Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Mar 7th 2010 11:13AM by Ben Javorsky
Describe your sound and your live show in your own words.
The whole describing the genre thing, I've been trying to do for a long time, I used to list it on my show fliers before anyone knew the name. It was something like ten different words, but recently I started describing it a little more simply as electro/hip hop/soul/dance music. I feel like those four adjectives do a pretty good job, because it's real hip hop based music, or hip hop influenced music. I kind of push the boundaries with the electronic elements and the synthesis and try to keep it real cutting-edge -- but also my whole style is trying to fuse that with the vintage sort of organic more soulful sound. That's how I would describe my production style itself -- the show's a whole different thing. I've been working for awhile to try to create more of an experience, I guess you could say. The production of the show and the visual elements of the show are important to me. I like being blown away by cool production at shows.
So, how did Pretty Lights come about?
I grew up being in different bands, from punk bands to funk bands to different hip hop groups -- along the way I picked up the whole production thing. I got into consumer grade music production technology, sort of at the beginning. Not the very beginning, but way before what's going on right now. So, yeah, I started out as a musician playing in bands and the production thing was kind of on the side and I just stuck with it. When it got to the point where I felt like my production skills were up to par with the producers and the music I was listening to, I felt like it was time to put a project together. When I started to play shows, I was like, "man I'm a producer," but at this point in time, if you go to see a producer live it's just watching him on stage with a laptop -- and I have zero interest in that. What could be more boring than that? For producers in general, not only me, finding a way to make the live performance entertaining is sort of the goal and the challenge and there's new technology out that allows you to interface your production with your music.
How did you come up with the name Pretty Lights?
Since the light show and the visual production of the show has expanded so much, people just assume that it's that obvious -- because we have a bunch of crazy lights -- but it came way before that. I wanted to have sort of a visual name, so when you came to the shows there was sort of a motif and it all came together. Pretty Lights is an old Pink Floyd reference, from a 1966 New Years Eve show with Pink Floyd and The Who. On the flier it said, "Come and see the pretty lights," sort of as an advertisement for this show that's going to be really cool. So, that's where I first saw the term, but what it meant to me is, throughout your day or your life there are moments that inspire you as an artist -- and creative people sort of have this eye for the world where they're always looking for things that are beautiful or cool or inspirational. It's the little things throughout your day that can sort of turn into a big inspiration creatively.
So, in addition to the literal meaning, it's something to come see and it's more exciting than just going by your name or DJ this or that?
Right. The name was supposed to be more of the name of the project. It's definitely weird when people refer to me as 'Pretty Lights' or 'DJ Pretty Lights' or I walk into a party and they're like "Oh, Pretty Lights is here." There's sort of a disconnect between the plural and the singular. I don't refer to myself as Pretty Lights, but I guess it doesn't really matter.
So what are your musical influences? I would imagine they're sort of all over the place?
Yeah, they definitely are. When I was in high school and really started to get into this realm of music, DJ Shadow's 'Endtroducing' and 'Preemptive Strike' were massive influences. Also, just good timeless music -- things like 'Dark Side of the Moon,' Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Nirvana. Creating timeless music has always been an aim of mine. I'm not saying that I always achieve that, but I want to create music that is fresh and cool right now that also has the ability to stand the test of time and still affect and communicate something to the listener, even years from now.
Any musical guilty pleasures?
I will bump 50 Cent all day. I like to roll around town with my hat low and one arm on my steering wheel, just wishing I could have been a gangster.
What excites you about playing SXSW? Will this be your first time?
I've always heard about SXSW and I've always sort of imagined what it's like. I still don't know everything about it, but I know it's going to be different. From what I know, my state [Colorado] is representing at SXSW more than we ever have before, so there's sort of a pride in that. Coming from a developing music scene into a real established base of people and artists, I want to show them what we're doing and how Pretty Lights intends to affect the music industry and put our stamp on the globe. So, I think it's a cool way to kick off my six week U.S. tour.
What's the craziest experience you've had on tour?
That's one of those questions that would be nice to have in advance so I could pick one. There's definitely some things that come to mind that I wouldn't want to pick for this. Performing with the Black Eyed Peas was one of the craziest things. I also did a show in Boulder on the CU campus -- this welcome back thing -- and they decided it was going to be a free concert, but they were only going to allow students. There were ten foot fences and security everywhere, but people came from all over Colorado, .and they weren't letting people in. There were like 8,000 people there with another 3 or 4 thousand people outside of the venue. People were getting angry -- at one point in the show, I remember seeing the fences collapse and thousands of kids mobbed up to the stage. They weren't having it.
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