Who would be on the Vaporwave Mount Rushmore?
Which four artists would make up, if one were to ever exist in the future far, far away, a Vaporwave Mount Rushmore? A mountain commemorating the 4 most important people from the Vaporwave scene, 4 legendary heroes chiseled into the finest marble by Helios himself?
Today, I want to showcase who I would choose as the 4 faces of the scene, and why. I think we can all agree there are a couple of obvious, you know, incredibly important figures who have really had such an impact on the scene, so many of you will have some of my picks as well… However, I think you will be pretty surprised at who I have for the final spot on this construction of the Mountain of Vaporgods.
First up, I am just going to drop the hammer and say who I think is the most important figure in the history of this entire scene, and I’m sure many of you will agree with me on this. Yes, the one, the only, good ol georgy boi, Mr. George Clanton.
I really do not need to explain much here, but just to refresh your noggin, George is easily one of the hardest working, undeniably trendsetting, and most consistent people to ever come out of the Vaporwave scene. With arguably the most successful and beloved record label in 100% Electronica, creating and being involved in a number of diverse musical projects, or, being the first person to truly bring the URL to IRL by throwing the first ever Vaporwave festival to massive success, George has done so much for us over the years and at this point, it always feels like tomorrow he is just gonna drop another insane announcement for us.
Whether it’s his vocals in the “Mirror Kisses” pop project, heavy aesthetics and vaporwave essentials as ESPRIT 空想, or just being George Clanton himself and creating Anthony Fantano-worthy music pieces or working with Nick Hexum of 311, George is one of the most successful people coming out of this community and is still so heavily invested in his Vaporwave roots, he really has something for everyone and is always the perfect artist to introduce any newcomer to the Vaporwave scene. I remember a couple years ago I brought my best friend to a George Clanton concert, and this friend had no idea who George Clanton was or what Vaporwave for that matter, and it is safe to say that he has become a pretty vivid 100% electronica fan ever since that day.
George’s consistency as someone who is always willing to try new things while making even his most diehard, OG fans happy is something I truly look up to and I know he will be making some magic for us for many, many years to come.
Next up is another one I think many of you would also put up here: the golden boy, SAINT PEPSI.
SAINT PEPSI, Skylar Spence, or as I like to call him, Big Ryan from Brooklyn, has to have the most classics to ever come out of one single artist in the Vaporwave scene alone. Seriously, really think about it for a second, this dude has so many albums and tracks that people find to be sacred in the scene; Nobody really comes close to the impact he has had. I mean, just off the top of my head, Hit Vibes, Late Night Delight, Empire Building, World Tour and do not even get me started on how many individual songs I think many of us can agree are all-time favorites.
Like George, Ryan has made some pretty dynamic moves in his musical career, especially given the fact that by 2014 he was already a legend and a universal fan favorite in the scene. Many people would keep milking that vibe and success, but in 2015, SAINT PEPSI totally changed things up by releasing “Prom King” under the name Skylar Spence. What many would be scared to do as an artist ended up being an incredibly fun escape from the Vaporwave norms we got used to with SAINT PEPSI, Prom King was vibrant, confident, and full of color with another handful of memorable tracks coming out of this nostalgic, yet refreshing, dance pop joy ride.
We did see an absence of Ryan in the years following Prom King, However, in recent times he has been back in absolute full force headlining Electronicon, releasing arguably his best produced SAINT PEPSI album yet in “Mannequin Challenge”, and even doing a bunch of live shows and touring.
I am able to say that Ryan is a good friend of mine, being able to work on music with him on my album dewdropper was absolutely incredible, watching this man get into the zone and chopping up a sample I thought couldn’t be chopped up any more. One of the nicest people in the scene, a true teddy bear, I do not know where we would all be without the silky, yet dusty, tunes of SAINT PEPSI.
