As Glade festival approaches...

“Last time I was in the UK I learned what wellies were,” laughs Colorado-based producer Pretty Lights. Having amassed a huge following in the US with hip-hop based electronic beats and cutting-edge live shows; he’s taking on the UK with an appearance at Glade Festival in Norfolk. Three albums have seen Derek – the man behind the moniker – fuse everything from soul, funk, & jazz to breakbeat and dubstep in a sample heavy melting pot reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing. Playing the Glade Stage, fans can expect a scintillating set with coruscating visuals accentuating every beat.

“I was completely flattered when Glade offered me the spot,” continues Derek. Citing Bonobo and the Ninja Tune label as long time influences, it’s clear Britain means something special. “To actually break through in the UK has been a really big goal of mine for ages,” he says. Eager to be heard across the globe, Derek has been giving away his output for free from the outset and can now boast 6 million downloads.

With around 40 samples in an average track, clearing them all was near impossible but the advantages of releasing online have outweighed potential profits. “I just wanted people to hear my music and because it was free my shows got bigger. There’s a huge loyalty between my fans now,” he explains. As the live sets have grown in size he’s used the income to experiment with touring stage design. Those at Glade can expect to be dazzled by a highly
synchronized audio/light/video show, in a fully immersive multi-sensory experience.

Speaking from the US, he’s midway through recording the next album – another innovative project. He’s creating vinyl and analogue tapes, and then re-sampling them to maintain the ‘collage sound’ Pretty Lights has become synonymous with. “The scope of this thing is pretty massive,” he confirms. “It’s never been done before. I’ve created 45 LP’s worth of new material that I’m able to sample. I’ve worked with string-arrangers and pressed the audio to vinyl so I can maintain that early Bonobo, early Blockhead style, without the legal red-tape.”

With such an intricate project being funded independently Derek is reconsidering the give-away approach. “I wonder if my old fans would lash out and call me a sell-out. Or will they say ‘thank you for the free albums’ and buy this one? I think my solution will be somewhere in between – where some material is strictly purchasable and the other parts offered as a condolence,” he laughs.

Clearly not content to simply rest on current success Derek is ambitious and forward-thinking. “I’m still as hungry to be heard as I was in 2006 when I released my first record. My main focus at the moment is to not just produce music, but the audio and visual simultaneously. That’s what I’m looking into for the next project – to really push the art-form and what the medium can be at the same time.” Glade is one of the only European festival appearances he’s confirmed, so be sure to check him out.

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Glade festival runs between June 14th - 17th

Words by Simon Butcher


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