Isn't it awesome to figure out what the sample behind your favorite vaporwave artist's track is? To celebrate the upcoming release of the IKARI 3 physical drop, 空手王 decided to reveal 10 tracks he has sampled during the years. Let's start the sample galore by going back in time to 2015!
1. あなたの男の子にすべてを与えたいです - 2015
Summer of 2015. I had just discovered the concept of stealing music and calling it my own. Seeing vapor tapes being dropped left and right inspired the idea of coming up with a cassette release myself. Shortly after, "Karate King's Extremely Successful Vaporwave EP" was born. For the track あなたの男の子にすべてを与えたいです, I sampled Skyy's "Show Me The Way" and turned the rather upbeat song with its hypnotically driving bassline into a melancholic ballad in accordance with my romantic sensibilities.
2. サイバー涙 ［Ｃｙｂｅｒｔｅａｒｓ］ - 2016
My full-length debut ＳＥＮＳＵＡＬ パラダイス was produced for my friend George's label Pool House Ltd. George had delivered the vapor classic North Point Mall as VHS Dreams back in 2014 and was hellbent on me adding more "OG elements" to my tape, like he had done with NPM. Also, classic vapors were fading out of popularity at the time and midi based artists were creating more hype in the scene. Dutifully I complied and added some midi here and there - something I've only rarely done since. For the album's outro track I took a guitar sample from the Mad Lads and built notes on top of their gorgeous loop. Aesthetically questionable VST choices aside, I still like this track's sadness.
3. Sensual Paradise - 2016
Infinite Pleasures was the follow-up to ＳＥＮＳＵＡＬ パラダイス. When I created this album, I was haunted by a horrible fear of dying and felt like I needed to leave some kind of artistic tombstone quickly - a process that unfortunately just kept repeating itself over the years. With "Sensual Paradise" - an ironically belated title song to the predecessor - this album contains one of my favorite tracks that I have put out. It is also one of the simplest. I took a sample from The Whispers' R&B classic "Turn Me Out" and restrained my treatment to just looping and filter movements turning it into the elegiac love ballad that cried to be made when I first heard the sample.
4. 大きな傷 - 2017
On 2017's Tomb of Youth I experimented with different samples than I would normally use, also manipulating them in more adventurous ways. This resulted in a coldly interesting if less catchy aesthetic. For the short interlude type track 大きな傷, I sampled Sandra Kim's italo disco banger "J'aime la vie". I'm not sure what I did there exactly cause the project file is inaccessible now, but I am fascinated by how it sounds nothing like the original.
5. Got to Be Stronger - 2017
頭部移植, the first part of a yet to be finished "Head Transplant" trilogy, is kind of infamous due to the hentai art which I've used for the cassette. The haters threw tantrums, but connoisseurs fell in love and follow me to this day. This tape features one of my few actual future funk tracks with "Everlastin'", but if I have to pick a favorite song here, it would be "Got To Be Stronger", a chopped up version of "Wrong Man" by the amazing Anita Baker. This track is a good example of my post 2016 style with rhythmically placed chops that have lots of "holes" in them.
6. エゴの国境 Loop Freeze - 2017
Shinja Ikari is the main chracter from the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion which had left a huge impression on me back when I was in high school. My IKARI trilogy revolves around the idea that all of its music has been pulled from Shinji-kun's walkman. For part one, I felt I should pay some tribute to the original series' soundtrack as well, which has the jazzy classic "Fly Me to the Moon" as its ending theme. I didn't sample "Fly Me to the Moon" as that would have been a bit too obvious, but for my track "エゴの国境 Loop Freeze", I decided to flip "Far More Drums" by the legendary Dave Brubeck to catch some of that jazz vibe.
7. Ecstasy Game - 2018
Having a preference for 80's music with synth elements and fat gated drums, it's rather rare for me to pick samples where you can hear the "dusty drumloop" aesthetic of the 90's era kick in. My most successful attempt at doing so might have been on ブルーナイト/ホワイトシート where I used Carl Henry's R&B jam "Crazy Love" for my track "Ecstasy Game". I think the vocal melodies in this song are really amazing and the New York style hip hop beat lends such a thickness to it.
8. Echoing Wounds - 2018
As your typical self-hating German denying his own culture and heritage, you obviously never hear me incorporating German music in my vapors. Except for when I do because the music is really inspiring. Case in point: Cosa Rosa's 1985 track "Riesenrad" which has a badass saxophone solo that I used on IKARI-蒸気波LP II's "Echoing Wounds".
9. Beautiful Mystery - 2022
Alluring Grace was kind of a comeback tape that I dropped after barely surviving the fascist nightmare termed "Covid measures" and doing digital only EPs for a while. The worse I feel, the more light-hearted my music usually becomes and the uplifting "Beautiful Mystery" is a good example of this. I used large sections from "What's Missing" by Alexander O’Neal, a fantastic song that I tend to put on when I feel like shit. The title on the other hand was inspired by a Japanese gay porn movie from the 80's. How's that for influences!
10. Substantial Catch - 2023My final pick is one of my most recent tracks, "Substantial Catch" from Swirling Tide. I wanted to make a tribute to Beau Williams's 1986 banger "I'll Be True" which has the sickest bass groove at its core. Previous attempts where I manipulated the pitch and tempo a lot always felt tryhard and lame to me, so I eventually settled on compressing the song heavily to bring out the groove and not changing the aesthetic much otherwise. Over the years, I've found that complexity in manipulating samples in vaporwave can be small or large, or even non-existent - ultimately the decisive factor will be if the way and circumstances I present my samples in feel like a worthy represention of my sensibilities, fears, and desires.