The accused Santa Fe High School shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis is reported to have been interested in an underground movement known as fashwave. The movement is considered to be an offshoot from the harmless vaporwave movement. Vaporwave is a subculture of electronic dance music that satirizes consumer culture. Both vaporwave and fashwave have strong followings on websites such as 4Chan and Reddit.
In 2015, a few years after the birth of vaporwave, fashwave began to emerge. The “fash” part of the name is short for fascist. Typically, artists of the genre incorporate fascist and Nazi symbols into their music and artwork. A January 2017 Vice article identified fashwave as “The first fascist music that is enough on the ears to have mainstream appeal.”
The Guardian’s music critic Michael Hann in December 2016 compared fashwave to similar right-wing adaptations of punk music and heavy metal music. Hann also mentioned that he didn’t think the movement would ever “impinge on the mainstream.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Is a Further Offshoot of Fashwave Known as Trumpwave
The January 2017 Vice feature on fashwave mentioned the birth of another subculture, Trumpwave. The article refers to that movement as a “microgenre.” An anthem for Trumpwave is titled, “Trumpwave.” The song features clips of Trump at WWE events in the past, talking about women and eating pizza for a Pizza Hut commercial.
Vice reports that one of the driving forces behind both Trumpwave and fashwave is music producer Cyber Nazi. Two of Cyber Nazi’s song, “Right Wing Death Squads” and “Galactic Lebensraum” have achieved more than 50,000 YouTube views each. Know Your Meme cites the uploading of Cyber Nazi’s first song in November 2015 as the birth of fashwave.
The Vice article calls Trumpwave a movement for those who are nostalgic about the rampant capitalism of the 1980s. Alt-right leader Richard Spencer told the magazine that the alt-right is fascinated with the 1980s because “as halcyon days, as the last days of white America.”
Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin is quoted by the Southern Poverty Law Center as describing fashwave, “The sound of reading the Daily Stormer, the sound of sending Auschwitz uniform pics to Yulia Ioffe on Twitter, the sound of tens of thousands of university printers printing off Nazi propaganda, the sound of an old guy punching a Black Lives protester in the face at a Trump rally, the sound of watching a goofy Black guy mention Andrew Anglin and the Daily Stormer on a congressional hearing livestream. It is the sound of revolution. Our revolution.”
2. The Artist Featured on Dimitrios’ Facebook Page, Perturbator, Has No Known Connections to Fascism
The French electronic artist Perturbator featured on Dimitrios’ Facebook page has no known connections to fascism. You can listen to one of his tracks, “Humans are such easy prey,” above. Buzzfeed reported in December 2016 that Perturbator’s music had been “co-opted” by the alt-right. The same article says that Perturbator’s music is frequently featured on the Daily Stormer’s “Fashwave Fridays” posts.
Perturbator aka James Kent, began his musical career as a guitarist in a black metal band before adopting electronic music in 2012, he told Tune Core in a 2016 interview.
3. In 2016, a Group of Vaporwave Artists Got Together in Canada to Try to Address the Growing Fascism in Their Movement
Rave News reported in 2016 that a meeting was to be held in Montreal among vaporwave artists to discuss the growing fascism in the movement. The event was organized by Brooklyn-based DJ Karoda Night. He told Rave News at the time, “It’s getting a little ridiculous. Vaporwave has a good chance of becoming the future of techno, but not if we let fascists co-opt the genre.” Night continued, “I love making music, but if neo-nazis keep using my tracks in their propaganda videos, I might have to stop releasing more albums. I don’t want to help enable their hatred. Music should be about bringing people together, not about establishing a 4th Reich under God Emperor Trump, lord of the Americas, or whatever the fuck it is that fascists are trying to do.”
One vaporware artist told Rave News, “I’m going to be releasing an entire album of Antifa vaporware tracks. Nazis can f*** off.”
4. Alt-Right Icon Richard Spencer Previously Identified Depeche Mode as the Soundtrack of the Alt-Right
A Southern Poverty Law Center information piece on fashwave mentions that alt-right icon Richard Spencer’s favorite band is Depeche Mode. In an interview with Billboard Magazine, Depeche Mode lead singer Dave Gahan made it clear that the band completely reject Spencer’s fandom, “This guy gets way too much publicity already. What’s dangerous about someone like Richard Spencer is, first of all, he’s a cunt—and he’s a very educated cunt, and that’s the scariest kind of all. I think over the years there’s been a number of times when things of ours have been misinterpreted—either our imagery or something where people are not quite reading between the lines. If anything, there’s a way more sort of socialist—working class, if you like—industrial-sounding aesthetic to what we do.”
Speaking to Vice about Fashwave, Richard Spencer said, “I think it’s great that we have our own culture, even if it’s small.” Spencer continued, “Sometimes when I’m doing business, busy-work, I’ll just flip on Xurious or Cyber Nazi on SoundCloud or YouTube and just listen to it.”
5. An NBC Reporter Suggested Pagourtzis Could Be Referred to as an ‘Edgelord’
In reporting on Pagourtzis, NBC News’ Ben Collins wrote that, “The iconography in photos on Pagourtis’ Facebook page is otherwise all over the place ideologically, what people on forums would call edgelord stuff.” A photo posted by Pagourtzis shows a duster jacket with icons that include Nazi symbols. He described the different medals attached to the duster, including the Iron Cross, which he says stands for “bravery.” Classmates told NBC News that Pagourtzis wore a trenchcoat to school everyday, even if it was hot.