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May 14, 2018 | by  | in Arts Music | [ssba]

Synthpop with Virtual Vice & Hybrid Rose

Modern pop music has evolved dramatically since the turn of the century, and don’t we know it! We can all recall the Spice Girls and NSync in their heyday as the pop kings and queens of MTV. A decade before them though, were musical innovators Eurythmics and Duran Duran, whose sound was something so contemporary that it completely changed the way that pop developed, and even to this day lays the foundation for up and coming electro-pop artists all over the world, and in New Zealand.

One of these artists is Virtual Vice, a music producer and composer based in Auckland. His first EP, Sanctuary Runner, slam dunks you straight into those shimmering prom night moods with his first track “Black Rose”. The classic preppy synth notes mixed with punchy toms draws on both the old school and modern electronic music made popular by artists like M83 and Chromatics. With album art that evokes everything retro, Virtual Vice is an electro-pop force to be reckoned with. Keep an eye out for this guy as he woos you with his wistful synth wave tunes and glistening hooks.

A bit closer to home is up and coming artist Hybrid Rose, Wellington’s very own electro-pop producer. Rose Valentina is the creator of a playful mix of songs starting from her first release, VIDEO GAMES. The energetic track says grab your Nintendo and immerse yourself in the world of nostalgic games and pixelated wonder — the perfect electronic homage to those forgotten times in front of a square hunk of a TV as a kid.

Valentina’s full-length album COSMIC, released in April of last year, draws on a mix of modern pop artists such as Grimes and Kimbra, all the while paying tribute to that classic new wave sound present in songs like Forever Young by Alphaville. She does an amazing job of building tension, starting you off nice and gentle with minimal percussion, eventually dropping you into a carefully crafted mix of layered sounds as demonstrated in her songs “Mermaid Lovers” and “Mr. Blue Sky”. Hybrid Rose is doing it damn fine!

At the centre of these artists is one very important thing — the synth.

Hybrid Rose and Virtual Vice use the modular instrument to its full potential to evoke crazy scopes of emotion, ones which you didn’t even know you could recall from eras where your parents were rebellious teens wearing recently-made-fashionable Levi jeans. They create soundscapes of ethereal pads and sharp saws, pulling you into a world of discos and laser lights while you’re swaying from left to right in the middle of a crowded dance floor. Now, who’s ready to dip their toes into a warm pool of nostalgia?


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