RIYL: Pretty Lights

photo: Pretty Lights press

The music of Pretty Lights is a fusion of classic soul and R&B with gangster rap and heavy electronica bass wobbles. This soulful spin on EDM was a fresh take on the tired house beats that had dominated clubs for almost two decades. By combining drum and bass and hip hop beats with fluttering synth tones, Derek was able to create a signature sound that is immediately recognizable. Along with Bassnectar, Skrillex and numerous other “dubstep”/EDM artists, Pretty Lights created an emergence of electronic music in popular culture not seen since the early '90s.

So you love Pretty Lights and want to know what else to listen to? First place to start is the Pretty Lights Music record label. Other major acts that are similar are GRiZ, Big Gigantic, Lotus and STS9. However, these are headliners in their own right. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, do yourself a favor and check them out. The goal of this article is to dig a little deeper. There are countless producers releasing new music every day, and I’m hoping to introduce some acts that deserve a larger audience.

Marvel Years

Cory Wythe out of Manchester, N.H., has been exploding on the EDM scene in the last year. The multitalented producer/guitarist first performed with Pretty Lights in July 2013. Playing a similar style with his own twist, Marvel Years was asked to create an official Pretty Lights remix, “Where I’m Trying To Go”, released on Pretty Light’s album "A Color Map of the Sun Remixes." Marvel Years will be in Denver on April 20, playing the GRC Dabroots Festival.


Garret Meyer is a self-proclaimed “retronica” producer that has been releasing hip-hop laced electronica for about a year. With a more laid-back style that reflects Pretty Lights' first album "Taking Up Your Precious Time," Artifakts ranges from soulful electronica to downtempo hip hop. His music is slightly faster and more danceable than trip hop artists such as DJ Shadow, but captures a similar vibe.

Late Night Radio

Following the styles from the above artists, Alex Medellin produces his gritty hip hop beats out of Denver, Colo. Committed to keeping his tracks funky and soulful, Late Night Radio follows his mantra “emotion over energy.” While he may perform some “banger” tracks, it is always dripping with emotion and passion. Late Night Radio is coming off a recent tour with GRiZ and Michael Menert and looking to continue that momentum into his own tour.

Caravan Palace

My personal favorite on the list, Caravan Palace is just plain fun. While they are not exactly underground, they are relatively unknown in the United States. The French electroswing and gypsy jazz band has put a modern electronic spin on the swing music of the early twentieth century. The band is gaining a huge following in Europe, and slowly growing their fanbase this side of the Atlantic.


The Turkish electronica duo Surrender! creates funky nu-disco that is sure to get your feet moving. While they are less hip-hop influenced than Pretty Lights, they are able to capture a similar vibe with their funk riffs and swirling synthesizers. Surrender! is a dance party that reminds me somewhat of Jamiroquai in places. They recently released their new album "Biochemical."

Honorable Mentions: