From folk music in the ‘60s to hip-hop in the ‘90s, the healthiest and most enduring genres in music are the ones that have existed at the center of a larger supportive scene. Vaporwave is no different, even if its artists seldom perform live, and even if they aren’t clustered around one particular city or country. That vaporwave has flourished isn’t simply because a few pioneering acts released seminal records, but because networks of like-minded people communicate with each other, share ideas, and work together to develop the genre into the singular breed of electronic music it is today.
Yet given the notorious anonymity and reclusiveness of its musicians, the community around vaporwave operates a bit differently than other genres. After speaking with over a dozen established and emerging producers, from Golden Living Room to waterfront dining and STAQQ OVERFLO, it becomes clear that the vaporwave scene exists almost exclusively online, and that the vast majority of fans and musicians regularly keep in touch with each other via the internet. Golden Living Room, for instance, revealed that he’s in “regular contact with about 10 vaporwave-related people on a monthly basis.” The maker of such futuristic psychedelia as Post-Internet and New Nostalgia also has a wider circle of around 50 people with whom he corresponds sporadically, mostly via a combination of Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Skype.
A large number of vaporwave musicians admitted to similar digital interaction habits; 猫 シ Corp. maintains semi-regular contact with over 10 of his peers, including t e l e p a t h, 真夜中BoatingClub, Donovan Hikaru, Mindspring Memories, Luxury Elite and Vaperror.
猫 シ Corp. (the man behind [지오 프론트] v3.1 and HIRAETH) also works with as many as nine of his fellow producers on music which, like many other artists in the genre, he does by sending files back and forth via email. This creative to-ing and fro-ing means that the genre is actually far more social and communal than the popular image of “anonymous [vaporwave] craftsmen” might suggest. It indicates how, in many cases, collaboration is almost intrinsic to the production of many vaporwave releases, and to its development and staying power as a genre. And at least as important, it shows that vaporwave records are often born not from isolated individuals surfing the web alone, but out of comparatively rich social contexts and dynamics—and even out of friendships. Continue reading