Fresh Kicks 153: Lighght
Irish artist Lighght records an immersive mix of ambient electronics, field recordings, traditional folk and R&B edits, and speaks to Eoin Murray about his organic creative process and the value of humour and collaboration
Lighght’s Fresh Kicks mix is full of surprises: an Irish folk tune ripped from a Twitter video emerges from a behind shroud of smoky ambience and disjointed beats; an indie rock song about a missing dog contorts around a droning bed of electricity and distortion; an a capella of Sisqó’s ‘The Thong Song’ is warped and rewired to become a haunting mantra. These creative detours appear among lush experimental electronic tracks from the likes estoc, KMRU, Frog of Earth, Holland Andrews, Oneohtrix Point Never and more, woven together with a deft hand and an ear for subtle details. That it all works so well is testament to the Irish artist’s knack for contrast – for balancing light with dark, tenderness with irreverence, and the abstract with the energetic.
It’s a balance that’s found throughout Lighght’s own music too, across several albums and EPs that switch from electroacoustic ambience, spoken word and harsh noise into high-energy club music, deconstructed trance and beyond. Releases like 2019’s ‘Gore-Tex In The Club, Balenciaga Amongst The Shrubs’ and 2018’s ‘The Skin Falls Off The Body’ explore deeply personal themes, while the titles of 2020’s club-focussed EPs ‘Sorry I Can't Go Out Tonight, I'm Too Busy Going In’ and ‘They Are Just Bangers Bro, Please Don't Think Too Hard About It, Bro You Gotta Stop Thinking, Please Bro Come On’ speak for themselves, and point to an artist for whom variety is key.
“I think a Lighght track has a wide remit,” he says. “It’s my main alias and probably the least focused overall, which is a good and bad thing, but I can’t say I didn’t want it to be like that. Whenever I make music, despite how different one track might be from the next, I’m still confident it has my own sonic imprint - coloured by my own experience, and so I am confident it is mine. This is important to me.”
“I know nothing I’m doing is original in the sense it is connected to nothing else - rather my stuff is connected with everything I love. My music owes so much to past music and present music being made by my peers - my hope is that, despite all this, it is imbued with my own voice - and I think it is.”
Lighght’s most recent album, ‘Holy Endings’, on Doom Trip is his most tender work to date, and finds him stitching found sounds and field recordings through a tapestry of glowing electronic melodies, foggy atmospheres and intoxicating sound design. Notes Lighght made while making the album describe the act “translating a collected memory space - partially physical and partially digital - from real, lived moments to a shared collective memory made up of digital ephemera - photos, videos, sound snippets - into a new landscape of home”. The cultivation of these fragments into an immersive and beautiful collage of sound is a delicate art, and Lighght once again manages to find creative potential in unconventional places.
“I utilise the sound of badly done field recordings all the time,” he says. “Turning wind on the mic into warm sub bass, fidgeting hand holding the zoom becomes uneasy lines mapping weird sonic terrain, poor mic positioning casting blankets of distance on sound. If I’m with someone I don’t mind us chatting even if it covers up some sounds. if I’m on my own I might talk a bit anyway.”
It’s all a part of Lighght’s ever-developing process, which thrives on curiosity and experimentation. “I tend to make a lot of music - but some sessions might not be much actual songs. They might just be messing with a new process I want to try out - or fucking with some field recordings I took, or just trying to make a noise on some VSTs,” he says. It’s not something he’s too precious or secretive about either; he regularly posts video snippets of these studio experiments on Twitter, allowing for fun moments of insight into his echnique, which others may be less inclined to share. “I think a lot of these tools should be free,” he says. “It’s not sacred knowledge and I will happily share it with friends. I’m confident what they will make will take on their own perspective just as what I do has mine.”
Crucially, Lighght’s process is natural, with projects necessarily developing from whatever he is feeling as he sits down at his computer. There is no forced attention to themes or styles, and if inspiration doesn’t strike, that’s fine too. “I know I will want to do something again at some point, so better just wait it out and not beat myself up for not being productive this day or week or month or whatever.”
