Derek Vincent Smith (born November 25, 1981) is an American electronic music artist who performs under the stage name Pretty Lights, originally a duo project consisting of him and Michal Menert, who left after the release of their first album. Smith is also the proprietor of an associated music label, Pretty Lights Music. Pretty Lights is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and envelope-pushing electronic musical projects of all time. Rick Rubin once described Pretty Lights as “the face and voice of the new American electronic music scene”.
Smith started skateboarding with Michal Menert in the 8th grade. The pair, together with a drummer Menert knew, began making music after Smith brought a bass guitar to a skating session. Paul Brandt (Paul Basic) eventually replaced their original drummer. Calling themselves “The Freeze”, the band consisted of Derek Vincent Smith on the bass guitar, Michal Menert on the guitar and keyboard, and Paul Brandt on the drums.
The group was influenced by artists like the Beastie Boys, Tha Alkaholiks, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots, and The Casualties as well as by old school hip hop, funk, punk rock, and the skater culture. The band placed second in a community battle of bands in their sophomore year. After graduating from high school, Smith attended University of Colorado at Boulder, but dropped out during his freshman year to focus on his music instead.