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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Electroclash, also known as synthcore, retro electro, tech pop, nouveau disco, the new new wave, and electropunk, is a style of music that fuses 1980s electro and new wave synthpop with 1990s techno and electronic dance music. It emerged in New York and Detroit in the later 1990s, pioneered by acts including Collider, I-F and those associated with Gerald Donald, and is associated with acts including Peaches, Adult, Legowelt, and Fischerspooner. It was popularised by the Electroclash Festival in 2001 and 2002 and subsequent European tours, but faded as a distinctive style in the early 2000s, when it was fused with tech house to form the electro house genre.


Terminology and characteristics

The term electroclash was coined by New York DJ and promoter Larry Tee to describe music that combined synthpop, techno, punk and performance art. The genre was a reaction to the rigid formulations of techno music, putting an emphasis on song writing, showmanship and a sense of humour, described by The Guardian as one of "the two most significant upheavals in recent dance music history". The visual aesthetic of electroclash has been associated with the 1982 cult film Liquid Sky.


Electroclash emerged in New York at the end of the 1990s. It was pioneered by I-F with their 1997 track "Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass" is the record generally credited with starting the electroclash movement, as well as Collider with their 1998 album Blowing Shit Up (though Collider called its own style "electropunk" as the genre had not yet been named). The style was pursued by artists including Felix da Housecat, Peaches and Chicks on Speed. During the early years, Ladytron were sometimes labeled as electroclash, but they rejected this tag. Goldfrapp's albums Black Cherry (2003) and Supernature (2005) incorporated electroclash influences.

It came to media attention in 2001, when the Electroclash Festival was held in New York. The Electroclash Festival was held again in 2002 with subsequent live tours across the US and Europe in 2003 and then 2004. Other notable artists who performed at the festivals and subsequent tours include: Scissor Sisters, ADULT., Fischerspooner, Erol Alkan, Princess Superstar, Mignon, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Mount Sims, Tiga and Spalding Rockwell. The style spread to scenes in London and Berlin, but rapidly faded as a recognisable genre as acts began to experiment with a variety of forms of music.

Popularity chart

Successful records from the electroclash movement include:

YearSongLabelArtist UK
UK Dance
2001 "Silver Screen Shower Scene" City Rockers Felix da Housecat featuring Miss Kittin #39 #2
"Emerge" Capitol Fischerspooner #25
2002 "Set It Off" Kitty-Yo Peaches #36
"Sunglasses at Night" City Rockers Tiga and Zyntherius #25
"Rippin Kittin" Zomba Records Golden Boy with Miss Kittin #67 #1


A pellucid, bleakly ironic, but indulgently hyper-sexual post-feminist/post-9/11 stance is often evident in the themes of many Electroclash outfits. The genre is generally not a musical style as much as a kitsch-ily cold distanced stance - infected by exhibitionist sexuality and a winking fetish-isation of wealth, indulgence, consumption, and glamour culture - directly reflecting back to the trend's roots in club culture. Style is the victor over substance, as a point of pride.

But perhaps more exactly, "electroclash" is an aesthetic approach to a certain set of musical ideas and instruments, similar to "art rock" in that it's not so much a style as a way of doing things. This approach to electronic music--some distinguishing features being a proclivity towards aggressive, defiant lyrics (and performance persona) and deceptively simple, "retro" arrangements--is what denotes it as different from synthpop, IDM, or other branches of electronica.

Arguably, the movement has more in common with 'Paris Is Burning' style personal projection and dress-up than it has with any element of a musical genre. Essentially the trend of Electroclash, as fashion and pose, is its own driving force - the stylistic affectation is more important than anything going on in the actual music. The band Fischerspooner is an example of this philosophy in action - featuring indulgent, elaborately staged 1980s homage live shows with over-the-top backdrops, dramatic interludes, and costuming - rendering the music itself almost an afterthought to the production and image-making of the project.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Electroclash" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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