Electroclash (also known as synthcore, retro-electro, tech-pop, nouveau disco, and the new new wave) is a genre of music that fuses 1980s electro, new wave and synth-pop with 1990s techno, retro-style electropop and electronic dance music. It emerged in the later 1990s and is often thought of as reaching its peak circa 2002/2003. It was pioneered by and associated with acts such as I-F, Miss Kittin & The Hacker and Fischerspooner.
The term electroclash describes a musical movement that combined synthpop, techno, punk and performance art. The genre was in 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. DJ and promoter Larry Tee is credited for establishing the term by naming the Electroclash 2001 Festival in New York after it, but also DJ Hell is credited as inventor and name giver.
Electroclash emerged at the end of the 1990s. It was pioneered by I-F with his 1997 track "Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass" (which, "introducing old-fashioned verse-chorus dynamics to burbling electro in a vocodered homage to Atari-era hi-jinks," is the "record widely credited with catalysing" the electroclash movement), as well as French recording duo Miss Kittin & The Hacker who were "setting and defining the electroclash scene" with the two anthems 1982 and Frank Sinatra which were first released in 1998 on DJ Hell's label International DeeJay Gigolo Records, which has been referred to as the "germ cell" and "THE home" of the electroclash sound. Gigolo featured many of the early electroclash songs, such as for example Christopher Just's I'm a Disco Dancer from 1997 or Chris Korda's Save the Planet, Kill Yourself, which originally even had been released as early as 1993. The style was pursued by artists including Felix da Housecat,Peaches, Chicks on Speed,Fischerspooner and Toktok vs. Soffy O. During their early years, Ladytron were sometimes labeled as electroclash, but others stated that they were not entirely electroclash and they also rejected this tag themselves.Goldfrapp's albums Black Cherry (2003) and Supernature (2005) incorporated electroclash influences.
As its early artists came from many countries, electroclash is a movement that emerged internationally, but was scraped together and mentored by entrepreneurs such as label boss DJ Hell and promoter Larry Tee. Due to its trash and glamour factor it became an urban phenomenon with its centers in Berlin, New York, London and Munich, but the hype of electroclash is said to have been over again by 2003. In the US it came to media attention, when the Electroclash Festival was held in New York in October 2001 to "make a local breakthrough with this scene, presenting a select group of superstar and pioneer artists from Europe and the U. S.". 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., Erol Alkan, Princess Superstar, Mignon, Mount Sims, Tiga and Spalding Rockwell.
The electroclash label and the hype around it have been fiercely criticized by some of its acclaimed protagonists in the early 2000s. For example, I-F and other artists signed an "Anti-Electroclash-Manifest" where they complained about the sellout of the style by those who would "rule the media waves" and only "sell the old freshly packaged". In 2002, Toktok vs. Soffy O. stated that when they were first asked about electroclash they just thought that "this is nothing else than what we know for at least five years and what is now reaching the recycling peak for the third or fourth time".
Electroclash combines the extended pulsing sections of techno, house and other dance musics with the trashier energy of rock and new wave.
Go to Berliniamsburg, the Brooklyn club at the epicentre of New York's eighties-inspired 'electroclash' scene, and you feel a peculiar sensation: it's not exactly like time travel, more like you've stepped into a parallel universe, an alternative history scenario where rave never happened.