Veronica Vasicka is a photographer, musician, DJ and founder of the epic record label and on-line music resource Minimal Wave. As one of the founding members of East Village Radio, she managed the station during its pirate days and began collecting obscure and long forgotten gems that fell somewhere between the Cold Wave, Post Punk and Minimal Synth genres. Not knowing what to classify these bands as, she coined the genre Minimal Wave and set up the website Minimalwave.org as an online resource to share her finds with the rest of the world.
The response to the website was huge and shortly after its launch, Veronica began tracking these artists down and re-issuing their work on the Minimal Wave label. Most of these bands recorded extremely limited copies of their work in their basements and shared their work with the world via John Peel's radio show and a handful of underground music mailings. The music released on the label is a stripped down, DIY and purer approach to mainstream synth pop. Never-the-less, fans of New Wave acts, and bands like Kraftwerk, New Order, and Joy Division who are seeking something a bit different or looking to expand upon the familiar genre, will not be disappointed.
In addition to running Minimal Wave, Veronica launched the Cititrax label as way to expose newer synth-based act as well as obscure House and Italo classics. She DJs bi-monthly around New York City and every Sunday night on her East Village Radio show, Minimal Wave.
Cold Wave – "Cold Wave was a music movement that happened in France during the early 80s. It was primarily guitar-oriented, involving keyboards as well, and paralleled the Post Punk Movement that was happening during the same time in the UK."
Minimal Synth – "Minimal Synth was genre of music made with synthesizers and drum machines. Most of the music was minimally produced and recorded in bedroom studios. It was mostly anti-guitars."
No Wave – "No Wave was a music genre that happened in New York during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Some of the New York based bands that could be considered Minimal Wave, were working on the fringe of this scene or the art scene. It's interesting that some of the No Wave bands were released on French labels before they became known in the States."
MINIMAL WAVE BANDS
Oppenheimer Analysis – "This was my first release. When I first played their track, “The Devil Dancers” at a party at Southside Lounge in Williamsburg, people got really excited about it. That’s when I knew I had to release it on vinyl. Oppenheimer Analysis is Andy Oppenheimer and Martin Lloyd from the UK. Andy is a distant relative of J.R. Oppenheimer, the guy who designed the atomic bomb! They reunited in 2005, and have been playing shows ever since. Andy works as a nuclear weapons consultant, and is often included in BBC articles when his expertise is needed."
Moderne – "Moderne is a great band who made records that were produced by Joshcko Rudas, a member of Kraftwerk and the engineer for their Man Machine record. You can really hear Kraftwerk in their sound. Some people even call them the French Kraftwerk."
Sluik – "Ron Sluik is an artist from the Netherlands and he was our second release. He’s one those guys who made 30 copies of his tape and sent one off to John Peel, who played it on his BBC radio show. He recorded this stuff in his friend’s bedroom studio without any prior musical background."
Los Iniciados – "Los Iniciados were a band from Spain. It was a side project of a band called Aviador Dro, who were basically Spain’s answer to Kraftwerk. They were a relatively mainstream synth-pop band. On this side project they never revealed their names and wore masks so nobody would know who they were or that they were associated with Aviador Dro."
Bal Pare – "Bal Pare is Mattias Schuster’s band from Hamburg, Germany. I'm releasing four previously unreleased tracks that were recorded from 1981 – 1984."
Z-Factor – "Z-Factor was my first release on my other label, Cititrax. It’s an old house project from Chicago by Jesse Saunders and Vince Lawrence and it was basically the first house record ever recorded. The album is called The Dance Party Album."
Medio Mutante – "Medio Mutante is another band on my Cititrax label. Their sound is dark and electronic yet completely accessible. They have some Latin and freestyle elements which blend well with their electronics, to create a new, fresh sound."
Experimental Products – "Experimental Products is a legendary project from Philadelphia. Their records go for an insane amount of money but yes their music is great."
Dark Day – "Dark Day was a New York based minimal synth band which was headed by Robin Crutchfield, of notorious No Wave band DNA."
Crash Course in Science – "Crash Course in Science was a great synth band from Philadelphia who played live in the early 80s. They all met at art school and now one of them lives on Ludlow street. Sometimes he stops my radio show, it's always such a nice surprise."
Mark Lane – "Mark Lane is from Ventura, California and he is just the sweetest guy. He self-released most of his music and it's quite well produced."
Linear Movement – "Linear Movement is a group from Belgium. It was headed by Peter Bonne who had a label called The Micrart Group. He was also in a band called, A Split Second, which was a pretty popular group in the 80’s. His other bands were Twilight Ritual and Autumn. I'd say he's a musical genius who was way ahead of his time."
