Illuminating artist behind Pretty Lights

From free downloads to Burlington’s progressive vibe, Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights talks about music, touring and life in the mountains with the Vermont Cynic. Vermont Cynic (VC): Where are you currently on your tour? Derek Vincent Smith (DVS): Atlanta. It’s nice and mild here. It was starting to get cold when I left Colorado. I am just trying to enjoy the weather — enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s turning into winter and I am heading north. I got some new jackets and hoodies — I’ll stay warm. Is Burlington going to show me a good time or what? VC: Definitely. For all those who are unfortunate in not having a ticket [to the upcoming Pretty Lights shows at Higher Ground], can you describe your sound and live show in your own words? DVS: To tell you the truth, I just try to make it pretty and heavy at the same time. I am just really excited about the show just because I am bringing the biggest show that I have ever done before. The whole production of the show [is the biggest I have done]. I put a lot of time into the video and the lighting program, making it more visually and musically integrated. I put out two new records since I played in Vermont last. I got a bunch of new materials and a bunch of new versions of old songs, as well a whole new system letting my music be more open-ended and improve. It is just going to be good, live, electronic music.  VC: What do you think are some factors that have contributed to your success as a musician? DVS: Since my first record that came out in 2006, [my songs] have been all free consecutive downloads available right there from the website [www.prettylightsmusic.com]. That’s something partially that has helped me gain the momentum and speed in which my shows have grown. I just have a passion for music and people were ready for a new school, new sound and style of music. Most of my success [has] been just my mentality bringing a visually stimulating show that gets people psyched and provides that kind of “wow” factor that lets the word of mouth move a little faster.  VC: People are going to be downloading music illegally anyway. What are some of your views on your release method? DVS: Exactly. You know, because, I mean, that’s something which I did and [how I] got most of my music. I am just going to produce music for free and hopefully people will respect that. [Hopefully they’ll] turn around and want to go to the show, want to buy a T-shirt or want to help support me as an artist. So it changes this philosophy behind making music. I am making it as a gift for my fans, because I want to supply it, rather than [sell it as as] a product. I do not exactly know how everything will turn out in the future, but so far I feel pretty good with the free-release model. VC: How does it feel coming back to 802 since your last sold-out show in April? And how does Vermont compare to other locations you have been on tour? DVS: There are a lot of cool places that I go on tour, but I mean, not as many are as cool as Burlington, Vt. It’s just dope. There are cool kids who know cool music. People are just friendly and dope at the same time. The style is fresh. I remember coming to Burlington and just seeing a lot of people downtown. It’s just an awesome progressive city. What I am really looking forward to is having two nights in Burlington. So this time I don’t have to dip out immediately after the show.  VC: What do you love about the mountains, living in Colorado? Show a little love to your mountain fans. DVS: Yeah, you know, man. I fucking love the mountains. I used to snowboard a bunch. I just love the mountains. I grew up in Colorado and the mountains just served a lot of awesome purposes. You can always tell which direction west is, which is helpful. I am always able to gather my bearings. You know they are there if you ever need somewhere to escape from the city. You can look over the city, smoke a spliff, enjoy the sunrise. You can’t really do that everywhere.  Pretty Lights is performing at Higher Ground on Nov. 7 and 8.