Little Known Facts About MODSUN – A Fan’s Guide

The name on his Instagram is Modern Sunshine. But according to his Wikipedia, Derek Ryan Smith (born March 10, 1987), is known professionally as Mod Sun. Stylized as MOD SUN or MODSUN, it is an acronym standing for “Movement on Dreams, Stand under None”. He is an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, author, painter, and poet. Recently, he’s also put on the hat of video director and producer. You might find him rapping, singing, writing lyrics, or playing drums, because he’s a multi-talented powerhouse. 


Raised by his mother and sister in Minnesota, Derek Smith grew up unafraid of showing emotion. And that makes a lot of difference in his art. His early influences were emo bands like Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy. 

During high school he joined a band called The Semester as the drummer and was in love with music, wanting to continue with the band after graduation. Unfortunately the band had other plans and fired him. He joined two other bands, touring and gigging with them for a few years before deciding to go solo.  He published the non-fiction book Did I Ever Wake Up? In 2012. Then by 2015, the same year as his debut album, he published the poetry book, My Dear Pink.  

MODSUN’s debut album, Look Up, was released on March 10, 2015. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. On March 10, 2017, his second studio album, Movie, was released. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. His third studio album BB was released on November 10, 2017 and spawned the single “#noshirton”.  In 2018, he published another poetry book – So Long Los Angeles. 

Derek has been making music for over 15 years. He has multiple mix tapes, extended plays, and of course he’s now on his 4th studio album.  He began his career in post-hardcore bands, then moved on to rapping in a style he refers to as “hippie hop” – rap and hip-hop, but with a happier vibe. 

This man is not just a musician, but a poet and a lyricist. He also is influenced by poets. It was poetry that helped get him to change his life – one by making him have the courage to sing and another to help him put down his addictions. 

He’s been through the ringer, addled by drugs and alcohol, oversharing on social media, his relationships on full broadcast. This musician takes responsibility for his losses and triumphs but is an adamant believer in not giving up and being willing to make the proper changes.

He says that his music has gotten better and better since deciding to quit drugs and alcohol over a year ago. In an interview with, he stated: 

“The fact is that I don’t drink and do drugs anymore, so I’m not going to make a song that says let’s go out and get f**ked up on the Sunset Strip. I don’t care if that might be a hit or not, I’m not going to personally put that out because it doesn’t reflect my life right now. I have songs on this album that are celebrating sobriety and I’ve never done that before.”

MODSUN believes this new way of life also goes along with the theme of reinventing what it is to be a rock star. He’s in many ways the opposite of the older version of the rockstar, and that’s exactly what the world needs. 


He combines pop, hip hop, rock, and electronic music in a unique way that pays homage to his rock beginnings in Minnesota, setting the stage for a new sound in alternative music. His use of deeply personal lyrics tells relatable stories about love, loss, addiction and rebirth. 

He wants to revisit the magic of when music was more than electronic beats from a synthesizer. MODSUN has let it be known that he wants to inspire others from a background filled with hardship. He wants them to know they can overcome and be something. 

“I watched Internet change music. I watched it first-hand – I was there for Myspace, I was there for, I was there for Napster, I was there for dial up internet – I watched internet kill the rockstar and now I’m ready to watch it be reborn.”

He’s said that a moment of epiphany was when he was listening to Bob Dylan, trying to decide what he could do with his life. He realized Dylan never had an amazing voice but was writing rhymes and put it together to compare it to rap. And so, he got into rap and hip-hop, but marketed it with a happier vibe. 


Throughout his prolific career, he has been immersed in the LA scene working closely with artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Blackbear, & G-Eazy while simultaneously collaborating with some of the biggest names in rap, like ScHoolboy Q and Nipsey Hussle. However, since releasing his alternative anthems, I Remember Way Too Much and Stay Away ft Machine Gun Kelly & Goody Grace, he has received co-signs from some of the biggest names in rock and roll like John Feldmann and Travis Barker. 

He’s been friends with Machine Gun Kelly for over a decade, and sees him as a mentor and his brother. Kelly encouraged him to chase his dream of actually singing on an album. 

On his new album, there are two collaborations. One with the rapper Gashi. Also, he recently released a single from that album in which he collaborated with Avril Lavigne – “Flames”. It has garnered over 5 million views on YouTube after only being there for 2 weeks. 



  • Look Up – 2015
  • Movie – 2017
  • BB – 2017
  • Internet Killed the Rockstar – February 12, 2021

Extended plays

  • The Hippy Hop EP – 2010
  • In MOD We Trust – 2011
  • Happy as F*#% – 2012

Mix Tapes

  • 2009: I’ll Buy Myself 
  • 2009: Let Ya Teeth Show
  • 2009: How to Make a MOD SUN
  • 2011: Health, Wealth, Success, & Happiness
  • 2011: Blazed by the Bell
  • 2012: First Take


  • Happy To Be Here Volumes 1,2,& 3
  • My Dear Pink
  • Did I Ever Wake Up
  • So Long Los Angeles

He recently released a collaboration with Avril Lavigne called “Flames”. It has over 5 million views already on YouTube and it was released 2 weeks ago. 

You can get MODSUN’S new album, Internet Killed the Rockstar here:  And find the YouTube link below to see the videos. He released the official video for “Amnesia” in June.




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"I would have previously thought of myself as an audiophile. But by gaming and listening to my children and their friends, I've been introduced to an entire realm of artists that are not on the radio. I wanted to share them and things I learn about music as I research - with you!"