22 Bay Area Synth Bands to Follow in 2022 by Remi X. De Vice

The Bay Area has an incredibly diverse & active electronic music scene that is stacked with immense talent, but also very tight-knit, welcoming, and supportive. Star Crash, the monthly synthpop show & dance party I (Remi Barrett) produce for SF venue DNA Lounge, has played host to over 50 bands in our in-person club nights (Jan & Feb 2020, July-Dec 2021) and virtual shows during the shutdown (April 2020-May 2021). It’s been an inspiring and amazing journey bringing this community together through this wild era and introducing synth fans to so many talented & passionate underground artists.

Here are the artists we hosted in 2021 – the majority from the Bay, and a few visiting artists too. Check them out, give them a follow, buy some music and merch, and check out their shows when you get a chance! And follow @starcrashsf on Insta, Facebook & Twitter to keep up on our show announcements for 2022.

Follow Star Crash’s playlist of featured songs. (some songs not on Spotify, linked on Bandcamp instead)

OVRGRWN – An SF-based synthwave duo who blends the synthscapes of ’80s film scores with commanding vocal hooks. OVRGRWN is richly atmospheric and laden with heavy, evocative & contagious beats. Playing their debut show in Sept 2021, OVRGRWN has burst forth with a huge sound and is already making waves as one of the hottest new bands on the Bay Area synth circuit.

Featured song: “Wasteland” –  music video

Pleeay – A Bay Area goth avant-ballet artpop duo. Their performances are full of raw energy with Castle’s passionate vocals and ballet-trained stage presence mixing with Huli’s mind-bending, unrelenting beats. Pleeay aims to inspire listeners to resist the call to conform, choose consciousness over convenience, and live loudly with compassion.

Featured song: “Consequence” – music video

Keyozah – A neon-soaked 80s cyber funk/synthwave trio with big modern pop production, currently based in San Jose. With wailing guitar solos, funky bass, heavy beats, and powerful melodic vocals, Keyozah will get you moving in the dystopian future of today. We were honored to host them for their debut show back in August! Very excited to see where this band goes in the ~future~.

Featured song: “Downward Spiraling” – music video

Quentel the Cryptid – A Bay Area-based multimedia project with solo electronic rock music by Sean M and visual/animated elements by Elly Russell in a creative branch called WitchCentipede. Dark emo-tinged alt-pop songs set among surrealist storytelling with a developed universe of bizarre characters (including puppets and masks) and eerie locales make for a transporting artistic vision of a hauntingly nuanced and utterly engrossing creative universe.

Featured song: “Blue Flowers” – music video

Full Star Crash set from November 2021

Sophia Prise – A classically trained singer & self-taught producer, this Bay Area powerhouse unites classical aesthetics & powerful opera-influenced vocals with modern synthscapes & techno, house, & trap infused beats. Sophia Prise has an ethereal, darkly spirited electronic pop sound, favoring inventive, mood-driven soundscapes, eclectic beat-making, and passionate lyricism. Her current live set (unveiled at Star Crash in Sept) is a virtuosic collection of “remix covers” where Prise reimagines hits from 12 different genres and filters them all through her own operatic club style.

Featured song: “Tripwire”

Alice Knows Karate – A fairytale & J-idol inspired alt-pop project by San Francisco native Keiko Takamura. Drawing her lyrical & conceptual inspiration from an avant-geek palette of indie video games, media properties, and fairy tales, as well her own life experiences, her darkly whimsical “fablewave” aesthetic is a unique and refreshing vision unbound from the need to fit into pre-existing genres and boxes.

Featured song: “Break the Wheel” – music video

Ponyskull – One girl, two synths, and a drum machine. Her heartfelt songs are true confessions of finding (or losing) herself in San Francisco. Inspired by everything 80s, she blends her singer-songwriter sensibilities with her New Wave aesthetic in a way that’s honest and vulnerable, yet catchy and danceable. On her album “Ponyfoal”, spiky, textured electro elements punctuate her impassioned vocals and evoke a punky, daydreaming spirit of wistful girlhood and self discovery. She also plays and sings in her heady post-rock band TREASVRE.

Featured song: “What You Don’t Know”music video

Great Highway – A high-energy live electronica outfit steeped in the culture of the local scene. Their upbeat songs package sometimes-hopeful, sometimes-sorrowful lyrics; lush, moody synth vibes; and live alto saxophone, electric harp, and guitar. Great Highway take you on a free-wheeling musical journey that embraces the fullness of human experience, from the dazzling light of joy and connection to the dark and somber twists life can bring.

Featured song: “Writing in the Desert” – music video

Full Star Crash set performed live in lockdown, July 2020

Quiet Domino – An indie electronic solo artist who blends the eclectic influences of city life into dreamy songs with sophisticated production and effervescent beats. With a background in the SF rock n roll scene, singer/producer Mark Nelsen uses electronic elements as a vehicle for exploration in his solo project Quiet Domino. His vibey, textured grooves with chillwave flavor translate to catchy and danceable jams when performed live.

Featured song: “Mystery Cup”

Maya Songbird – A flamboyant songstress – born in the historical Castro District of SF and now based in Oakland – who sings of sex, love, liberation, and living life regally through everyday expression. Electrofunk, disco, and house beats topped by Maya’s sassy and soulful vocal stylings transport you to a rebellious, kaleidoscopic world that is by turns euphoric, confrontational, horny, and hilarious.

