Wave is a genre of bass music and a visual art style that emerged in the early 2010s[8] in online communities. It is characterized by atmospheric melodies and harmonies, melodic and heavy bass such as reese, modern trap drums, chopped vocal samples processed with reverb and delay, and arpeggiators.[5] Visually, it incorporates computer-generated imagery and animation,[9] and imagery from video games and cartoons.[7]

Wave music originated on online music platforms from a small group of DIY[2] artists.[3] Since then, wave music uploaded to streaming platforms such as YouTube has gathered millions of plays, which is partially attributable to the genre's broad influences.[7] Since 2016, the wave scene has experienced an increase in physical events.[1] From 2017 onward, the genre further incorporated elements of trance and hardstyle, leading to the emergence of the hardwave subgenre.[5][10]


Musical qualities and influences

Wave conveys feelings and qualities of melancholy similarly to witch house and emo rap, dreaminess, sci-fi akin to grime,[2] femininity,[9] and otherworldliness.[2] Wave emphasizes melodic and harmonic aspects in combination to drawing from styles such as trap[5] and grime for interludes and drum beats.[5] Wave has experimentalism relative to the Los Angeles beat scene,[2] and incorporates elements from many other genres[1] such as hip-hop, dubstep, UK garage,[1][11] drill,[4] vaporwave, cloud rap,[7] video game music and sound design, ambient, house, techno, and jungle.[2]

Production style

A genre of bass music,[6] wave is typically bass heavy,[9] while using a filtered Reese style bass timbre.[5] The percussion features trap-style drums with fast hi-hats, with other elements like snare and pan-hits further processed using reverb. The percussive styles used can vary owing to the music's broad range of influences and producers' willingness to experiment.[5] The beats per minute typically varies between 120 and 140,[9] but wave DJ sets may range from 100 to 200.[5] Vocals used are generally chopped samples, with the pitch decreased and increased in conjunction with reverb and delay.[5]

Visual aesthetics

Wave's visual aesthetics incorporates digital art such as computer-generated imagery and animation. In the scene's origins, these art were combined with wave music on Tumblr, and later become used as visuals for physical events.[9] Wave can also display imagery taken from video games and cartoons.[7]


"Hardwave" redirects here. Not to be confused with hardvapour.

The development and spread of wave music as an independent genre began in the early 2010s[8] at online music platforms and social media (mainly SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Mixcloud, Reddit, and Tumblr), among a small DIY community[2] of artists—often teenagers[12][4] who were not associated with club culture and the mainstream[12][11]—who were making electronic music with different sonic influences but, according to producer Glacci, similar subjective qualities of "feeling".[3] Plastician has said that many of those early producers were either trying to achieve rap instrumentation akin to Clams Casino, or had grime influences but applied different tempos. As new artists attempted to reproduce the sound of these early tracks, wave producers began to be influenced mainly by each other, which allowed wave to develop distinguishable musical characteristics.[4]

Wave's musical scene direct origins can be dated to at least 2013 when UK-based producer Steven "Klimeks" Adams[6][9][7] began tagging his tracks on SoundCloud as wave,[3][9] and subsequently founded the prominent label Wavemob, which published its first release in 2016, the compilation album wave 001 with tracks by producers such as Klimeks, Skit, Spoze, and Nvrmore.[13] Also in 2013, Plastician became an early promoter of the wave scene[3] by featuring wave music during his[14] radio shows on Rinse FM, and by releases on his label Terrorhythm Recordings, for instance Klimeks's remix of "Born in the Cold" on the compilation album Turquoise.[3][15] In December 2015, Plastician released The Wave Pool MMXV mix featuring a selection of wave music[11] that popularized the term wave within the music press and further promoted its general usage.[3]

In early 2016, UKF Music and Futuremag Music wrote that wave producer Jude "Kareful" Leigh-Kaufman released the first full-length wave album, Deluge.[2][1] Following in 2017, Kareful et al. founded the Liquid Ritual label[16] and collective to promote wave music.[17]

Since 2016, the wave scene—originally an online phenomenon—has experienced an increase in physical events such as in London, primarily Dalston.[1] For example, entities that promoted events in London include Plastician who ran the Survey London wave nightclub in 2016 at Phonox, in Brixton;[18][4] Mixmag featuring wave artists at Ace Hotel;[9] and Kareful.[2] In regards to the United States wave scene,[2] in December 2022, Vibe.digital, Human Error//, and Soul Food Music Collective collaborated on a three-day wave festival in Seattle, named Pantheon, the largest in that country as of 2024.[19] The ongoing Los Angeles based wave showcase event Tears In The Club also emerged in 2022 and currently represents the largest recurrent and exclusively wave focused event in the western hemisphere.[20] Further local scenes include Poland, Russia, and Canada.[4]

In 2017, Perth-based producers Skeler and Ytho began incorporating elements from trance and hardstyle into wave for appealing to the broader festival and club audiences and thus popularize the genre. This lead the wave scene to evolve into the emergent subgenre known as hardwave.[5][10]