New Order – "New Order was one of the first bands that got me into New Wave. My older brother used to play their 'Substance' tape on repeat. That release had a huge influence on me and still remains a favorite today."
Echo & The Bunnymen – "Echo & Bunnymen were one of the first bands that I got into. I was about 12 and used to hear their music on a Long Island radio station called WLIR, that we’d sometimes get in the city."
The Smiths – "The Smiths were another band that my brother exposed me to. I remember when I was about 11, I thought they were so obscure."
Alphaville – "Alphaville are somewhat of a mainstream band whose early recordings sound completely Minimal Wave."
East Village Radio – "I’ve been doing a radio show on EVR since 2003 and it was a huge resource for me. I was one of the founding members of the radio station and I used to manage it when it was a pirate radio station. I discovered a lot of the bands that I released on Minimal Wave here."
Minimal Wave Radio – "Minimal Wave is my weekly radio show on East Village Radio. I play tons of Minimal Wave style music, as well as New Wave, Italo and some obscure house. It airs every Sunday night from 6-8PM EST."
Home Sweet Home – "Home Sweet Home is a bar that throws a weekly party where Minimal Wave style music is played. It has definitely helped expose a lot of this music to people who would have otherwise never heard it."
Other Music – "Other Music is a record store in the Village that’s been really supportive of the records I put out. I like that they’re particular about what they carry yet they’re not pretentious. They’ll talk to anybody about any kind of music. The fact is that they’re genuinely interested in music. I like that. I appreciate that passion."
Academy Records - "I like Academy’s selection of dance records, which are priced nicely. They’re open with the synth genre and interested in local label releases."
Pates et Traditions – "This is an intimate French place is Williamsburg. The owner serves a great variety of crepes. It's the closest thing to being in the South of France."
Marlow & Sons – "Marlow & Sons has excellent quality food and produce, which I love. Their frittata sandwich and strong coffee is a treat in the morning."
El Beit – "El Beit in Williamsburg seriously has the best coffee. Every time I bring someone there to try it out, they're blown away."
Lomzynianka Restaurant – "They have superb viener schnitzel and it's really cheap. I also like the atmosphere. It's a throwback to the 80s."
5 Leaves - "5 Leaves is a place near my house in Greenpoint. They serve delicious, fresh food and I especially enjoy the sage scrambled egg sandwich. Try out the bacon, it's the best you'll ever have."
Santo’s Party House - "I think Santo’s Party House is successful because they invested in a great sound system, as well as the architecture of the club itself. It’s impressive. I’ve been living in New York my entire life, and there hasn’t been anything like that since the early 90’s. It’s really cool that someone decided to make a club that's the real deal."
Trophy Bar – "Trophy bar is usually low-key, unless it’s Saturday night. They have good DJ nights, a nice backyard and a great sculpture garden."
The Thing – "The Thing is a junk shop in Greenpoint with a basement filled with thousands of dusty records. I’ve found some great stuff there but you really have to be in the mood to deal with the massive piles. There's such an assortment of junk and records, that it can be overwhelming."
Pentatonic – "Pentatonic has a nice selection of guitars. They specialize in synthesizer and guitar repairs. They just started carrying drum machines and synths, which is really cool. Although, I'm trying to take a break from buying gear."
MAGAZINES & INSPIRATION
Vinyl – "Vinyl was a Dutch music magazine from the early 80’s that reflected the genre of Minimal Wave well. The design of the magazine, especially the early issues, was a huge aesthetic influence when I launched the label."
Contact List for Electronic Musicians – "CLEM was a mailing list started by Alex Douglas that some of the New York synth bands were involved in. There were artists from Brooklyn who were using it to make connections with labels in France. It was an international zine, that essentially included contacts from all over the world. An interesting scene was created around this list."
Phil Yamada – "Phil Yamada is an amazing graphic designer from Canada. He’s helped with some of the Minimal Wave album art."
Stones Throw – "Stones Throw is a label on the West Coast run by Peanut Butter Wolf. We’ve recently put out a compilation together called "The Minimal Wave Tapes" that will bring this music to a completely different audience."
Juno 60 - "The Juno 60 is a wonderful, versatile synth. I love to layer various sounds with it, and make tracks that are entirely made with it."
Keyboard MS20 - "The MS20 is a great bass synth."
Roland 808 Drum Machine – "I sequence everything on an 808, which is a drum machine by Roland. I use it to program, build patterns and trigger other synths. A lot of Minimal Wave Music was made in the same fashion."
Cubase - "Cubase is a computer program I use for recording."