Synthwave (also known as outrun, futuresynth, or retrowave) is a microgenre of electronic music based primarily on music related to 1980s science fiction, action films, and horror film soundtracks. Other influences came from the art and video games of that decade. Synthwave musicians often retain nostalgia for the culture of the 1980s and try to capture and celebrate the atmosphere of that era.


Characteristics and related terms

Never before has the music of thirty years ago grown so much into a new trend that has gained strength. This direction is a real comeback to the sound and concepts of the 80s — 90s. The Synthwave genre was formed in the early 2000s.

This was due to the increased interest in cyberpunk and everything related to it. Its main feature is the use of synthesizers in order to imitate old music as much as possible. Perhaps the most important idea of such music is to convey the atmosphere of films and video games of that era.

Other subgenres include darksynth, dreamwave and scififan. Journalist Julia Neumann cited "Futuresynth", "outrun", and "retrowave" as alternative words for synthwave, while Nicholas Diak wrote that "retrowave" is a term that encompasses such 1980s revival genres as Vaporwave and synthwave.


The first attempts to replace live instruments with synthetic ones began in the seventies. The further dawn of electronic music led to the emergence of keyboard synthesizers on the mass market. The pioneers of the genre are the German band Kraftwerk. Later, in the early 80's, a number of bands began to adapt to the sound of the Germans. The tools themselves appeared in the 50s. During these years, RCA released the world's first Mark I and Mark II synthesizers. They took up an entire room and required a long setup before playing.

Such a device cost 175 thousand dollars. Mass production of synthesizers began with physicist and engineer Robert Moog. He created the later popular Minimoog. This is a synthesizer with small dimensions and a price of $ 1,500.

At this time, most British synthpop bands began to use it in their sound production. This genre later morphed into a retrowave. Depeche Mode became one of the most prominent representatives of the synth movement. Their track Personal Jesus, recorded in ' 89, perfectly illustrated the rapid development of electronic music.

Another key factor in the evolution of modern synthwave music is OutRun. This is a series of arcade games that were released on slot machines in ' 86. From there, the canonical elements of the design of the modern synthwave went. Covers with palm trees, a "striped" sunset and a low-lying attribute-a red Ferrari.

The gaming industry of the 80s had a huge impact on the formation of synthwave and the dynamics of the electro-direction. After hearing the sounds of old games in modern music, many people fondly remember the times of their childhood.

Popularity and spin-offs


Since the early 2010s, synthwave soundtracks for films like Tron: Legacy and Drive have drawn a new generation of fans and artists to the genre. The disc included Kavinsky's Night Bell, A Real Hero, College, which catapulted synthwave into the mainstream and solidified its status as a musical genre. The genre's popularity fueled its presence on video game soundtracks such as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Netflix's Stranger Things series, which included synthwave to match the setting of a 1980s show. Nerdglow's Christopher Higgins named Electric Youth and Kawinski as the two most popular synthwave artists in 2014.


In the 2010s, fashwave emerged as a largely instrumental version of vaporwave and synthwave, with political song titles and sound bites such as snippets of Adolf Hitler's speeches.This phenomenon has been described as self-identified fascists and alt-right people appropriating vaporwave music. It was popularized in 2016 by Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer, who promoted synthwave as the "whitest music ever" and "millennial childhood spirit". Somewhere else there was a tendency for Russian synth-wave musicians. Their creativity was supported by nostalgia for the USSR, sometimes referred to as "Soviet Wave".

Another figure is Garrett Hayes from Texas. His project is Lazerhawk. This is a nostalgic jam from synthwave, experimental coldwave and disco. All the beats and arrangements are borrowed from the past and mixed on modern sound equipment.

Mike Glover makes retro-oriented electro as part of a project called Miami Nights 1984. The name is completely correlated with the content. When listening, the atmosphere of the early films of Michael Mann or GTA Vice City is formed.

tags: outrun music genre