Throughout her career, Canadian alt-pop shape-shifter Lights (aka Valerie Poxleitner) has answered her big-bang moments with comedown companions, by releasing entire acoustic revisions of her albums. And while 2022’s PEP arrived after a five-year gap between official Lights full-lengths—during which she became the busiest featured vocalist working along the pop-punk-to-EDM spectrum—her penchant for mellow makeovers continues apace with its companion release, dEd. Only now, Lights is hanging up her acoustic guitar to chill out in a whole new way. “Everything about PEP was extreme and exaggerated,” Lights tells Apple Music. “The excitement, the energy, the colors, the marketing, the humor. It was meant to be a sarcastic and cynical approach to peppy, inspirational music.” So, when it came time to reimagine these tracks, rather than just turn down the volume, she had to completely turn PEP on its head—literally. As its title unsubtly illustrates, dEd is PEP thrust into the Upside Down, presenting the original album’s 13 tracks in reverse order, and dramatically changing the vibe from spring-break beach party to dead-of-winter funeral. “Previously, I’ve always done acoustic [reworkings], but I felt like, this time, I had to do something really opposite,” Lights says. “So, I thought, ‘Let’s take the production totally away from the alt-rock thing…and what is the opposite of that? Let’s go electronic, let’s go downtempo, let’s go ambient, let’s go dark.’” Here, Lights takes us on a track-by-track journey into the void. “Grip” “With my acoustic stuff, I’m careful to not over-process vocals. So, with dEd, I thought, ‘I’m going to process the vocals like I would on an electronic track.’ But when I went to do that, it didn’t match. I love the juxtaposition of having a really raw, acoustic-style vocal over electronic production. There’s something cool about toeing the line with those two styles of production on top of each other. Like on ‘Grip,’ there’s no Auto-Tune. It’s meant to have these curves and flaws and little moments that make it feel real over the perfect electronic production.” “Voices Carry” “I ended up taking a more minimal approach overall. On most of the tracks, I tried to put a chillstep-style syncopated bass pattern, with a little bit of wub going on. And I managed to get it into this one, too, but it’s decidedly less chillstep. It’s almost more like a classic Lights acoustic version because this song kind of just commanded that. I thought, ‘Let’s just let “voices carry,” literally.’” “Okay Okay” “The lyric for ‘Okay Okay’ has always been really dark: If you completely fall toxically in love with somebody, then they can make you do whatever they want. It’s kind of a heavy concept, and so this version brought all of that darkness out of these lyrics that, typically, people at my shows would be jumping and singing along to. This is a totally different vibe.” “Easy Money” “On the original, there’s a down-chorus following the bridge that I’ve always really liked. So, I thought, ‘I’m gonna do a vocoder stack and do my take on an Imogen Heap-style moment.’ So, I spent a lot of time researching vocoder plug-ins and how to use them. But when I really got the track going, my actual vocal takes were cooler than the vocoder itself. In the end, I did layer in a vocoder track as well and just combined it all and created this really special moment.” “Real Thing” “Me and Elohim wrote this track [for PEP], and it was such a good vibe. The hardest part about recutting it was just trying to capture a vibe that was different. Ultimately, the heart of the track is the same—it’s just slower and lower. The sentiment of the lyric remains the same, but I got to put in some cool choppy samples to make a fun, chill version.” “Sparky” “Years ago, when Drake dropped Scorpion, I covered Scorpion’s B-side within a week of it coming out and did a whole acoustic, chill take on the entire project. Of course, it got taken off DSPs almost right away, so it was a lot of work for literally nothing. But I did learn a lot in the process about how to keep a hip-hop flow and lyrical cadence within a low-key production style with the pads and a little bit of a groove. So, all the expertise I gained from covering that project went into this one.” “Rent” “There’s a handful of songs on PEP that I did all the production on, and my production skills have gotten so much better since then. So, this was a chance for me to have another go at production on ‘Rent’—another way that this might have been manifested on the last album. There’s no right answer for how you complete a song—you’re just winging it every step of the way!” “Jaws” “With this one, I went through so many different chord progressions, trying to get a different one from the original, and I finally landed on this really positive-sounding, kind of lullaby-style thing in the verses. And I was like, ‘I’m going to make it cute...and then break into this big drop.’ It’s not necessarily a chill version, but it definitely takes on a new energy and darkness.” “Money in the Bag” “I remember hanging out with Kiesza [who was featured on the original version] on a trip to LA, and I told her, ‘Man, I do not know how to do this track! Your voice is too good! I can’t sing like that.’ She was like, ‘Huh...I don’t know how to help you. Sorry!’ I ended up taking it into a synth-wave direction and then stripping it back. It took a lot of finessing until I got it to a place I was comfortable, but it turned out way better than expected.” “Salt and Vinegar” “This landed in a really vibey chillstep area that I didn’t expect this song to go to, because this is probably the most fun alt-pop song on PEP. I love playing this song, and I didn’t want to lose the strong points of the track: the bassline, the guitar part, the spunk. But none of that carried over. Instead, this version is counting on the strength of the lyric itself, and I was really surprised at how much that shone.” "Prodigal Daughter” “This one actually came out when PEP first came out, as a bonus track. So, this created the blueprint for the rest of the project. The original is just pure energy and yelling and hollering. So, I did the softest vocal I could, with the most gentle guitar. This was the first real extreme flip, and I just loved how that turned out.” “In My Head” “The original is an anthem for running around with confidence, and this suddenly seems like the opposite. The strange thing about the topline on this is that the verses are [in a] major [key], and the choruses are minor. So, it has a complete sonic shift between those parts, and I didn’t really discover that until I was working on this. I had a lot of fun flipping this into a ’70s-sounding alt-electronic moment. There’s these almost dreamy, trippy chords going into these vinyl-sounding drums. This is the one that stands out the most from the rest of the songs on dEd.” “Beside Myself” “I noticed there’s a trend in TikTok-style videos where people are pitching things around or speeding them up and making them higher. I thought, ‘How can I take that concept and employ it in a way that doesn’t feel camp but feels true to the song?’ And I thought having the chorus dropping into a pitched vocal would be really cool. I had a lot of fun just trying new production tricks and thinking about ways to drop you into this electronic void.”

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