Third up, now this was a true tough one. I wish I could pick 5 people for this list, but in Mount Rushmore fashion, I gotta stay true to the game. I will be completely honest with you, I was split between 2 people for this list, 2 people who have had such an impact on the scene and it is so hard to leave one out but I gotta do it.
So I was split between t e l e p a t h and 猫 シ Corp., and although Jornt (猫 シ Corp.), if you are reading this, you know I love you buddy and, just like everyone else can agree upon, there are so many reasons why you could be on this dang mountain... but, look... there is just this undeniable mystique and fascination we all have with t e l e p a t h, I have to give the spot to him.
Just watch the videos of him performing at Electronicon, I know I can say as someone who went to ECON 1 in New York City, absolutely everyone and their mother made sure they were on that damn roof to watch t e l e p a t h perform as the sun set behind the 猫 シ Corp. skyline-- Oh, and I can not forget to mention the stretch of albums from 2013-2015 that many would like die for, t e l e p a t h fans are straight up die hard fans. No one does it like t e l e.
With an unbelievable amount of classic releases and having a hand in many of collaborations with other big time Vaporwave artists (猫 シ Corp. for example!), the legacy of t e l e p a t h is without question such a focal point of discussion in the community. It is so much fun to just get lost in his hours and hours of slushy, ambient cosmic goodness, his music has so much replay value due to how lost you get into each album that you sometimes forget what that album sounds like when you return to it for another listen. Everyone has a different favorite of his, there is no set “this is the best album”, and because of that alone with a massive discography, it is so hard to not give the spot to him.
Alright, last but not least, the fourth and final spot on the Vaporwave Mount Rushmore… Some of my honorable mentions would be Vektroid, Vito from DMT Tapes FL, death’s dynamic shroud, James Ferraro and Daniel Lopatin.
But folks, my fourth and final pick for this list goes to the Vapor goddess herself, Luxury Elite.
Why? Why Luxury Elite? An artist who has pretty much been vacant from the scene for years now, her last two albums coming out in 2016 and 2018? Well, there are 2 main reasons I give for this and why I find her to have the most charming touch this scene has ever seen.
First and foremost, Luxury Elite is, in my opinion, the artist I will always listen to when I really wanna go back to that return of the old days of Vaporwave. While her production may be super simple, especially compared to what we have seen today, she just gets how powerful the simplicity of reverb and a charming sample flip alone can be, the fun in the laid back mood her tracks set and the themes she presents with her music creates such a virtually romantic setting... I just absolutely love it. World Class, Fantasy, and New Classics are some of my many favorites from her. And, can not forget to mention that she was one half of one of the most beloved and important albums in the scenes history, Late Night Delight, with SAINT PEPSI.
And although her music is pretty solid for what it is, what really makes me give her this spot is that she curated and managed what I believe to be is the most beautiful archive of Vaporwave releases in existence. A now-defunct label that, even though I was not into the Vaporwave scene in 2013ish, holds some of the most legendary artists and albums to ever see the light of day in our scene and I still travel on over to the abandoned Bandcamp page from time to time to explore the classics that lay there waiting for me. Yes, the legendary Fortune 500 label was run by Luxury Elite herself.
What makes Fortune 500 so great? Let’s look at some of the players on the roster here, ESPRIT 空想, SAINT PEPSI, Luxury Elite (obviously), 猫 シ Corp., MACROSS 82-99, 18 Carat Affair, Golden Living Room, the list goes on and on. This is such a beautiful collection of releases, releases that are the pillars of the Vaporwave universe, releases that still stand the test of time and find a home in the hearts of many fans around the world.
But, who knows, maybe by 2098 or something t e l e p a t h’s great-grandkids will have released some insane Vaporwave music that we can’t even fathom yet, so maybe by the time this thing gets built there will be a whole new cast of people way more important than the ones I selected for this list. But, I think, for now, I am pretty confident that I would give the 4 spots to the artists I mentioned today, and hopefully one day we can all go on a trip to Mount Vaporwave.
Much Love, ur boi, Pad Chennington.