Lights: From Azeroth to the Stage

Art, in all its forms, is inherently influenced by previous works, especially when it comes to music. So it should come as no surprise to find out that many musicians draw inspiration from both videogames and comic books. CGM decided it was time to look into this, and chat with a few of these artists to hear from them about how gaming has influenced their work.

Canadian musician Valerie Poxleitner, better known as Lights, has made no secret of her passion for gaming, with songs, art and even tattoos directly drawn from games like World of Warcraft. She took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with us, and explain why she is passionate about videogames and how they’ve bled into her music and personal life.

Comics Gaming Magazine: You’re a notorious World of Warcraft fanatic, how are you liking the new expansion Warlords of Draenor?

Lights: I haven’t played it yet, and that’s sad. I’m seeing all this stuff about it, I follow the Blizzard accounts and I’m getting all these updates about it but I haven’t played it, and I really want to. I actually haven't logged in to WoW in, well, must be over a year by now. I’ve been mostly console gaming because I haven’t had the time to sit down and play. Having said that, WoD might be enough to bring me back.

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CGM: I can understand with your busy schedule that a time sink like WoW might not be the best thing.

Lights: Totally. And the thing is, you need a very stable connection, even to do a 15 minute dungeon, or you get kicked. That can be kind of hard to find when you’re in a different venue all the time, and the bus isn’t exactly stable Wi-Fi, so that’s made it hard for me to stick with it. But I do love it. They even named an in-game item after me, which was a total “I can die happy” moment. Holy Paladin leggings called The Poxleitner’s Leggings of Lights.

CGM: Did you get a chance to watch any of Blizzcon or were you too busy?

Lights: No, unfortunately I wasn’t able to. I’ve even had tickets the last two years and didn’t get a chance to watch this year. I wish I did though, this was the first year I didn’t get to watch it. I feel very sad about that.

CGM: You’re well-known for having a few gaming related tattoos, anything new?

Lights: The newest one would be the little machine symbol, which is heavily inspired by manga and the anime I’ve been watching lately. It’s like with Warcraft, when I wore the Alliance patch for the first time. Being able to connect with complete strangers over a symbol. You immediately have this connection, you know you’ll have something to talk about and I love that, and I feel the same way about my fan base. We’ve been building this amazing and passionate fan base over the last six years and I felt that it was time that we had a symbol like that. Even when see people wearing the scout regiment wings from Attack on Titan, an anime I really like, it’s a point of connection. So I felt that it was a time that we had a symbol like that. I thought I would be the first one to get it, but I wasn’t! There were all these fans that got it tattooed on them before I did, so I had to catch up. So I got that on the back of my neck, and the one before that was a rocket tattoo in honour of my little daughter.

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CGM: We’re looking at musicians that are influenced by, or write music about videogames. As this is something you’re obviously passionate about, how much of your work is inspired by games? Both lyrically and musically?

Lights: It’s so hard to pinpoint the exact places I’m inspired by, but looking at the big picture, I’m heavily inspired by it. Especially fantasy games, games that have really cool lore and storylines are ones I draw from. In particular, I always go back to Warcraft, I used to play it a LOT. I actually wrote a song called “Lions” on the first album that has some direct references to WoW. In the bridge it goes “I’m not the hunter, I’m not the marked” in reference to the hunter’s mark. Playing games allowed me to be imaginative and lose myself in another world, and that’s where you need to be to be creative. You can’t exist in the present world too much. I really feel like you can draw so much inspiration just by losing yourself in these other environments. One thing in particular that I’m inspired by is the dialogue in games like Skyrim, Oblivion and Fable. The way things are worded, the whole light vs dark and evil vs good and the empowerment of the hero. I find that so inspiring. I write from that place a lot, because sometimes the battles in your own mind feel like that.

CGM: You’ve mentioned manga, what titles are you currently digging? Do you read Western comics at all?

Lights: I just started reading Locke and Key, it’s pretty cool. Saga is another one I’m enjoying.

CGM: Saga is amazing, probably my favourite series of the last couple years.

Lights: So good, I’m a fan of the writer, Brian K. Vaughan, who wrote Y the Last Man, which is another awesome series.

CGM: Do you read much genre fiction?

Lights: I haven’t had a chance to really, I wanted to get into The Kingkiller Chronicles and series like that, but it’s still a new frontier for me. Ultimately, the reason I read comics and graphic novels and play games is that I’m just not a good reader *laughs* I just can’t sit down and focus on reading a book as much as I wish I could, I need the pictures.

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CGM: Well that’s refreshingly honest, I’m sure the visual art helps kick off the imagination a lot more.

Lights: Hugely. The visuals are a big point of inspiration to me in terms of fantasy worlds, being able to see the artist’s representation of that world is just as inspiring as reading about it, if not more.

CGM: How do you find time to maintain personal interests like this with touring, writing music, and generally being super busy all the time?

Lights: While I do have a hectic schedule, it’s not hard to make time for something you really enjoy. I’ll always find time to sit down and play. Even on this tour we’ve been playing through a few of the Resident Evil games, it’s not something you have to force yourself to sit down and play. With a graphic novel or comic on hand you can sit down for a few minutes during the day and just, lose yourself. I think that is so important and I try to preach that all the time. It makes life more enjoyable, don’t think about the real world too much.

CGM: Thanks so much, it was nice chatting to you!

Lights: Awesome, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.