Shining new light of synth pop to play Leeds

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Interview by Graham Chalmers

She may not be a household name right now on this side of the Atlantic but it may all be about to change for electro-pop star Lights.

Born Valerie Anne Poxleitner, the talented 27-year-old songsmith looks set to join a long list of successful American music stars who quietly turn out to be Canadian!

Talking to me from her hometown of Toronto in the run-up to her UK tour which hits Leeds next week, Lights said: “A lot of people underestimate us in Canada, especially our southern neighbours. I’m always having to tell people ‘yeah, Bryan Adams is Canadian!’”

Gleaming new album Little Machines follows debut The Listening, which sold 40,000 in her home country, and Siberia which boasted 100,000 worldwide.

Never one to stand still musically, Lights called on Mark ‘Spike’ Stent of Beyonce and U2 fame to mix her new collection of songs.

But she says, despite her synth-pop credentials. her influences this time round were iconic female singers such Kate Bush and Patti Smith.

“I heard Kate Bush was doing those shows in London last year and I almost flew myself out there for that. She’s a huge inspiration for me. I’ve never felt I should approach my music in a different way just because I’m a woman but I find I’m more inspired by female artists these days.”

Having signed her first record deal when just 15, Lights has learnt the hard way to play her career by ear.

“I did have this burning ambition of musical stardom when I was young and naive. But you can’t set too many expectations or goals, you just have to go with it. I have no idea what I’m doing but at the same time understand more than I wish I did about the whole music world.”

For a burgeoning pop queen, Lights is creatively restless, as the audience at Brudenell Social Club will discover next Monday, January 26.

“I always strive to create songs that can stand alone acoustically. Someday I’d like to challenge myself to make a vocal-only album, like Bjork’s Medula.”