That organic approach is reflected in Lighght’s balance of reflective works with lightness and humour, both in his frequently irreverent online presence and his music. Titles like ‘i spent €4000 to install a subwoofer in my headstone so you better dance on my fucking grave’ and ‘Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Get Turnt’ are paired with some of his most thrilling club cuts, while the gentle ambience of ‘Holy Endings’ opener ‘there are parts of my soul i don't dare speak’ are imbued with snippets of quiet chit chat. “I think in general people aren’t 100% serious all the time, and so often art that is a good representation of the self isn’t 100% serious,” he says. “I don’t think this means necessarily telling jokes outright. I really believe your art should be something you are comfortable with making. If that means letting yourself be a bit irreverent go for it.”
“I think there is something to be said about the tension and release that comes with mixing these ideas,” he continues. “Serious stuff and light, humorous stuff. I think it can give something very rich to a piece of work.”
A keen collaborator, Lighght has made music with artists such as NAAFI affiliate Lila Tirando A Violeta and Cnámha (under the Boys Night In alias), and has mixed and mastered releases from various artists, including recent DJ Mag Fresh Kicks contributor Bae Bae. “I think working with someone else is fantastic, especially if you are typically a solo artist,” he says. “It will put you somewhere completely new. I think it’s important to crush your ego at least a little bit in a collaboration because this is no longer *your* thing, it is something shared. Even more so if you are just doing some work as part of someone else’s creative process. Even if nothing comes from the collab in the form of a finished work, you will have gained something yourself - a new perspective from working with someone else.”
“It’s also great just hearing and seeing so much amazing music take place everywhere,” he continues. “Honestly it’s humbling. You hear so much stuff that is just objectively amazing that you realise it is almost futile to be ‘technically’ the best at something. At least for me that is just not realistic. The best I can hope is that I am comfortable in my own expression and that it’s relatable.”
Looking ahead, Lighght has more music in the pipeline, including “at least one” dance record and a collab with French producer Amazinggaijin on All Centre. Allowing himself time to process and recuperate from the past year of pandemic life, he is keeping his options open when it comes to taking his music into live spaces once more. Mostly, the plan is to “just keep working on tunes and see what happens”. When the output is as consistent and exciting as Lighght’s, it’s hard to ask for more than that.
In the meantime, you can listen to Lighght’s Fresh Kicks mix, and check the tracklist, below. “It’s an odd one,” he says. “Smoky, misty vibes that are shrouding something which is a bit chaotic, but hard for you to glance at for too long.”
estoc - lying to aisatsana (kelela x aphex twin)
Yyed - Ridges Protruding From A Surface
Frog of Earth - Lying Down
KMRU - lost ones
Holland Andrews - Gloss
Mukqs - Northshore
lia t - arthur
never a n s w e r the phone - Through A Window
A Name For Both Of Us - Chamomile Sea Frog Relay
sv1 - ferrofluid
Lucy Liyou - Credit
Halim El-Dabh - Venice
Halim El-Dabh - Element, Being and Primeval
Nick León - "en los tiempos viejos..."
Kentaro Hayashi - Gargouille
The Fiery Furnaces - My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found
Anne Guthrie - Variation On Coral
Angel Simitchiev & Linus Schrab - A Smoke That Will Never Clear
Dialect - Ringing The Web
Hidden Valley Logging Company - Mycelium Floor
Hajj - Don't Follow Me I'm Falling (Ft. Chams)
Glass - ???
dangerous man with a gun - sí bheag sí mhór (Twitter video version)
Oneohtrix Point Never - Last Known Image of a Song
Sisqó - Thong Song
Frog of Earth - Means
7038634357 - Six Wings Underside
Davis Galvin - iii
picnic - folds and rips (Huerco S. version)
more eaze - priority (ft. ben bondy)
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