Lights performs at the PNE Sept. 1 at 8:30 p.m. Concert is free with fair gate admission. Reserved seats start at $15. Visit pne.ca for info.
When Valerie Anne Poxleitner was a little girl and felt scared at night, she often sought comfort from the sounds of her father's guitar.
"I grew up in the Philippines for a number of years and if I was ever scared at night my dad would play his guitar downstairs and it made everything go away and feel OK."
It was her father's musical teachings that led Poxleitner, better known as Lights, to create her own sound of music.
On Sept. 1 Lights will be making her first ever performance at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.
"I am excited about it, I've actually never been to the PNE before," she says. "I know we're going to have a full band set."
Following her performance at the PNE, the electro-pop musician will embark on a small university tour, which will see her perform at the University of Alberta, University of Waterloo, McMaster University, Mount Royal University, and Algonquin College.
In November, the 2009 Juno Award winner will be opening for American rock band Paramore at their Toronto and Montreal performances.
"That's going to be awesome, I love getting to share the stage with other female fronted acts, or all female acts," Lights says. "It's not as common as you think. We just got off a couple of dates with Tegan and Sara, which was another great feeling."
Lights was born in Timmins, Ont., but spent the majority of her childhood living in the Philippines and Jamaica, due to her parents' work as missionaries. She also lived in Surrey and Langley, B.C., for a short time.
The Ontario native's musical beginnings started to light up around the time she was 11 years old.
"Probably the first thing that got me into music was my dad teaching me how to play the guitar when I was 11. He had been playing for as long as I had been around," Lights says.
As a teenager Lights spent a large portion of her time writing songs in her bedroom and experimenting with musical production. When she was 18-years-old, she moved to Toronto and legally changed her name to Lights.
"I think I recognized the power of music," Lights says about her involvement with music. "There is some kind of magic that is there and I wanted to get involved with that and learn how to use that craft, and I am working on that every day."
Growing up Lights listened to music by artists such as Björk, Supertramp and Genesis. She says that Björk has had a very big influence on her.
"Just her efforts and her whole genre that she has created. She's Björk and she's very recognizable for who she is," Lights says. "I think that is so important, you do things differently and there are rules. You see that with somebody like Björk and I've always thought that was cool."
During her youth, Lights was often times a victim of bullying. There were incidents where her car was keyed, or people wanted to fight her. She says her own personal goals and aspirations helped her get through the tough times.
"I think my own strength and ambitions kept me through that. I knew that I was going to do great things and that is part of the vision of becoming who you are," Light says.
In 2007, Lights spent one week writing and recorded songs at Centennial College's Centre for Creative Communication in Toronto for the fourth season of CTV's Instant Star.
Since then, she has released three studio albums and three EPs. Her albums The Listening and Siberia were both gold certified by the Canadian Recording Industry Association and both Juno nominated.
Lights explains that she is constantly trying to improve and grow with each album that she releases.
"It is a constant challenge and I think that's how it always will be. It will always be harder and harder to one-up yourself and evolve and find inspiration in a different way than you did before," Lights says. "As far as I want to take my career, I don't want to do the same thing over again."
"I would have said Siberia was the hardest record before I started recording this new one. It's definitely challenging making it to find out where you want to go and make it something you're really proud of," Lights adds.
Lights is currently hard at work on a new album, which she hopes to have out sometime next year.
"It's just writing at this stage," she says. "It could go anywhere in terms of the way it could get produced. I'm still just searching at this point."
When it comes to writing music, the Juno nominee says she often writes on the road or at a friend's place in Fort Erie, Ont.
"One thing that I do like to do is get out of my house. It's one thing to write and stay at home but it is easier when you're not there."
According to the electro-pop singer, her biggest challenge throughout her career has been maintaining her integrity.
"There are so many options along the way to sell out, and I don't mean sell out in the way of working for a big corporation or anything, I mean letting your sense of self slip away," she says. "It is important not to falter because of that. Stick to who you are, take your vision. There always has to be a vision that you chase or else you will become like everyone else."
"Be who the artist that you've created yourself to be," she adds.
Earlier this year Lights travelled more than 4,000 kilometres from Toronto to Inuvik, NWT, to perform songs from her album Siberia at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, which is also known as the Igloo Church.
"The people and the surroundings were out of this world. You really felt like you were on another planet," Light says. "It just made me realize that there is so much about Canada that I have never seen and don't know. There are some fans up there, which blew my mind. I guess that's the power of the Internet."
Although Lights has played across North America and received three Juno nominations, taking home one trophy, she says performing at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto was one moment in her career that stands out for her.
"There are lots of different moments that are special," she says. "One that I remember being really special was playing the CNE in Toronto. That's what I hope for at the PNE. It is a great vibe. People are happy and it is summer. I'm looking forward to it."
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