Winterfest’s battle of the band winners These Lights chat with The Varsity

These Lights is a band comprised of six jazz and classical music majors that collectively create a glorious mixture of funky and indie-rock goodness. The group has come a long way since their formation last summer, winning U of T’s 2015 Winterfest Battle of the Bands, releasing two demo tracks on SoundCloud, and attracting over 400 fans on their social media platforms. The Varsity met These Lights for an outdoor recording session behind Robarts Library, where we got to chat about the band’s writing process and their success during Winterfest 2015. 

The Varsity: These Lights was the group that ended up winning U of T’s Battle of the Bands in January, and in a way you were sort of the underdog group; your music wasn’t yet online, so not a lot of people really knew what to expect. What was that experience like for you?

Laura Yiu: Battle of the Bands was definitely an important experience for us. I think not having any music online was at first a little worrying, but then we realized it could be a good thing, because we had the element of surprise on our side.

Andrew Adrige: It was the first time we got judged on our music. We got some feedback from people in the industry and we really appreciated that. To play in front of all of our friends in that big venue and to get a whole bunch of people hearing us was also really important.

TV: There’s a lot of sounds coming out of These Lights: metal, pop-hooks, and some synthy stuff too…was that sort of a conscious decision to blend those sounds or did it just happen naturally?

AD: I think it was just a natural thing, totally. Since I guess we all have diverse musical backgrounds (two of us study jazz professionally, the rest are in classical, Mandy does some different stuff), we kind of just all brought it into one and said “Okay, we’re not going to have a set sound. We’re just going to write stuff and see where it goes.” And that’s transformed into some funk-indie-metal fusion thing.

TV: Is there any genre you haven’t touched yet that you’d like to bring into the band?

Tony Chen: Funk! Funk!

AD: We’ve dabbled with funk but Tony’s like way into funk and wants more funky stuff.

LY: We started with some funk and that’s why there are a few songs that have that dancing element to them like “It’s All Good Fun,” but we’ve really been moving in the indie-alternative direction. We’re still so young of a band and none of us really went into this with any huge expectations, so we’re just pumping out new songs and new material to try and flesh out what genre we want to play. 

What’s in the works for you guys for the rest of summer?

LY: We’re working on a recording right now that’s set to release at the end of the summer. We have some videos that are ready to launch with that E.P. After that? We’re hoping the right people listen to it and that we just keep playing more shows; nothing too ambitious other than playing bigger and better stages.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

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