Music is what you make it and the Internet has made Vaporwave. Vaporwave is a music genre that emerged among Internet communities in the early 2010’s when two random albums with two different styles merged together to create what we now call Vaporwave.
If you have no knowledge of Vaporwave, there is no way you can identify it in mainstream music. However, if you do, you know that Azealia Banks, M.I.A and Kid Cudi (to an extent) have some explaining to do.
Daniel Lopatin‘s (known as Oneohtrix Point Never) 2010 release, Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1 and James Ferraro‘s Far Side Virtual are often credited for sparking Vaporwave’s development.It originated on music forums such as Tumblr, Reddit and Turntable.fm and because it started on the Internet, it is the first music genre in the world that is completely globalized.
In 2011, under her alternate alias Macintosh Plus, Ramona Xavier ( also known as Vektroid) released Floral Shoppe which became the first album to gain popularity under this genre and was released digitally to the Bandcamp music store.
Above: A music video of Macintosh Plus’s リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュ (Risafuranku 420 / Gendai no Konpyū Lisa Frank 420 / Modern Computing)
Vaporwave is characterised sampling a variety of sounds pitching, layering and altering the music slowing them down and making use of a chopped and screwed style with a lot of repetitive loops. Most of these sounds are influenced by 80’s and 90’s pop culture using glitch art, early digital design, roman busts,tropical landscapes, Japanese culture and the re-distribution of 80’s elevator music inspired from funk age, lounge music and smooth jazz blending countless retro cultural aesthetics together with all of the albums being release solely online.
The genre has developed in the last 6 years and now has dubstep influences with trap beats and heavy bass drops that we hear in the self-titled album Blank Banshee which consists of a remix of new age songs. Vaporwave became more of an art form rather than just another music genre and because it was solely based online anyone who is anyone could create a track… even you!
Above: A tutorial on how to create a Vaporwave track.
Its recent development is the many releases on Dream Catalogue, a record label that pushes the genre by showcasing Vaporwave in a positive direction. The development of the genre has influenced other genres such as Future Funk which originated in 2012 with a combination of Vaporwave and a more upbeat groove.
In 2012, the genre grew even bigger when a producer under the pseudonym Internet Club released multiple albums that commented on the issue of capitalism by borrowing some elements from Floral Shoppe that embraced corporate ideals and capitalism instead of rejecting it, redistributing Vaporwaves whole aesthetic using old television advertisements to continue the theme of capitalism and 80’s nostalgia.
The one problem, however, is that Vaporwave uses other people’s art and music (now we see where the three accused got it from), chops it up and markets and re-releases it over the Internet under false Japanese titles. Vaporwave has become an anonymous art for anonymous people as part of a digital movement that seeks to counteract most national ideals surrounding ownership.
Most producers of the Vaporwave genre recognize that its greatest appeal is its use of anonymity, that in a world that is not private, there is something that does not matter where it comes from or who made it, only that it exists. However, it seems that Azealia Banks, M.I.A. and Kid Cudi did not get the memo, however, we will forgive them because they made it work.
Created digitally and shared digitally, with digital producers focused on growing a digital genre for digital users, Vaporwave sure has left a footprint in the digital music industry and allowed for the opportunity for other music and musical genres to develop digitally and become accessible digitally to Internet users all over the world.
With concerns that Vaporwave is dead, this is proof that it definitely lives and has spawned little children in other genres of music and if you did not know about Vaporwave, now you know. If you want to know more, you could check out the video below for a brief history of Vapourwave.