The Mythic Rhythmic Blog
Featuring Indie Electronic Artists, Venues & Events
Cover photo provided by Maestro Eternal.
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Image used by permission.
Cover design by Acacia Carr for Mythic Rhythmic, 2023.
For our first Issue of 2023 we take a long walk at VHS sunset under a sky filled with several stars of Synthwave, that electronic subgenre with the cinematic style and retrofuturistic nuances. We’re sweet on Synthwave here at Mythic Rhythmic and this month in honor of Valentine’s Day and indie electronic music lovers everywhere, we’d like to help you get to know more about this interesting subgenre of electronic music.
As a bonus to this Issue, you can find a selection of Spotify playlists from Synthwave and other indie electronic artists curated by Yours Truly. Explore this Issue’s Artists catalogue with the “Synthwave is for Sweethearts” playlist which features a love themed song by each artist from this Issue as well as hits from other more and lesser known Synthwave artists.
Looking for something with vintage electronic appeal? You can find artists such as Missing Persons, Drab Majesty, Vicious Pink, Bauhaus, and other obscure indie electronic artists from the ’80s on the “Obscure Love” playlist.
For the film lover, we have the “I fell in Love in a Movie” playlist which features soundtrack scores from early electronic composers whose work was influential in the creation of Synthwave.
As Aisle 9 said it best, Synthwave is “The soundtrack to a million movies, it’s the music of our dystopian future and the nostalgic anthem to a golden past.”
The Birth of Synthwave
A descendant of French House and Euro Disco, Synthwave (also sometimes referred to as simply “outrun” after Kavinksy’s album of the same name) is generally marked by a BPM range of 80 to 120, driving rhythms, and samples from video games, commercials, as well as ambient analog recordings from the 1980s. Shaped by cinematic sensibilities and a legacy of sound design, Synthwave finds its origins in the soundtracks for film and television. Films by the horror director John Carpenter who composed or co-composed most of his film’s music with Alan Howarth and won awards for his film scores were influential to the early formation of the genre. The television show Night Rider whose theme song was designed by Composer Stu Phillips and whose intro features the autonomous crime fighting vehicle KITT driving off into the sunset across the parched desert with a young leather jacket clad David Hasellhoff is instantly recognizable as a piece of the building block that helped to form the foundation for Synthwave.
Other well known early films whose sound and visual style played an important part in the birth of Synthwave include James Cameron’s film Terminator whose soundtrack was composed by Brad Fiedel as well as the ground breaking work of the composer Vangelis. Most widely recognized for the film Blade Runner, Vangelis composed the soundtrack to this Sci Fi classic on a Yamaha CS-80. Blade Runner and its rich audio visual landscape are key players in inspiring the genre and helped to set the stylistic and visual tone of Synthwave as it rose to prominence via such artists as Kavinsky and College nearly 3 decades later.
The soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) helped to establish the early popularity of this nascent genre which was often considered a retreat from the Grunge genre of music so popular at the time.
Taking style notes from 80s action shows like Miami Vice, Synthwave was slick, electronic, and fashion forward, all of which was in stark contrast to Grunge which was characterized by being the antithesis to pretty much all of that…with the exception of driving electronic guitars and bass. Despite going on to fill stadiums and become the dominant commercially successful music of the era, Grunge had initially (and rather ironically) been created as an alternative to the slick production style of music and music videos so popular in the 80s and early 90s. Where grunge gave us nihilism in a baggy sweater, Synthwave provided a pretty escape into a world of cyber cities, science fiction, and-of course a pair of cool black sunglasses.
Later films such as Tron: Legacy and particularly the soundtrack to Drive (2011) brought with them a coalescence of styles not yet seen before. Drive also brought us a new generation of Michael Knight’s character style with Ryan Gosling as the central character. With “Nightcall” by Kavinsky as well as “A Real Hero” by College on the soundtrack, Drive really helped to introduce Synthwave to a wider audience in a big way, solidifying this sub-genre and helping it to achieve its cult fan base and underground status. While Synthwave remained largely hidden away from the mainstream’s attention outside of these films for the next few years, it continued to be nurtured by a dedicated fanbase.
Despite declining to be associated with the Synthwave name and sub-genre, Kavinsky (AKA Vincent Belorgey) is considered to be the founder of first wave Synthwave with his EP Outrun. After releasing the hugely popular album Outrun in 2013, Kavinsky mysteriously disappeared back into the shadows from whence he came. Nearly a decade would pass before he released his next track “Renegade”.
With The Weeknd’s 2020 crossover hit “Blinding Lights” which reached number 1 on the Billboard charts and the popularity of ’80s centered series such as Stranger Things, Synthwave finally reached the mainstream in a significant way, establishing itself in the public eye as a force to be reckoned with. Though it continues to be a relatively tightly knit underground sub-genre and some of its early fans are now longing for the early days of Synthwave, the success and loyal fans of Artists such as Timecop83, Mitch Murder, and The Midnight proves that Synthwave is here to stay as it continues to find new fans with the genres seriously cool style and synth driven artistry.
Synthwave itself is a sub-genre which contains a vast multitude of micro genres such as Chillwave, Chipwave, Dreamwave, Vaporwave, and many, many more. While the wave may vary, a general tendency toward ambient compositions and the use of the Synthesizer remains the defining element that unites them all.
For this Issue of Mythic Rhythmic, I asked 5 Synthwave artists what it is they love about Synthwave. Featured in this Issue are the Artists Maestro Eternal, Sunglasses Kid, Smitech Wesson, Funkwelle, and Aisle 9.
We hope you enjoy the February 2023 Issue of Mythic Rhythmic!
EDITOR + AUTHOR
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Synthwave is for Sweethearts
February 2023 / Issue No. 14
Devon Scarlatti is a Composer, Audio Engineer, and the solo Artist behind the Cinematic Synthwave band Maestro Eternal.
Sunglasses Kid is an independent electronic producer based in London, UK, who has been making ’80s inspired Synthwave and more since 2013.
Smitech Wesson is a DJ and Music Producer based in Istanbul, Turkey. His Synthwave inspired album “Azra & Leyla” has a vibe of its own.
Funkwelle is a fun loving electro duo from Ulm, Germany, with a Funky Nu Disco vibe and a passion for analog synths.
Tim Benson is an Audio Engineer, Multi-Instrumentalist, and the magic behind the synth driven music project, Aisle 9.
Mythic Rhythmic is a new Blog, music label, and creative studio run by Acacia Carr. This Blog features indie electronic music, venues, and events—highlighting hidden and emerging creative talents from around the world. Please join us in a journey of sonic discovery!
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