Theater chain Alamo Drafthouse has a history of doing entertaining PSAs to shame people into behaving properly—there’s a whole “Don’t Talk” subchannel on the company’s YouTube page. Considering the Drafthouse started in Austin, it’s almost surprising it took this long to connect its videos to the greatest show ever filmed in that city, Friday Night Lights. But it has happened, with Kyle Chandler donning his Panthers blue—hmm, wouldn’t he have stayed at East Dillon?—to try to make another one of his inspirational speeches. It doesn’t go well.
My Top 42 Albums from 'The Vaporwave Essentials Guide'
My personal 42 favorite album picks from the incredibly dense yet informative ‘Vaporwave: Essentials Guide’ list (updated 2014). I still have to go through a lot of these but for sure has helped pick out the cream of the crop (err, vapor) for me and has been one of my favorite primary new passions for over a good h a z y year now. Here is a link to a MEGA Ltd. cloud storage link with all albums mentioned for your own direct access to a myriad of *Virtual Utopian Experiences*: Vaporwave Essentials: Ultra Edition
Vaporwave is a little over four years old now. Although the term is younger than that, eccojams/midimuzak/whatever has been explored as early as 2009 in a recognizable form. In a lifetime that many vaporwave fans can recall, the once-microgenre has undergone its series of tribulations, controversies, diversifications, and pantheon-shifts. As someone that considers themselves a fan of the genre, I can safely say that it has come a long way.
Perhaps it was the recent DMT Tapes controversy that spurred me to write this. To clarify, I know little of the trouble and care on a similar level. I have never been one to dip toes in the sometimes exhausting drama of internet-scene music. In fact, I try to divorce myself as much as possible. But I do think the DMT incident is kind of a good incentive as any to finally write this essay that has been stewing for months now. Vaporwave is flawed.
Vaporwave is flawed, but then again, what genre or music scene isn’t? I think the reason it needs to be said for vaporwave is just the nature of the scene at the point, the eleventh hour so to speak. I should start this way back (relatively speaking), in 2013.
2013 was definitely the second wave of vaporwave. Vektroid was (believed) to be done, and the main Internet Club venture of Robin Burnett was over. It was a whole new crop of artists and yet there was a very clear strata. There were the monolithic labels that new artists strove to get an album put out on, but there were still so many artists in small communities like 4chan’s /mu/ that would more often than not, drop a few songs and be done. I was producing around this time as well, under General Translator.
Beginning in 2013, Saint Pepsi’s work really started picking up attention, with near universal interest in the vaporwave community. Maybe it was the novelty of the fact he was doing what many of these amateur producers to better effect. Whatever Saint Pepsi (now known as Skylar Spence) is considered now, he received the acclaim only accorded for vaporwave “icons”. Back then, my opinion was lukewarm. I didn’t much care for it, in fact I didn’t even consider Saint Pepsi’s work vaporwave. Now I have better appreciation for his stuff, regardless of genre. In this interview I had the pleasure of doing with ghost.fm, I kind of hinted at the point of this essay with what Saint Pepsi was revealing.
What was extremely revealing because of Saint Pepsi is that with a scene as inclusive and simultaneously miniscule as vaporwave, we were all eager to cheerlead such an artist. Nowadays, after the whole “broporwave” backlash and rejection of future funk by many, few remember just how popular Saint Pepsi was with literally everyone. When 2014 came around, that wasn’t the case.
Saint Pepsi is/was not the problem with vaporwave. The vaporwave scene is the problem. I am not going to delve into specific examples, that can be done afterwards. Before this turns into a hate-piece though, let me explain some things from the perspective of someone that has produced a vaporwave project:
1). The vaporwave scene is an incredibly positive environment, as a whole. Most are extremely friendly and supportive artists.
2). The vaporwave scene is open-minded: while there exist the “tropes” artists live by, there are defintiely nuances everyone can appreciate that differ by artist.
3). The vaporwave scene is extremely connected: the Dream Catalogue label (which I will come out and call the best vaporwave label here) and others provide a platform for artists to release to the point that many affiliated artists have at some point released through the label. Twitter and Tumblr also serve as platforms to the point that many artists have interacted on some level or know how to reach someone.
While these are positive qualities in any music scene, they can be restricting as well. And this is definitely where vaporwave has differed 2012 vs. 2015. We’ll approach them sequentially.
