2004 – present (16 years)
Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado, United States
- Derek Vincent Smith (2004 – present)
- Michal Menert (2004 – 2006)
Derek Vincent Smith (born November 25, 1981) is an American electronic music artist who performs under the stage name Pretty Lights. He is also the proprietor of an associated music label, Pretty Lights Music.
Smith's music relies heavily on digital sampling and crosses many genres, forming a combination of "glitchy hip-hop beats, buzzing synth lines, and vintage funk and soul samples.". Pretty Lights' sound is generated by manipulating samples and organic beats using the Novation X-Station, monome and the Akai MPD32. Smith uses these digital controllers to program the music production software Ableton Live 8. When performing live, Smith uses two Macbook Pros running Ableton Live 8 and two Akai MPD32s. Smith usually considers his music as "Electro Hip-Hop Soul", a mix between elements of electronic based music, and beats from hip-hop and soul music.
Pretty Lights released A Color Map of the Sun on July 2, which is Grammy nominated for the Best Dance/Electronic Album . The two-CD collection contain the 13-song album A Color Map of the Sun plus a second album, Live Studio Sessions From A Color Map of the Sun.
A Color Map of the Sun builds on the original Pretty Lights sound and style that Smith pioneered. He spent a year composing and recording music and vocals that emulated genres and time periods that spanned the last century, then pressed it to vinyl. He used that vinyl along with a custom built analog modular synth to create A Color Map of the Sun. The resulting album is analog electronica – soulful, electro hip-hop that pays respect to music’s immense power to touch listeners emotionally, kinetically and inspirationally.
For more information and to download all Pretty Lights albums at no cost, visit http://www.prettylightsmusic.com.
Flitting between moody downtempo and upbeat, densely layered material geared for club play, Colorado's Pretty Lights was the project of Derek Vincent Smith. Smith spent his high school years making hip-hop and ultimately dropped out of his freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder to focus on his music. He made his recorded debut as Pretty Lights in 2006 with the full-length Taking Up Your Precious Time, which he supported with gigs for acts including STS9, the Disco Biscuits, and Widespread Panic. From there, he kept up a busy release schedule for the rest of the 2000s, issuing the double album Filling Up the City Skies in 2008 and another full-length, Passing by Behind Your Eyes, the following year. In 2010, Pretty Lights went on an extensive North American tour, playing that year's Coachella, Ultra, Movement, and Electric Zoo festivals, among other stops. Smith continued touring into 2011 and also developed his Pretty Lights Music imprint, releasing albums by Michal Menert, Gramatik, and Eliot Lipp. In 2012, Smith appeared in the music documentary Re:GENERATION Music Project and began work on Pretty Lights' fourth album. Instead of sampling existing recordings, Smith worked with longtime drummer Adam Deitch, Soulive's Eric Krasno, the Harlem Gospel Choir, and members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Treme Brass Band to create vintage-sounding original music that he then refashioned into the Pretty Lights sound. The results were 2013's A Color Map of the Sun, which became the first Pretty Lights album to be released physically and digitally at the same time. ~ Heather Phares & Andy Kellman, Rovi
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