The world can sometimes feel like a hopeless place, yet as humans we remain hopeful, as if it’s a superpower of our kind. To cope with difficult situations, we create alter egos of ourselves and fantasy worlds where we can do and say things we’ve never had the guts for in real life. Valerie Anne Poxleitner, better known as Lights Poxleitner-Bokan, lead vocalist of the band Lights, explores this experience and exposes her personal alter ego and inner struggles using multiple artistic mediums.
Poxleitner-Bokan is best known for her work as a musician. The Canada native has released four studio albums over the course of her music career, which began in the early 2000s. Her latest album, “Skin&Earth,” was released in 2017 and is perhaps her most vulnerable piece of work yet. Poxleitner-Bokan has always been one for pushing boundaries and being explorative in her endeavors, but her most recent accomplishment takes the cake.
Not only has Poxleitner-Bokan blessed her fans with the release of her album “Skin&Earth,” she’s also designed a six-part graphic novel that complements it. Fans minds were blown away by this news. The album and graphic novel can be consumed separately and each would make perfect sense; however, bringing the two together is close to magic. The project was quite the undertaking, and it is a seemingly unparalleled feat in comparison to other musical creatives seen today.
Aside from showcasing her array of artistic talents, Poxleitner-Bokan gives fans some insight into who she is as an individual by alluding to some of her more personal battles and inner conflicts. It’s as if she is laying out her most hidden thoughts, stark and bare for all to see: the graphic-novel, a peep hole into her life, and the album, a mouthpiece for her unspoken thoughts.
What’s more unique is that all of the songs are written from the perspective of Poxleitner-Bokan’s alter ego. Sex, relationships and overcoming obstacles are all topics that she may have avoided otherwise. In that sense, then, Poxleitner-Bokan’s alter ego was the key to unlocking a whole new level of creative thinking.
Who Is Enaia Jin?
Enaia (En) Jin is the name of Poxleitner-Bokan’s alter ego and the main character in her graphic novels. Poxleitner-Bokan describes En as the imaginary and otherworldly counterpart to herself in real life.
In a way, Poxleitner-Bokan was able to express herself vicariously through her fictive character En — a woman attempting to manage and potentially overcome her innermost demons so-to-speak.
The Graphic Novel
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, “Skin&Earth” is about a dystopian and futile-seeming future, where illness and hunger rule, alongside the large corporation, Tempest. In the midst of what seems like a world of doom and gloom, the comic follows a girl, En, who must face fantastical battles against divine entities and mortal beings. Of course, to keep things spicy, En experiences turmoil in the romanctic department as well.
In fairness to critics, the apocalyptic theme has certainly been exhausted by pop culture in recent years. Nonetheless, it’s a concept that allows for an infinite number of potential reinterpretations. The idea of an imaginary and depressing future is morbid, but its probability of actually happening has crossed the minds of many. Poxleitner-Bokan’s reminds that we don’t always appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone.
The “Skin&Earth” album is made up of 14 tracks that correspond with Poxleitner-Bokan’s comic. Each song’s tone reflects the feelings of each chapter in the novel. Poxleitner-Bokan is known for her alt/electro-pop sounds, but she also teamed up with members of Purity Ring, Twenty One Pilots and Big Data, who you might say fall into different genres. The collaboration gives the record a lofty sonic quality.
Similar to the graphic novel, the album starts out with somber tones and lyrics that suggest angst and anger. As you continue, you get the sense of fighting and overcoming obstacles, and nearing the end of the record, the songs convey feelings of love and loss. Despite the dismal storyline, the album has its fair share of slow songs, powerful anthems and vivacious bangers.
If you are interested in finding out more about Poxleitner-Bokan’s “Skin&Earth” album or comic, then you can visit her official website. The website offers visitors a chance to view the cover art for each part of the six-part comic series, as well as a handful of the music videos that were made for songs from the album.
Even within the music videos, Poxleitner-Bokan keeps with the post-apocalyptic theme and stars in all of them as her alter ego, En.
For Poxleitner-Bokan, the “Skin&Earth” project has meant many things. It was a creative leap of faith, a self-imposed challenge and therapeutic release to name a few. However, the biggest and most important thing that Poxleitner-Bokan wishes for fans to take away from the audible and animated affair is hope. The author designed her alter ego En with the intention of being relatable to almost everyone, in that she hones in on the experience that connects us all—being imperfect humans.
I strongly recommend checking Poxleitner-Bokan out and giving “Skin&Earth” a read or listen. Not only does she turn out exceptional work, but the message behind “Skin&Earth” is important. She does such a great job of changing things up and adding variation into her sound that listeners are almost continuously on their toes. After “Skin&Earth,” it will be interesting to see what Poxleitner-Bokan has in store for the future.