Giraffage - Maybes

Dance music gets introspective and glowing on “Maybes,” by San Jose’s Giraffage, starring Japanese Breakfast.

Dance music has been shying away from the mainstages and big rooms of EDM festivals these last few years. Sure, there will always be the mainstays - the Deadmau5’s and David Guetta’s of this world, and we’re glad for it. Someone needs to make the soundtrack for intricate glowstick martial arts ballet.

Increasingly, electronic music from the underground comes wrapped in some sort of “lo-fi” fug, from the styrofoam hiss of knackered house to the steaming rustbelt groan of industrial techno. So much of today’s most cutting-edge electronica sounds straight from someone’s bedroom (frequently sounding like it’s on Mars.)

San Jose producer Giraffage is a particularly fine example of so many of today’s most interesting underground electronic styles, most notably Vaporwave, thanks to his glistening MIDI-xotica instrumentals, CG album art, and a web presence looking like an AngelFire website circa 1995.



“Maybes” benefits from cracking the hermetic seal so often found around electronica, bringing in outside musicians and genres - in this case, the soft focus psychedelia of Japanese Breakfast, who lends her chilly vocals charms to the affair. It gives Giraffage’s digital patchwork a warm, human edge, as if Daniel Lopatin were producing Ultravox’s “Vienna.”

spotify Rather than the monochrome neo-romanticism of New Wave or the dreary Polaroid synthpop of the early ‘80s, Giraffage employs digital tools to create a bright, vibrant color explosion over which Japanese Breakfast’s vocals coast like a cool breeze.

Imagine a workout video over a digital collage of infomercials, smooth jazz, and tribal rites, all smeared in a colorful kaleidoscope, and you’d be getting close to the weird, woozy wonder that is “Maybes.”

For dance music to truly thrive, it must look beyond itself. We are seeing more interesting permutations of technology, songwriting, performance, and the human voice with each passing year. This is what Synth Pop and New Wave set out to do. It’s invigorating to see that mission be re-invigorated.

J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.