top of page

Vaporwave: The Nostalgic Musical Genre that Redefines Modern Music

If you’re a fan of electronic music, you’ve probably heard of vaporwave. This subgenre of electronic music emerged in the early 2010s, and has since gained a significant following. It’s characterized by its slowed-down, often looped, samples of 1980s and 1990s pop music, along with its distinct visual style. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at what vaporwave is, its origins, and how it has evolved over time. I'll also explore why vaporwave is important and relevant today, and how it has influenced other genres of music.


What is Vaporwave?

Vaporwave is a subgenre of electronic music that takes samples from 1980s and 1990s pop music and manipulates them to create a nostalgic, dreamy, and often surreal sound. The genre is known for its heavy use of reverb, distortion, and other effects to create a distinct, otherworldly atmosphere.



Vaporwave also has a distinct visual aesthetic, often featuring images from old commercials, advertisements, and computer graphics from the 1980s and 1990s. This imagery is often manipulated to create a sense of nostalgia for a time that many of the genre’s fans never experienced.





Origins of Vaporwave

Vaporwave emerged in the early 2010s as a subgenre of electronic music. It was heavily influenced by the “chillwave” and “hypnagogic pop” genres that were popular at the time. However, vaporwave took these influences to new extremes, with slowed-down, chopped-up samples that created a unique and dreamlike sound. One of the key figures in the development of vaporwave was James Ferraro, who released a series of albums in 2011 that are now considered seminal works in the genre. Other important early vaporwave artists include Chuck Person and Macintosh Plus. Evolution of Vaporwave Since its emergence in the early 2010s, vaporwave has undergone several evolutions. In the mid-2010s, some artists began incorporating more traditional musical elements, such as jazz and funk, into their vaporwave compositions. This led to the development of subgenres such as “future funk” and “mallsoft.” In the late 2010s, vaporwave began to incorporate more experimental and avant-garde elements, with some artists incorporating elements of noise music and glitch art. This led to the development of subgenres such as “vapornoise” and “signalwave.”



Today, vaporwave continues to evolve and expand, with new artists pushing the boundaries of the genre and exploring new sonic and visual territories.

Why is Vaporwave Important and Relevant Today? Vaporwave is important and relevant today because it represents a reclamation and recontextualization of the past. By taking samples from 1980s and 1990s pop music and repurposing them, vaporwave artists are creating new meanings and associations with these sounds and images.

Vaporwave is also relevant because it speaks to a broader cultural moment of nostalgia and retrofuturism. In an age of rapid technological change and uncertainty about the future, many people find comfort in looking back to a simpler time, even if that time never actually existed in the way we remember it.

How has Vaporwave Influenced Other Genres? Vaporwave has influenced a wide range of other genres of music, including lo-fi hip-hop, synthwave, and even mainstream pop music. Many contemporary artists have incorporated vaporwave-style production techniques and aesthetics into their music, whether intentionally or not.

Vaporwave has also influenced the visual arts, particularly in the realm of internet art and meme culture. The genre’s use of retro imagery and glitch art has become a defining characteristic of a whole generation of artists working online.

In conclusion, vaporwave is a unique and important subgenre of electronic music that has had a significant impact on both music and visual culture. Its origins, evolution, and cultural significance make it an intriguing subject for exploration and analysis. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the genre, vaporwave offers a rich and fascinating world to discover.

2 views0 comments
bottom of page