What Is Shoegaze Music (And The Most Famous Bands)

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Shoegaze music is quite ambiguous and doesn’t necessarily specify any particular genre. This is because it doesn’t have a distinct brand of sound. It has emotional attributes making it an impressionistic form of music. 

One thing about the music is that you can’t box it into one specific genre. You’ll have room for noise pop, post-punk, and ambient music, among other sounds that easily cross over to sonic authenticity. It has made artists creative and incorporated some shoegaze elements in their work.

Another distinctive feature you’ll notice is that they’re introspective and can become quite uncomfortable. It can disrupt your thought process, giving you distorted rationale and logic. Artists and listeners, therefore, understand that shoegaze music performances don’t have that performative aspect but come together to enjoy the introvert.

Definition of Shoegaze Music

The term shoegaze describes how musicians look at their shoes while playing the guitar. It’s not specifically looking at their shoes but the foot pedal. This is a significant norm when playing shoegaze music. While in the shoegaze position, artists can generate various processing effects that enable them to create a unique sound for a specific style of music.

Moreover, foot pedals have no regulations to fit a particular sound categorization. All music on shoegaze is subjective. Therefore, they have an even playing field. There are, however, the standard effects that make up the shoegaze sound. The process involves distorting layers of digital audio, reverb, phaser, and tremolo, among other effects.

Most artists that practice shoegaze or rather make shoegaze music are usually criticized for being self-indulgent. This is because most of them don’t aim to sell records commercially.

Pioneers of Shoegaze Music

It’s tough to specify who developed the shoegaze music. Therefore, you can’t get a definite answer. The genre started in the 80s and became a distinctive household name in the music industry in the 90s. Many people credit the My Bloody Valentine as the pioneers of this genre.

They made the loveless, solidified shoegaze become mainstream as it was produced way back in garages from experimental bands who had a hand in providing its blueprint. Another band that influenced shoegaze music was specimen 3.

The band’s debut ‘sound of confusion’ in 1986 had synth riffs of shoegaze with a fusion of dragged-out garage rock. Some of its band members have written articles featured in popular magazines reiterating how they don’t believe they’re making shoegaze music.

However, the individual who came up with the name shoegaze was a journalist trying to be derogatory. But the tag continued and stuck even when the term was meant to be snide. The name shaped the shoegaze style of music and paved the way for other newer versions of sonic shoegaze.

Arguably, the shoegaze genre can be traced back to the early 80, when Cocteau Twin released their record named Head Over Heels. After two years, another band released a record that touched a part of shoegaze-noise pop. Other artists jumped on this wave and continued to make beautiful distorted sounds. 

Characteristics of Shoegaze Music

The genre is characterized by distorted layers of audio, ethereal, and downtempo. However, this is not to say that there is no shoegaze music with uptempo. Whether the song has a quick or slow tempo, the structure is characterized by heavily distorted guitar tones, noisy effects, reverb-drenched vocals, and droning riffs, among other effects.

Most describe it as overwhelming loud music. It’s related to dream pop in terms of categorization. One can say it’s a subgenre of the obscure rock genre. A lot of people don’t see shoegaze as a genre. Even so, many artists have created music that has gone mainstream utilizing many tools to create this style of music.

Famous Artists Associated with the Shoegaze Genre

Since its inception, many bands have created popular music centered around this genre. Here are some of them.


The band was formed in 2011 by a lead singer and guitarist, Zachary Smith, and it’s known for its popular record Beach Fossil. The band then released its first album in 2012, titled Oshin, featuring distinctive sounds that range from dynamic textures to detailed yet lush elements. It was centered around the singer’s season of recovery.

Greet Death 

This was another band known for shoegaze music. He was listed as the upcoming artist in Detroit in 2019 and soon released their first album, New Hell. The band’s sound is usually described as punky and post-rock, with traces of hellish and majestic sound.


Starring the singer and guitarist Magdalene, together with her sister, she formed the midwife band. They infused ambient mixes, which were majorly their unique sound. Magdalena described her music as heavenly metal and is rightfully seen in how beautifully slow-core it is. It’s unique, as it incorporates drone pop style to sonic.

Peel Dream Magazine 

The song is mainstream and popular among metal heads. It was released by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Joe Steven in 2018. After releasing peel dream magazine, the band went on to produce another song, the modern metaphysics. This quickly cemented their place as shoegaze artists in the industry. The band has a unique sound that can be described as minimal and dynamic, with elements of electronic pop plus avant-garde.

Spirit of the Beehive 

This band has been releasing a shoegaze song for quite a while now. They were underground artists. It was until 2018, when they released Hypnic Jerks, that they became mainstream. Its sound is characterized by noise, punk, psych pop, and drone. People that have gone to their live concerts have bragged about how vigorous the whole show was. Most say they offer their fun, some escapism, and confrontation.


This is another band that was created by Daniel Monkman, who described his music as the heritage of the first nation. Its distinctive sound that you’ll never miss in his songs includes hand drums, droning chants, plus shakers. The unique thing about the band’s song is that it has meaningful translations which are deeply rooted in the singer’s spirituality. It has certainly made him stand out in this so easy-to-describe genre.

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