Michal Menert was born in Kielce, Poland and spent his early years in Krakow, when Poland was still part of the Eastern Bloc, under the rule of the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. His parents were professionals in academia and industry, and would fill the house with banned books and Western music. His father, Tadeusz (Tad) Adam Menert, had a passion for music and played drums in a small Polish psych-rock band.
In 1986, he "was forced to leave Poland due to various political reasons", Tadeusz Menert later wrote. He and his family migrated to West Germany. From there they migrated to the United States in 1987 with the help of a sponsor they met through Antic's letter column, and moved to Loveland, Colorado where Tadeusz Menert became a librarian at the Larimer County Detention Center.
Menert started skateboarding with Derek Vincent Smith in the 8th grade. The pair, together with a drummer Menert knew, began making music after Smith brought a bass guitar to skating session. In his freshman year of high school Menert met Paul Brandt who eventually replaced their original drummer. Calling themselves "The Freeze", the band consisted of Derek Vincent Smith on the bass guitar, Michal Menert on the guitar and keyboard, and Paul Brandt on the drums. The group was influenced by artists like the Beastie Boys, Tha Alkaholiks, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots, and The Casualties as well as by old school hip hop, funk, punk rock, and the skater culture. The band placed second in a community battle of bands in their sophomore year.
After high school Menert attended college for one year with Smith and Brandt. In the early 2000s, under the name AES, Michal began producing hip hop music both on his own as well as with friends in the music groups Gone, Listen (stylized Listen.), and Makeshift Gods. Menert's first solo album, May to December was released on April 27, 2003 In repayment of back rent for studio time, Menert worked part-time with Derek Vincent Smith as an engineer at Morningwood Studios in Fort Collins.
Derek Vincent Smith and Michal Menert began working on Pretty Lights as a side project in the summer of 2004, producing the first album, Taking Up Your Precious Time in 2005 while on a trip to Europe. The album was released the following October. Believing it did not make sense to charge for a product that individuals would simply rip off the internet, Menert and Smith mimicked the business model of Steely Dan by releasing the album for free. They hoped that the music would catch on and they could make money playing shows. As a side project the pair did not feel any pressure to make money on the music. Menert and Smith initially promoted the album by reverse searching people's music interests on Myspace and sending messages to them about the free album.
On December 7, 2006, twenty-four-year-old Michal Menert was robbed at gunpoint and severely injured by three Loveland, Colorado gang members during a drug deal. Menert fled the scene and was found by police on a sidewalk in downtown Loveland. He was admitted to McKee Medical Center in Loveland with a stab wound in the chest just missing his heart and a tip to wrist laceration with tendonal damage on his dominant hand. While Menert was in the hospital, Pretty Lights was becoming more well known and after discussion Derek Vincent Smith proceeded with the project on his own.
After Menert left the hospital in 2007 he learned his father, who had previously been diagnosed with cancer, had become more sick and needed a caregiver. While caring for his father, Michal collaborated with friend Benjamin O'Neill on a never released project called The Years in 2007 and 2008 and worked with Paul Brandt on their collaboration Half Color in 2008. A few years later (c.a. 2009) on his way to his first show after his injury, Menert was pulled over for swerving and arrested for distributing narcotics to an undercover officer two years prior. Pleading guilty to a lesser charge, Menert was sentenced to three years of probation, six months in prison, and 200 hours of community service. Due to his father's declining health Menert served his six months under house arrest rather than in prison.
While taking care of his father and under house arrest, Menert worked at Walmart and produced his album Dreaming of a Bigger Life. By spring 2010, Derek Vincent Smith had produced two solo albums under the name Pretty Lights and the project had undergone a shift in sound. Rather than rejoin Pretty Lights, Menert chose to create a solo project under his own name. On June 8, 2010, one week after his father's death due to cancer, Menert released Dreaming of a Bigger Life for free as the first album of the newly formed Pretty Lights Music label. Menert's debut live performance was at the 2010 Sonic Bloom music festival in Bellvue, Colorado.
Menert released his 27-track album Even If It Isn't Right on April 24, 2012. Collaborating artists on the album include SuperVision, Paul Basic, and Derek VanScoten.
From November 2012 to April 2013, Michal Menert released a four-part series of singles called Elements. A vinyl release followed in 2014.
In April 2014, Elements was released as an EP on Super Best Records. Menert, described Elements as a tribute to alchemy. Elements became a name-your-price digital release followed by vinyl shortly after. Menert produced the album with Mux Mool.
Menert released Space Jazz on April 21, 2015. His first full-length album since "Even If It Isn't Right" in 2012.
Space Jazz was released on vinyl February 19, 2016.
Michal Menert works with producers he chooses for his own record label, Super Best Records. Super Best Records roster currently include Late Night Radio, KEEPLOVE?, JK Soul, Shuj Roswell, Mux Mool, Maddy O'Neal (formerly from Krooked Drivers), The PARTY People, Tnertle, Willdabeast.
The Michal Menert Big Band - an 18-piece ensemble led by Menert - debuted in 2014. The band has performed Menert's catalog to large audiences at notable locations including a November 2014 performance at Fillmore Auditorium in Denver and an April 2015 performance at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre.. Menert also played at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with the Floozies in October 2015 as well as many notable summer music festivals such as Summer Camp Music Festival and Sonic Bloom Music Festival.
Michal Menert & the Pretty Fantastics debuted in 2015. This is 7 piece band including a DJ, MC, and violinist. They are scheduled to play at major music festivals in summer 2015.