Vero Faye Kitsuné (aka C Z A R I N A) is one of synthwave’s undoubted icons.
There are many reasons why C Z A R I N A has become one of the scene’s leading lights. She’s a talented producer and performer, known for her unique brand of retro-futuristic electronica. She also brings unique visions to life through other mediums such as film and graphic design.
There’s also another key facet of her appeal. C Z A R I N A is incredibly supportive of other artists, in terms of encouragement, advice, collaboration, and publicity. So it was no surprise that, when she decided to curate a massive playlist, many, many artists answered the call.
The following isn’t a ranking like the last playlist I discussed. This is a sampler, directing you towards some of the greatest creators working today:
1. C Z A R I N A – “The Valkyrie (Immigrant Song)”
This will get me in trouble…I do not like Led Zeppelin. I’ve always considered them to be overrated. At times even a slog to listen to.
So I was surprised and delighted by C Z A R I N A’s spin on one of the band’s most beloved tracks. Her interpretation serves her persona of a spacefaring synth Queen. She’s traveled the stars, touched down here and gifted us with something cosmic.
2. Megatronix – “I Fight Time”
No-nonsense, strikes like an atomic bomb. “I Fight Time” builds upon electro-industrial foundations, surging forwards into hardcore 80s rock. There’s a sublime contrast between the epic riffs and glittering synths. The vocals reminded me of Trent Reznor, which will never be anything other than a huge compliment.
3. NINA – “Born To Live”
One of NINA’s defining characteristics is their gorgeous, crystal clear vocals. These always help marry modern pop sensibilities to the retro stylings of their music.
Musically this put me in mind of The Beloved’s “Sweet Harmony.” Like that classic, “Born To Live” manages to wire a generally positive message into its melancholic tone.
4. The Planets Won’t Let You Sleep Tonight – “Burn The City”
An alluring slice of EBM. It crackles with dark, seductive energy. Tracks like this always put me in mind of black-lit warehouse raves, where vinyl clad figures are all over each over in the shadows. I’m using this one to coin the term “Vampire Techno”.
5. Driver86 & Till Wild (feat. Oceanside85) – “One and Only”
One of the more distinctive tracks on the playlist. A curious mixture of jazz-inflected retrowave and 80s rock ballad with a vocal delivery that carries traces of modern country. It not as intense as the majority of the songs around it, but it’s still sweeping and epic.
6. BEKIMACHINE – “Oblivion”
Like C Z A R I N A, BEKIMACHINE is great at cross-pollinating synthwave with modern pop, while also bringing something entirely unique to the table. BEKIMACHINE is one of those artists I should have covered already. “Oblivion” comes from her recent Saga EP, a record you need in your life.
7. Cat Temper – “Meow at the Devil”
I’ve talked about Cat Temper before, so I was very happy to see them on this list. They are, without a doubt, one of the heroes of modern synthwave. Astonishingly talented, and imaginative, while also inclined to inject humour into everything they do.
“Meow at the Devil” is as playful and hyperactive as a neon kitty.
8. Alpha Chrome Yayo – “You Got the Money?”
Speaking of old friends… here’s Alpha Chrome Yayo. “You Got the Money?” comes from the Choke EP. Choke channeled some of the dark energy of Malediction Boulevard, but without sacrificing the diversity ACY has brought into their most recent work. You Got the Money?” stomps, but also makes room for some delicious chip tune licks.
9. Ace Buchannon – “Buns of Steel”
Despite the tongue in cheek title, Ace Buchannon has run up an entirely credible retro jam. “Buns of Steel” could’ve easily have come from the soundtrack to an awesome 80s action thriller. This is the kind of song which justifies retrowave’s current popularity.
10. Diamond Field (feat. Nina Yasmineh) – “Neon Summer”
There’s a hell of a lot to love here. “Neon Summer” is the perfect emulation of 80s pop. Not only does it sound superb, but its themes and imagery also put it way over the top.
Yasmineh is looking back on a perfect summer, filled with love and excitement and the joy of sharing these with someone special. And though that time has passed, the passion remains “Like the fire/That keeps you/That keeps you burning in my memory.”
THE VALKYRIE CALLS: Synth Warriors Unite is running now over on Spotify. Check out and support all of these incredible artists: