At one point or another, you’ve heard the name Jason Sanders. Probably from one of his vaporwave mixes, probably from somewhere else… what you do know is that he is the first thing you’ll hear that will introduce you to vaporwave.
His mixes have been good introductions to the broader scope of vaporwave, incorporating decent song selection and good transitions. I’m serious, take one listen to his mixes and you’ll be in love with the entire genre.
He also does original musical work too but when it came to the growth of vaporwave, Jason Sanders was the guy.
So… Without further to do; Jason Sanders.
VapoUrban: So, how did you get into vaporwave?
Jason Sanders: I was already into chillwave, cranking Washed Out, Toro y Moi, and Neon Indian non stop in 2012, which i discovered through Washed Out’s “All Around” which was the theme song for a sketch comedy show i was watching called “Portlandia.” Chillwave is basically a more downtempo, dreamy and ethereal take on 80s electonic pop music, and even the Washed Out song i mentioned is actually a slowed down and looped piece of an 80s italio disco song with added reverb, extra synths, and vocals so it isnt hard for fans of chillwave, downtempo synthwave like Com Truise (who Ive been a huge fan of since 2010) or generally slow and 80s infused electronic music to get into the vaporwave style. The main song that got me into vaporwave was the song “Rap” by Actress, who makes all sorts of delicious experimental electronic music. When I looked at Anthony Fantano’s review for Actress’ “Ghettoville” album, he decribed “Rap” as vaporwave and at the end of review, he linked to the review of Macintosh Plus’ “Floral Shoppe.” I gave it a listen, and after that I was all set, and started looking for more vaporwave artists.
What turned me on to the vaporwave sound is how cool beats sound when they are slowed down, and if you slow down a really fast song, the melodies and other aspects of the song get turned into something almost completely different. Also, most songs are reliant on progression, so the song is always changing, but with alot of vaporwave tracks, they tend to loop parts of the song a few times, which i like because it gives you more time to enjoy a certain part of the original song and take in all the diferent aspects of the snippet, rather than enjoying a part of a song for about 15 seconds, only to have it change to something else before you are ever able to actually get to know the part of the song that you were really digging.
VU: And what gave you the idea to do vaporwave mixes?
JS: I had already made about 3 mixes before i discovered vaporwave. 2 of them were mixes made up of my favorite songs from the record label Ghostly International (which has alot of unique artists like Com Truise, Tycho, Gold Panda, and Shigeto) and the other one was a chillwave mix, which i made almost a few days before i found out about vaporwave and started looking around for more vapor artists. Since i was already in my mix making phase, i strung up a bunch of vaporwave tunes together, which at the time was mostly just songs from the Vektroid aliases, 18 Carat Affair, and Luxury Elite, and after the mix (Local Forecast) shot up to to over 100,000 views seemingly overnight, i felt encouraged to make more, and with more variety of artists. So then i googled “vaporwave bandcamp” and started exploring all the artists i could find on Bandcamp with the Vaporwave tag, and since then I’ve constantly been building up more artists to feature.
VU: Now, your vaporwave mixes serve as a gateway drug into the movement of vaporwave. Did you ever expect that to happen?
JS: No, and I didnt even expect my first mix to go over even 100 views. I didnt advertise it anywhere and i had little to no subscribers when i uploaded it, but after a few days when i searched “vaporwave mix” to listen to other people’s mixes, mine was like the first or second one on the search menu. I’m not sure how that works, but since I was one of the first people to put a vapormix on youtube, i guess it lowered the probability of at least someone who was interested in finding a collection (or super platter, if you will) of songs from the genre that they are curious about, of finding my mix, especially now that i have over 35 vaporwave mixes, something that not a whole lot of other people were doing in the prehistoric era of 2015.
VU: You must feel a sense of pride knowing that you’re introducing people to something they’ve never experienced before…
JS: Another thing that gave me the idea to make a vaporwave mix in the first place is that there were only about 4 or 5 vapormixes on youtube in the first place, and i’ve always been the kind of person on youtube to put something up that i like if it isnt up already, to basically raise awarness of the lesser known artists and songs, and help them gain more traction. It feels nice to be the guy that says “hey bro, check out this dope-ass tune” and people actually listen to it, regardless of the fact that they have never heard of it before.
VU: Besides the music played in your mixes, you got any other favorite subgenres?
