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Retrowave is an electronic music microgenre that was born in the early 2000s as a result of internet culture. It is heavily inspired by 80s synth-wave music which itself was inspired by film soundtracks. But the retro wave has its own unique twist. It pays homage to classic 80s synth-wave while simultaneously adding a modern flair with elements like heavy bass and trap drums.
Oftentimes, visuals are used to help create a retro atmosphere, they include neon colors and geometric shapes reminiscent of 80s arcade games and movies like Tron (1982). As mentioned earlier, retro wave draws inspiration from other mediums such as video games and art, some popular titles that have influenced the genre include Outrun (1986) and Streets of Rage (1991).
The History of Retrowave
Retrowave first became popular in the early 2000s on internet forums such as 4chan’s /mu/ board. These forums were frequented by people who shared an interest in electronic music from decades past. Thus began a new scene focused on reviving forgotten genres like synth-wave and outrun electro. As more people got involved in the scene, more artists began to emerge with their own take on the genre. Popular artists include Kavinsky (Outrun, 2007), Timecop1983 (Night Drive, 2013), FM-84 (Atlas, 2016), and Miami Nights 1984 (Early Summer EP, 2018).
How To Recognize Retrowave When You Hear It
Retrowave can be easily identified due to its signature sound, it typically consists of lush synths paired with heavy bass lines and trap drums for an upbeat tempo. The song structures are often repetitive but catchy enough for listeners to dance along to. The vocals are usually distorted or processed in some way for an effect reminiscent of classic horror films or vintage video games. Lyrics often focus on themes such as nostalgia or longing for a simpler time in one’s life hence why many retro wave songs are titled after popular 80s films such as “Drive” by Kavinsky or “Night Riders” by Timecop1983.