Synthetic Division is the synth pop project of Shawn Decker and Josh d’Elia. Shawn was born with hemophilia and diagnosed with HIV in middle school, and after years of denial, he is an AIDS and sex ed spokesman and advocate. Courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation, in high school he met Depeche Mode, who he credits with making a huge impact on his life. All of this influences Synthetic Division’s sound and lyrics.
On July 5th I drove up to Charlottesville for the Synthetic Division Numb to the Numbers album release party. The relatively new venue, the Black Market Moto Saloon, was a very interesting space (but was shortly after blocked from hosting live music events due to zoning restrictions). Show openers Lauren Hoffman and Tony Lechmanski played a surprisingly mellow and melodic country set, and DC’s Lenorable picked things up a bit. You can check out my photos from the night on flickr.
Shawn & Josh did a great job, but unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to let them know as I had to speed home to take a friend to the airport early the next morning. Fortunately, the next time I went up to Charlottesville, a solo Synthetic Division performance from Shawn ended up being a last minute opener for Brighter Fires at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar (they had to change venues after the Black Market was cut off, and their original openers hERETICS iN tHE lAB drove all the way up from VA Beach only to discover that their instruments were too numerous for the new venue’s small stage – they had “too much rock”, trufax). It was lovely to meet Shawn and Gwenn , who were so friendly!
You can check out a lot of tracks from Synthetic Division on bandcamp. While it’s not the most lyrically sophisticated of his songs, this track always make me laugh (and is ridiculously catchy & geeky to boot):
I also have to throw in a recommendation for Shawn’s autobiography, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure . At the album release he described it as “the funniest book about AIDS that you’ll ever read”, and I can’t say I’ve read a funnier one. I started reading it while walking around the block. I was only planning on doing 3 laps (about 1 mile), but I definitely went at least 9 because I couldn’t put the book down!
You can find Synthetic Division on: