Lights (born Valerie Anne Poxleitner; April 11, 1987) is a Canadian synthpop and electropop musician, singer, and songwriter. Some of her notable singles include "Drive My Soul", "February Air", "Ice", "Second Go", "Toes", and "Up We Go". Lights tours extensively to support her recordings. In 2009, she was awarded the Juno Award for New Artist of the Year.
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 signed a record deal with Toronto-based label Underground Operations. She also signed an American partnership deal with Warner Bros. along with Doghouse Records. She toured from January-May 2010 with contemporary synthpop artist Owl City in Canada, the United States, and Europe.
Lights won Indie Awards in the Favourite Solo Artist and Astral Media Radio 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.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.
Lights was born Valerie Anne Poxleitner in Timmins, Ontario. As the daughter of missionary parents, she spent her childhood in many parts of the world, including the Philippines, Jamaica, Ontario, and British Columbia. She moved to Toronto at the age of 18 when she legally changed her name to Lights. She got the nickname "Lights" from her last name Poxleitner. As there was already a signed band named "Lights", having her name officially changed was a way to use it in light of prior copyright.
2006-07: Musical beginnings:
Lights was signed at the age of 15. In high school, Lights played guitar and sang in the metal band Shovel Face. Lights started her career as a writer for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. She 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 very first music video, "February Air," for a Sony promotion. However, Sony never confirmed with the deal, and it never happened.
In 2007, she was discovered by Jian Ghomeshi, who was her manager until late 2014.
2008-09: 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 signed a record deal with Toronto-based label Underground Operations. She also signed an American partnership deal with Warner Bros. along with Doghouse Records. Around the same time, her song "Drive My Soul" got to No.18 in the Canadian Hot 100. After signing with them, her EP was released in stores on September 16. Her second single, "February Air," sold 12,000 copies. In early 2008, "February Air" was in a commercial for Old Navy. It was released in December 2008.
Lights contributed vocals in Ten Second Epic's song "Every Day" and appeared in their music video. The song appeared on the Big Shiny Tunes 14 compilation album and the music video was nominated for Best Independent Music Video at the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards. She is also featured on the soundtrack (songs "Ben" and "Climbing") for the 2008 Canadian film One Week, starring Joshua Jackson. She was a guest vocalist on the album A Shipwreck in the Sand, released in 2009 by post-hardcore band Silverstein from Burlington, Ontario.
In 2009, Lights released her third single to Canadian radio stations called "Ice" with a homemade video released on her MySpace. She also released a second video for "Ice" in Canada on November 10, 2009. It was released in the United States on November 11, 2009. On August 10, 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 early 2010.
In March, Lights was named on the American music website Shred News's 10 Artists to Watch in 2010.
While touring in the summer on the 2009 Vans Warped Tour, Lights's single "Saviour" premiered on Canadian radio stations on July 6, 2009. The song is from her first full-length album, The Listening, which was released on September 22 in Canada. It was released on October 6 in the United States after she left Underground Operations for her own record label, Lights Music Inc. The cover for the album was also released. 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.
2010-2013: Acoustic EP, Siberia, Siberia Acoustic, and tour:
She toured from January-May 2010 with contemporary synthpop artist Owl City in Canada, the United States, 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 June 14, 2011, as well as appearing in the music video for another one of Owl City's songs "Deer in the Headlights." Plans for future duets are in the works. She was also in the summer 2010 Lilith Fair official lineup. She went on a two week solo UK tour in May 2010 being supported by fellow Canadian artist Rich Aucoin for most 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 Crowns.
Lights released an acoustic EP titled Acoustic in July 2010. Her debut for the album was at the University of Waterloo, where she had received most of her inspiration for the album. 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." She also left on her headlining tour with Jeremy Fisher.
On June 18, 2011 at the Utopia Music Festival, Lights performed three new songs called "Toes," "Where the Fence is Low," and "Everybody Breaks a Glass."
The single "Toes" was released on August 16, 2011 as the first single to Lights's second studio album, Siberia. After signing with Last Gang Records her album was delayed due to criticism from the label executives. Though reluctant to share full details of delays, the shift in style to a more gritty sound was a risk worried about by Last Gang Records. The full-length album was released online in the US and Canada on October 4, 2011 and went on iTunes stores in Australia on October 28.Siberia received positive reviews from many critics and was nominated for a Juno Award for Best Pop Album of the Year. Lights says her favorite song on Siberia is "Flux and Flow."
In July 2012, Lights's husband revealed that she was working on an acoustic version of Siberia. She seconded this by posting a photo on Twitter shortly after with a piano and acoustic guitars with the caption, "My station today. Kind of intimidating..."
On March 15, 2013, Lights released an acoustic version of "Cactus in the Valley" featuring Owl City as a single in the UK.
Siberia Acoustic, was released on April 30, 2013, and reached Number 7 in Canada. She toured select dates around North America in support of the album, with Dear Rouge opening select dates and Lianne La Havas opening other select dates.
2014-present: Little Machines:
In July 2014, Lights started a 10-day countdown on her social media accounts, and on July 23, her album, Little Machines, became available for pre-order on iTunes with its lead single, "Up We Go", available to download. The album was released on September 23 in the US and Canada. On August 12, the second single, "Portal", was released along with an official video. A third single, "Running with the Boys" was released on September 10.
By October 31, 2014, Lights has parted ways with her long-time manager Jian Ghomeshi.
In 2015 the artist continued touring extensively in large venues such as Old National Centre in Indianapolis in support of her most recent album.
Lights won Indie Awards in the Favourite Solo Artist and Astral Media Radio 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 November 18, 2010.
In February 2012, her album Siberia was nominated for a Juno Award in "Pop Album of the Year" Category.
In March 2015, her album Little Machines won the Juno Award for "Pop Album of the Year".
While at a Taking Back Sunday concert, Beau Bokan, the lead vocalist of metalcore band Blessthefall, asked a mutual friend of Lights if they would introduce the two. The couple started dating soon after. On September 1, 2011, Lights became engaged to Bokan. As his proposal, Bokan made fortune cookies for Lights, with one containing the fortune of "Will You Marry Me?" They were married on May 12, 2012.
On November 4, 2013, the couple announced on Twitter and Facebook that Lights was pregnant with their first child. Lights and her sister were pregnant at the same time. On February 15, 2014, Lights gave birth to her daughter, Rocket Wild Bokan. In 2014, the family relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license