is from her debut full-length album, The Listening, which was released on 22 September in Canada and 6 October in the United States. The cover for the album was also released, and according to Lights, the entire artwork was inspired by Watchmen, 28 Days Later, and Sailor Moon.
In September 2009, Lights toured with the British band Keane on their Canadian/Pacific Northwest tour. In late 2009, Lights toured all around the United States and Canada with Stars of Track and Field.
2010–present: Acoustic EP and second studio album
She toured from January to May 2010 with contemporary synthpop artist Owl City in Canada, USA and Europe. Lights is featured on Owl City’s song “The Yacht Club” on his album All Things Bright And Beautiful which was released on 14 June 2011. Plans for future songs are ongoing. She is also in the summer 2010 Lilith Fair lineup. She embarked on a two week solo UK tour in May 2010 being supported by fellow Canadian artist Rich Aucoin for the majority of her shows. Additionally, Lights was a special guest for pop-rock band Hedley’s The Show Must Go… On The Road Tour, as well as These Kids Wear Krowns.
Lights’ released an acoustic EP titled Acoustic on July 2010. That same month, she began her six-date tour around the US, performing her songs acoustically. In September, she toured with Hedley for eight dates on the Ontario leg of their Canadian tour. In October 2010, Bring Me The Horizon’s album There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret featured Lights as a guest vocalist on the songs “Crucify Me” and “Don’t Go”. She is also featured on The Secret Handshake’s song “Used to be Sweet” from their album Night and Day.
In October 2010, Lights released “My Boots”, the first single from her second full album which is confirmed by her manager, Jian Ghomeshi. She also embarked on her headlining tour with Jeremy Fisher.
The release of a second full studio album which will include “My Boots” and “Cactus In The Valley” is expected in summer 2011. On 18 June 2011 at the Utopia Music Festival, Lights performed three new songs entitled “Toes”, “Where the Fence is Low”, and “Everybody Breaks a Glass”.
In 2011, she performed a duet with Adam Young of Owl City on the song “The Yacht Club” for his third album, All Things Bright and Beautiful. She also appears in the music video for another of Adam’s songs, “Deer in the Headlights”.
On July 13, 2011, Lights announced via Twitter that her second album was complete “My record is done. Coming soon to the ears nearest you. #PLEASED”
On July 17, 2011, Lights released the lead single to her album, “Everybody Breaks a Glass”, via her website. The song features Holy Fuck and Shad. The song was released through iTunes on July 19.
She will be headlining the University Students’ Council Orientation Week concert at the University of Western Ontario on September 10th, 2011, according to www.oweek.ca.
In a September 2007 interview, Lights indicated her primary influence as Björk, whom she has said she would like to work with someday. She also spoke glowingly of Phil Collins’s songwriting and ABBA’s music, and particularly enjoys European production-based music such as The Knife. In a 2010 interview with UpVenue, she mentioned wanting to collaborate with Michael Bublé someday.
Lights won Indie Awards in the Favourite Solo Artist and Favourite Single categories during Canadian Music Week in March 2009 in Toronto. She won the Best New Artist Awards in the Hot AC and CHR categories. All awards were for her debut single “Drive My Soul”, except the award for Favourite Solo Artist.
She also won in the best new artist category at the 2009 Juno Awards.
In 2010, she was nominated in the Indie Awards for “Video of the Year” (Drive My Soul) “Pop Artist of the Year” and in the Juno Awards for “Pop Album of the Year” (The Listening).
In November 2010, her debut album The Listening was given a gold certification by the Canadian Recording Industry Association for sales of 40,000 units. The certification trophy was presented during her Toronto concert on 18 November 2010.