Many of the artists behind the most influential and inventive vaporwave releases have moved on to bigger and quite often better things. Saint Pepsi has morphed into the revivalist pop of Skylar Spence, Ramona Xavier is exploring her full capabilities as a producer with Vektroid, and Telepath and HKE, known collectively as 2814, are ditching the sample-upon-sample framework that came before them. In light of all this, it’s surprising, then, that the scene is still going strong, despite the abandonment of its founders.
Beer on the Rug, one of the labels responsible for some of the biggest and most famous vaporwave releases, has recently shifted their focuses to a more experimental sound. Releasing projects that lean more towards darkwave, ambient, and leftfield beat music, the label has sought to evolve. Dream Catalogue is another one of the premier labels that remains innovative—they operate primarily through Bandcamp.
With trends such as Simpsonswave—a meme that pairs more accessible vapor-like music with digitally manipulated footage from The Simpsons—gaining a lot of attention long after vaporwave’s heyday, why is it that people are ignoring what made vaporwave so exciting to begin with? Vaporwave, a scene that repurposed the remnants of the past and borrowed from hauntology à la Boards of Canada, has become a repurposed corpse itself. Abandoning the punk ethos and frequent conceptual leanings in favor of comedic “AESTHETIC” videos shared on YouTube and Facebook, vaporwave has finally reached either its logical conclusion or full maturity by becoming exactly what it shouldn’t.