EXCLUSIVE: Synthwave a.k.a. retrowave is “a genre of electronic music influenced by 1980’s film soundtracks and video games.” The style had its beginnings in the early aughts and said to have grown from “niche communities on the internet.”
The style pervaded alongside the resurgence of electronic music from 2010 onwards. And while EDM was at the mainstream, the more analog, arty, sometimes brooding synth wave / retrowave was on the sidelines; like an introverted younger brother that only shares his toys with like-minded souls.
It’s easy to spot Synthwave as the whole ethos of this genre rotates on an axis with few key elements. Soundwise, anything synth-driven is a candidate. To be more precise, the now vintage sounds of synthesizers from the ’80s is key. Actually, anything that emulates the sounds and look of 80’s pop culture from sci-fi, vintage video games, popular media and “the attempt to capture that era’s atmosphere and it’s celebration” is synthwave.
Which brings us here, Manila, and to the band that’s wholly embraced the genre, Brisom behind new single “Hangad.”
Brisom, a three-piece unit (sometimes a quartet) led by singer-guitarist (sometimes also on keys) Brian Sombero, bassist-keyboardist Jason Rondero, drummer Jeffrey Castro, and synth-programmer Timothy Abbott, has been in the music scene for five years now. In previous interviews with Sombero, we’ve established that his beginnings, ergo his band’s influences, is rooted in New Wave.
In an exclusive interview with Bulletin Entertainment, Brian said their “progression” into the Synthwave “was natural.” Adding “we listened to a lot of modern artists that are heavily influenced by the genre then adapted to it, our style and language.”
It’s obvious at the onset of “Hangad” where its influences came from. The laser zing effects, the electronic drum roll that I picture as those octagonal pads built by Casio; to the pervading synth sound, down to the audio clip effects. To someone who’s listened to a lot of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, this is New Wave. Or in this case, “that’s the whole idea for this song. This is the first time we went all out for retro wave,” said Brian.
Tales of unconditional love and hopeful sentiments adrift memorable melodies is order of the day for this uptempo track. And the fact that singer-songwriter Keiko Necesario, a north star of her generation’s indie scene and D.I.Y. ethos, is featured on the track is a big, fat bonus.
“While I was arranging the melody of the song, she’s the only person who came to my mind that can fit in ‘Hangad.’ Iba talaga ’yung boses niya, it can go from smooth to husky and powerful. That’s what sets her apart from most singers nowadays. Her singing attitude is the best I’ve heard.”
Brian shared there’s a growing scene for this particular genre. “Meron na, local acts like Headroom (Heinrich Bernabe) has that ’80s aerobic vibe, The Polars and Stereo Manila. We’re acutally planning to form a community and hopefully launch a series of gigs this year.”
Well and good. I mean if this were the ’80s, I’d wager “Hangad” would be an instant hit. But for now, for the whole synthwave/retrowave scene that’s taking root, this song is strong kickstart.