Pop singer Lights did some serious soul-searching while writing her latest record — and says the process helped her explore her sexuality and confront a years-long battle with depression.
The Canadian electro-pop artist released her fourth LP, Skin & Earth, in September and has since adapted the concept album’s storyline into a six-part comic book series that she wrote and drew herself.
“It took 10 hours a page, and it’s 170 pages! You do the math!” the star, 30, says of the passion project, which allowed for several hours of self-meditation.
The “Giants” singer calls the main character in the dystopian series “a reflection of my personality,” adding: “I had to really go within myself to say, ‘How would I react in this situation?’ Because she reacts, ultimately, the way I would,” says Lights, who in 2009 won the New Artist of the Year Juno Award (Canada’s equivalent of a Grammy).
“You can get to know me a little bit by reading it, just to get to know my personality. She’s kind of a goof, this totally flawed person with issues, and she’s bisexual — and it made me realize that about myself, too. If I met the right girl, I could easily fall in love. Love is so much more than gender: You fall in love with a person,” says Lights.
Storytelling through song and visual art has become a cathartic experience for the singer, who shares 3-year-old daughter Rocket with her husband of five years, Blessthefall rocker Beau Bokan, 36.
“It was a learning experience in a lot of deep ways,” she says of creating Skin & Earth, which also serves as an allegory for her struggle with mental illness.
Confronting Mental Health
“Mental health is the main concept of the story; the whole story is a metaphor for that,” she reveals. “I had years of struggling with depression and inner demons, and this was my way of talking about it.”
The star hopes sharing her experiences helps others.
“I think there was a time I would have been [afraid to talk about it], but now, the way things are today, people need to talk about mental health and need to be open about it and be able to have a conversation about it,” says Lights. “I know other people go through this all the time — most people do, and nobody’s cool to admit it. So I think it’s time that people do.”
Lights acknowledges her mental health is something she’ll always have to manage, but she’s found solace in her family.
“One of the ways that I discovered my confidence and my ability to overpower is becoming a mother,” she says. “Suddenly, my world wasn’t about myself anymore. I had another purpose — and another person to take care of. And then all of a sudden, you can’t be a narcissist anymore. Sometimes you get so in your head, and most of the s— that you concoct about the world hating you is you just your own projection of yourself. I was able to get a bigger perspective. That really helped.”
A Rock Star Family
Still, juggling two rock star careers and a toddler is tough. When Lights is on tour, daughter Rocket typically joins her.
“It’s kind of a balancing act all the time,” she says of parenting on the road. “But I’ve learned to be more spontaneous and just go with it.”
And that goes for maintaining a long-distance marriage, too. “It’s hard” when both she and Bokan are on separate tours, Lights, but to make it work, “you travel and try to fit in special things.”
Case in point: “We’re in the process of challenging each other to do nice things for each other,” she explains. “When I was in New York for a show, that night I got back to the hotel, and somebody was like, ‘Uber Eats is here for you,’ and it was two pints of ice cream — Beau had sent it over, from Europe!”