THE four-piece Cape town-based band Lights Out is fronted by Caminey Kuropatwa, along with Josh Rosen, Mark MacDonald and Mike McAuley. We sat down to chat about where they came from, where they’re going, and what’s it’s like to be a woman in rock.
“Our drummer Mark and I played together for all of last year in another band and decided we wanted to take a different route focusing more on original songs and music,” says Caminey. “We worked with Mike (bass) who is also an amazingly talented songwriter. Lights Out really came into formation with Josh who joined us on guitar. We met in February and it all clicked very well, straight off the bat.”
With a newly released single, Shut It Down, the band is very focused on performing: “It’s what we all love doing, and why we’re doing it…not necessarily for any greater fame or fortune. Music is what makes us tick.”
Caminey wrote Shut It Down last year as an emotional response to negativity from those who try to bring others down. “They don’t want to hear when you’ve got something exciting, and want to burst that bubble,” she explains. “So I was just cross and the song leapt into my head kinda fully formed and there she was.”
Describing the song as “very honest and quite raw”, Caminey adds that it’s “kinda” influenced by classic Led Zeppelin, with a bit of Rage Against The Machine in there as well, and Royal Blood. “It’s very real, I hope,” she says.
Lights Out’s influences range from the Rolling Stones to Imogen Heap, Guns ‘n Roses to Tori Amos. And Joe Bonamassa – because Josh insists he is mentioned, and for good reason. If you don’t know who he is, Google is your friend.
“Royal Blood in particular is one of those rock bands that made me think,” says Caminey. “In the UK, they’re all over the radio. Everyone says rock’s a bit of a dying genre but I’m refusing to let that be. Rock is where it’s at. It’s just so authentic. And it’s big and expressive, like us. No one in the band has a small personality,” she laughs.
“We’re all kind of introspective and emotional,” she continues. “I think most musicians are and it’s really great because we draw on that so our music comes from real experiences and real feelings which we are luckily able to express in our writing. As a band we actually all get on really well and have open communication.”
So how do audiences react to the shattered stereotype when they see Lights Out performing?
“Yeah, really interesting,” says Caminey, whose – apart from her voice – instrument is the piano. “I think people expect this kinda jazz vibe, and are surprised … it’s totally liberating and exhilarating to be able to let go at the front of a band like this.”
Within the band it’s never been a problem. “They talk freely – sometimes too freely! – in front of me,” says Caminey with a laugh. “And that’s great. I would say I’m one of the boys but I’m not, I don’t believe in that. We’re all just as we are.
“I think the managing part is what’s harder to overcome. Sometimes people in the industry are not used to dealing with a woman when it comes to haggling, finances, sound and technical issues. I think that can be difficult for them to get their heads around.”
But with more and more female bands, and venues run by women, there’s big change in the world at the moment towards more gender equality, says Caminey. “Women are realising they don’t have to hold themselves back. The climate is changing.”
Following the milestone of the first single, Lights Out want you to hear it; it’s on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer and all the major download platforms. “Obviously we’d like people to buy it on iTunes but if they don’t want to, they can stream it,” says Caminey. “Then come see us play it live. We’re at the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay on November 17.”
Plans for 2018 include lots more gigs, and an EP in the first half of the year. “We’re really amped about that,” concludes Caminey.
Watch the video for Shut It Down here and here, and follow Lights Out on Facebook and Instagram.
PHOTO CREDIT: LAURA McCULLAGH