Pretty Lights: A New Kind of Star

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Derek Vincent Smith has a knack for seizing opportunities. Rather than spurn P2P, he (alongside Girl Talk) pioneered a free distribution model for all his recorded Pretty Lights material. To date, he’s racked up 800,000 downloads on his website ( for his six LPs and EPs, and the attendant buzz has earned him major festival placements (Coachella, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands), plus warm-up gigs for Major Lazer. His midtempo, sample-studded marriages of hip hop, electro, funk, soul and drum-n-bass have engaged the mainfloor—think a Play-era Moby with post-WWII sound sources.
And he can release this music whenever he wants. In 2010, for example, he’s presented a trio of EPs, including his latest, “Glowing In the Darkest Night.” All of this, he feels, changes the entire relationship he has with his audience.
“[Giving my music away] seemed to create a loyalty and a respect from my fans because they thought that I was doing something for them,” he theorizes. “So I [want my] music to push forward and to give my fans a continual, unmediated supply because I want to foster that personal relationship between them.”

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