Pretty Lights, born Derek Smith, is scheduled to perform Sunday at Coachella (April 14), where he plans to treat his audience to a variety of new tracks off a forthcoming album. We caught up with Pretty Lights backstage at Coachella who revealed that after a two year wait, he's releasing a new album.
"My new album is awesome. I'm really proud of it. It's the first record I made without any vinyl samples," he told Billboard.
Instead of sampling and collecting vinyl, Smith spent an entire year in studios across the country with over 50 musicians and vocalists to piece together his own vinyl collection.
"I tried to emulate exactly how it would have been recorded in all these different time periods, [from] the 40s to the 70s, and pressed it all to vinyl. After the first year, I had a big stack of records that I could dig through and create an album from. It was close to the same way that I would approach it before but now the records were my own compositions instead of ones that I had dug and found at flea markets and record store,” he said.
Smith went on to explain that digging through the various genres available to him was a far from easy process. "It's crazy because as a hip-hop producer, you can dig through soul, funk, classica, bluegrass, country, jazz and blues," he continued. "So I had to think about all that and try to compose music in all those genres so I could maintain the sound of my style, which is essentially a fusion of all the genres of the last century with a 2013 electronic sort of injection into it."
The producer/artist worked with a variety of guest stars to make this new project possible. “I worked with people from The Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans and a bunch of old blues and soul singers from New Orleans – one cat named Uncle Lionel who actually passed away a couple of months after the recording session. It was really unfortunate, but he was an amazing character.”
To coincide with the album, Smith plans to release a documentary about the new record and the behind-the-scenes process. "It's really cool because it shows all these characters that I worked with and composed music with and it’s pretty interesting." In addition to the documentary, the album will feature a music video for every song. "This is the first time I’m actually releasing vinyls and CDs and stuff like that and the packaging. The record exists across all kinds of artistic medians."
Pretty Lights's fourth full-length effort is due this summer; an official release date is set to be announced following his Coachella performance. In addition, he will release a new song, featuring Talib Kweli, sometime within the next two weeks.
As far as his Sunday Coachella set, Smith says fans can expect something drastically different from when he played at 2010’s festival. "For this new record, I evolved my performance style as well. I built a system with the software where I can deconstruct the song and actually really play my tracks like I'm playing a guitar and it’s fun. It makes it a lot more fun for me and that’s another new style – so new performance style, new music, and a brand new big show."