Synthwave music – popular artists and more about the genre

Synthwave is a remarkable music genre with a character of its own. Its fresh, new technology is delivered in a retro 80s style. Whether you are a fan of old arcade games, science fiction movies, or even classic dystopian literature, Synthwave is the music genre for you. 

The beginnings of synthwave

French house producers, as well as younger artists influenced by the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, helped to birth the genre in the mid-to-late 2000s. Composers:

  • John Carpenter,
  • Jean-Michel Jarre,
  • Vangelis (particularly his score for the 1982 movie Blade Runner), and
  • Tangerine Dream

were also used as examples. Synthwave gained traction after appearing on the soundtracks of the 2011 film Drive (which contained some of the genre’s most well-known songs) and the Netflix series Stranger Things in the 2010s.

Retro future nostalgia

Synthwave consists of nostalgic, 80s inspired synthesizer melodies, retrofuturistic visuals, and an abundance of pastel colors. It describes the electronic pop-sounding instrumental music made during the early 2010s by independent artists influenced by 1980s film soundtracks, video games, anime, manga and Japanese electronica. Synthwave was originated in the electro scene and gained popularity mostly in the electronic dance music scene and with retro gamers. This genre has strong similarities with the soundtracks of 1980s and 1990s action movies, video games and cartoons.

Going back in time with the music

Synthwave is a blend of old and new, with electronic music artists sampling and mixing the old synthesisers and drum machines. There are instruments that were first manufactured and made popular in the 1980’s. Today, computer software gives far more flexibility and usability than the first computers and includes a sound library that goes back to before the eighties. Codecs are available for download for free, giving users access to thousands of instruments.

Popular Synthwave artists

Some of the best Synthwave artists that we love are and recommend:

  • Kavinsky,
  • College,
  • Electric Youth,
  • Mitch Murder,
  • Miami Nights 1984,
  • Timecop1983,
  • Apollonium 89 and many more. 

With a vintage vibe and modern production, Synthwave explores the sounds of dark, suspenseful video games. Vintage analog synthesizers play an important role in this style, while drums are inspired by retro game soundtracks.

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