If you’ve spent any time on what some might call the “edgier” parts of the internet, then you’ve likely interacted with unfulfilled conservative basement-dwellers and the glorious neckbeard memetic veterans from 8chan. The far right is a rather broad label, as it both presumes the validity of the fourfold political Nolan chart. Yet, despite the notable lack of an effective over-arching authority structure, an identifiable subculture has emerged, and it is marked by the abundance of Hitler youth haircuts, Sonnenrad-embedded jewelry, and, of course, fashwave.
Vaporwave is moody electronic genre of music that is typically accompanied by a retro aesthetic. Generous usage of synthesizers are employed in this genre, and there is never too much reverb.
Vaporwave music was accompanied by its own art-form and aesthetic, evoking heavily surrealist, nostalgic, and digital overtones. It can perhaps be defined as sci-fi, relaxed, electronic, and punk.
A notable aspect of vaporwave is the absence of African-based rhythm. It is largely non-rhythmic, and stems from electronically synthesized sounds and beats. One critic from Buzzfeed has pejoratively defined the fashwave genre as such:
“Fashwave, then, is ambient, not dancey. It’s largely lyric-free, which helps in dodging censors on social media, and cherry-picks sonic ideas from decades of implicitly white male fantasies in popular culture: the electric dreamscapes of film composers John Carpenter… and Tangerine Dream…, the technology worship of the German band Kraftwerk, the 8-bit adrenaline rush of chiptune arcade game music, and the Drive soundtrack’s black-light romance.”
Fashwave adopted the style and aesthetic of the vaporwave genre, adding to the eclectic mix emblems of nationalism from various strands. An entire micogenre dedicated to Donald J. Trump’s presidential victory has been documented by internet users.
There are several popular fashwave artists circulating the internet today, including Xurious, Cybernazi, and Joseph Retrostein, who all produce various far-right content that has been defined by many as being “fashwave.”
It is difficult to say exactly where this art movement originates from, but its clear attraction to the digital world could warrant a particular amount of infatuation by Generation Z, which has been shown to possess surprisingly conservative social values.
As a sociological phenomenon, the far right’s adoption of “fashwave” as a means of cultural unity is fascinating. Very few identitarian movements have accomplished such an establishment of cultural identity. Perhaps the Rastafarian characteristics of pan-African nationalism can be held as a sort of parallel, though the manifestations of the right’s cultural identity are certainly different. Regardless of one’s opinions on the movement itself, you have to admit, the alt-right’s got class.