OUTLAND: Synthwave comes to London

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By Jack

OUTLAND is a synthwave event. Read our guide to synthwave here.

Synthwave has little representation in the real world. It’s an underground music scene, a sub-genre of electronica made in home studios and released through platforms like Bandcamp.

Synthwave’s large fan base is spread far and wide, making touring and live performance a challenge. OUTLAND, an event hosting synthwave talent, is bringing the sound of the 80’s to London.

We spoke to Brett Simpson, one of the event organisers, about how he arrived at synthwave, and what people can expect at OUTLAND.

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Synthwave is a sound to be discovered, more often stumbled upon. Most likely you’ve already heard it, without realising it is part of a larger scene or sound.

How did the OUTLAND LONDON team discover synthwave?

“I discovered synthwave through soundtracks like Blade Runner (Vangelis), Oblivion (M83), Tron: Legacy (Daft Punk) Drive & Stranger Things. I loved that haunting, nostalgic, synthesised sound.”

“I didn’t know it was labelled under synthwave until relatively recently. I found some Youtube compilations…then I stumbled upon GUNSHIP. And the world changed.”

“‘Tech Noir’ and ‘Fly For Your life’ (the video of the two fighter pilots battling it out) blew me away for days. When I began delving into it, I discovered this ‘new’ dimension of music. I had to go back and learn about all these bands I’d never heard of. So many different sounds, all great, like members of a family, each unique but intimately part of the same thing.”

Hearing synthwave online is the norm, but catching it live is more difficult. The synthwave community is huge, spreading far beyond the English-speaking world. However this makes it hard to engage with in a live setting.

How was OUTLAND conceived?

“My mate Stu (Stuart McLaren, co-founder) and I have been friends since we were teens. We were hanging out one night and knowing that he is an all-things-music guru, I asked if he’d heard this stuff. He had the Drive soundtrack but not much else. Nevertheless, we listened to synthwave all night and were both spinning out!”

“There was nowhere to listen to this stuff live. I couldn’t believe this incredible music was nowhere to be found IN LONDON. I asked Stu if we could do something. Stu’s immediate and spontaneous answer was ‘Sure, let’s do it‘.”

“We both began researching, hunting venues, artists, who would come? Who listens to this? How do we reach them?”

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OUTLAND promises the very best in synthwave, with a screening of Drive, live sets from Timecop1983 and other prominent synth artists, retro merch, retro cocktails (the main reason we’re interested) as well as a showcase of GUNSHIP’s music.

What can people expect at OUTLAND LONDON?

“We were initially wanting to tie the event in with the launch of Blade Runner 2​049​, but we found out pretty quickly the Short Term Screen License was in exclusion​.​..”

“So we decided on Drive​ starring Ryan Gosling, who also happens to be the star of Blade Runner 2049! Not only because it’s a great film, but also because it has one of the greatest synthwave soundtracks. I have spoken to so many people who love the movie and the soundtrack, but are unaware that this is synthwave.”

“So our goal with OUTLAND expanded. We wanted to put on a great event, showcasing some of the best synthwave talent, and at the same time, try and grow and expand the ‘scene’…”


“We have a vision and some exciting ideas going forward​ after OUTLAND LONDON 2017 at The Clapham Grand on Friday 29 September​. Just hope we get the opportunity to go down that road. Come and join us. The future’s bright.”

OUTLAND LONDON is at the Clapham Grand on 29th September. Tickets here.




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