Regina of Light Fires is a multi-faceted performer based in Toronto who has been a part of the independent music scene in Canada for two decades. Her male alter ego “Reg The Gentleman” has been performing for years, and five years ago “Regina” was born with her new band “Light Fires”. From playing in the “Hidden Cameras” to appearing in John Cameron Mitchell’s film “Shortbus”, this Canadian indie songbird is no stranger to collaborations. Regina took time out of her busy touring schedule to perform for Never Apart at the now infamous “Village Paradise” stage this past summer at Fierté.
Over the summer you had a Canadian Pride tour! Tell us about performing across the Great White North, and about some of the highlights
Yes! I participated in some Pride Festivals, but I actually did more Fringe Festivals with my cabaret show! It was quite the diverse summer. I would say the highlight was Yellowknife Pride. Part of it was that I’d never been there, which is rare for me in Canada at this point to go somewhere new. And then just the city itself, it’s remoteness, it’s culture, smelling forest fires in the wind! Lots of new for me. Also, whenever you go somewhere like that, people are just so happy that you’ve come to their remote town that the welcome mat was large!
Fortunately the timing was right, and you got to come to the Never Apart grand opening this summer! Tell us about what you thought when you arrived at our headquarters.
I felt like I’d stepped into a magical little place! When I’m in Montreal I often eat at a lunch spot called Le Pickup, which happens to be around the corner from NVA. I’ve been in the neighborhood so many times, and I could never have pictured the NVA building amid all these residential streets. I had never noticed it before. Once I arrived, it was such a treat visually, musically and socially. It was a highlight of that Montreal visit for sure!
You were part of the cast at our very first Fierté stage this year. Tell us about your favourite moments performing at Village Paradise.
I think meeting Amanda Lepore was the highlight for me! She’s such a sweet lady. We have friends in common but had never crossed paths. She was more than willing to chat, take pictures, and hangout, which is quite special considering she didn’t know who I was.
What (and who) are your favourite things about Montreal?
Some of my closest/oldest friends live in Montreal, so they always give me a reason to come visit. And there always seems to be an endless supply of gigs for me in this city! In the last year I think I had about 5 or 6 different shows in Montreal!
Who is Regina?
Regina is the future!
Describe your sound, and what people can expect when they see your show.
Well, the first album I made under the name Light Fires was an indie dance affair. The new music I’m working on is more House influenced, and it may be released under a different moniker. The live show is high energy and in-your-face. It’s all live singing, original music, and I go for laughs with my banter. If you don’t think I’m funny, it’s probably you.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I look to so many things for inspiration. I don’t just want to name one particular diva or something. Trying to constantly improve and change and challenge myself is generally what I’m going for.
Tell us about your other self, and some of your career highlights as that entity.
Well, Gentleman Reg was my long-standing, indie singer-songwriter persona. That’s on hold right now after a good 1- year run. I couldn’t do or achieve what I wanted to with it, so I’ve moved on. Highlights? Touring Europe with Broken Social Scene. Singing with Feist in Paris. Dueting with Nina Persson (Cardigans), or Sarah Harmer, or Owen Pallett. That time I opened for Arcade Fire and there were 50 people at the show. I mean, the list kind of blows my own mind sometimes…
Is gender fluid?
For some people it is. I know many people who have changed what pronouns they use for themselves at different times.
What are the perks of being a Canadian artist, and what are the drawbacks?
There are some great grants out there if you can get access to them! But of course we all know people who have left this country only to get taken seriously somewhere else. Canada is generally a little slow to be the first to praise their own. I’m not sure why that is.
What is going on in Toronto and who are some artists to watch out for?
To be honest, I was on tour all summer and I’m still a little out of touch with Toronto! But there’s always so much going on there. I’m throwing a semi-regular drag party at Soho House and they’ve been a blast. I also DJ regularly at Buddie’s In Bad Times for their Saturday top 40 dance parties and it’s always good energy and full of kids! “Artists to watch out for”…you’ll know before me!!
What can we expect in the not-so-distant future?
I’ll have new music coming out hopefully soon, and likely a new last name – it’s a branding thing! Ha. I’m also DJing a few times a month in Toronto, so come find me!