JS: Definately dirteesoulhop. If you are unaware of it, it is somewhat of a vaporwave and lo-fi hip hop fusion that combines intricate and sometime broken 90s era hip hop beats, looping, lo-fi and cassette tape filers, and MPC special effects with late 80s and early 90s r&b and hip hop songs. Lowranger and Akeedro are the main pioneers of the movement and it has been gaining traction over the past year or so. here is a compilation album that is a good introduction to the sound: https://tracking-waves.bandcamp.com/album/tw001-phonkwav. Also check out the cassette label Lunar Tapes on Bnadcamp, which is slowly but surely growing. I’ve featured some of the style thorought my vapormixes, but now that im finding more people using that style, i will start making dirteesoulhop mixes in the near future.
VU: So I see you dabbled in making vaporwave music, is it an experiment or are you serious about that?
JS: It started as an experiment, but i started clinging to it more because it was easier for me to make. When i make normal electronic music, i often run out of ideas for the song midway through. However, now that i have a better comupter again that doesnt lag when i use synths, im going to go back to it (under the name “jeroniko!”) once i finish up the next vaporwave album. This time i will take a lazier but less hair-taring-out approch to making experimental electronic music, mainly loop based with a handfull of different progressions and melody changes here and there, kinda like Actress, Karen Gwyer, Huerco S and Mark E. So yeah, I WAS serious about making vaporwave for awhile but now that i have a good amount of vaporwave material out there, im ready to move on to something else. Here’s a non vaporwave track i made a couple years ago:
VU: How would you describe your music finding process as?
JS: Music surfing. For example, I found a bunch of cool artists on a Dish Network music channel called frequency back in 2009 like Flying Lotus, Lukid, and Matthew Dear. I took note of each song and artist that was being played on that channel and wrote it down. I then searched them online and listened to all thier stuff, and then i looked at the other artists from the record labels they were on and then listened to those. Flying Lotus had a couple EPs that had remixes of his songs, and if i liked the remixes, i looked up the person who remixed the song and binged thier stuff. Compilations from alot of record labels (“Ghostly Swim” from Adult Swim’s Williams Street Records and Ghostly International for example) are another good way to introduce me to new artists, and then there are sites like Pandora radio, music-map.com, Spotify and Last.fm where I type in an artist and see all the similar artists and constantly expand my knowlege of musicians and keep my ears full of fresh music.
Then of course there’s youtube which has a surprisingly good recommended section next to whatever song you’re looking at, and Bandcamp and soundcloud have similar features as well. Bandcamp has a new feature at the bottom of albums you look at, which recommend other albums based on how many of the same people bought the same albums. The internet is a powerful tool for finding people that you might not find otherwise on you car radio.
If i hear a single on the radio that i like, I listen to the rest of the album. When i was in school, there was a bunch of people who, when you ask if they have heard of a certain band or musician, and they havent, they say “never heard of them” in a kind of pessimistic tone of voice and following it up with no further questions, as if to say “if i havent heard it, it probably sucks.” But if someone tells me about someone i havent heard of, i google them and give them a shot. Google is your freind. If i hear about someone and just kinda ignore the recommendation, i could be missing out on what has the possibility of being one of the best things ive ever heard.
VU: Since you listen to so much vaporwave, who are your favorite artists?
JS: The ones I come back to the most are 18 Carat Affair, Dante Mars Ajeto！, ESPRIT 空想, Fat Man Miami, hndacvc, Hong Kong Express, HyperGanesh, Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza, Lowranger, midnighthappy, modern dream, PALM SPRING, t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者, Telan Devik, Topaz Gang, Under Two Palms, Vincent Remember, バーチャルボーイＡ ｔ ｓ ｕ, and 식료품groceries.
VU: You plan on slowing down anytime soon?
JS: Last year i kinda did slow down. I was more interested in just listening to stuff and playing video games rather sitting down and putting mixes together, and i only made 7 vapormixes last year as opposed to the 15 from 2016 and the 15 from 2015. So yeah, you could say i have reached burnout. Once i finish about 9 or 10 mixes this year, I will slow down even more on vapormixes to focus more on making weed mixes, as well making electronic music like i talked about earlier. If you havent listened to them before, weed mixes are underground hip-hop and experimental electronic themed mixes with psycedelic qualities.
VU: Thanks for doing this interview.
JS: Glad you approached me!