Old Skool Hacker/Cyberpunk Music

Going through the musical archives and bit and was reminded of some seminal groups that every hacker or edgerunner out there should probably be familiar with, as a lot of this music came about as the cyberpunk genre was starting to develop and affect the public consciousness, and a lot of them saw the future coming way before the rest of us did. As always, suggestions and additions are encouraged!

'80s bands:

  • Information Society (they literally had an album called Hack!)
  • Sigue Sigue Sputnik
  • Clock DVA
  • Kraftwerk (obvi)
  • Devo
  • Billy Idol, “Cyberpunk” - I think this might have been the early '90s, but he definitely morphed from '80s pop punk to cyberpunk with this one
  • Gary Numan

'90s bands:

  • The Prodigy
  • Massive Attack, “Mezzanine”
  • Nine Inch Nails - most of this music is anti-corpo or could be applied that way, and of course later on he sort of became the real life embodiment of Johnny Silverhand (minus the suitcase nuke)
  • Sister Machine Gun

Some blasts from the past in the list already. Here’s a few more for your consideration:

Primarily from the 80s

  • Jean Michel Jarre - Revolution, Ethnicolor for glossy corpo-tech-sound
  • Cocteau Twins - Treasure for jacked-in mind trips
  • Haysi Fantayzee - because it’s the bonkers avant-garde pop-punk sound of script kiddies
  • Depeche Mode - because how have we got this far without mentioning them?
  • The Specials - because Ghost Town, in fact almost everything they did just fits IMHO
  • Toyah - Anthem, more punk than cyber but I Want To Be Free seems to fit really well.

From the 90s

  • Enigma - even if the albums scream solarpunk almost as loud as it screams “stolen samples” and “cultural appropriation”
  • Deep Forest - again a heavy solarpunk vibe and masses of cultural appropriation
  • Jesus Jones - political and social commentary hidden in catchy dance tunes
  • Meanwhile Back In Communist Russie, an eclectic one I first heard on John Peel’s show on BBC Radio 1 back in the day. A hint of steam in the cyberpunk, haunting, claustrophobic, dark soundscapes
  • The entire Strange Days soundtrack, because… well, just because.

None are absolute cyberpunk but all add to the vibe I reckon. Very UK centric but then again that was where I was at the time. For a 201#s addition I’d include Berlin’s brilliant Grossstadtgeflüster because they just seem to hit a sweet spot of punk and social commentary.


These are great additions to the list! Definitely some in here that I had forgotten about or hadn’t thought of in the context of the cyberpunk genre. And yes, I can’t believe I forgot to mention Depeche Mode. :person_facepalming:

I also didn’t mention The Specials because, and I know that this is nigh on to blasphemy to say in tech circles, but I frakkin’ hate “Ghost Town”. I don’t know why and I have no rational explanation. I know it was formative and it’s a core part of the cyberpunk reality, but I just can’t stand that song for some reason. :person_shrugging: So I guess it’s good that you included it here for everyone else to see. :smiley:

And a big shout-out to Deep Forest also. I love that band, and I still listen to the eponymous debut on the regular. They also had that end-credits song on the Strange Days soundtrack with Peter Gabriel, which is an absolute banger. But yeah, the cultural appropriate is… a lot.