We see tons of celebrities who happen to be a jack of all trades – sing, dance, act, etc. But what’s not getting as much spotlight are the celebrities, specifically musical artists, who are stepping towards the direction of creating comic books. Yes, comic books like the ones where all your favorite superheroes were born. This isn’t a new thing. Gerard Way chose this path, as did Coheed & Cambria. Who else can we add to this list? Lights.
Alt-pop singer Lights has been known in the past to create happy, upbeat music. Allow her to introduce Skin&Earth, her fourth studio album out September 22nd featuring her current singles “Giants”, “Skydiving”, and “Savage.” In addition, this album will correspond directly with the entire companion comic book series, also titled Skin&Earth. Issues 1-3 are out now via Dynamite Entertainment.
Skin&Earth has given Lights the platform to create Enaia, the lead fictional character of her comic book. “In the past, Lights wouldn’t write about being angry or Lights wouldn’t write a song about fighting or Lights wouldn’t write about sex,” she says in a previous interview. “So [Enaia] is me in another dimension, and I was able to write about all the things that I never wrote about before.” Continue on reading more as we had a chance to chat with Lights to ask her more about the comic, her experience at SDCC and how she’s gearing up for her upcoming tour with PVRIS.
The Young Folks: How was SDCC madness?
Lights: It was exactly that! It was tough cause I was in fan-girl mode but also a guest and doing a signing and a panel so I was this double headed monster, it was awesome. My favorite part would’ve been the Skin&Earth cosplays I came across. So powerful! And that was only two weeks after the comic had come out.
TYF: Why is it that you weren’t able to seek these feelings in your songs as Lights until now? Why did you sort of guard yourself from being that vulnerable as Lights versus as En?
Lights: Being a solo artist comes with the reality that whatever you write about people are going to directly relate that to what might be going on your personal life at that given moment. If I were to have written Savage with no context, a listener would probably assume my marriage is on the rocks or something. But that’s not to say I’ve never experienced heart break, or anger, or the emotions present in that song. It’s a facet of my emotion and creativity that sometimes didn’t get to breathe because I was afraid people would make assumptions about my life through that.
TYF: Before Enaia came into play, how did you go about freeing another side of yourself that your fans didn’t really know about until now?
Lights: En was my exit, all of those things I never sang about happened through her. She is apocalypse Lights. It took a fictional character to really authentically express certain things about myself.
TYF: How did you go about envisioning the basis of your story? Do you think your comic is a very loose reflection of how some people live today – They take and take without really thinking of the consequences?
Lights: There certainly is environmental commentary and dialogue on the human condition and corporate greed throughout the book. My dad is an architect specializing in green architecture so I’ve always well understood what moves absolutely need to occur if we ever intend to move society towards a more earth-friendly infrastructure. Problem is, everyone needs to be on board. It’s not a one man show. So anywhere I can squeeze that commentary in is great. The basis of the story however started with a simple idea for the plot line and the world then evolved from there. As a fan of dystopian fiction, I had to make a story that involved that.
TYF: From you to even the Black Eyed Peas, comic books are becoming the new “thing” for artists even though they’ve been around since forever! What did this comic book do for you that couldn’t have been done with a movie or with a mini series?
Lights: Well a movie or a miniseries costs loads of money, support and massive involvement. A comic book was something I could create on my own for little to no monetary cost, purely time and vision. Luckily I love the medium, so that was my obvious avenue for telling the story that I wanted to tell.
TYF: So what came first, the music or the comic? And I ask this in terms of the whole project from when you worked on each plot and comic, did the music stem from what you were creating for En or vise versa?
Lights: The story most definitely came first and I started to fill the arc with songs that told the story and capture the emotions therein. As the songs started to materialize, the story evolved and filled in the gaps and that fed back into the music. Once all the music and the writing was finished, I began drawing.
TYF: Since getting advice from Brian K. Vaughan to Jamie McKelvie, what’s some advice you learned to NOT do? How long did it take you to dive into Skin & Earth after Vaughan inspired you to just go for it yourself?
Lights: One of the key things I learned not to do was hang on to dialogue that was irrelevant or didn’t push the story along. Every word matters and space is limited, so I really had to edit everything down. If it doesn’t develop the character or move the story, cut it. I probably cut 75% of the dialogue from the way the story originally was. I started writing Skin&Earth probably the day after I got that message from BKV. What can I say, he has a way with words!
TYF: Did you have any fears or moments where you just wanted to give up on this passion project? How did you overcome those hardships?
Lights: I don’t think there was ever a day I wanted to give up on it. Times came that I would become disheartened because I didn’t think it would be good enough, or wouldn’t be taken seriously, but that only steeled my resolve to read more, learn more about the craft, and make it as good as I possibly could have. It may not be as good as some of the stuff I read, but goddamn at least I know I did the absolute best that I could’ve with the skills I have.
TYF: You’ll be going on tour with PVRIS and that’s exciting! What are you doing to prep for tour?
Lights: Loads of rehearsals, learning a few new songs from the record. The tour starts the day the record comes out so I sense that will be a special tour.
TYF: Do you plan on changing or manipulating your stage setup to reflect the story you’ve created? If so, how?
Lights: Not on this tour, we’re just supporting so we have a shorter set and the whole comic series won’t even be completely out until the end of the year. But next year I definitely intend on putting together a much more thematic tour that will be very Skin&Earth centric.
TYF: After Skin&Earth has had its time to settle and soak in… Do you think you’ll continue to use this method of comics and music later in the future? Maybe with a completely different story, characters, etc?
Lights: At this point my vision for the world within Skin&Earth is pretty infinite. The idea of creating a whole new world outside of this one is quite off my radar because I haven’t even come close to bringing this one to its full potential yet. All that to say, there is plenty more to come with the world of Skin&Earth.