An Interview with Jeff Cardinal AKA Vaperror

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Vaperror :::Jeff Cardinal @ Hendershots 8-27-17 - YouTube

We continue our series of cool and interesting interviews with a turn to the indie side of things. That’s right! Today, we’re focusing on everyone’s favorite micro-genre, Vaporwave. A few months ago, I taught you all about Vaporwave here. This month, we get to “sit down” with one of the originators and most well known artists within the genre, Jeff Cardinal AKA Vaperror. Jeff’s unique take on the genre has been expanding and bending the minds of his fans since 2014. If you aren’t familiar with his work, I highly recommend you head over to his Bandcamp here. It is worth noting that Jeff also has his own indie record label, Plus100 Records, and they are putting out some of the most interesting Vaporwave, Electronic and Experimental music out there today. You can check out the site here. They do a great job! So, get out there and show Jeff and this niche genre some support! But, before you do that, settle in and take the time to get to know the artist a little more. Enjoy!

Andrew:
Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Tell us about your backstory. How did you get into music? What was your musical gateway sort of speak?

Jeff (Vaperror):
My pleasure, I’m happy to speak with you! My musical gateway would have to be video game music. The moment I started playing games is the first moment I recall music giving me an emotional response.

Andrew:
While you are often lumped in with Vaporwave only, in reality, your music crosses over many genres. Along with the obvious classic Electronic influences, I hear elements of Trip-Hop, Breakcore, Acid House, Ambient and Juke throughout your music. Would you agree? What more can you tell us about that?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Vaporwave is now an amalgamation of many different styles and influences. It’s more of a movement now than a distinct style. I have heard Vaporwave likened to “Punk” in this way and I happen to agree.

Andrew:
Sort of piggy backing onto my last question, you’ve pushed the boundaries of Vaporwave by being one of the first to make what most refer to as Vaportrap when you released Mana Pool in 2014. Where do you see Vaporwave going musically in the future?

Jeff (Vaperror):
We are going to see more of a Pop influence. Whether that “trickles down” (Pop influencing Vaporwave) or “trickles up” (larger artists embracing the Vaporwave aesthetic) so to speak is anyone’s guess. I can also see more live instrumentation and original music coming out of Vaporwave. And who knows, maybe Vaporwave will change the nature of copyright law, giving artists more power to sample.

100% Banger: George Clanton's NYE Spectacular at the Lodge Room - Janky  Smooth

Andrew:
A lot of Vaporwave music tends to trend toward more ironic stylings, which is cool in its own right. What I notice about your music is it seems to rely less on samples, more on original compositions. Did you intentionally try to break away from the constraints of the genre, or did it come naturally to you?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Original compositions was a natural move. I do love the power of a sample, but I’ve preferred to keep things as original as possible for many reasons.

Andrew:
In 2015, you started the Plus100 Records label, and I have to say- I’m a big fan. You do an incredible job. What influenced your decision to start the label, and what’s the experience been like?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Running a label is a rewarding stress fest. I wanted a space to release my own music in a catalog with others. I wanted my own curated platform. It’s basically a big art project and something of my own movement.

Andrew:
In my opinion, all-of the releases from Plus100 Records are done right. You’ve got a growing roster of artists. You press well. You package well and you ship well. Where do you press your records? Were there any experiences you had that influenced your decision to pursue the level of quality you have today?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Thank you! Our records are pressed at GZ media in the Czech Republic. We have also used Gotta Groove. Both provide excellent quality. I’d say I set high standards for my work. I don’t think I’ve bought a bad pressing from any label necessarily but I definitely want to produce a top tier product.

Vaperror...Vaporwave Edition - Album on Imgur

Andrew:
Two of the biggest issues in the Vaporwave community are FOMO and scalpers. These releases are all so limited, and the prices get insane in the aftermarket. What I love about Plus 100 is you do your best to make all the albums people want readily available, and at fair prices to boot. Was there always a conscious effort to try and thwart the scalpers?

Jeff (Vaperror):
My goal has always been to get the albums in people’s hands if they want them!

Andrew:
You’re based out of Athens, GA, which has a rich College Rock history and is generally very welcoming to Indie artists. Has that presented any advantages for you in your career?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Athens was very welcoming to me. I worked with the UGA radio station on a few occasions, and played shows with locals/mutuals. I now live in Atlanta and it’s been a little harder to break into the scene here, but it’s happening. After quarantine I’m sure I’ll be playing many shows around Atlanta.

Andrew:
Shifting gears here, is there anything within the industry that you would like to see change for the better? What improvements would you like to see that you feel would be beneficial to us all within the vinyl community, and music community in general?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Oh I have been loving how the live scene has been developing before coronavirus. I hope to see that flourish again. After we lost Apollo Masters, vinyl production has slowed. It’s a big ask, but if we could get another master plant and maybe 1-2 more competing vinyl pressing plants, then production can become quicker.

News– Tagged "VAPERROR"– 100% Electronica

Andrew:
A lot of people try to define what genre your associated with. You seem to like to disassemble genres in a way. What are your feelings on that? What are your thoughts on the idea of genres in general?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Genres are just a descriptor, and they can be very fluid. If you are trying to “define” someone’s music as a singular genre, you might be “doing it wrong.” That said, they are useful when conversing about music or finding your niche in the music world.

Andrew:
The way I initially discovered your music was through Bandcamp and Reddit. In your opinion, how important has both Bandcamp and Reddit been to the Vaporwave scene, and Indie music in general?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Bandcamp has been an absolutely pivotal platform for Indie and Vaporwave music. Reddit has played a smaller role in my opinion. I’m a Twitter guy myself.

Andrew:
Vaporwave has existed in digital forms for a long time. What do you think of the rising wave of support for vapor-vinyl over the last few years?

Jeff (Vaperror):
It’s a positive thing for artists and fans alike!

Music | PLUS100 Records

Andrew:
Another interesting development in the Vaporwave community has been the sudden resurgence of cassettes. Did you see that coming?

Jeff (Vaperror):
I’m positive that no one saw the cassette resurgence coming.

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? If so, what are some albums that mean the most to you? Where do you like to shop for music?

Jeff (Vaperror):
I have vinyl, tapes, and CDs, yes! My Telepath tapes hold the most sentimental value to me. I am listening to music mostly on Spotify now. Bandcamp is where I’ve bought the most physical media.

Andrew:
It’s been a crazy year. Once COVID-19 dies down, what’s next for Vaperror and Plus100 Records in the future?

Jeff (Vaperror):
I’ve mentioned before but I’m totally jazzed about playing shows again. I miss it so much. PLUS100 will continue to release digital music and partner with other labels to release physical media.

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve always embraced the DIY approach to music and your label. What advice do you have for young musicians trying to get their start?

Jeff (Vaperror):
Honestly, just go for it! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, keep a strong work ethic, and try to emulate (but not copy!) what the successful folks are doing. Keep the quality high and be sociable and kind. Always be respectful to others and you’ll get along just fine.

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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4 thoughts on “An Interview with Jeff Cardinal AKA Vaperror

  1. Hello, i have been reading all your interviews, and was wondering if you could try to do a Skeleton interview?, thank you for all the work you do!

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