Pretty Lights Music’s Michal Menert plays Steamboat on Friday
August 23, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Last weekend, Michal Menert stepped onto the Red Rocks Amphitheatre stage in front of a pulsating crowd of more than 9,000 glitter-adorned, dancing bodies.
Opening for his longtime friend and internationally renowned electronic music producer Derek Vincent Smith, also known as Pretty Lights, Menert found himself immersed in a dream he never imagined as a young child growing up in communist Poland.
There, mainstream music was highly censored by the government, and regional styles emerged on a grass-roots level. And there was a time in Colorado when their record label, Pretty Lights Music, was just a local movement.
"We had our own little scene," Menert recalled. "And it was house parties and small shows. And now our crew is selling out Red Rocks. Now people are so proud of Colorado, we finally have a scene. People finally are getting the shows they're asking for, and they appreciate it. This is the heyday."
The Pretty Lights Music artist and co-producer of Pretty Lights' first album will appear in Steamboat Springs at 6 p.m. Friday at All That Jazz for a free meet-and-greet and then for a concert at The Tap House Sports Grill. The show starts at about 10 p.m. and the cover is $10. Tap House owner Brian Alpart, who goes by DJ Also Starring, will open the show.
Alpart also was at Red Rocks last weekend and saw Menert perform.
"His sound is definitely different," Alpart said. "I feel like the way (Pretty Lights Music label artists) mix and produce, I feel like they have a cohesive, composer sort of approach, more than just 'I'm making a digital dance track.' I feel like he's craftsman and a composer as opposed to someone who's just producing beats."
The current surge of electronic music in and around Colorado seemed like an impossible dream even six years ago. Then, Menert played in a live band with Smith, Pretty Lights Music recording artist Paul Basic and Pretty Lights' former drummer Cory Eberhard.
Listen, as the band was called, had a standing monthly gig at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill in Steamboat for two winters until about 2006.
Alpart remembers those shows.
"He's been very prolific … his whole team seems to be on it, and I'm expecting great things," he said.
Menert said it was hip-hop that drew him toward producing music in his basement in Fort Collins as a teenager.
"I loved that sampling-wise and production-wise, it could draw from any genre," he said. "You could take a country song and put a beat under it. It was the future of music. That's what got me into production — where do people get beats? I got into it that way, exploring production as production, not just as hip-hop. It was a way to collage things together that would normally not go together."
Although Menert used to play keyboards in live bands, on Friday he'll take the basement venue stage with an MPC 1000 production center and a laptop running the production software Ableton. With that technology, he can play a bass line or a keyboard riff with the same spontaneity of a live band — meaning it is possible for him to mess up.
While he would be happy to play 300 Red Rocks shows per year, he said there's something special about a small club venue like the Tap House. Maybe because it's so similar to the places where Menert got his start.
"With my music right now, I like to connect with people in the crowd," he said. "I feel like I've grown in a grass-roots fashion, and I like hearing their stories, too. I'm just a normal dude that makes music."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com