Pretty Lights

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Derek Vincent Smith (b. 1983), better known as Pretty Lights, is an American electronic music artist. Smith wrote and produced hip hop music while attending high school in Fort Collins, Colorado, but the music of such artists as Aphrodite attracted him to American raves. After graduating from high school, he attended University of Colorado at Boulder, but dropped out during his freshman year to focus instead on his 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, sometimes grime.’

Pretty Lights’ sound is generated by synthesizing 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. Due to the sample-based nature of his music, Smith releases all his music for free with a recommended donation, so as to avoid having to clear samples. When performing live, Smith uses two Macbook Pros running Ableton Live 8 and two Akai MPD32s.

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