Hard to believe it’s going to be nine years since Pretty Lights released his Grammy-nominated album A Color Map of the Sun. On top of that, the last live Pretty Lights performance was his 10 year anniversary of Pretty Lights at Red Rocks in August 2018. So, where did Derek Vincent Smith disappear to?

Leading up to his unannounced retirement, Pretty Lights' public persona became polarizing. Playing around with analog synthesizers that bend and abstract repetitive sounds wasn’t for everyone. It was a foray into sonic exploration that showed progress, but fans (including members of the Pretty Lights Family) who just came to rage didn’t appreciate the abstraction. Rumors of substance abuse and belligerent behavior on stage led to Smith being referred to by haters as Darren; Darren raps nonsense, worships crystals, bangs china white behind the decks, and is definitely working on new music that will be released “soon.” While these are exaggerated claims made by “fans” who were fed up with their absurdly high expectations not being met, it made for some funny memes and the forming of an alternative fanpage on FB called “Pretty Butthurt Lights Fam.”

At the final Red Rocks appearance, Smith invited his little brother, who produces under the name motifv, to play a couple songs. The songs were reminiscent of early PL tracks, and then the woke rapper Illuminati Congo came out to perform “Jewels,’ a motifv-produced song about the mystical healing power of crystals. Even wooks were cringing at this display. So, was this intermission a passing of the torch to his younger sibling?

Rumors of the return of Pretty Lights have been kicking around online and in the gossip mill of shows since PL socials went dark immediately following the Red Rocks show. Smith made one surprise public appearance during the pandemic’s run of livestream shows in the midst of a Break Science set to play two songs “Shining Bright Despite The Plight” and “High School Art Class.” Fans also speculated on the release of new music, when Smith was seen in the background of a video with longtime collaborator and drummer Alvin Ford Jr.

There have been a few signs of life this year too, including a rogue video clip posted to Twitter by long-time PL collaborator Mux Mool in the studio, which showed Smith in the background.

And last month, Michal Menert dropped a song that was suspected to be a collaboration with Smith at the Ogden in Denver.

Put your prayers up that this will lead to more PL music… “soon.”