Ever heard of a dulcitone?
How about a celeste?
Pretty Lights has. And he’ll happily tell you all about them…
“They’re really old antique bizarre instruments,” he explains. “I recently found this guy in LA who ran a place called Antiquity Music. He had this massive collection. Some 100 or 150 years old. Some even older. Really crazy old pianos and stuff. He’d been liquidating his warehouse so I ended up getting a big truck to haul loads of it from LA to New Orleans.”
“A celeste a key instrument. It’s a really early version of a Fender Rhodes. Like 1920s. It has a very sparkly and beautiful early electronic sound. You hear it in a lot of old Christmas music actually so you need to be very careful with your chords and melodies in order to not sound constant that you don’t sound too festive!”
“A dulcitone is a three foot wide little box. Mine was made in 1850. It’s like a pre celeste. The sounds are made by old tuning fork technology so you get this dull warm metal resonance. It sounds like an old vibraphone.”
Antique musical lesson over… You’re probably asking why Pretty Lights is enlightening us with this cool piece of technical history. We did, too; we only called to discuss his forthcoming headline appearances with UKF at Global Gathering and EXIT Festival!
We left the call knowing LOADS more… He’s been working on a raft of new material in a way that’s wholly unique way. And it’s coming our way very soon. He’s also declined a major opportunity to score a feature length Hollywood movie!
I think they expected me to jump all over it and go ‘yeah where do I sign?’ I think by saying no they might want me to score another movie even more…
“So we get together and lay down various sounds on four or five of these instruments,” Pretty Lights explains. “It sounds a bit like film score music. I actually had a film score agent come to my last session. They were hanging out and giving me scripts and pushing quite hard. I thought about it for a while but declined. I’ve put everything into making this new record… I don’t want to put that into a film. I think I made the right move. I think they expected me to jump all over it and go ‘yeah where do I sign?’ I think by saying no they might want me to score another movie even more…”
Hollywood’s loss is our very own gain. The new record in question – the follow up to his Grammy nominated A Color Map Of The Sun – genuinely sounds next level.
The whole approach is fascinating: he’s been recording various musicians and bands in a pop-up style studio everywhere he tours. Sometimes they use their own instruments, sometimes they use the collection of antiques he’s amassed. Different keys, different styles, different textures, different tempos. He then presses those recordings to acetate to sample at a later stage.
Hearing it you’d be surprised to know it’s not an 80 year old recording that’s been sampled.
“It’s come full circle,” he considers. “I started as a sample collage artist. Then I started making my own samples but sounded more like a live band. Now I’m making those samples and approaching it a different way to sound like I first did! Hearing it you’d be surprised to know it’s not an 80 year old recording that’s been sampled.”
Describing it as “a combination of beautiful and banging” he tells us the new album will be ready by autumn/fall 2014. And before that, just ready for the festival season, he’ll be dropping some big BIG singles.
“I’ll definitely have some singles that lean more towards to a harder style than my most recent stuff on Hidden Shades,” he reveals. “I’m versatile. Sometimes I’m downtempo, sometimes I’m electro and hip-hop and I think it’s about time for me to put out some bangers!”
Hear these bangers and plenty more for the first time when he dominates the festival circuit this summer. European readers will be pleased to hear it’s the first time he’s been able to bring his entire crew – including his visual and lighting directors.
“I’m so fucking amped about this summer!” he exclaims. “UK and Europe are hard to break. Especially the UK. This is the first time I’ve been able to take my own visual production out of America and Canada. To have my own unique visual show and bring my whole crew with me is something that’s I’m very very excited about.”