The Origins of Synthwave - Part 2
Welcome to part two in our five part series where we’re taking a look at a selection of some of the primary influencers of the scene. The number of artists that could appear on a list of synthwave pioneers is nearly countless, but we’re taking a closer look into at made some of our favorites so influential. The chances are high that some of the artists in this series are some of your favorites. There’s a reason why many new artists today are influenced so heavily by them. Today we’re going to be looking at Tesla Boy, Miami Nights 1984, and Lazerhawk.
Known for their electrifying live shows and undeniably classic synth sound, Tesla Boy was formed in 2008 by frontman Anton Sevidov and today is composed of himself, Mikhail Studnitsyn, Leo Zatagin, and Stas "Pioneerball" Astakhov. Outside of both of their studio albums, one of their most landmark releases comes in the form of their 2009 EP, The Tesla Boy EP. Featuring perhaps their most well-known track “Spirit of the Night”, looking back we can see just how much influence this group would have on many of the modern sounds of the scene. Anton brings a unique vocal style that is displayed best in “Electric Lady” and especially in “Dream Machine” from their 2013 release The Universe Made of Darkness. Anyone fortunate enough to witness them live knows just how powerful their performance is and it’s plain to see just how influential they’ve been.
We would be remiss to not discuss the influence that Rosso Corsa Records and its myriad of artists have had on synthwave and outrun electro in general. At the forefront of this is Michael Glover, also known
as Miami Nights 1984. As can very prominently be heard in his remix of “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye, and “The Getaway” on his sophomore release, Turbulence, Miami Nights 1984 was at the forefront of the 80s revival and more or less wrote the book on what music in this genre should sound like. Michael, like others alongside him, was very clearly influenced by everything that made the 1980's great. Its music that you can’t help but think belongs in a movie or as the soundtrack to a drive up the coast, and that’s exactly the intention. We highly recommend checking out Early Summer, the first release from Miami Nights 1984 released in the summer of 2011. Much of the foundation of Turbulence was laid with this album and in between beautiful intro and outro tracks are classics like “On The Run”. The point is, no matter which track you play from this artist, you’ll feel like you’re writing your own adventure. As an added bonus, check out MN1984’s remix of “Road Blaster” by Nightcrawler next time you’re cruising around, you won’t be disappointed.
Last but not least for this installment is another founding member of Rosso Corsa Records and one artist that we can’t get enough of. We’re talking about Garrett Hays, known throughout the genre as Lazerhawk. If you’re a returning NRW reader then you may have read our “Through The Years” piece on him and will already be familiar with the impact he’s had on synthwave. In 2010 we were met with Redline, an album that can most easily be described as the soundtrack to a stylish car chase. What makes Lazerhawk stand out from the bunch is his ability to experiment with different sounds within the same overall style. This allows each release to sound fresh but retain that same distinct nostalgic feeling. This can easily be seen in the contrast between tracks such as “King of the Streets” from the 2013 release Skull and Shark (itself being a huge influence on the electronic horror subgenre) and the titular track of his latest album, Dreamrider. It’s this diversity that has encouraged other artists to focus on expanding their own unique sound while staying true to their core. We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look into these three influential synthwave artists. If by chance you aren’t familiar with one or more of them, do yourself a favor and check them out.
Who were the artists that introduced you to the genre? Let us know in the comments who
inspired you to start listening to synthwave music and share some of your favorite tracks for
others to hear.