Pretty Lights is the stage name of Derek Vincent Smith, who describes his sample-based music as "electro hip-hop soul." Smith, an EDM DJ, has built up a large live following for his music, which he's given away on the Internet.
When he first started developing his sound, Smith relied on matching up samples from obscure 1960s R&B records — many of which originated from Detroit and Chicago. When working on his new album, A Color Map of the Sun, Smith says he had an epiphany: He would still incorporate the older sound he knew, loved and had come to rely on, but would record new, live material that mimicked those sounds.
Smith went a step further and actually had vinyl copies made of his new music. From there, he says he sampled his own material in order to further create authentic-sounding compositions. On Friday's episode of World Cafe, he delves into the intricacies of this elaborate process in a conversation with host David Dye.