What is V A P O R W A V E?

Davina Lewis, Editor

Vaporwave. A foreign-sounding word. One might think that this isn’t a valid word, but the internet proves otherwise. The combination of these two words, “vapor” and “wave,” are actually not as simple as the words seem. Between these two words is a whole world of music and aesthetics that one may feel is a completely otherworldly plane of existence.

This concept of slowed 80s synth and jazz combined with the remixes of mall/elevator music, sound distortions, and chopped-and-screwed beats emerged from the underground electronic music scene in the year of 2010. Some say this nostalgic idea is the brainchild of Daniel Lopatin, AKA “Chuck Person” who is an experimental electronic artist. It’s even been said that it started as a joke, yet many people take it very seriously, such as I.

With the surfacing of this anomaly, there have been variations on this genre, forming subgenres of it. Subgenres of Vaporwave include Mallsoft, Future Funk, Eccojams, Vapornoise, Broken Transmission, Plunderphonics, VHS Pop, VHS Funk, Glo-fi, Vaportrap, Dreamwave, Signal Wave, Late Night Glo-Fi, Ocean Grunge  and so many more.

Not only is this notion of Vaporwave a music genre, it is an aesthetic. People all over the internet make collages, edits, and other forms of art in the genre of Vaporwave. Some elements of Vaporwave would be Greco-Roman statues and busts, 1980s/1990s culture (like windows 95), aspects of Japan, including Japanese text, electronic objects such as old computers and tvs, corporate logos, various plants, neon signs and colors, pastels, glitchy/pixelated filters, VHS font, capitalized and spaced letters, internet culture, and many other things that could be considered “Vaporwave” are often very disputable.

Vaporwave is an underappreciated artform, but it’s arguable that it is best kept underground, as that is what makes it special and truly V A P O R W A V E.


History of Vaporwave

Vaporwave Aesthetics in Music & Art