vapor twitch

What the **** is Vapor Twitch?

If you are like me, your timeline has recently been teeming with the annual Vapor Twitch jokes, discussions, and questions. But what actually is Vapor Twitch, and where did it come from? We do our best to answer that question here.

The origination of Vapor: Vaporwave.

Vaporwave first came to be in the early 2010s. It was characterized with heavily manipulated, slowed samples of 80’s and 90’s smooth jazz, pop, and R&B. In addition, the tracks hailed electronic trends of the late 2000s: chillwave, witch house, and other hazy, atmospheric, melodic genres.

Check out this playlist to get an auditory tour of Vaporwave:

“Vapor” was then applied as a descriptor to a wider variety of electronic music genres. These “vapor” genres collectively have lighter basslines and airier sounds than their original “base” genres. You may have seen Vapor Soul or Vapor Trap on your Wrapped in the last few years.

Vapor Twitch: A Basic Definition

The microgenre seems to be a descriptor of more “experimental” or “left field” Future Bass. Many use Hi, This is Flume as their prime example.

Vapor Twitch indicators are manipulated samples and vocal melodies; percussive beats that are often reminiscent but more sporadic than Trap; and an atmospheric, ethereal, foggy overtone. Vapor Twitch gives you a similar feeling of when your feet fall asleep but for your ears.

We’ve discussed Vapor, but what does “twitch” mean? The short answer: we don’t know. We’ve read speculation that it has to do with the heavy distortion of vocal samples, sometimes to the point that you can’t understand the lyric, and it’s being used as instrumentation instead. Others have said that it’s just a Gen-Z buzzword.

Our take? Spotify made it up.

Having a near-monopoly on streaming makes it easier for the service to do things like that. Vapor Twitch first appeared in 2019 with their fourth edition of Spotify Wrapped. On top of being a microgenre, and perhaps more importantly, Vapor Twitch is an algorithmic tool to help Spotify recommend music to its users and track their data.

Some Redditors argued that Vapor Twitch originated on everynoise.com to help categorize the massive influx of producers creating future bass and similar genres. Interestingly enough, everynoise is a Spotify web application.

If you want to know more about Spotify and everynoise.com, check out this article on How Spotify Discovers the Genres of Tomorrow.

So… where do the artists fall in to this?

Though the Spotify algorithm says differently, many producers may not necessarily label their own music as “Vapor Twitch” (yet). Vapor Twitch covers a huge variety of artists from Flume, ODESZA, and RL Grime to Ivy Lab and CharlestheFirst to Sorrow and Galimatias plus many… many more.

Is genre creation up to streaming services like Spotify, or to artists, or listeners? There’s an argument for each.

  • Spotify’s algorithm is unmatched, potentially as a direct result of it’s genre specificity. Thus, their power and knowledge gives them the right to name and determine genres.
  • Artists are literally creating the music. Their intellectual ownership of the art they create gives them (and their teams) the right to determine their umbrella genre, and the genre of each track they create.
  • Music is subjective and created for the listener. Therefore, the listener holds the right to name the genre they think fits best.

All in all, Spotify Wrapped is just a fun way to reflect on your year as a listener. However, streamers should also keep in mind that Spotify has a ruthless power dynamic over artists and does not pay out fairly, requiring thousands of hours of streaming for an artist to make just pennies. So if you use Spotify, be sure to support artists in other ways directly – such as buying music on Bandcamp and Audius or purchasing merchandise or tickets to their shows.

According to Spotify, the ill-defined has much of the dance music community by the throat. Spend some time with the “Sounds of Vapor Twitch” playlist here:

As we were finishing up this article, we also found Vaportwitch on Instagram; a collective focused on the budding genre. They just released their second official compilation: Vaportwitch Vol. 2 featuring Colson XL, Ian Munro, 92elm, and many more talented artists. Check it out here:

Note: This article is not the end all be all of Vapor Twitch. The research compiled is from a variety of sources, primarily Reddit. If you have feedback or think something stated is incorrect, please feel free to reach out to author Abby Price-Offermann at abby@theelectrichawk.com.

If you’re looking for new music, keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts, or follow us on Twitch. Whether it’s the newest Vapor Twitch drops, something new from your favorite artists, some old school, or underground—we just want you to hear it.

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