A year after he first wrote about vaporwave, Adam Harper revisits the now expanded and mutated genre to highlight the artists who are shaping its future. Reading the 2012 article before diving into this one is recommended but not essential - you can find it here.
So yeah, vaporwave’s a thing now. About a year ago I wrote about it in the first of a two-part feature on the “virtual plaza”, a metaphor which linked the emerging genre to the grim hi-tech sounds of James Ferraro and a number of artists surrounding Dis magazine. Since then, it’s ballooned from a handful of producers - who’ve now moved on from the style - to a movement involving many dozens of artists at least. No longer does the usually faintly derisive term “microgenre” apply - take a look at the page listing all the Bandcamp albums tagged “vaporwave”. Nor can it be dismissed as a novelty genre churned out by crazy internet kids - it now has plenty of stylistic breadth and artistic depth, not that it didn’t have enough before. Earlier this year, vaporwave was the subject of two more features, one for the Chicago Reader spotlighting much of the genre’s second wave as well as its new live streaming element, and another one two weeks ago, widely read already, for Vice’s Thump. So how’s vaporwave doing?