Sometimes it’s just too cold out for a Mardi Gras parade, right? The big crowds get to be too much, don’t they? If you love the music and visuals of parades but hate the idea of interacting at all with your fellow human beings, then perhaps roll with the Krewe of Vaporwave — New Orleans’s first virtual parade krewe.
If that sounds sad, it’s supposed to.
“This is something to be experienced alone on your computer in the dark,” says Krewe of Vaporwave coordinator Merely Synecdoche. No, that’s not his real name. Like traditional hooded float riders, virtual krewe members choose to remain pseudonymous, and one requisite of joining KoV is taking on a brand new pseudonym. But otherwise, says Synecdoche, “We’re the antithesis of other krewes which exist to get people out in the streets together.”
Synecdoche instead got Vaporwave musicians and visual artists together online, to create virtual floats, each featuring a song and video collaboration by two unfamiliar artists. “Each float is a free-standing Vaporwave music video that will scroll from left to right on your screen as the parade moves. We wanted to keep the artists local but we got Vaporwave artists from Argentina, Los Angeles, Austin. We have 15 at this point. Most of the artists had never met each other before coming together to create this parade-like experience.”
The krewe’s soundtrack music, “Vaporwave,” is an internet-dependent genre based in societal critique. An almost humorous soft-rock attack on consumer culture, Vaporwave posits that consumerism is shallow, alienating and makes people sad. The genre takes its name partly from ‘Vaporware,’ a word used when a software or hardware project is announced but then fails to be released to the public.
Anonymous Vaporwave artists might sample music from a commercial, old muzak, or a recognizable 80s soft-pop tune, loop that bit, slow it down drastically (a la the “chopped and skrewed” sound from Houston), and slop on tons of reverb. The results range from surprisingly funky little jams, to unsettling trippy tracks (screenshot above).
Created and disseminated mainly through Reddit and Tumblr, Vaporwave music is sometimes considered to be the first ever genre born already completely globalized. But Vaporwave’s roots in cultural critique give it something in common with Mardi Gras. “The virtual parade is much like a normal parade, except that it is virtual,” deadpans Synecdoche, who explains that on Tuesday, February 2nd at 7pm, viewers can go to kreweofvaporwave.com to watch the parade’s 45 minute livestream on Twitch.
During the parade, selcxt krewe members will be hunkered down sending live feeds. “Five or six of us will be sending out throws via the program’s chat feature,” promises Synecdoche, who has been stockpiling Mardi Gras GIFs for the purpose.
But by no means will it be a party. “The overall parade scene reflects the Vaporwave genre. Vaporwave music has only been around five or six years but on the internet it’s already been declared dead many times over,” says Synecdoche.
“So our krewe’s theme is ‘Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporwave,’” he adds. “We have a death and re-creation theme, with a float dedicated to actor Alan Rickman – someone remixed “Everything I Do I Do it for You,” from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, where Rickman played the Sherriff of Nottingham. And there’s a great float to Alan Toussaint with a mashup of a few his songs – whereas the Rickman video’s tongue-in-cheek, the Toussaint one is very sweet.”
Song titles for music on board some of the video floats include, “Thank You for Your Patience, The Parade Will Start Shortly,” “You Invented the 80s: Vaporwave Made Them Art,” “Vaporwave is an Only Child,” and “In Space No One Can Hear You Vape.”
Synecdoche says the Krewe of Vaporwave will publish its video floats in the days and weeks after the parades. For those watching live, the krewe offers no group watching parties. Says Synecdoche, “This year we’re staying true to the genre: Vaporwave equals the loneliness and pointlessness of the internet. So I’d suggest watching it alone with a bottle of wine.”
The Krewe of Vaporwave rolls, as it were, at 7pm on February 2. Go to the krewe’s website to watch the parade’s livestream on Twitch.