Smith wrote and produced hip hop music while attending high school in Fort Collins, Colorado, but the music of such artists as Aphrodite attracted him to American raves. After graduating from high school, he attended University of Colorado at Boulder, but dropped out during his freshman year to focus instead on his music. In 2007 & 2008 Smith & Cory Eberhard began playing late nights for large acts such as STS9, The Disco Biscuits & Widespread Panic.
In the summer of 2009, under the moniker Pretty Lights, Smith and Eberhard played at several major American music festivals, such as Bonnaroo, Rothbury, the Electric Daisy Carnival, Wakarusa, Camp Bisco, and the 10KLF. The following autumn, they succeeded their festival circuit with a multi-city tour of the United States.