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Pretty Lights, aka Derek Smith, has his hands full with country legend Dr. Ralph Stanley in “Re:Generation.” The documentary, which plays in theaters for one day only, Feb. 23, before finding its TV home, pairs current DJs, such as Mark Ronson, Skrillex and Smith with artists in different genres. They then create an entirely new recording from the ground up.
Smith comes the farthest in the film musically: when he first finds out that he will be working in the country genre, he can’t disguise his contempt for the music, even though he barely knows anything about it. By the end, he’s found much to admire.
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As he admits, Smith makes a “mistake” when he tries to direct Stanley, whom you know as the haunting voice on "Man of Constant Sorrow" from "O Brother, Where Are Thou," in how he’d like for him to sing the lonesome classic “Wayfaring Stranger.” As the clip shows, Smith now sees the error of his ways and has gained a newfound appreciation for bluegrass and country and for the history of the music forms.
After working with Stanley, going into the studio with LeAnn Rimes was a breeze for Smith. The two look like they’re having a blast together. Plus, it’s a reminder of how talented a singer Rimes is—her constant tweets sometimes take the focus off her amazing vocals.
The two’s fondness for each other was evident during our interview or maybe Smith is still just feeling the relief from not having to encounter Stanley again.
As Rimes, who is an electronica fan, sums up, even though everyone may have a different technique or approach, “once you start speaking music, then you start talking each other’s language. “
See our interview with Mark Ronson and Erykah Badu about their segment here, and our interviews with The Doors John Densmore and The Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan here.