The Aesthetics of Vaporwave | All Ages of Geek

Music has always been something that has an evolution every decade or so, as disco was very short-lived, The Beatles lasted all of the 60s, hair metal lasted all throughout the 80s, grunge, well, that died pretty quickly, not gonna lie, and rock had its evolution for almost a century. But there’s been one genre of music that has been interesting for the most part that quietly popped up in 2011 and didn’t get stupid popular until Vine happened and then YouTube caught wind. That genre is the interesting world, and the aesthetics of Vaporwave.

Sampling music has always been a common thing in the music industry, as such example is some of the old hip hop back in the day when it was created here in my home of The Bronx in the 70s and it wasn’t until 1979 that it finally got on the radio, and it became the eventual mainstream genre of today. It’s always been a genre where a sample of old songs, even in the rock genre to sing from it and that became its own song. A good example is “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, as the famous bass line of the song comes from the song “Under Pressure” by Queen with a feature by David Bowie. Sampling has always been common in hip-hop, and even bands like Slipknot had samples of something back in their debut self-titled album, which is full of samples.

But what if whole songs or big chunks of them, commercials from the 80s and 90s, even computer startups and sounds, got sampled? What if its entire subculture is all about the aesthetics? Enter: Vaporwave

Probably the most interesting genre of music to pop out of the 2010s that quickly grew into its own niche subculture, Vaporwave is basically a genre of music that is all about the flow and aesthetics than becoming a mainstream genre. It’s a variant of Chillwave but taken on a satirical level that is mostly satirical in itself since it’s basically a meme that spawned a meme from Vine, that ended up launching the genre into the internet limelight. The album Floral Shoppe by artist Vektroid under the alias “Macintosh Pro” has been widely regarded as the birth album of Vaporwave, and the song that has defined the album and has been the meme of memes is the song “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュ” (Lisa Frank 420 / Modern Computing in English). This song has been the Vaporwave national anthem for quite a long time and one that has been used in the crying kid Vine, “The most satisfying video in the world” by the YouTube channel “Digg”, even YouTube bassist and multi-instrumentalist Davie504 gave the song a nod of approval in his video “30 Music Memes in 2 minutes” which the song came in at number 19.

Currently, Vaporwave is going strong, and it had gotten so well known, that there’s even a website called Vapor95.com dedicated to the aesthetics of clothing and personal gear and items. Pretty cool clothing and things that they have is what I’ll say. Vaporwave co-exists with its parent genre Chillwave, and now with the rise of Synthwave.

It seems like the music of the mainstream will be driven by money and commercialization, while Vaporwave, a music of and from the internet, will be known for three things: pretty cool clothing, really cool creativity, and, the most important one: A E S T H E T I C S. 

Photography by Tatiana Stec

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