Valerie Poxleitner is every geek's dream girl. Better known as Lights, this 22-year-old Canadian electropop princess is a huge fan of video games and collects comic books.
"Take this, for example: Track 11 on [her forthcoming] full-length record is called 'Lions,' and it's entirely written about World of Warcraft," she says. But Lights is modest about her geek sex-symbol status. It's something her admirers can relate to, "whether or not they like the music," she says.Lights is one of the few female artists on the first leg of this year's Warped Tour. "I keep telling everyone how lucky I feel to be a musician that gets to do this type of thing," she says.
We caught up with her via phone while she was on her way to a Warped Tour stop in Phoenix — right after her tour bus broke down — and talked about her keytar, her tattoos and her pet tarantula, Lance.
The Warped Tour is a total boys' club. What's it like hanging out with all the guys?
I'm used to it. I get along with guys in general because I kind of act like one, I guess. It's kind of an advantage in some ways, not on a personal level, but on the stage level. When they see a girl standing onstage, it makes people stop and look.
Your music isn't exactly what comes to mind when you think of Warped Tour.
I think that Warped Tour is evolving over the course of time. The other thing is what these tours are all about is just being honest in music. That's what I've always done with my music. People can sense sincerity and honesty in music, and that's what (fans) are embracing on this tour.
Why did you start playing the keytar [a lightweight keyboard with a shoulder strap]?
It was more of a thing that I got into for practicality because I felt a little bit constricted behind my keyboard. I couldn't really get out and walk around onstage.
Do you have any creative aspirations beyond music?
I do pretty much all of the art on the album and the art on the merchandise. And I have a huge hand in what goes on in the music videos. I'm actually working on ... a series of a semi-animated cartoon. The ambition is for it to come out on MTV — and my music is integrated throughout. They're basically like short, glorified music videos — but with dialogue. It's going to come out in September [as is her full-length album].
You moved to Toronto by yourself a few years ago. What was going through your head?
It was just after I had written "February Air," so it was kind of like that moment where I discovered where I wanted to be in music. I packed up my stuff and put my pet tarantula in a sandwich container on the plane, and no one noticed. And when I got there, I was alone, and that's kind of how I spent the first year of living there — just learning a lot about myself musically and personally.
You have a tarantula? Is he traveling with you?
No, because a lot of people aren't down with having a spider on the tour bus. You'd be surprised at how many people get the heebie-jeebies. Like, it could be the biggest guy in the world and he's creeped out by spiders, so Lance is at home.
You have quite the tattoo of Wonder Woman on your back. Are you a huge Wonder Woman fan?
I have hundreds and hundreds of issues of comics in my apartment and paraphernalia everywhere. It's a giant tattoo of an adaptation of the cover of Wonder Woman No. 2, Volume 3, where she's fighting against Giganta. It's a representation of being small but still being able to fight something really big and still win and still look really good doing it.