Sometime during the second half of 2016, I started listening to songs on YouTube belonging to the so called genre of vaporwave. Now, I’m not gonna make an ass of myself and explain what vaporwave exactly is, only that I know it sounds pretty good and chill. I’ve read some stuff on YouTube comments referring to it as a meme and nothing but just a passing trend. Search up “vaporwave is dead” on YouTube and you’ll be smacked with a buttload of vids featuring that title. If such is the case, I was too late to the scene.
Or maybe I’m not. Maybe vaporwave is still in its infancy and will (hopefully) grow into something so much bigger.
I’ve found the genre an eye opener at the possibilities it represents. For me especially, the genre presents a path for our generetion born beyond the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to create funk filled music with the technology we have now. It is the best of both worlds as an avid lover of the discoey-poppy sounds 70’s and 80’s and the electronic music we in the 2010’s are deeply into. It has only affirmed my love for sample based music and proved to me that funk is not dead.
Of the many offerings on YouTube, this vaporwave song will forever be etched on my memory, top 10s and the many playlists I’ve hoarded over the years:
This is entitled Skylar Spence by the then known Saint Pepsi, who by the way, is now known as Skylar Spence. Pepsi tried to sue him for name infringement or something and here we are now. Confusing, eh?
Now, I’m a caveman when it comes to music so I’ll just describe it in the best way I can manage. First off, it is funky as hell. Like it makes me dance. I don’t know how to dance but for the sake of the song, I’ll pull off the best moonwalk and hip thrusts I can do. Secondly, the sampled track (notice the vocal parts sung in Japanese?) lends the song a nice, cooling, calming quality to it. He isn’t shouting his emotions out, he isn’t trying to express something, he’s simply coaxing a “come hither and dance” kind of thing. Thirdly, that part from 0:00 to 0:29 puts the listener on the setting and mood right away. The beat is muffled, you hear glasses clinking, people are talking, but that music is there. You, my good friend are at a dance club. Then comes in the much awaited “drop the bass” shit by 0:30 and boom baby! you are on the dance floor. It’s like the beach landing scene on Saving Private Ryan. It shows you right away the mood and what to be prepared for.
This song samples this:
If you notice, Skylar Spence is much faster in tempo, uses what I term as cut and loop (it’s exactly what it sounds like, basically taking a snippet and looping it), is rid of the overtly 80’s sax, minimizes the twinkling sounds and employs that ridiculously beautiful drum beat. It’s fast paced, has a lot of drops and loops and yet somehow it strikes me as “chill”, smooth and incredibly friendly? Approachable? I don’t freaking know but it’s nice on a loop. I don’t get tired of it.
It’s a whole new song altogether. It took the best of Yamashita’s song and merged it with Saint Pepsi’s electronic beats to form something so funky and yet so “timely” to us, I suppose. And that is exactly why I love this song, I love sampling and why vaporwave should be spread to everyone’s knowledge. This can be one of our generation’s defining sound, along with the vast genre that is electronic music. Some may put vaporwave under electronic and I honestly don’t give a damn, all I know is that vaporwave must rise to the top of our music culture and not be just an obscure internet meme.
From here on out, I’m just gonna leave you guys with some vaporwave songs that I’ve come to like. Now don’t ask me as to why the genre borrows heavily on Japanese pop and imagery. That’ll be something I myself need to find out first.
Well then folks, god natt 🙂
Some other goodies I found from the genre include:
Ah, the ultimate face of the genre is this jewel by MACINTOSH PLUS now known as Vektroid, from her album FLORAL SHOPPE. I don’t can’t read Japanese and am too lazy to check out the title. Japanese is a ship that has long sailed for me years ago.
From just this album cover you can get a gist of what the genre stands for: a look back to the music of the past, particulary the 1980’s. Notice the vivid hot pink set against the black checkered pattern, the neon green and an example of the infamous “sunset silhoutte”. ALL these are images of the 80’s pop culture. Dang dude, if this doesn’t make you think of that tacky black/pink dress your mom used to wear from old photos or tupperwares in the highly jarring neon colors, what will?