Brian Hazard, the man behind the one-man electronic music act Color Theory, grew up in the 80s listening to “depressing” music: The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths. The brooding undercurrent of heartbreak, suffering, and alienation never brought him down. He found it oddly comforting, even uplifting.

Today his songs explore the pleasure in sadness through his distinctive brand of melancholy synthwave. Why does bittersweet taste better than just plain sweet? “Hazard writes songs that are intensely personal and uses technology to enhance material that is as emotive as the best folk.” (Robert Kinsler, Orange County Register)

Anyone who took music lessons as a kid calls themselves “classically trained,” but Hazard went the distance, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance. Immediately after graduation, he left Beethoven and Brahms behind to pursue his first musical inspiration, Depeche Mode.

The line between inspiration and imitation blurred when Hazard’s song “Ponytail Girl” spread like wildfire on Napster, mislabeled as a Depeche Mode b-side. The confusion was so widespread that the mix-up was publicly acknowledged at depechemode.com. “It’s pretty neat to be mistaken for your favorite band,” he laughs. Hazard used the incident as the basis for a tribute album, Color Theory presents Depeche Mode.

Since then, Hazard has emerged from the shadow of his childhood heroes to become an artist in his own right. Highlights include winning the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, songs in the Rock Band and Just Dance games, and several song placements on MTV’s The Real World. His tenth studio album, The Majesty of Our Broken Past, was released in 2018.