Virginia to Vegas Channels Rockwell In 'Lights Out'

If you hear something familiar in the chorus of the Virginia to Vegas single “Lights Out,” you’re not alone.

The catchy pop song borrows a line from the 1984 hit “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Motown founder Berry Gordy’s son Kennedy Gordy, better known as Rockwell.

“We were trying to think of a dark sentiment and we used it as a placeholder,” explained Derik Baker, the artist behind Virginia to Vegas, “and the more we wrote the song around it, we realized that we really couldn't live without that line.

“We reached out to Sony Music and Rockwell and I guess they heard the song and loved what we did with it.”

The single will be included on Utopian, the debut album from Virginia to Vegas, which is due out in Canada on Dec. 2 and described by Baker as “a pretty interesting record.” 

The album will get a global push thanks to a distribution deal with Ultra Music — putting Virginia to Vegas in the same camp as acts like Calvin Harris and Omi.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Baker said of the deal. “That’s kind the goal, right? Whenever you are writing songs and creating music you want to get it to the largest audience possible.”

Virginia to Vegas was created when Baker, now 26, was in college and unable to attract the attention of the Canadian music industry using his own name. 

“I thought why not start a band or a project and see if that garners a little bit more attention,” he told iHeartRadio.ca. 

The name is a combination of his birthplace (Richmond, Virginia) and the name of his musical partner (“a guy whose name was Vegas”).

The partnership didn’t last but Baker held on to the name. He called the success he’s having “gratifying” after so many years.

Baker grew up inspired by his parents’ record collection, which included artists like Patsy Cline, the Beatles and Delbert McClinton.

“Moving to Canada, I would go to songwriters circles and be introduced to Canadiana and folk music and things like that,” he recalled.

McClinton remained a huge influence. “He would write these really amazing country-blues song that always told a really interesting story,” said Baker.

“The art of crafting a song was always something that was super important to me — you know, telling a story.”

Baker wrote songs for others (“maybe not so much stuff that you guys would know,” he admitted) before focusing on his own project.

He said he thrives on the creative process.

“Selfishly, in the studio is almost a high when you start creating something that you’re excited about,” he explained. “It’s a very infectious feeling.”

Don’t be fooled. Virginia to Vegas is decidedly a Canadian dance pop act. Baker has called Toronto home for some time.

“It’s such a metropolis,” he said. “The culture in Toronto obviously influences the music that I create now.”

You can watch the video for "Lights Out" here.

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