The Asian wave scene includes Japanese musician Dean Fujioka. In 2018, he released the single "Echo" which became the theme song for the Japanese TV series The Count of Monte-Cristo: Great Revenge.[21][22] The music video for the song also won the Best Alternative Video at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan.[23] In 2021, he released the song "Plan B" as the "latest evolution of wave".[24][25]


In May 2017, Vice published an article by Ezra Marcus arguing that the wave community and bloggers were categorizing a wide range of music within the sonically undefined "constructed microgenre" of wave, in order to strategically influence algorithms on streaming platforms such as YouTube.[7] Plastician responded to Marcus's article, arguing that most wave producers were generally younger people who lack marketing skills and are unfamiliar with YouTube algorithms.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dave Jenkins (29 June 2016). "Kareful's Introduction To Wave Music". UKF Music. Wikidata Q106369449.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Dave Jenkins (11 August 2016). "Wave Music: Why You Need This Genre In Your Life Right Now". Highsnobiety. Wikidata Q106369425.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Robin Murray (9 August 2017). "Entering The Whirlpool: Glacci, Plastician And That 'Wave' Sound". Clash. ISSN 1743-0801. Wikidata Q106369424.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Joe Muggs (8 November 2017). "DJ Plastician on the Wave Musicians Giving the Genre Life". Bandcamp Daily. Wikidata Q106369445.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Matthew Meadow (8 February 2021). "Diving Into "WAVE," The New Genre That's Destined To Blow Up In 2021". Your EDM. Wikidata Q106369426.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Juliane Reil (6 May 2017). ""Wave" erobert Londons Underground". Deutschlandfunk (in German). Wikidata Q106466879.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Ezra Marcus (12 May 2017). "Wave Music Is a Marketing Tactic, Not a Microgenre". Vice. ISSN 1077-6788. Wikidata Q106369432.
  8. ^ a b Irina Koprivica (6 February 2018). "Have You Ever Listened to "Wave/Witch House"?". Youth Time. Wikidata Q106862775.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Sapphire Plant (26 April 2017). "Wave: The emotive new genre with its own icy ecosystem". Mixmag. ISSN 0957-6622. Wikidata Q106369423.
  10. ^ a b Luke Bennett (30 April 2020). "The 15 Best Bass Music Tracks of April 2020". Magnetic Magazine. Wikidata Q106369428.
  11. ^ a b c Robin Murray (11 December 2015). "Has Plastician Just Uncovered A New Genre?". Clash. ISSN 1743-0801. Wikidata Q106369451.
  12. ^ a b Dave Jenkins (22 August 2017). "Why Wavepool 2 is a critical moment for wave music". UKF Music. Wikidata Q106417465.
  13. ^ Mike Wood (17 February 2016). "Get to know brand new label Wave Mob as they release their debut compilation 'Wave 001'". Earmilk. Wikidata Q106417999.
  14. ^ Dave Jenkins (3 July 2017). "Plastician announces Rinse FM departure". UKF Music. Wikidata Q106417493.
  15. ^ "Plastician's Terrorhythm label releases new compilation Turquoise: download it for free inside". Fact. 18 December 2013. Wikidata Q106417499.
  16. ^ Luke Byatt (16 April 2021). "Creative Conversations 047: Forging A Genre With Liquid Ritual [Exclusive]". Futuremag Music. Wikidata Q106659799.
  17. ^ "Wave Wonder Kareful Initiates His Liquid Ritual". Clash. 22 May 2017. ISSN 1743-0801. Wikidata Q106369442.
  18. ^ "Survey London: bringing wave to the rave since 2015". International DJ Magazine. 30 August 2016. Wikidata Q106399586.
  19. ^ Madi Forbes (7 November 2022), Pantheon Festival In Seattle Celebrates Best Producers In Wave Scene, Wikidata Q122766411
  20. ^ Masen, Ambur (5 April 2023). "Meet LA's Wave Evangelist, Loss Combinator, Of Tears In The Club". Electric Hawk. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  21. ^ "DEANFUJIOKA新曲MVでヴァンパイア役 最上もがを蘇らせ操る". Oricon News (in Japanese). 29 May 2018. Wikidata Q110321199.
  22. ^ 沖浦裕明 (5 June 2018). "ハートの鼓動に寄り添う音楽──DEAN FUJIOKA新曲「Echo」インタビュー". GQ (in Japanese). ISSN 0016-6979. Wikidata Q110321200.
  23. ^ "「MTV VMAJ」今年は星野源が2冠、特別賞は三浦大知&宇多田ヒカル". Natalie (in Japanese). 7 September 2018. Wikidata Q110321201.
  24. ^ "【インタビュー】DEAN FUJIOKA、新境地「Take Over」を語る「普通の状況では生まれない新たな流れの一部". BARKS (in Japanese). 9 March 2021. Wikidata Q110321202.
  25. ^ Takayuki Okamoto (17 March 2021). "DEAN FUJIOKAが語る、ルールが変わった世界で表現する音楽と絵本". Rolling Stone (in Japanese). ISSN 0035-791X. Wikidata Q110321203.

Further reading