FEATURES The Return of Vaporwave Pioneer MediaFired™ By Filipe Costa · February 16, 2024

João Costa Gonçalves, the producer sometimes known as MediaFired™, denies having any sense of vaporwave’s legacy when he released The Pathway Through Whatever—his debut album under that name and a key moment in the genre’s evolution. The album was released in the summer of 2011, a few months prior to the release of Macintosh Plus’s genre-defining Floral Shoppe. Later, in 2012, it was re-pressed by leading vaporwave label Beer on the Rug, joining the ranks of genre luminaries like Napolian, Midnight Television, and the aforementioned Macintosh Plus, among other Vektroid-related projects.

“We were just kids making music, posting about music, and then reflecting on that music,” Costa Gonçalves recalls from his apartment in Coimbra, Portugal. “It didn’t go beyond that closed circuit.” Gradually, a burgeoning community of post-internet figures emerged in the wake of hypnagogic pop, a term coined by David Keenan in a 2009 issue of The Wire to describe a particular strain of lo-fi psychedelia pioneered by the likes of James Ferraro and Spencer Clark. “It’s a generational thing,” says Costa Gonçalves. “For me, it’s tied to the advent of the internet, marking the transition from the end of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century: two entirely distinct eras. I belong to the last generation that straddled both the analog and digital worlds. [The music is] a clash between these two realms, not fueled by nostalgia or retro aesthetics.”

Born in Coimbra, a historic city in the heart of Portugal, Costa Gonçalves moved to Lisbon to pursue studies in Anthropology before relocating to Berlin for a few years. After working there as a stage technician at a nightclub, he returned to Coimbra, immersing himself in jazz. It was the combination of improvised music, techno, and a penchant for infectious pop hooks that fueled Costa Gonçalves’s early forays for Portuguese imprint Música Pop Desempregada, a musical community guided by an 11-point manifesto—each point designed as “a new way to compose and edit music.” “It even involved a blood oath with a Strokes pin,” Costa Gonçalves remembers.

But it was the hazy atmospheres of Robin Burnett’s Internet Club project and the collage-style plunderphonics of Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1 that proved crucial to the sound of MediaFired™, by far Costa Gonçalves’s most popular moniker. (Like many of his vaporwave cohorts, Costa Gonçalves operates under a broad range of aliases, including Tempo Extra, JCCG, Sofa Pits, The Exhalers, In Media Res, among others.)

Despite moving away from the MediaFired™ moniker—“I didn’t want to be tied to a specific scene,” he says—Costa Gonçalves recently reemerged with Div@s Paradise, his sophomore record under that name. Like its predecessor, Div@s Paradise is a tour de force through vaporwave’s classic elements, a vital expression of chaos and playful repurposing that showcases MediaFired™ as both a pioneer and an outlier, forging new worlds out of aging pop hits.

To celebrate his return, we delve into seven snapshots from the ever-expanding catalog of one of the most prolific figures in vaporwave.

The Pathway Through Whatever

The beginning of it all, divided into three distinct moments, each anchored by a different signature sample. The first act features Queen and Van Halen, the second highlights Kate Bush’s haunting voice, and the last turns the Backstreet Boys into something entirely new. The Pathway Through Whatever served as the inaugural release of Costa Gonçalves’s own Exo Tapes imprint. “It was the prototype to set the machine working and see if it would roll,” he says, “and it did.”

The Exhalers
Wave Reader I.O

Costa Gonçalves’s debut as The Exhalers came in the form of a trilogy. Described as “three love letters” about the power of distance and how it can bring people together, this three-part mind-melter blends analog instrumentation with digital ephemera in caverns of spacious ambient music made of layered synths and computerized echo. “At the time, I loved to be in the wild, especially in the summertime when you could swim in the Mondego River,” he says. “I was deeply affected by that, the local nature and the bonding with water.”


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Originally released on an obscure Mexican label in 2013, Eje was later uploaded on Costa Gonçalves’s label A Q U A E, run tangentially to Exo Tapes. “I had a lot of output at the time, and I had to channel that output somewhere. I needed to create a new aesthetic, and the world gave me that aesthetic,” he says. Featuring pastoral guitar passages, blissed-out atmospheres and silvery harmonic vapor, Eje is one of Costa Gonçalves’s most evocative works, channeling the summers spent between Porto da Raiva, São Pedro de Alva, and Laborins. “The time spent in all those places gave me the energy to create, which is not always easy,” he says.

In Media Res
リンキンパーク Triginta Septem

“The imagery around it is encrypted even to me,” Costa Gonçalves says about the CD-R set リンキンパーク (it means “Linkin Park” in Japanese, according to Google Translate). With cover art featuring black and white depictions of women in mosaic form—each one adorned with a Deutsche Grammophon stamp intertwined with the distinctive logo for Exo Tapes—the series unfolds into three distinct segments that eschew any conventional order, adding a disquieting sense of disarray. “It is an homage to the woman,” he says, “the Mother, the Sister, and the Lover.”

Elucid​á​rio das Paragens I (Buscador) Do Intuito Para Ligar Frases a Partir de Uma (Re​)​Capta​ç​ã​o de Fontes

Costa Gonçalves mostly listens to classical music during his trips to Porto da Raiva, a small village where he used to spend the summer with his family; he is currently in the early stages of establishing a creative hub there, in his aunt’s old house. That might explain why Elucid​á​rio das Paragens I (Buscador) Do Intuito Para Ligar Frases a Partir de Uma (Re​)​Capta​ç​ã​o de Fontes, the fourth installment in the Media series, is mostly anchored by samples of ethereal choirs, drawing a parallel with the more spiritually imbued chapter in In Media Res’s リンキンパーク trilogy, Triginta Septem. “The core is [still] there,” Costa Gonçalves says. “But there is an oscillation of meaning I want to preserve, quantum style.”

unpublished last

Costa Gonçalves’s latest record label venture is Tear Souvenir, a digital-only label for his more recent sonic endeavors, ranging from raw demos to fully developed projects by some of his most beloved projects, including Tempo Extra. One of the finest examples in the catalog is xccg’s unpublished last, a collection of 10 songs showcasing Costa Gonçalves’s ability to craft infectious melodies with just a batch of aqueous synth pads and a drum machine. It is an homage to Coimbra’s burgeoning techno scene, a pulsating backdrop of throbbing bass and pounding kick drums designed to set the room ablaze. “I just hope people can dance to it, nothing more,” he says.

Div​@​’s Paradise

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It is still a mystery why it took Costa Gonçalves so long to return to the MediaFired™ moniker, but the follow-up to The Pathway Through Whatever was always there. “It’s been on the back burner for quite a while, but it wasn’t ready yet,” he says. After spending a decade exploring everything from MIDI controller drifts to quicksilver guitar melodies, Div​@​’s Paradise gracefully beckons us back to its origins. It is a poignant return to the sample-heavy collage work that proved key on its crucial predecessor. A third release as MediaFired™, titled RoadHouse Diaries, is currently in the pipeline.

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