Rather than a full-length album, the Denver electronic act Pretty Lights (aka Derek Vincent Smith) chose to release three shorter EPs this year. And the latest, “Glowing in the Darkest Night,” boasts a distinct Detroit influence.
“Before I started working on it, I took a trip to Detroit, by myself,” says Smith, 28, who also performed at this year’s Movement Electronic Music Festival and spent his subsequent visit digging through local record stores and private collections.
“I went all around Detroit and surrounding areas digging for old vinyl and shipped it back to my crib in Denver. I wanted to explore somewhere that in the past had an extremely rich musical history; my hunch was even though there were a ton of stars and artists and a lot of success to come out of that area, there was probably a lot of artists who didn’t make it, or a lot of records that got pressed and didn’t blow up or transcend the underground. That’s why I went there, to find that stuff.”
Smith, who’s working on a new full-length album to release in 2011, found a motherlode but is circumspect about exactly what he sampled for the EP. “I can’t just reveal all my secrets now, can I?” he says with a laugh. But when pressed, he mentions the Carol Anderson track “Tomorrow is Not a Promise” (“An awesome old school find.”) and an obscure blues song called “Shining Bright.”
“That record was a total gem, a super old blues 78 that I still play in my apartment, just on my record player,” Smith says. “It’s in really old, kind of mediocre quality, but I was able to make it sound decent. It’s a cool track which has a totally different feeling.
“The whole thing was really fun. I look forward to doing more digging trips — as I coined it — in the future, to other cities and probably back to Detroit, too. I think I just scratched the surface there.”
Pretty Lights, Blockhead and Michal Menert perform Friday, Nov. 12, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $57.60 and $35.25. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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