Roo AOTD #100 Pretty Lights

All aboard the hype train for Bonnaroo 2024! Only 23 days until we are all on the Farm again, can you believe it? It’s coming up fast and we can’t wait to be dancing with all of you at Bonnaroo! Today’s Artist of the Day is the one and only Pretty Lights. Learn more about the artist below. Don’t forget to check out all of our artist spotlights! Thank you for reading these posts!

Artist Biography

Pretty Lights is a music project out of Colorado started by Derek Vincent Smith. He started making hip-hop in high school and dropped out of college during his freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder to pursue a career in producing music. Derek released his debut album in 2006 titled Taking Up Your Precious Time under the moniker Pretty Lights. He toured on this album supporting STS9, the Disco Biscuits, and Widespread Panic. By 2010, Derek had released two more albums and had toured major festivals including Coachella, Ultra, Movement, and Electric Zoo. The next year he created his Pretty Lights Music imprint to release albums by Michal Menert, Gramatik, and Eliot Lipp. In 2012, Derek started working on Pretty Lights’ fourth album, which featured drummer Adam Deitch, Soulive’s Eric Krasno, the Harlem Gospel Choir, and members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Treme Brass Band. The idea behind the album was to capture a vintage sound while making it sound like what Pretty Lights had been known to produce. The resulting album, A Color Map of the Sun, was nominated at the 2013 Grammy Awards. The Hidden Shades EP came the following year featuring remixes and B-side tracks. Later in 2014, Derek moved to New Orleans to form a band he called Pretty Lights Live. This lineup toured for a few years with some Red Rocks shows included on the tour. Then, Derek fell off the map and became a whisper in the music community. He had to get himself sorted out with rumors of substance abuse being what stole him from the world and his fans. Then, after five years and a global pandemic, Derek rose from the ashes with Pretty Lights Live, featuring Alvin Ford Jr. on drums, Borahm Lee on keys, Michal Menert on guitar, and turntablist Chris Karns. The band toured in 2023 to sold-out venues across the country. Their live show now features drones, Lidar-crafted visuals, and free live streams that are available on YouTube.

To give a very simplified overview of how their set works, Derek acts as a conductor of sorts for all the other band members. Each member plays their instruments as a jam band and feeds in their audio to Derek. Derek then live mixes these sounds with a custom modular synthesizer to create what comes out of the PA systems at a show. Additionally, Derek will incorporate his own noise into the mix as well. While all this is going on, there are Lidar sensors onstage that are taking live 3-D mappings of the stage and sometimes the crowd and venue. On the screens behind the band, they project these mappings for visuals during the show. Oh, and they have a ton of lasers that light up the sky. And if that wasn’t enough, the rumor for Bonnaroo is that there will be a drone show above Pretty Lights on Thursday. I’ve seen what drones can do while I was at the Texas Eclipse Fest this year. It will be the best show of their 2024 tour.


EDM, Electro Soul, Hip-Hop, One of the Greatest Artists of the 21st Century

Scheduled at Bonnaroo

Thursday and Sunday morning to beckon the sun (Link to Daily Schedules)