The Vaporwave is a music genre born around the 2010s among the internet community as Bandcamp, Tumblr and Soundcloud.
It’s rooted in the sub-genres of electronic music such as 80’s pop, lounge, smooth jazz, and synth pop. The Vaporwave is visually characterized from retro charm for the typical digital aesthetics of video games, technology, advertising and Japanese culture of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000s.
This style is focused on the satirical critique of consumer society and popular culture through the use of sampling that is often pitched, layered or altered in a classic “chopped and screwed”. It combines music and images of classical sculptures,1990s web design, computer renderings and VHS, presenting itself as a degrading of commercial music in an attempt to reveal the false promises of capitalism.
The founders of the movement are both James Ferraro, with the albums Far Side Virtual, and Chuck Person (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) with Eccojams Vol.1. However the first album that gained popular recognition is Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus (aka Vektroid).
Vektroid describes her album as “a brief glimpse into the new possibilities of international communication” and “a parody of American hypercontextualization of e-Asia circa 1995.”
Others see this genre as the answer of digital age to punk. In an interview for the magazine Dummy, Liz, co-founder of SPF420 site, explained:
“Vaporwave, in my opinion, is our current ‘punk scene’. The digital rebels. The ones who ‘steal’ others’ music, just to manipulate it and chop it up a bit. That is so fucking punk…It’s like how punk bands only knew how to play power chords. It’s brilliant. Vaporwave isn’t lazy, and neither is punk. I think that these two genres of music are parallel: short tracks with messages that are very literal, made with minimal intent (for the most part).”