Why You Should Listen to Vaporwave
Here is a Nice Sampler Video
My Introduction to Vaporwave
Facebook Messenger's ding alerts me to the fact that some entity is trying to make contact. I unlock my phone and see a familiar face in the thumbnail. It's Vito with his almost daily update on his work.
I can remember when he sent a message on how he had just finished making ten music videos. I remember feeling excited for him. I remember being glad that he found something he was passionate about. Time passes quickly, I suppose, because today I received the message that he had finished 364 videos for his label. His label. He went from making videos to pass time to making videos for his very own label.
It's not that I am surprised. Vito has a way about him. If he sets his mind on doing something, he does it. Then he goes a little bit further.
I have known Vito for more than ten years. In that time I have come to learn that he is the only person like him. Sure, we go through life thinking that we are special, but we all know that Lisa sure reminds us of Mary, or that Hannah is just like Judy when it comes to _____. Nothing like that can be said for Vito. He is a man all on his own. He is different in the best possible way. That is why I am not at all surprised that he has been able to turn a hobby into a living. I am not at all surprised that Vaporwave is becoming a phenomenon due to his hard work here in Florida. I am not at all surprised that he has a following. That he changed my mind about his music.
If we are going to be honest here, I was a bit skeptical of his music. I am becoming an old fart. Whenever someone tries to get me to listen to some new music, I protest as hard as a toddler about to be given a shot. I immediately decide what music is 'for me' and what music is not. I have already decided that the new generation's music stinks, and that I prefer old, predictable, music.
I didn't understand his music at first. I didn't understand it, and it made me uncomfortable. Then, one day, I found myself crying. I don't remember why I was upset, but I do remember the binging of Messenger telling me that Vito was butting into my misery. It was a link for YouTube, and I dutifully followed it. The music, for the first time, made sense. I felt I was drowning in real life, and the music sounded like I was listening to it underwater. Detached from the real world. It was beautiful and far away. It was ethereal. It was brilliant.
And the video only made things better. I am a firm believer that the work Vito does making the videos vastly improves my understanding and palate for the music. It can be likened to putting subtitles on a foreign film. Sometimes, without a visual aid, the medium will not show properly.
I decided to interview my dear friend so that perhaps someone out there who is just like me will give Vaporwave a listen, or at least offer the chance for you to grab a glimpse of a true modern-day musical genius.
Me: Do you have an inspirational artist for: 1) your drive to keep going forwards, 2) an artist for your music, 3) one for your writing, 4) One for your general world view?
VITO: For 1, 3, and 4, no. There is no singular artist that drives an influence for any of these things. For 2, if we're talking about DMT-FL, the precursory artist that inspired the sound was Luxury Elite. The post-starting, "an artist that is on the label that embodies the label" way, the artist that inspires and moves the label forward is waterfront dining. [The title is not capitalized.]
Me: Do you remember the exact moment you realized working on your label was what you wanted to do?
VITO: Well, the label began as a mode of A) either kick-starting my own artistry (and seeing if I was any good at making vaporwave in the first place, while B) attracting real artists to come and take up the reins in case it turns out I'm not very good at it. As it turned out, my guess that I needed a backup plan was accurate because I'm generally not a very good producer (even with 6-7 years of digital audio workstation (DAW) experience). I slowly transitioned after the first 100 albums (of which about 80 or so are me), to turning the label into a near-exclusive mode of other people's artistry while opting to instead provide visual support, promotional necessities, permanent file hosting and rostering. So to answer this question, I realized different aspects of what I wanted to do, and the result of everything I've done in the past year and a half is "what I did". So technically I didn't know at any point that this sum was what I wanted to do, because I never knew that this was where I was arriving to, and I am still figuring out what that is in its fullest, I believe. So far the growth of the label has not stopped and we're rounding 250+ albums, 90+ artists, 35,000+ downloads, a couple thousand subscribers between several channels, all in about 14 months of action with 18-20 months of total consideration of the idea.(That 14 is endemic to the 18-20. I'd say it can be traced to about halfway through 2014) and we begun November 2014.
Me: Would you say Vaporwave is your favorite genre of music?
VITO: For 2015 and so-far 2016, yes. This has changed many times through my life, though. In 2013 and 2014 it was midwest emo and indie punk. As far back as 2006, 2007 it was power metal / progressive metal. 2008 / 2009 alternative '80s type (The Smiths, The Cure), et cetera, so the style or genre that is my favorite hasn't ever been official or solid for long enough to outweigh its fellow neighbor favorites. I'm genrefluid.
Me: What would you say to someone who wants to get into making music, either with you or in another genre?
VITO: That in 2016, it's way simpler than anybody wants you to know. Get a DAW like FL Studio and see if you're any good at it. If you're not, use tutorials. Explore genres of modern electronic music and scenes that have active listeners and artists alike. Use sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud and use genre tags there to find artists for listening and messaging for collaboration.
Me: Do you agree that good authors borrow materials while excellent authors plagiarize completely?
VITO: No, I don't identify with that statement. The amount of originality in a work and its overall greatness have nothing to do with one another and there can be old ideas turned anew that have 1000x more worth than the original product. There can be people who make 100% original compositions and have absolutely nothing of enjoyment to offer, and the inverse is true for both as well. In something like vaporwave, which is mostly about turning old songs into new songs, there is a certain humbling presence I try to adhere to, with all materials and depictions being avidly reinforced as being a celebration of the past several decades, our presence in identity over time, and the way nostalgia works.
Me: If you had to describe what Vaporwave sounds like to someone, how would you describe how it sounds? How it feels to you hearing it?
VITO: If I'm being arty and cunty, like falling into the saturated color of VHS flicker. If I'm trying to be somewhat literal but still in simile, music that feels like every old Kodak photo and 90s home movie you've ever seen. And then if I'm try to be blunt, a series of hypnagogic loops of varying themes from mostly 80s and 90s melodies, though there is both original comp. and different decades' depictions in there as well for sample source material.
Me: I agree completely. I also feel it sounds like distorted memories you desperately want to recall.
VITO: Also, an alternate past. Like you're misremembering the time. For me, being born in '92 and having parents who met and married in '85/'86 means the source material feels like my origin soundtrack.
Me: If someone wanted to begin listening, what would be the song to start them on, or should they just jump in?
VITO: For a first jump-in, I would recommend waterfront dining - silhouette. It's all lowercase. The only thing this artist capitalizes is album title first letters. It's also by the co-owner of DMT[REC].
Waterfront Dining - Silhouette
Future-Funk is another sub-genre of Vaporwave I reccommend.
So, Why Should You Listen To Vaporwave?
Vaporwave is expanding. Vito has collected quite a few artists to work with him, and each of these artists puts something different into their music. One might be more melancholy. One might have a preference for video games. One might pour their soul out, while another might just give you authentic music. Each artist is an individual and they make individual music.
You should listen to Vaporwave because it is beautiful and jarring. It is personal. It is interesting. Vaporwave is unlike what you have heard before. It is soothing in a strange way you wouldn't expect. It makes you feel like you are floating. Falling. Drowning. Feeling.