Sovietwave (also styled Soviet wave[1] or Soviet-wave[2]) is a subgenre of synthwave music and accompanying Internet aesthetic which originates from the former Soviet Union, primarily Russia. It is characterized by an emphasis on the technology and culture of the Soviet Union, such as the Soviet space program and retrofuturistic Soviet era architecture and art, and is an expression of nostalgia for the Soviet Union.[1] Linguist Maria Engström described Sovietwave as the post-Soviet counterpart to vaporwave, evoking a similar nostalgic critique of the "contemporary collapse of futurity" and longing for the lost optimism of a bygone era.[3]


At the height of the trance music boom in the 2000s, Russian trance duo PPK used the melodies of Soviet electronic music as the basis of their compositions, pioneering the fusion of contemporary electronic music with Soviet-era nostalgia.[4][5]

Until 2014, the groups of the "Soviet wave" — N.E.M.O., Kim and Buran [ru], PPVK — were often classified as indie, lo-fi or other type of electronics. One of the first performers who took a course to isolate themselves from the rest of electronic music was the Kharkiv project "Mayak".[6]

The main inspirations for Sovietwave artists are typically the collective cultural memories associated with the Soviet era.[7] Lyudmila Shevchenko of Jan Kochanowski University considers the genre a manifestation of romanticized "nostalgic myth".[8] Sovietwave became popular in post-Soviet countries in the latter half of the 2010s, drawing on synthwave and nostalgia for mid-century Soviet culture in the region.[9]

In September 2017, on Moscow City Day sovietwave compositions were used in the musical design of the Crafts Park pavilion.[10] In August 2018, the first music festival "Volna-1" ("Wave-1") dedicated to the genre was held in St. Petersburg;[11] "Volna-2" was held on August 10, 2019 in Moscow.[12] On July 22, 2019, an Olympic Night concert party was held in the abandoned SKA pool in Novosibirsk, decorated in the style of Soviet nostalgia; most of the collectives belonged to local sovietwave groups.[13]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sovietwave experienced a growth in popularity, along with related forms of vaporwave and synthwave.[14] This upsurge was driven in large part by the success of the Belarusian post-punk band Molchat Doma, whose song "Судно (Борис Рыжий)" from the album Etazhi became a popular meme on TikTok. According to Cat Zhang of Pitchfork, the song connected with Generation Z's "deep pessimism towards the future".[15] Molchat Doma's entry into the mainstream spawned multiple compilations of the genre on streaming platforms such as Spotify and YouTube,[16] which feature more overt nostalgia for Soviet and Space Age aesthetics despite the band's criticism of the genre for "fail[ing] to recognize the harsh realities of life in the region".[17]


Sovietwave music is characterized by an emphasis on cultural and scientific aspects of Soviet life.

Sovietwave is based on modern electronic music trends such as lo-fi, ambient and synth-pop, as well as the electronic music of the late Soviet Union.[18] Despite Sovietwave's widespread use of sampling from radio programs and speeches, the genre is not overtly political.[18] Sovietwave music is characterized by an emphasis on the cultural, political and scientific aspects of Soviet life,[19][20] with excerpts from educational films and speeches by Soviet statesmen being used primarily to create a nostalgic experience for the listener.[19] Sovietwave usually draws on images of space and technological progress which disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet space program, together with positive childhood reminiscences and technological utopianism of the Space Age;[19][20] social scientist Natalija Majsova described this trend as "nostalgia for the past future".[21]

The genre is influenced by the music of old Soviet animation and film, such as The Mystery of the Third Planet, Guest from the Future, The Adventures of the Elektronic, Courier, Leopold the Cat, Moscow-Cassiopeia, Office Romance, One Hundred Days After Childhood, Three from Prostokvashino, and Yeralash. Common musical influences on the genre include Soviet composers Vyacheslav Mescherin,[6] Eduard Artemyev and Aleksandr Zatsepin, and the bands Zodiac,[18] Alliance,[20][22] Forum, Mayak, and New Collection. The genre is also influenced by the work of Western musicians that were popular in the USSR, such as Depeche Mode, Digital Emotion, and Modern Talking.[9]

Critic Ivan Beletsky, in an article about the ten greatest albums of the genre, noted that "sovietwave does not like to dig into archives and look for rare material for sampling; Gorbachev's speeches, radio calls of "Mayak" or Gagarin's "Poekhali!“ seems to be enough for them" [sic].[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Russia's musical new wave embraces Soviet chic: Nostalgic young musicians seek connection to culture of the past", The Guardian
  2. ^ "MUSTELIDE – "В Mustelide мне безумно нравится быть одной" – Звуки.Ру". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  3. ^ Engström, Maria (2022). Miazhevich, Galina (ed.). Queering Russian Media and Culture. New York: Routledge. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-367-48706-5.
  4. ^ "SOVIETWAVE – interview by Peek-A-Boo magazine". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  5. ^ Marco Di (1 February 2020). "Reinier Zonneveld brings the classic 'Resurrection' back to life". Rave Jungle. Archived from the original on 11 August 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020. In Russian
  6. ^ a b c Совиетвейв: десять главных альбомов самого ностальгического жанра. In Russian
  7. ^ A Guide to Sovietwave: Six Artists to Know|Bandcamp Daily
  8. ^ Szewczenko, Ludmiła (8 August 2019). "Ностальгия в системе базовых оппозиций "добро" и "зло" в автодокументальных произведениях Людмилы Улицкой "Детство 45–53: а завтра будет счастье" и Светланы Алексиевич "Время секонд хэнд"". Studia Rossica Posnaniensia (in Russian). 44 (44 t1): 53–62. doi:10.14746/strp.2019.44.1.6. ISSN 0081-6884. S2CID 212909669.
  9. ^ a b Краснощеков, Владимир Александрович (22 September 2017). "Евродиско в России: из мейнстрима в андеграунд". Обсерватория культуры (in Russian). Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Village:ВДНХ объявил программу на День города". Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017. In Russian
  11. ^ "Куда пойти 18-19 августа в Петербурге". Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018. In Russian
  12. ^ "на Бумажной Фабрике". Archived from the original on 2 August 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2022. In Russian
  13. ^ "Сиб. ФМ: Сотни новосибирцев вспомнили «Олимпиаду-80» в заброшенном бассейне СКА". Archived from the original on 2 August 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019. In Russian
  14. ^ Kahlert, Hanna. "Zombies and vaporwave: Consumer vibes in 2020". MIDiA Research. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  15. ^ "How Belarusian Post-Punks Molchat Doma Became a TikTok Meme". Pitchfork. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  16. ^ "NewSovietWave – YouTube". Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Meet Molchat Doma, the austere post-punk band from Minsk". WePresent. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  18. ^ a b c Ridus. RU. Andrey Krasnoshchekov: Electrosound nostalgia. In Russian
  19. ^ a b c REVIVAL OF SOVIET ELECTRO // «Boombarash» magazine № 7/2015 Интервью с группой «Артек Электроника»
  20. ^ a b c Yandex.Zen. Musical hearse: SovietWave – Nostalgia in every note. In Russian
  21. ^ Majsova, Natalija (17 June 2021). "Making the Most of a Past's Futures: Soviet Space Science Fiction between Projection and Recollection". Ljubljana: Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Archived from the original on 14 September 2023. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  22. ^ «Причём объявил нас сам Эдуард Артемьев!». In Russian