Lights has signed to Fueled by Ramen, Billboard can exclusively announce today (May 14).
Lights will kick off her new era with a 10-track unplugged album, Skin&Earth Acoustic, a collection of seven stripped-down takes on her most beloved songs and three newly-recorded tracks. Due out on July 12, the singer/songwriter/illustrator recorded, produced and mixed the album herself, and collaborated with husband Beau Bokan of Blessthefall on the visuals for the project.
Billboard caught up with Lights for a conversation about signing to Fueled By Ramen after her long tenure on Warner Bros. proper. "It’s pretty wild to be on a new label since the last one I was pretty much with since the beginning," she says of joining a roster that includes All Time Low, Panic! At the Disco, Paramore and Twenty One Pilots. "Glad I found my new proverbial mate, though. Time changes us so much, so it’s only fitting to be opening a welcomed new chapter surrounded by friend's bands and bands I have loved and watched for years. Before signing, I’d hit up my friends on the label to see how they liked it. It was literally like dating."
Bokan directed the atmospheric video for the bouncy, reggae-tinged acoustic anthem "Lost Girls," which serves as the first taste of Skin&Earth Acoustic. In the visual, the flame-haired singer plays a mysterious warrior who shoots electrical sparks from her fingers as she wanders through the woods wielding knives and strumming her guitar through a haze of blue smoke.
Below, Lights describes what she's looking forward to doing with her new label team, why she was so excited to produce the new album and what it was like working with Bokan. Check out the video for "Lost Girls," plus the track listing for Skin&Earth Acoustic and Lights' summer tour dates, after the Q&A.
What will this new deal allow you to do that you weren’t able to before?
One thing I love so far about FBR is their dedication to helping build a culture around their artists, as opposed to living and dying by a single at radio. There are so many facets to my art, with the music and the comics and the acoustic counterparts and a thousand inside jokes with the fans in between, so I’m proud to be working with a team who seems to appreciate all that stuff as much as I do.
Why was it important to you to produce/mix this album?
The big draw of this record to me is the fact that most of the songs were recorded in unique locations corresponding to their chapters in the comic. So quite often, I found myself tracking in the straight up wilderness. The sheer logistics of bringing a full on recording team out there was out of the question, so I just did it all myself. On top of that, I was between labels, so there wasn’t really anyone pulling together a roster of producers and engineers to work on it; it was a good opportunity to put the pressure on myself to get it done my way and step up my production game. Mixing was a new world for me, I felt like I was going a little crazy getting it right and having a hard time calling it done. I have a new respect for mixers now.
What was it like collaborating with Beau?
Despite how complex putting this together was, with all the traveling around and trying to navigate all the unique sounds that came with the locations, it was a wicked adventure because Beau and I were together the whole time. I dragged him out in the middle of the night, in the cold, in the heat, he went the distance with me and shot the whole recording process. He has a really unique way of capturing intimacy and feel in his footage, and we would sit down together at night and edit them til we were happy. I’d be next to him with my laptop building out the edit of the track that would suit the video perfectly and play into all the right moments. We both learned a lot about our crafts in the process. I’ll admit we make a pretty damn good team.
Skin&Earth Acoustic track listing:
"Skydiving (Cliff Recording)"
"Until the Light (Truck Cab Recording)"
"Savage (Rain Recording)"
"New Fears (Bedroom Recording)"
"We Were Here (Tunnel Recording)"
"Kicks (River Recording)"
"Almost Had Me (Desert Recording)"
Lights acoustic tour dates:
July 24 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
July 26 – London, ON @ London Music Hall
July 27 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
July 29 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
July 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Foundry @ Fillmore
July 31 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Aug. 1 – Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
Aug. 3 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade – Heaven
Aug. 4 – Nashville, TN @ Basement East
Aug. 6 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
Aug. 7 – Austin, TX @ 04 Centre
Aug. 10 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
Aug. 13 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall
Aug. 15 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
Aug. 16 – Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue