Right at the end of 2013, Thump published an essay titled “Is Vaporwave The Next Seapunk?” Michelle Lhooq writes in the article that “Seapunk started as a joke and ended that way,” adding that vaporwave, a movement a little less focused on seashells and a little more interested in innovating musically, won’t. Three years on, it’s still not entirely clear whether vaporwave will, in fact, end, even if it is starting to become a joke to an increasing number of people.
Internet born micro-genres don’t exactly have a good track record, often occupying small graveyards in the backwoods of Bandcamp. Cloud rap slowly faded away, chillwave slumped to the floor like a top-heavy Jenga tower, and witch house just vanished in a manner that made way too much sense considering its mysterious gothic aesthetic. Vaporwave, however, despite how hard many have tried to kill it off with movements like “hard vapour,” refuses to to accept what some consider its long overdue fate.
With a history pre-dating its initial boom in 2011 through to 2013, the actual birth of vaporwave as a scene and a micro-genre isn’t entirely clear. Floral Shoppe, the seminal 2011 album from Ramona Andra Xavier under the alias of Macintosh Plus, is often the first thing that comes to mind when vaporwave is brought up, but in reality, the genre dates a bit further back. Stemming from the hypnagogic pop movement that DIY artists like James Ferraro and the vastly overlooked 18 Carat Affair birthed less than a decade ago, vaporwave took a long time to get where it is now.