Featured song: “Regal Slut”

Host Bodies – A genre-defying blend of syncopated polyrhythms, gritty blues riffs, underground hip-hop psychedelia, narrative song structure, and field recordings from cities and the wild. An eclectic and expansive project with strong visual elements, at its core Host Bodies is about push and pull, exploring interlinked and opposing forces – natural/artificial, environmental/electronic, darkness/light, tumult/tranquility.

Featured song: “Refuge” feat. Containher (performed together at August’s Star Crash show)

Containher – April G is a Bay Area artist, vocalist & electronic music producer that weaves sci-fi dreams into indie electro pop that scintillates with warmth and emotion. She believes in the power of music as a healing life energy made ever more vibrant by a truly live performance, so her current set involves live looping and collaborations with sonic peers that welcome the in-the-moment, one-of-a-kind possibilities.

Featured song: “Refuge” by Host Bodies feat. Containher

Steve Ward Moore – An affable, quirky, audience-engaging electronic artist based in Sonoma County. His eclectic palette of songs range from heavier beats to smooth love jams, with an all-in performance style and impassioned mid-to-high range vocals, and a streak of Sparks-like kookiness and James Murphy-esque wit and honesty. One part kindly gentleman farmer, one part cosmic preacher, Steve Ward Moore is ready to reach out, lift you up, and groove your soul. Don’t be afraid.

Featured song: “Another Night”

Slope114 – A live SF house music duo made up of Dmitri Ponce on synthesizers & drum machines and Elise Gargalikis performing live vocals with loopers. Dmitri’s modular synth mastery matched with Elise’s agile, angelic vocals make for a groovetastic sound that’s both classic and fresh. With their motto, “Do Art on Your Own Terms”, they’ve forged their own path in the music industry, and incorporate uplifting themes of liberation, Buddhist & occult ideas into their songs.

Featured song: “Let’s Just Go”

Top Secret Robot Alliance – A dance duo made up of Dion Thünder and Lucious Sandstone, originally from Dancelvania, now based in the Bay Area. The hilarious dance-punk duo you need in your life – one part Spinal Tap, one part Flight of the Conchords, wrapped up in danceable dance beats that will get you dancing on the dance floor with your dance friends. But also… make you think? Their hilarious, inventive & heart-pounding live show is truly a must-see!

Featured song: “Dance Yr Pain”

NO – NO is SF-based solo artist Kevin Laird. NO is Pop Industrial dance music. NO is dedicated to exposing the most human parts of us, in defiance of an order that rejects vulnerability, sincerity, and care. NO is music for bodies and hearts.

Featured song: “Black Box”

DELFÍN – A brand new house duo comprised of Jason Hunter (Great Highway) and Stefan Aronsen (Balanced Breakfast) who made their debut at our return show in July. The music of Delfín blends energetic house with ambient chill-out electronica to create an atmosphere that flows from sunrise through twilight.

Featured song: “One Beat”

Fetz – Our resident visual officer at Star Crash since Jan 2020, who is also a talented electronic music producer & performer. Fetz is an analog soul in a digital daze. Their visual style melds the lo-fi nostalgia of retro video game consoles, live camera feeds, and feedback into a mind-bending immersive experience. Musically, they fuse house, techno, synthwave, and chiptune in an atmosphere of positivity and passion you can’t help but dance to.

Featured song: “Enter the Hyper Hero”

Jonah Sun – An indie-electronic artist from San Francisco, now based in LA. Using keyboards, midi controllers, vocal effects, and drum machines, he creates powerful, emotionally charged music that blends cinematic, piano-driven melodies with dreamy synths, captivating vocals, and irresistible beats. Living in downtown SF for 8 years before relocating to LA, city life is a big element of Jonah’s work – and the excitement, sorrow, triumph, and beauty that comes with it.

Featured song: “Just the Beginning”

Ryan Flynn – The Orb-praising pop proselytizer of your space funk dreams. Praise Orb. Spread Love. Ryan Flynn draws inspiration from electronic soundscapes and the power of funk to bring synthesized bops to fellow explorers of the world. Now back on the East Coast, we were so thrilled to welcome Ryan for his first-ever West Coast show at our grand reopening back in July.

Featured song: “Automatic Love” – music video

Continues – The darkwave solo project of LA-based musician Dan Gatto, formerly of the seminal electronic junk punk band Babyland. Translating the language of late 20th century electronics into a declaration of modern emotion (think Future Islands + Depeche Mode), he builds a visceral, melodic reckoning of synthpop, electro, dark disco and EBM with tons of heart and personality.

Featured song: “Unsweetened”

Vice Reine – Last but not least, a “gratuitous” inclusion of my own techno-tinged glam synthpop band to round this out to 22 acts (winky-kissy-angel emoji here). While we have not played live since Jan 2020 at the first Star Crash, we have been active behind the scenes as the producers, promoters, and DJs of Star Crash for the past 2 years. Band members Erich & CJ have DJ’d at every SC club night since then, and we released our quarantine single “AQUAERIUM” & music video in Feb 2021 (debuted on the virtual Star Crash show that month). We hope to make our return in 2022… VR will come again someday.

Featured song: “AQUAERIUM” – music video

Thank you to all the bands who played and to every single one of you who came and danced with us this year. We look forward to seeing you in 2022!

About the author

Host of SF's star-crossed monthly synth spectacular Star Crash, brought to you by DNA Lounge. You might call it a dystopian glamwave live electronic show & dance party to glitter through the darkness.