LIGHTS is back, and you’ve never seen her like this. With the epic AF ‘Giants’ music video, which ties into an incredible comic book and album titled ‘Skin&Earth,’ we’re given a taste of the saga that’s yet to come. Below, she breaks it all down for us!
This interview with LIGHTS has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Welcome back. This new single marks a total departure from your usual sound — in the best possible way.
The whole project itself is a new thing. It’s a departure because it’s a project I’ve never tried, in that the whole album is connected to the [Skin&Earth] comic, and each issue and chapter relates to a track on the album. It has massive scale. But it’s something I always wanted to do, and I just needed to find out how. I had to teach myself how to make the comic and everything…
It’s incredible that you made the whole comic yourself!
I drew and wrote every single thing! I’ve been working on this for two years now. Writing, the music and the story all occurred within the first year, then the drawing in the second year, because the art itself takes a really long time. It’s about 150 pages at the end of the day. It’s exciting to see it all come together and talk about it with somebody!
Well, I’m honored.
I’m stoked you can listen!
What’s the elevator pitch for all of Skin&Earth?
The project itself became about trying things that were next to impossible and making it work, which goes for the comic and the tracks.
Where did the title come from?
It all originated from this line in a song that I had in my pocket for years. It was, “I’ll still love you when I die/when skin and earth collide,” so I always liked the idea that skin goes back into the earth, and it’s all part of the same cycle. It also has an applicable sense when you read the comic. It’ll make more sense when you read it! It’s much more grand of a concept by the end of the comic than you even realized.
So cool. Now, let’s talk about “Giants.” It’s cool how it’s fast and slow in the different intervals…
The verses are a completely different tempo from the chorus! We had written the chorus, it was explosive and cool and we loved it, then we were working on the verse and had a killer verse, but when we went back to the chorus, we realized we had completely moved away from timing on it. But we had to make it work!
It’s a challenging structure to apply to a pop song. The goal of pop music is to make something that as many people as possible can enjoy. The challenge is to make it apply to everybody and say something complex really simply.
What inspired the song?
The phrase that inspired “Giants” is on the money in Great Britain. Along the edge of the coin, it says, “And we will ride on the shoulders of giants.” I always thought that was cool and poetic.
That’s awesome. What about the lyrics?
The content was fun to write, too. I can’t give too much away, but it’s the part of the story where everything changes; it’s pivotal. In a real sense, it’s about liberating your mind and letting yourself dream and imagine yourself in a greater place. In order to achieve great things, you have to be able to picture it. You have to envision these amazing worlds before you can go there!
The video is so cool.
The video became about that, too, where we live in this mundane world. And in the comic it’s this apocalyptic world where everything’s been reduced to this one last oasis, where it’s just in shambles and everyone’s kind of doomed, and it’s totally dismal. But she’s starting to imagine these surreal landscapes and places she dreams of going, so we’re alternating between these two worlds in the video.
We had to do some crazy stuff — I’m recovering from a three mile hike up a mountain in the L.A. heat to get some amazing shots!
You also have this alter ego going on because of the character, En.
I was able to write about things I hadn’t written before, like maybe LIGHTS wouldn’t write about. I started young and there was this expectation based on what people know about me. So this time I’m writing about sex and these great and beautiful things, and suddenly I’m able to. Writing through the voice of another character made that possible! A lot of these songs are still me, but maybe not LIGHTS, so suddenly I’m split into different people but we’re all the same, and now I’m whole because I can write through somebody else.
You have a lot going on, between the record and the comic. Do you have a spreadsheet?
[Laughs] It’s locked in my mind! I could talk about it inside and out. The social media part is harder to wrap my mind around, the Instagram world, and there’s so much more to come with that world. It’s a cool way to give people a hunt without it being physical, and it’s a world everyone can be in. But yes, there is spreadsheet information for logging into all of the accounts!
This fall you’ll go on tour with PVRIS, which is amazing. Who else would you love to tour with?
Lorde. She’s an incredible woman.
I feel like you’d be a good fit for Paramore, too.
Oh, I love them. Their new record is so great. I actually sought Hayley Williams’ advice when I was dying my hair red. She’s the hair dye goddess. So I hit her up and asked how she did it, and she was awesome, giving me great advice. I had never really had colored hair before and I love it! She’s my hair dye guru.
Finally, who are your fellow giants?
It’s everybody who dreams big, man! I’ve been there a thousand times, I’m there today, I’m always there. You want to put yourself in a place where you feel larger than life. Everyone has a form of escapism and finds a way to make it real in some way. If you spend too much time in reality, you get caught up in it, which is why we love art and music and play video games! We all want to be somewhere where we matter.
LIGHTS’ new album Skin&Earth is due this fall, and the first issue of the comic book series will be out on July 12. You can preorder it here.