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To be distinguished from Vaporware.
Stylistic origins Ideologically
Satire, cyberpunk, punk,[1][2] alternate history, cyberculture, Hyperreality
Chillwave, plunderphonics, lounge, Chopped and screwed, elevator music, smooth jazz, early-to-late 1980s dance-pop, EDM, R&B, and various other types of commercial music
Cultural origins Early 2010s, United States
Typical instruments Audacity, SoundForge, Ableton Live, programming, sampler
Other topics

Vaporwave is a musical genre that has emerged in the early 2010s from indie dance genres such as seapunk or chillwave, and, more broadly, electronic dance music, as a satirical genre serving both as a critique of consumerist society and the '80s yuppie culture, and a parody[3] of New Age music.

Style and origins[edit]

Vaporwave is characterized by its heavy use of samples from '80s lounge, smooth jazz and Muzak.[4] These samples are altered in various ways such as slowing down, layering, pitching down and chopping up in order to create vaporwave music.[4][5]

When presenting the music visually through videos and jacket art, vaporwave artists draw on early internet imagery such as glitch graphics, late-90s web design, outmoded computer renderings and cyberpunk aesthetics.[6] Japanese characters are also prominent, evoking Japan's image in cyberpunk works as an advanced capitalist society.[2]

The genre emerged in 2011 from Internet connections, such as[4][7] 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.[8][9]


Vaporwave is generally interpreted as a dystopian critique of capitalism[10] along lines similar to cyberpunk.[11][6] Christian Ward of Stylus stated that "vaporwave is a reflection of soulless techno-corporatism."[6] 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]

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. ^ a b c Ward, Christian (January 29, 2014). "Vaporwave: Soundtrack to Austerity". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ Parker, James. "Datavis + Forgotten Light Prism Projector". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ Blanning, Lisa (April 5, 2013). "James Ferraro - Cold". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  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.