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Not to be confused with Vaporware.

Vaporwave is a musical genre that emerged in the early 2010s from indie dance genres such as seapunk, bounce house, or chillwave, and, more broadly, electronic dance music. Although there is much diversity and ambiguity in its attitude and message, vaporwave often serves as both a critique and parody of consumerist society, '80s yuppie culture,[3] and New Age music, while sonically and aesthetically showcasing a curious fascination with their nostalgic artifacts.

Style and origins[edit]

Vaporwave was first characterized by its heavy use of samples from '80s and '90s music, typically lounge, smooth jazz or Muzak.[4] Samples are often pitched, layered or altered in classic chopped and screwed style.[4][5]

The genre emerged in 2011 from online communities, such as[4][6] In subsequent years, it gained popularity through websites such as Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and 4chan.[1][4] Chuck Person's 2010 release, Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol.1 and James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual are regarded as a "catalyst" for the development of the genre.[7][8]

Imagery associated with vaporwave includes glitch art, Renaissance sculptures, 90s web design, outmoded computer renderings and classic cyberpunk aesthetics.[9] Use of Japanese characters and other non western writing systems is also prominent. [2]


Vaporwave has been interpreted as a dystopian critique of capitalism[10] similar to cyberpunk.[11][9] Christian Ward of stated that "vaporwave is a reflection of soulless techno-corporatism."[9] The genre was also described as "ironic and satirical or truly accelerationist" by Adam Harper of Dummy Magazine, who argued that the term "vaporwave" itself is also reminiscent of a passage from Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, "all that is solid melts into air."[11] Vaporwave musician 情報デスクVIRTUAL, alias of musician Vektroid, described her album 札幌コンテンポラリー as “a brief glimpse into the new possibilities of international communication” and “a parody of American hypercontextualization of e-Asia circa 1995."[12] Another vaporwave artist, inspired by the French Situationist movement, describes his work as a degrading of familiar commercial music in an attempt to reveal the "false promises" of capitalism.[11]

Others see it as the digital age's answer to punk – Liz, co-founder of e-venue SPF420, explained in a feature for Dummy magazine: "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)."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harper, Adam (December 5, 2013). "Pattern Recognition Vol. 8.5: The Year in Vaporwave". Electronic Beats. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Lhooq, Michelle (December 27, 2013). "Is Vaporwave The Next Seapunk?". Vice (magazine). Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ Szatan, Gabriel (July 22, 2013). "Interview: CFCF on New Age, Japanese Music and the Almighty Panpipe". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Galil, Leor (February 19, 2013). "Vaporwave and the observer effect". Chicago Reader. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ Lhooq, Michelle (December 27, 2013). "Is Vaporwave The Next Seapunk?". Vice. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ Parker, James. "Datavis + Forgotten Light Prism Projector". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ Blanning, Lisa (April 5, 2013). "James Ferraro - Cold". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ Bowe, Miles (October 13, 2013). "Q&A: James Ferraro On NYC’s Hidden Darkness, Musical Sincerity, And Being Called “The God Of Vaporwave”". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Ward, Christian (January 29, 2014). "Vaporwave: Soundtrack to Austerity". Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ Gatekeeper by Exo. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  11. ^ a b c Harper, Adam (December 7, 2012). "Comment: Vaporwave and the pop-art of the virtual plaza". Dummy. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  12. ^ "情報デスクVIRTUAL - 幌コンテンポラリー". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Russell. "Next: New Generation". Dummy. Retrieved 23 July 2014.