Canadian synth star Lights has been recreating her albums as reimagined EPs following her 2009 debut “The Listening” with the aptly titled, “Acoustic.” The 28-year-old singer-songwriter — born Valerie Anne Poxleitner — is now on her third studio full-length, “Little Machines,” and is preparing to release its acoustic counterpart, “Midnight Machines” on April 8.
She chats from Vancouver, where she lives with her husband, Beau Bokan of Blessthefall, and their daughter, Rocket Wild, where they’ve spent the day hiking the nature trails by their house.
Each of these acoustic EPs feature new renditions of songs off your most recent album, meaning you get a second shot with certain tracks while also incorporating new ones. What was important for you to re-record off “Little Machines” for “Midnight Machines” and which songs were you most excited to spend more time with?
The whole record is really unique in comparison to the previous acoustic stuff I’ve done. I put a ton of resources into this one and it’s hard to even call it “acoustic” because it’s more of a “midnight spin.” It has late night vibes, and they almost feel like slightly drunken versions of the songs. I knew what I was going for sonically [when I got to the studio] and when the band and I pulled it together, it happened so quickly. We laid down all of the tracks live over the course of about eight days, and it was such a beautiful experience. It’s a nice reminder of your chops because you can’t quantize or tune or throw lights and mirrors up when you’re doing such raw stuff.
What made you decide to start re-recording your material?
It’s mostly been fan demand. They asked for it all the time and it was pretty much the reason I’d do any of the acoustic stuff in the first place. As an electronic artist, I think you hear your lyrics totally differently when you hear them up close. Like “Up We Go” has a totally different feel when it’s played acoustically — it’s not the better year anthem it is [on “Little Machines”], it’s more of an intimate, quiet, emotional song.
Also this album features a string quartet, which sets it apart from the more stripped down acoustic EPs.
That was really beautiful because we worked with an arranger who could guide this pack of spring power through the soundscape of each song. It was almost bringing me to tears because I was hearing my songs in a realm I never saw them in before. It was like I was “Alice in Wonderland.”
I heard the original recording of “Muscle Memory” was done while you were in labor — is that true?
Yeah, I was just finishing up the vocals on “Muscle Memory,” but I think people forget that labor is a long, long process. Like it doesn’t last five seconds. It started at the end of us recording the song when we were finishing up the backgrounds and countermelodies, and then then next morning I had [Rocket].
That’s crazy. Do you think it had any affect on the song?
Not really. The song itself took a long to work on. It’s powerful to remember though, because I had to relearn singing [after giving birth]. I had no diaphragm power, but three days later I was back in the studio.
This is going way back to your “Siberia” days, but do you remember when you were on “The City” on MTV with Whitney Port?
That was my first and last brush with reality TV. [Laughs] It was funny because it made me realize just how not “reality” reality is and they manipulated things to make me look a certain way, but I think that’s just how those things work.
[Laughs] I actually took of the jacket halfway through the set but they edited it to make it look like I took it off right away! But I was like, ‘Wait, you didn’t see! I wore it!’ But I guess there are a lot worse things that could happen on reality TV and it introduced me to a lot of great fans. It just made me remember that this is an industry where you need to keep your eyes open at all times.