Synthwave is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the mid-2000s and is heavily influenced by the sounds and aesthetics of 1980s pop culture, particularly sci-fi and action movies, video games, and TV shows.
The roots of synthwave can be traced back to the early 2000s, when a group of musicians started experimenting with the sounds of vintage synthesizers and drum machines, aiming to recreate the nostalgic feel of 80s electronic music. The first wave of synthwave artists, including Mitch Murder, Lazerhawk, and Miami Nights 1984, gained popularity on social media and music-sharing platforms like MySpace and Bandcamp.
The genre really took off in the mid-2010s, thanks in part to the success of the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” which prominently featured 80s-inspired synth music in its soundtrack. The success of the show helped to bring synthwave to a wider audience and sparked a renewed interest in retro-futuristic aesthetics.
Since then, synthwave has continued to evolve, with artists incorporating elements from other genres such as metal, punk, and hip-hop, and experimenting with different sounds and production techniques. Today, the genre has a global fanbase and continues to be a popular choice for film and video game soundtracks, as well as live performances and DJ sets.
Synthwave draws inspiration from various genres and artists of the 1980s, particularly from the electronic and new wave music scenes. Here are some of the most influential artists and groups that have inspired the development of the genre:
- Giorgio Moroder – Italian composer and producer known for his work in disco and electronic music, and for producing many iconic 80s movie soundtracks.
- Kraftwerk – German electronic music pioneers who were active throughout the 70s and 80s and known for their use of synthesizers and robotic imagery.
- Tangerine Dream – German electronic music group known for their experimental and ambient music.
- Vangelis – Greek composer known for his atmospheric and cinematic music, including the soundtrack for the film Blade Runner.
- Depeche Mode – British new wave band known for their use of synthesizers and electronic drums, and for their dark and introspective lyrics.
- New Order – British post-punk and new wave band known for their use of electronic instruments and for blending dance and rock music.
- John Carpenter – American film director and composer known for his work on horror and sci-fi films, and for his use of synthesizers in his film scores.
- Harold Faltermeyer – German composer and producer known for his work on the soundtracks of Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, and for his use of synthesizers and drum machines.
These artists and groups have all played a significant role in shaping the sound and aesthetics of synthwave, and their influence can be heard in the music of many synthwave artists today.