What are the best Pretty Lights songs
Worth knowing: Pretty Lights
© Krystle Blackburn
Hip-hop beat maker Derek Vincent Smith has conquered America - now it's Europe's turn.
On a scorching hot day, Pretty Lights is sitting on a staircase at the Sónar Festival, trying to catch some shade. This has the side effect that he always has to make room for people who want to pass him. A Spaniard can't help grinning as he tries to pass him. "You're Derek Vincent Smith, aren't you?" He asks Smith, offering him his hand. To be recognized shouldn't be anything new for Smith, but this time it's something different and he nods slightly embarrassed, smiles back and greets with a "Hola".
The attention and interest of European fans in Pretty Lights ‘music is relatively new to Smith. In the USA he has been collecting more and more die-hard fans since 2009 and now, four EPs and four albums later, he wants to conquer Europe with his hip-hop beats. He's playing at more festivals than ever before, and while he's preparing for Wireless, Exit, Melt !, Tomorrowland and more, you can update your knowledge of the phenomenon called Pretty Lights.
Right from the start, Smith made his music available for free as a download on his website. The loyalty and sense of community that comes with it has led to an iconic fan base (the PFL or Pretty Lights family) who have followed him to America's biggest festivals like Coachella, Bonaroo and Electric Daisy Carnival. “You get a sense of community,” he says.
He is known in the United States for playing his music for up to five hours in one gig. Shortening his shows to hour-long sets that he can use to delight his European audiences who may not yet know his music is a new challenge. “My first solo tour in London was crazy. I was playing in this bar or pub in Camden Town in front of about 200 people. People could touch me or knock my computer down if they wanted to. I was handed cell phones with music requests - the whole thing was so small, tight and sweaty. It felt very familiar and personal. I had the feeling that it was a kind of starting signal for my music here. "
For a while he felt like an outsider in the EDM scene because he made his music available for free - even though his live shows in huge locations were sold out. "There are some sales channels, companies or media that, for one reason or another, have something against this distribution model - free downloads, accepting donations or even selling on iTunes."
But that changed this year when his LP "A Color Map of the Sun" (2013) was nominated for a Grammy. For him it was "an unspoken confirmation," says Smith.
There's a reason his current album was the breakthrough for Pretty Lights. After having several releases under his belt - there were three EPs in 2010 alone - and experiencing a hype that pushed him to the forefront of the American EDM live scene, Smith took some time to explore with unprecedented ambition To work “A Color Map of the Sun”. He hired musicians to record 69 LPs of his own material before taking the finished record into the studio to take samples and produce a completely new record.
He learned a lot from this experience. “At some point I turned my tour bus into a recording studio. There was also a modular synthesizer that I had built myself. I think when I bought all the parts and put my modular synthesizer together, I realized what a daunting task I was facing - applying all of my software synthesizer knowledge to a modular synthesizer. "
“You can produce incredible sounds. I discovered that I can create my own music box melodies - with a hole punch. The combination of sounds is incredible - like the combination of a toy piano, a mandolin from the 1950s and a trumpet from the 1920s. When you put all the sounds together, you get a great effect - different times and styles mix together and something completely new is created. "
He was so impressed by the scope of this approach - it was almost like film - that Smith considered writing music for films. “I don't really have time for that at the moment, but I've talked to a few people who have contacts with producers and directors. I've already read a first script, but I realized that I just don't have the time to do it. But I think my way of recording and composing goes very well with the production of film music. ”After all, the name Pretty Lights also arises from the desire to make music that is visually moving and to highlight the beautiful details of everyday life.
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