Peaking Lights

Husband-and-wife duo Peaking Lights have a new album out called <I>Lucifer<$>. One may not immediately associate such a title with their distinctive dubby, warm, balmy sounds for the mind and soul – nor with child-friendly music (one-year-old son Mikko sings on it!) – but they have a good explanation. We called them in their San Francisco home and talked about the meaning of the album and combining rock ’n’ roll with family life. All work and no play? ‘It’s just the way you look at it.’

To most of us, the word ‘Lucifer’ has dark connotations, but it’s also associated with the planet Venus, the light bearer to Earth. Are you bearers of peaking lights?
Aaron: I don’t want to claim we’re actually light bearers, but yeah, the Latin meaning appealed to us very much. I like the idea of looking for the light in things and making people feel good. I mean, being an artist is the most generous occupation one could have other than growing food and giving it away.
Indra: A part of creating music is realising you’re not just in it for yourself. Hopefully Lucifer will affect a lot of people positively. Music really hits you straight at your emotions.

 This year in June Venus will pass across the face of the Sun. What do you think will happen when Superman and Superwoman come together? I’m trying not to smile at this suggestive question.
A: (laughs) Hopefully something marvellous and magical. Then again, wonderful things happen every day. I feel like every day it’s about trying to stay in the zone where you can pick up on those marvellous things. And it could be something simple. For instance, the other day I had an interview at nine in the morning and I woke up and we didn’t have any groceries. I was able to run out with the kid and make it just in time for the interview. I literally pulled up in the driveway at 9am. That’s pretty miraculous. There could’ve been lots of traffic or queues at the store.

The little things in life, when everything comes together.
A: You can use whatever is offered to you in life. You can turn a stick that you found on the ground into something to help you walk or stab someone. It’s just the way you look at it.

What’s little Mikko’s mindset about in the song “LO HI”?
A: I guess he sings something like: ‘Mommy, where’s your boob?’ I think he’s just telling it like it is really. He’s laying down the positive law and already knows that your thoughts are what will become of you.

How do you combine the rock ’n’ roll business with the family one when you’re recording and on the road?
A: Being in a band is not just chilling, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of work involved, especially if it’s become your livelihood. Having a child in itself is a full-time job. When we have a show, we’ll do the soundcheck before he goes to bed, and then I go to the show and Indra joins when she’s put Mikko to bed. Or she’ll make calls and do organisational stuff, and then I’ll take Mikko to the park. So it’s just a different way of doing it.
And how are the roles within the band? Does everything have to be consensual?
A: We do everything together, we pour the occasional water in the wine, from both of our ends. Sometimes I’ll write lyrics, sometimes Indra does. It’s back and forth, a dynamic that works for us.

 I  can also imagine doing everything together may feel a bit too much at times. Do you ever have time to retreat?
A: With a kid of course it’s harder. It’s been so long since we’ve gone on a date. The last time was before he was born. I remember we went dancing together.

I: Aaron and I used to go out together all the time, mostly to check out bands. The only together-time we have now is when Mikko’s sleeping or when Grandma comes to visit to babysit. In our daily life around eight when he goes to bed, we have a few hours for ourselves, but we don’t necessarily use that time to do stuff together. It’s more for catching up on things like writing emails, doing interviews. On tour we bring a travel-nanny. But overall it’s such an incredible experience to have a child. You miss a bit of free time, but what you gain is indescribable.
A: We try to play as much as possible. It doesn’t feel like work at all. This is what we used to do on our free time for more than 18 years, now we have been given the opportunity to actually have what we love to be our job. It’s so rewarding.

But this life didn’t just fall out of the sky, I imagine?
I: We just kept making music. We didn’t give up on it no matter what. Also a lot of it is that we didn’t have any expectations. Life is an adventure and you have to treat it that way. Try to do what you love. And be ambitious about it, work hard. Even if we didn’t have relative success, we’d still be doing this. When ‘936’ came out I was seven months pregnant. We were asked what to do next and were like: ‘Well, first we’re having a baby.’ You can’t ever think it’s gonna be like this for ever.

What will you teach Mikko about work ethos?
I: I will teach him to follow his heart in everything he does. If you pursue what you love, everything falls into place. I want to encourage him to explore whatever he’s drawn to.

A: For now he’s all about play, no work!

Peaking Lights’ new album, Lucifer is out now