Vaporwave: The Unique Aesthetic of Underground Mood Music of the early 2010s

Here is a personal favorite choice of music from this genre.


Let the late 80s and early 90s style synth keyboard sounds aptly paired with the stimulating record crackle envelop you in its warmness.

Vaporwave is a unique throwback genre of mood music that began emerging in the early 2010s, as well as a style and aesthetic, that built up its audience almost exclusively from websites like Reddit,, and 4chan.  Many Vaporwave tracks are remixes and manipulations of smooth jazz, R&B, funk, and 80s pop tracks, and the result is a uniquely innovative combination of decades-old music and modern audio techniques.

The aesthetics of this cultural phenomenon features 1990s-era web design styles, television, advertisements, glitch art from previous decades, and cyberpunk tropes (a subgenre of science fiction film that was popular in the 80s. Ex. Blade Runner (1982)) Another feature of this aesthetic is the style of text often used in association with Vaporwave. Words and titles often use fullwidth characters like “a e s t h e t i c” or “AESTHETIC” followed by its rough translation in japanese. For example the title of the album featured at the top of this post is called “waterfront dining – NOICE すてきな.” Notice the lack of capitalization in the artist’s name. Also notice on this album is the photo used on the front of the record, it is a snapshot from a 1991 Honda CRX commercial in all of its early 90s warm and grainy glory. This style emerged likely because that is the way Japanese populations saw American popular culture advertised in their own country, and is a throwback to their perspective.

Much of Vaporwave and its variations are composed digitally by chopping, splicing, and reorganizing recordings that already exist and taking the idea of a remix one step further by using the “chopped and screwed” technique, which is an early 90s style of reconstructing hip-hop tunes by way of sampling and manipulating tracks.

So now that you have an idea of what this music is about, give it a listen and envelop yourself in the depiction and representation of the Japanese point of view of 90s America and the warm and nearly trip-inducing authentic synths and samples.

Here are a few more picks to listen from.

~ E N J O Y ~ エンジョイ

-Killer Miller





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