Vaporwave, the vaguely named electronic subgenre, first hit the
mainstream (and I say that loosely) in the early 2010s. Pioneered by
artists like Ramona Xavier (of Vektroid and Macintosh Plus, among other
pseudeonyms), the genre takes heavy influence from 80s Italian disco and
chillwave, and relies heavily on its aesthetic to send the message across.
Born and raised on the internet, Vaporwave is a microgenre which then gave birth to several others—such as hardvapor—and encouraged some different offshoots: seapunk, for one, the Tumblr aesthetic that was all the rage in 2011. The music itself sounds almost like elevator music; it’s hardly EDM, but obviously inspired by it. Vaporwave is almost a meme in and of itself. The way it’s made seems simple enough—easy listening tracks are layered with heavy samples taken from a variety of genres, mostly lounge music and R&B, but the base of the music itself draws a lot of inspiration from smooth jazz and other easy-listening type songs.
Vaporwave is essentially background music; tunes to play in your bedroom while getting ready. It’s not exactly comedown music, but it’s close. It’s not made for heavy listening, but it’s heavily listened to; wave speaks to electronic music lovers who aren’t always in search of the drop.