The vaporwave scene is an incredibly positive environment: These is a really nurturing fact and it’s served to foster the growth of the scene as a whole. It is really cool to release an album you put together as a first attempt at vaporwave and then have it well-received by people on /mu/ or whatever your chosen platform is. It just feels good, to put it basically. However, the issue is that it is not healthy for the quality of the scene and it is not healthy for an artist’s personal development. Producers are afraid to negatively critique other people’s work within vaporwave. A recent thread I saw in passing on r/vaporwave on Reddit asked people to rate vaporwave albums, and every album was scored 8/10 or higher. If we are going to take music seriously in a way that is coherent and makes sense, not everyone’s Bandcamp album can be a perfect release. The vaporwave scene needs to be intelligent, not nice. Nurturing needs to be balanced with quality control.
The vaporwave scene is open-minded: And this is precisely what leads to people considering anything with Kanji writing on the cover to be vaporwave. At this point, vaporwave is less a music scene than it is an aesthetic. Of course, open-mindedness comes with quality issues like the positive environment. As it stands, the vaporwave scene does not feel like developing. Ironically, in retrospect, I kind of admire what future funk did in that it was sonically “different” even if its aesthetic was lacking. There are many artists that are pushing the vaporwave envelope to varying degrees.
テレパシー能力者 is underrated in this regard. But it’s a dragging struggle; vaporwave artists are beholden to what they know.
The vaporwave scene is extremely connected: This becomes complicated. Much like the positive environment point, vaporwave artists communicate with each and there is no shortage of collaborative releases and groups. The problem is that at a certain point, these circles of communication become loops. The vaporwave scene is a sounding board. Achievement is having a release on Dream Catalogue or putting a cassette out. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these motivations. However, vaporwave producers are so connected to the scene and the nuances of it that they are devoid of the artistic development or the satisfaction of refining craft. A vaporwave producer is more likely to release a track after spending half an hour on it, rather than further developing it. To draw a example, Skrillex may spend roughly 12 hours working on a new track. That level of refinement is absent within this scene. Few artists escape it.
I say all this with some personal relevance. I have been guilty of some of this stuff. Instead of offering genuine criticism, I have given artists positive feedback devoid of value. When putting together Pleasure Network Selections, instead of trying to cultivate a quality compilation, I included some crappy tracks. And even as I now criticize the tropes of vaporwave, I indulged in them (to less frequency now, to my credit). To say I haven’t released lazy tracks would also be not-so-genuine of me either.
This is partly why I stopped General Translator. Being in the vaporwave scene with a known identity, communicating with other artists in open-sight has left me become part of the same issues I see occurring in vaporwave and I do not want to perpetuate the same pantheon building that led to Saint Pepsi and a general stagnation of the genre’s quality. Anonymity is good. It is what led to Vektroid and a good many of artists like Amun Dragoon and others. We can say what we will of whatever personality flaws we observe in some of the original producers but they had the right of it. They knew when to stop, for the sake of their own artistic development. They kept the mystique of the scene.
Vaporwave is the best. It literally changed my life. It is not dead. But it can be so much better. We just need to reevalute these conventions producers are still clinging to and the no-strings-attached adoration we shower on everyone. It wouldn’t hurt to go dark. The unequivocal praise for popular artists has to stop. Releasing on Dream Catalogue should not be a pinnacle of achievement for a new producer. Making something you love and then deciding you can do better or different should be the horizon. And while you are at it, help another producer do that.
Minnesota-based illustrator Josh Lynch has infused a level of cute into the Marvel universe, drawing portraits of dogs as different superheroes. Lynch put a lot of thought into which dog should portray which character and matched the personality and image of each for the best fit.
We’ve had a lotof funwith Donald Trump in recent weeks. But there’s an aspect to the man we may not have realized, until now. There’s a good chance Donald Trump may actually be channeling Danny DeVito’s character Frank Reynolds—the delusional, mentally unstable, ethically vacant miscreant from FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Luckily, Medium has put together a test for you to try and see if you can tell them apart, based on a few of their more evocative statements. Peruse these real quotes from both and decide for yourself which guy is more likely to have uttered each one:
“There’s nothing more threatening to a man than a woman who’s smart and attractive.”
“All the women flirted with me—consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”
“When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo?”
“Nobody’s eating anybody’s babies.”
More quotes, along with the answers to the quiz, can be found here.
From the mind of artist Joe Simko, whose earlier work includes Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages, Cereal Killer cards are a monster mash-up of your favorite cereals and horror movies from the last 30 years into a series of trading cards. Titles include Silence of the Grahams, Tales from the Crisp, and Fiber the 13th, which has the tagline “Disembowel Your Bowels.” There’s also Chucky Harms, which are “Magically Malicious!” The cards can be purchased directly from Eye Wax, but are found on Amazon as well. They also sell t-shirts for things like “Eye Pops” or “Fruit Gloops.”