We're going to need a bigger bulb: An interview with Pretty Lights [plus: free tickets!]
Colorado-based electronic musician Derek Vincent Smith is putting a fresh face on the term "vintage" with his project, Pretty Lights. Even if he's been producing hip-hop influenced beats and heavily using samplers, remember that he started as a bass player, and even now he insists the vintage feel of his work lies in the work itself.
"I'm extremely picky with the sounds I use in order to make the music sound pretty and raw– but there's a lack of vocabulary out there to understand that," Smith says. "My music sounds warmer and more organic because I put so much into the approach itself."
Interestingly, this has recently included taking artists into the studio, recording their performances, pressing them onto vinyl, and then sampling from that with his electronics. "I'm moving away from the digital realm of electronic production and taking the production of this music into the analog," he says.
Back in 2006, Smith started fusing electronic sounds, live instruments, and vinyl-sourced soul samples. From the very beginning, he refused to work exclusively with digital synths or create solely electronic music, instead craving "a broader spectrum of timbres and warmth and rawness."
By 2008, he had taken the show on the road and started playing major festivals like Bonnaroo. And then the light show began; this is the second most interesting thing about his performances. The current tour includes the biggest visual production Smith has ever created, a 3D LED city, synchronized with sounds from Smith's dual laptops.
"The idea of a producer as a performer is pretty boring– to just watch some guy with a laptop– but there are multiple avenues that you can push to change that," says Smith. "I wanted to make the experience audio and visual– a real sensory experience."
Pretty Lights performs at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion on Wednesday 9/21. Big Gigantic opens. 7pm, $28.
We have free tickets to give away! Use your real email address to post a link to something weird and vintage in the comments here and perhaps we will give some to you. For starters, here's the Hook's site as it appeared in 2002, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. Ah, those were the days.