Canadian electropop singer Lights was surprised to find that when she wrote stories in a comic book series, she also discovered her sexuality.
The artist says she wanted to see someone combine the two mediums -- a music album with a comic-book storyline -- and decided to do it herself.
"I love telling stories with pictures," she says of the comic book, called Skin&Earth, which accompanies her 2017 album by the same name. "When I committed to it, I knew I had to figure it out."
Lights quickly learned that without a budget, she would not be able to hire a comic-book writer; she'd need to write it, too. Basing most of the series on her own experiences, Lights documented a fantasy world with pop-art drawings and a storyline that ultimately served as a form of art therapy.
"I can sing about things I haven't said for the last seven years, and channel energies I've held back, because I was afraid people would read into my life too much," Lights says about her newest album, which was recently nominated for a 2018 Juno Award (the Canadian version of the Grammys). Lights also snagged an Artist of the Year nomination; she won Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2009.
Lights' personal life has been a focal point for years. In 2012, she married musician Beau Bokan of metalcore band Blessthefall. Two years later, she gave birth to their daughter, Rocket. As Lights penned her comic, she wrote in a second female character as a love interest for the female lead. Lights says she began to fall in love with the character and realized she was bisexual.
"It really made me recognize the fluidity of love -- and how we spend so much time concerned about who we think we're allowed to love -- that we stop loving," Lights says. "It felt really natural in the book."
Talking about her sexuality is new to Lights, though she has been open about other sensitive topics. She has struggled with depression, body dysmorphic disorder, insecurity and loneliness, she says. She recently posted an acoustic rendition of "Face Up," a track she wrote when she was 19 for her debut record. Although that was 11 years ago, Lights says it's important to talk about mental health issues so people don't feel alone in their struggles.
"I was trying to make it in the music world when I wrote that song. It's a lot of pressure on a young person," says Lights. "There's a lot of pressure on young people, whether they're in the music industry or not. If you can just get through those hard times, you'd be surprised what you can put behind you."
In a time when the #metoo movement has empowered women to speak up about sexual harassment, Lights says she's proud to be a female artist in 2018.
"I've never felt more empowered as a woman in this industry as I do right now," she says.
"The #metoo movement, for all its highs and lows, is crucial to the achievement of equality and treatment of women today," Lights says. "One of my favorite developments has been watching women support and uplift each other."
"It's a good time to be a woman. We are dangerous and powerful, but also graceful, and it's about time the world sees us for the force that we are."