weeknotes #6: i just discovered mallsoft 🎷

I’ve literally just discovered vaporwave. Not vaporware but vaporwave, and by extension, mallsoft. One of my new favourite YouTubers, JJ McCullough, explained it in his video titled Middle Class Millennial Nostalgia Art. As far as millennial internet culture goes, I don’t think I am extremely well versed, as I’m probably more in the mid-to-late of the millennial generation (my childhood was 90s as fuck), but I still consider myself having grown up on the internet, to some extent.

The interior of a building with a round bench, a top level seen through a round cut-out in the ceiling. The image has been edited with neon highlights and aded graininess.
Mallsoft, a subgenre of vaporwave, think post-elevator music, smooth jazz, easy listening… (📸 Photo by Day Vallen)

Side note about the whole YouTube thing and my dislike for Google: I don’t actually watch YouTube a great deal, and especially since they were bought by Google. I was very much in the OG YouTube community around 2006, having uploaded my own terrible videos to the platform, and knowing the early work of famous folks like Smosh and vlogbrothers. I watched YouTube almost all the time. Now, times have changed – as many people who knew what the early days of YouTube were like – and it’s honestly filled with so much trash that I find it exhausting to sift through to find the good stuff. Normally I wait for a good recommendation from a friend, or every now and then, I stumble upon a good recommendation on the platform. Since I use YouTube without an account (because I hate Google and I don’t want an identifiable profile of me associated with them), it makes for an interesting experience, but basically, I don’t watch a great deal of content on YouTube, and I open the website with intent and with a few YouTubers in mind to watch.

Anyway, vaporwave. I might not be doing a great deal of justice to this, but the Wikipedia page describes it as:

…a microgenre of electronic music, a visual art style, and an Internet meme that emerged in the early 2010s. It is defined partly by its slowed-down, chopped and screwed samples of smooth jazz, elevator, R&B, and lounge music from the 1980s and 1990s. The surrounding subculture is sometimes associated with an ambiguous or satirical take on consumer capitalism and pop culture, and tends to be characterized by a nostalgic or surrealist engagement with the popular entertainment, technology and advertising of previous decades. Visually, it incorporates early Internet imagery, late 1990s web design, glitch art, anime, 3D-rendered objects, and cyberpunk tropes in its cover artwork and music videos.

JJ McCullough explains in his video that it’s not really cool and it’s kind of dated to refer to it as vaporwave, but there are subgenres of vaporwave such as future funk and vaportrap. The thing that really captivated me about this was the nostalgia it evoked. The small samples in his video opened my eyes to a type of internet art that I’d never come across before, and that really, really reached into elements of my childhood and growing up as pretty much a suburban kid in the 90s. I may be from Australia, but I think most suburban-kid-in-the-90s feels in Western countries are pretty similar.

I’m currently listening to a playlist on Apple Music that someone created, collecting songs from a subgenre of vaporwave that really played into my childhood memories – it’s called mallsoft. Typified by smooth jazz elements, much like the genre of vaporwave, and reminiscent of elevator music, it’s supposed to conjure images of shopping malls. It does that, absolutely, without a doubt, in almost a creepy way. The entry for Mallwave / Mallsoft on Know Your Meme states of early vaporwave artists:

played with the aesthetic in what is generally considered a creepy, uncomfortable manner, perhaps in critique of Western capitalism.

You’re not really meant to pay attention to the music. It’s supposed to be the kind of stuff you can play on loop in the background. I believe that a lot of game music (I gather from building/creative style games Nick plays, such as City Skylines and The Sims) almost borrows from this, or at least mallsoft gives off that vibe.

Regardless, I think I may have found my new favourite genre of music. The discomfort is real. I feel like I’m listening to the music of 80s games and 80s movies, but in the entirely wrong era, and an almost morbid underpinning of a time long gone.

Today I took the same walk to the top of the hill that I mentioned in my last weeknote. I watched the clouds for a little bit, again. It was a bit cooler, something about the wind and temperature was a bit cooler today even though there were less clouds.

A person’s digital Apple Watch on their left wrist with a bright green flying insect sitting on the edge of the watch face
This little bug flew on my watch as I was standing in front of the supermarket.

I think that I am still working on bettering my relationship with work and finding a real sense of motivation again. The week just gone, was a lot better and more refreshing than the last. I still feel fragile and sensitive to conflict, but I hope that I can build my mental strength up again.

The dinner we had for our anniversary last week was lovely. Nick loves the bruschetta over at Alba, a Salentinian restaurant in Newtown. I found out about them earlier this year because I was exploring better vegan food options. (This time I got a dish with cuttlefish, though.) We made bruschetta at home a month or so ago, but we might try and copy how they do it at Alba. It tastes like they put a bit of thyme in it which gives it a bit of a herbal kick.

An Asian woman with dark hair sitting at a table in a restaurant. She is wearing a navy and light blue floral top with short sleeves. In front of her are plates with bruschetta and slices of meat.
I got a bit dressed up for dinner 😊
A white man with dark hair and sunglasses on top of his head, sitting at a table in a restaurant. In front of him are plates of bread, bruschetta, and sliced meat.
We were both wearing linen shirts 💙

We got gelato from Mapo, which I love because they have delicious vegan options. We were going to go to Jacoby’s Tiki Bar but it was closed on Sunday. Unfortunately they only shared this news on their Instagram page and not on their website. It’s a bit of a shame that some businesses have resorted to social media as a means of communication about opening hours – frankly, it’s not accessible. We spontaneously decided to go on Wednesday evening, though, and after some sub-par sushi nearby, we took our time and had a couple of drinks. The bar was pretty quiet.

A man with dark hair sitting at a small table in a bar. On the table are two cocktails, one in a themed bamboo cup with tropical-themed garnish and the other, with no garnish, in a small coupe glass. The walls have palm leaf wallpaper.
Nick with his second tiki cocktail and my Charlie Chaplin (a gin based cocktail, hah)

My friend Lilian and I often choose Mondays as our chosen night to go out. It’s just a lot nicer on days when a lot of people choose to stay at home – fuck Fridays and Saturdays for going out, heh. I’m very much a “Friday night in” person. I’ve been asked by people before why I don’t go out with groups, or why I’m rarely seen at a group outing. Often I want to relax and chill at home after a long week of work, not go out and use up more valuable energy. 👀 That’s just me, as an extremely introverted human being.

I’ve been thinking about whether I should get a V60 or a filter coffee setup. It will cost quite a bit of money, but I’ve really been enjoying filter coffee from some local cafes. Some of them have amazing flavours of filter coffee, with light and fruity and floral notes, while others taste sour and a bit like wine (I don’t mind wine, but I don’t love the taste in black coffee). I’ll have to do some research and watch more than a few James Hoffman videos to really understand what’s going on. 😆 I’m a total noob. I know different types of coffee, but haven’t got a clue how to get started with making (fancy) coffee at home.

A glass of iced filter coffee on a wooden table, along with a flask containing coffee, and sitting next to a MacBook Pro
Iced V60 FTW 🤙🏻

So yeah, reckon you’ll listen to mallsoft? I’d love to know.

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