Synthwave - Also known as outrun, retrowave, futuresynth, as well as other names - is a genre of electronic music influenced by 1980's film soundtracks (adventure, action, science fiction and horror films especially), video game music and pop-culture. Beginning in the mid 2000's, the genre developed from various niche communities on the internet in what film maker Iván Castell (of the "Rise of the Synths" synthwave documentary) described as "a DIY grass-roots music movement."
The style reached wider popularity in the early 2010's with the emergence of Kavinsky and the 2011 film Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn. Stylistically, Synthwave draws upon the musical heritage of pioneering artists such as Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream (and Edgar Froese), as well as film director and composer John Carpenter, italo-disco artists like Giorgio Moroder and the synthpop and new wave music movements. At the same time there are also many similarities to the french-house genre, including musicians in the scene like Daft Punk, Mr. Oizo and Justice. In the words of Perturbator (James Kent), the style is often mostly instrumental, and often includes 1980's cliché elements like electronic drums, gated reverb and analog synthesizers. Tracks are often built on a foundation of powerful beats and gently pumping bass lines with synthesized melodies providing the iconic themes.
Aesthetically, Synthwave gives a retrofuturistic atmosphere often likened to cyberpunk. Obviously nostalgic for 1980's pop-culture, fans and musicians alike openly celebrate that decade. In a symbiotic relationship films like Kung Fury, Turbo Kid and Drive as well as games such as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the Hotline Miami series and Trials of the Blood Dragon have helped Synthwave grow more popular while also in some cases being a result of the 1980's nostalgia created by the Synthwave genre. The TV series Stranger Things mirrors the nostalgia, and its soundtrack is often included in Synthwave canon.
Alluding to the similarity to french-house, early movers and trendsetters within the scene include College, Kavinsky, Lifelike and Anoraak. The French music collective Valerie Collective - Which include College, Maethelvin, The Outrunners, Anoraak, Forgotten Illusions, Stephen Falken, Russ Chimes as well as Keenhouse and Electric Youth - also contributed to the sound of Synthwave. In more recent times, acts like Lazerhawk, Miami Nights 1983, Actrazer, Mega Drive, Mitch Murder, Power Glove, Perturbator, GosT, Dan Terminus, Carpenter Brut, Futurecop!, Gunship and chillwave-musician Com Truise are often mentioned as big names within the genre. Prominent record labels include Valerie Records, FVTVR, Endless Summer Recordings, 30th Floor Records, Believe Digital, Flexx, Free Danger, Blood Music, No Quarter Productions and New Retro Wave.
Associated genres include: Synthpop, Italo-Disco, Chillwave, New Wave, Vaporwave, French-House, Chiptune, Electropop
Most of the above is re-written from Wikipedia.