SONICON discovered vaporwave in 2015 when stumbled upon the Needle Drop review of Floral Shoppe, as well as, a random mix he found on YouTube. Although he felt it sounded “pretty gnarly” he soon became curious about the sound and started experimenting himself. Armed with only the copy of Sony SoundForge that came with his turntable SONICON worked to master the art of sample curation, seeking out the perfect loops to suit the moods and atmospheres he was trying to create. This period of early experimentation culminated in the release of Interstellar Travel on the artist’s own Bandcamp page. A release which saw SONICON bring together a diverse range of sounds and styles, drawing samples from Travis Scott, Death Grips, Phil Collins and Kanye West amongst others to produce a brazenly eclectic listening experience.
And since those days SONICON has moved on from SoundForge but he has not lost his nerve for making brave sample choices, even to the point of re-interpreting material which has been sampled by established artists such as Telepath to find new dimensions in the material. His track Embrace, for example uses the same sample as the Telepath track 愛 but SONICON changes its treatment and the placement of the piece within the flow of the album to create an emotional peak which, in his words “feels like the moment when you both get tipsy and make love for the first time”.
Discussing the ethics of reusing samples which have already been made famous by other vaporwave artists SONICON argues “I don’t think there is a hard limit to reusing a sample unless that’s to completely rip off the original”. Furthermore, he believes it is this practice of reuse that makes vaporwave so culturally important stating that:
“Reinterpretation has a big role in vaporwave, in my opinion. I say this because we’re TECHNICALLY taking old material and making it new again. We’re remixing it. This is a really bold claim I’m about to make, but I think if future funk and vaporwave was non existent, “Plastic Love” would not be as big and as well known as it is now. I know this might not be the right answer but that’s why vaporwave is so powerful to me- we’re breathing life into music that people ignored back in the day.”
When asked about his overall approach to music SONICON explains that he draws inspiration from his own life experiences and feelings. For example, his Mountains ep. was not just created to communicate his experiences at the Sundance film making fellowship he was invited to attend but the music was actually created whilst at program itself. This creates a unique experience for the listener because the sounds themselves are literally saturated in the atmosphere of the experience, almost as if they’re being communicated directly through the music itself. And this theme of cinema and the cinematic experience are threaded throughout SONICON’s music as he explains:
“Film has influenced my music ever since the beginning of my career. I want to be a filmmaker. (hopefully my vaporwave won’t bite me in the ass in the future haha) My albums, ESPECIALLY Technicolor Dreams and XXXIV, are fairly cinematic in tone and emotion. The intro to Technicolor Dreams is like the opening titles to a happy, feel good film. XXXIV to me completely fits a two act structure. I’ve actually wanted to make XXXIV into a short film! Might have to look out for that.”
In fact, not only is SONICON a fan of cinema but a talented film maker himself who’s recent short film, with a soundtrack by none other than the incredibly talented Princess Commodore 64, earned him the prestige of being asked to represent the Native American community at the Sundance Festival. “It’s a thing I want to spend the rest of my life doing” he enthuses demonstrating his passion for the craft of film making.
But in the meantime, he has been busy at work producing the follow-up to his highly influential Technicolor Dreams which was released a year ago on Night Light Tapes. Technicolor Dreams II will be released this Thursday 6th of December to coincide with the anniversary of the original album. According to SONICON this sequel reflects his growing up and becoming an adult. The first Technicolor Dreams presents a document of the artist in his last year of high school, a time which he remembers as:
“everything was going good in my life. No stresses. I was guarantees to graduate with my high school class. I was being recognized for my film making abilities. Things were great.”
However, on the sequel SONICON explains “although somewhat positive, [the album] has a darker and more melancholic tone”. An album which the artists hopes is his best yet explores the pressures and vulnerabilities of adulthood where the expectations placed on him have, in his words, doubled. The album was created post graduation from the film making fellowship that inspired Mountains when as SONICON explains he felt alone. His partner had left him and he’d reached a low point, he even started making an album about the despair he felt… until one day listening back to the original Technicolor Dreams it hit him. What he needed to do was create something that represented the hope of picking himself up and starting again. And with that Technicolor Dreams II was born. It is an album of many firsts, including the first to include original vocals by the artist.
Technicolor Dreams II digital release drops Thursday December 6th on Seikomart with a tape release to follow in 2019.