Vaporwave is dead, right? It went through its growing pains at a quicker rate than “traditional” genres, likely due to being a largely virtual creation. Rising to the height of internet memedom, it died out only to be resurrected, boasting a slew of microgenres, sampling techniques, and an army of new artists to bolster its online presence… So what is the future of vaporwave? You have come to the wrong guy (you fool!), but luckily, I know three people that have far more authority on the subject.
I sat down in my high rollers’ suite (read as: chat room) with three rising stars of the community to pick their brains a bit about where the genre is going.
- Hot off the release of his new album Flashback Memories (formerly reviewed by yours truly in issue 6) I S S A C A S C I I is rapidly rising through the vaporwave scene.
- Next is Zer0 れい whose latest album ブラックマジック (Black Magic) has already taken the spot as album of the year in the hearts of some vaporwave consumers. And between you and me, something big from him is on the horizon…
- Finally, we have desert sand feels warm at night, a young artist from the UK whose ambient and ultra chill albums have become breakout hits across the community, especially on the Private Suite Discord.
On the community:
Desert Sand Feels Warm at Night: I don’t think there will be a continuing growth or decay, but I think there will be waves of creativity, there will be waves of people just all doing the same thing, which we are kind of going through right now. How many times have you guys gone onto reddit and seen “This is my first vaporwave track, what do you guys think?” And it is just the same thing.
C A S I N O: Ah, reddit…
D: It is a very controversial space for both good and bad things. Proper debates have happened there, but so much of it is just the same.
I S S A C A S C I I: But there are many good albums released almost daily in the vaporwave scene.
D: With some of my albums it is just random. Sometimes my albums get a hundred upvotes but other times my albums just get like zero.
I: Personally, I think the genre is currently going nowhere. Every new generation is discovering vaporwave constantly, but I read that most producers stay in the game for about three years before dropping out and moving on to “real music” like synthwave.
C: So there is no loyalty to the genre?
Zer0 れい: I hate that.
D: Why did you do that in the first place if you were just going to drop out? Like why not stay with it instead of moving on to something else that you are just not into and makes you depressed?
On the industry:
Z: I think you are a great example, desert, of someone that has worked in the genre that tried to take it and really grab it by the balls and push it forward.
D: I do try and make it my own thing because I think copying an artist is not right, but taking ideas from an artist and putting your own spin on it is the way you develop a genre.
I: Everyone has their own ears, and you talked about this. Why people are not loyal to the
genre. I don’t think there is lots of money to be made, even with big players like Private Suite.
C: Since when did we become a big player?
D: When you go into a very new genre like vaporwave, I think you need to take it with a pinch of salt and realize that this will never be your main focus at any point. This will always have to be your side thing.
Z: I think what 猫 シ Corp is doing right now with his new label and Palm Mall is sort of changing things though. He has started a company to do pressings. He has been signing artists like with contracts and shit. He has an actual business that he is starting.
On offering their art for free:
I: Desert and Zero, you are both giving your albums out for free. Why are you doing that?
D: Because I appreciate the music. I don’t wanna sell stuff I haven’t made originally.
Z: When I make music, it is my baby. I want to share it and listen to it. Why would you want to prevent people from listening to your music. It’s principle. I am trying to share my music with as many people as possible. I just want people to listen to my stuff.
D: It’s all about sharing. I don’t think about money when I am making albums. I don’t really care what other people think. When I make an album it is for me. I feel like it is a barrier almost if you make them pay for your music. People don’t enjoy it if they have to pay.
Z: For me though, I am really happy to see that there are some artists still going out, starting labels, pushing new artists, reinvesting into the scene. I think Hiraeth (猫 シ Corp’s new label) is a really good example of this.
On the evolution of the genre:
I: Do you think it will stay vaporwave? I think it will just become synthwave, or ambient or french house music. I think it will no longer become vaporwave.
D: But remember, vaporwave is not now becoming a musical genre, but like a musical emotion. You can have a completely ambient album and it would just be ambient, but because of vaporwave, it can have the city sounds. Vaporwave is a feeling. It encourages artists to start making original music. It’s fun to make original music.
Z: It is an art movement more than a genre at this point. I haven’t played a single original note.
I: That’s why I see myself as a DJ. You pretend you are the musician. So I can understand why people see the genre that is just a meme.
C: You don’t consider yourself an artist?
I: No. I just don’t feel like I have the right to call myself that you know?
Z: One thing that bothered me with the scene is that if you push it even a little, people start shouting that it isn’t vaporwave anymore.
D: There are people that think that there has to be this massive concrete wall around the genre and not mix it with future funk or ambient. There is gonna be quite a lot of new artists though. I think the genre is gonna grow, and I just hope the good ones can rise through the grains of sand. People talk about the generations of vaporwave and I think we are moving into the fourth wave. I think there is going to be loads of blending. People will try anything these days. I hope people can distinguish the good from the very good.
Zer0 れい : For me, I think we are going to be going broader mainly, but more focused at the same time. I think we are going to be actively crossing over into other genres and I think the genes that are a bit more ill defined will start to become their own things. Like future funk will start to become its own distinct genre, same with signalwave, like slushwave did.
I: I see French house and future funk only getting bigger. I see a merge with synthwave and I see a constant push for non-sampled vaporwave and my biggest concern is that there will be a strike to take down eccojams, but I don’t think it will happen.