Nothing is ever created out of thin air especially when it comes to music in particular or the arts in general. Most often than not, when a certain ‘movement’ emerges and is embraced by a particular segment of the society, it is a calibrated and cathartic response to a particular societal phenomenon.
‘Vaporwave’ is part musical genre and part art movement; this generation’s artistic response to the realities of the modern word—a technology-driven, social media-addicted society where documenting every minuscule life event is the norm more than a necessity.
Words fail to describe what ‘Vaporwave’ really is but its origins can be traced back in the early 2010 and was spread/diffused through various internet communities. Ariel Pink, James Ferraro (Far Side Virtual), Macintosh Plus (Floral Shoppe) and Daniel Lopatin ( Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1) are often credited for instigating the creation and evolution of the ‘Vaporwave’ movement.
Whatever its origin story is, one thing is for certain, ‘Vaporwave’ is identified by its nostalgic romanticism of the cultural trends of the late 80s and early 90s as well as its surrealistic fascination with consumerism, technology and the entertainment industry to the tune of elevator, smooth jazz and lounge music.
And because ‘Vaporwave’ is an experience more than music itself, its visual style aptly referred to as “ＡＥＳＴＨＥＴＩＣＳ” (yup in glorious and stylized stretched out font) is a central element to its movement. If it’s colored pink or teal and with 80’s or 90s-inspired video game consoles and operating systems with some random Japanese lettering, then you might be looking at a ‘Vaporwave’ “ＡＥＳＴＨＥＴＩＣＳ.”
Long story short, it’s what your hipster, vape-loving, tech savvy friend listens to when he/she is nursing a hangover on a lazy Sunday morning. Kidding of course!
Seriously though, just like anything else in the creative world, ‘Vaporwave’ is and should always be subjective. You have to experience it before you can even begin to understand its tendencies, effects and what it wants to say.
Whether or not ‘Vaporwave’ will be here to stay is immaterial. So long as it continues to serve its purpose; which is provide a snapshot and soundtrack all the while satirizing the increasingly technology-dependent and social media-driven world, it will continue to create a rippling effect that would encourage/spur conversations—thoughtful or otherwise—which essentially is what all movements are aspiring for.
Watch a brief history of ‘Vaporwave’ and get your feet wet. You might just enjoy it!