Seapunk is a music and visual art genre that utilize imagery from the 2000’s Cyberpunk culture, including dolphins, pyramids, bright colors, beach scenes, and dreamscapes. The music often incorporates ocean sounds and electronic beats. Seapunk was extremely popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s until it started to get mainstream too quickly (being utilized by the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry), culminating in the infamous (to the scene) Rihanna performance on Saturday Night Live of her hit song "Diamonds", which co-opted a lot of Seapunk imagery and aesthetics during it.
After this incident, Seapunk fell in popularity and was eventually replaced by the very similar Vaporwave (which, admittedly, has had an easier time enduring popularity due to how all-encompassing it is compared to the very specific Seapunk). Despite this, however, there have been rumblings in the Vaporwave community of possibly a Seapunk renaissance, to serve as happy fun-time music to pair with the normally moody and atmospheric Vaporwave music (when they aren't listening to Future Funk, anyways).
The term "seapunk" was coined by Brooklyn-based DJ Julian Foxworth, better known as Lil Internet. He claims the term came to him in a surreal dream, which he tweeted to his followers on June 1st, 2011. The next month, the first seapunk record label, Coral Records Internazionale, established by Chicago-based producer Ultrademon, launched a Bandcamp page and Facebook fan page where they shared links of other unaffiliated artists that exemplify the music they wanted to release. One of the earliest releases that were specifically classified as seapunk was Zombelle and Myrrh Ka Ba’s five-song EP "Tropicult", made available to download for free on July 26th, 2011. That October, Coral Records held the first Seapunk showcase in Brooklyn, coinciding with that year’s College Music Journal Festival, featuring Lil Internet and five other DJs and performers.
Visually, a lot of Seapunk visuals will remind people of early CGI graphics one would see from the 90s either on shows or movies that were experimenting with this new technology or from Trapper Keepers (which were popular with kids in the 90s) with a lot of early CGI water effects, oceanic scenery, and old school video games often brought into the mix to really highlight the nineties-ness of the aesthetic.
Seapunk's rise in popularity not only gave way for Vaporwave (which also co-opted similar aesthetic cues, but was broader with the net it cast compared to the laser-focused aesthetics of Seapunk), but also inspired other aesthetics such as Slimepunk (which had more of a grungy and slimy vibe) and Icepunk (which had more of an icy vibe to it, like ice levels in a video game). It also had an indirect inspiration on Ocean Grunge (no doubt due to the fact regular Grunge was a follow-up to Punk like Ocean Grunge was to Seapunk).
The style originated in 2011 as a trend on the micro-blogging platform Tumblr. The music is an edgy mix of modern-day electronic music, with heavy influences from the 2000s. This crossover continues into the fashion, which is generally uses nautical/aquatic imagery, such as marine life and palm trees composed of pastel and/or neon colors, primarily variations on cyan/teal, lavender, and pinks, and contains many symbols prominent during the 2000's such as yin and yang symbols and smiley faces. Other seapunk stapes include:
- 3D computer imagery from the 2000s, often geometric with reflective surfaces
- Vibrant depictions of water, both surface and submerged
- Circle-lens sunglasses
- Goth/Pastel Goth influence (crosses, spikes, etc.)
- Bright/pastel-colored hair, often worn in styles popular during the 2000s.
- Vibrant lip color
- Holosexual aesthetics
Like Witch House and Vaporwave, Seapunk is a microgenre steeped in nostalgia for that not-so-distant time known as the nineties. Rave, R&B, and dance music constitute major elements of the seapunk sound. There’s also an undercurrent of spookiness that comes from 2000's mall goth music and the parts of the ocean that sunlight can’t reach, although that aspect of Seapunk is downplayed compared to Witch House. Lyrical topics include dancing, partying, hooking up, and the ocean. Always the ocean. Musicians in the genre include:
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