Artist Interview: Pad Chennington

Pad Chennington – a.k.a. “The Vaporwave Valedictorian” – is a video producer who discusses vaporwave topics. Starting up in the fall of 2017, Pad has developed a substantial following on YouTube and in the greater vaporwave community, with over 3,300 subscribers as of this interview. His most well-known videos are a series of reviews on vinyl editions of vaporwave albums, which includes releases from MACINTOSH PLUS, Flamingosis, and Vaperror. He also produces videos on “vaporwave essentials” and potential collaborations – and he recently began to explore video games in and out of the context of vaporwave, as with the “Vapor Mario 64” video.

Sunbleach exchanged e-mails with Pad to learn about the start of the project, his process behind evaluating vaporwave records, and the future of the project. We also discussed media preservation, video games, and aspects of community-building both online and offline. For more information and subscription access, check out Pad’s YouTube channel and his Patreon account.

 


S: It only just occurred to me a few days ago that “Pad Chennington” is a spoonerism. What inspired the name?

P: Ahh, the Pad Chennington story. So, a couple of years ago, a couple of friends and I were on our way to the bars in an Uber. To pass the time we played “Jackie Robinson” which a sports trivia game that requires one person to name a sports player who’s first name starts with the first letter of the last name of the previous player stated, and it keeps going until people start struggling to name new players.

A couple rounds into the game and pretty smashed from pre-gaming, it eventually got up to me. I had the letter “P”, and with a decently inebriated mind, I blurted out “Pad Chennington”. Now, for anyone who knows football, what I meant to say was “Chad Pennington”, the mediocre mid-2000’s quarterback for the New York Jets.

Immediately realizing the mistake I made, I turned to my friend and said “Pad Chennington, that would be a sweet Vaporwave name”. And here we are today!

 

S: Your videos cover a variety of subjects, but they primarily focus on record reviews. What inspired you to look particularly at records within vaporwave as opposed to the more common cassette releases?

P: So I’ve always been way more of a record collector than a cassette collector. For years I’ve been going to garage sales, and I find it so much fun to almost hunt for classic records and add them to the shelves. It’s a fun hobby, as it doesn’t take up too much space since they all fit pretty snug and is also a fun discussion piece when friends or family are over. Sometimes, it’s so chill to just talk records with company, pull some out see the artwork play them and so on. It’s a great party vibe too, having a physical record spinning in the background while any sort of gathering is going on.

All this inspires my reason for collecting vinyl within the vaporwave genre, having the music on vinyl provides the entire experience to be very welcoming to people who don’t really know too much about the genre. I always get a kick watching friends fall in love with the mystique of the genre, and how they can see themselves “falling asleep” to this or “oh my god this is so damn funky”. From fun color pressings like the HIRAETH vinyl or the 新しい日の誕生 vinyl, it’s not only unavoidable to the eye but a way to provide an open doors experience to the newcomer; painting the entire story of the album in such a fun and larger than life way. Can’t beat that!

 

S: How can vaporwave further its “mystique” or eccentricities? Or, perhaps a better phrasing would be, how can vaporwave effectively harness its quirks to reach audiences without diluting or flanderizing itself?

P: Great, great question… I think mystifying the music even further, even more powerfully, comes down to how much further we can evolve the genre in a face-to-face sense; bringing fans, artists, labels, everyone together in the real world and seeing what can come out of that. In my interview with 猫 シ Corp., we discussed the idea of “live” vaporwave and how far it can go. Now, I know most of us are thinking: how can live vaporwave truly be that great or expansive of an experience? I think a lot of us immediately jump to this “cringe” mindset and picture a bunch of anti-social people bundled up in a sweaty room listening to vaporwave. I disagree.

猫 シ Corp. has brought up the fact that a true live vaporwave experience wouldn’t, and pretty much can’t, be a traditional DJ/rave type of experience we usually see. It just wouldn’t work… I mean, certain artists yes like Blank Banshee, Vaperror, Yung Bae, etc. would definitely provide that more upbeat, lively and animated live set but it’s not like any of us are going to be willin’ out to some Waterfront Dining.

猫 シ Corp. has had this idea of having a “live” set be more of an artistic exhibition, which I think would truly benefit that “mystique” factor wonderfully. He was telling me of this idea he had where he’d have a singular person sit in a chair with a pair of headphones and have 4 screens or tarps on each side of the person, each projecting a different video that corresponds with the music going on in the headphones. It would be more of a ride, a journey through these vivd, nostalgic, atmospheric and airy qualities we see in a lot of Vaporwave sound.

I think we’ve only scratched the surface so far on how mystifying the genre can potentially get. I think people getting together, the community combining ideas and concocting live sets and renditions, would create not only a unique and new experience to any concert or venue goer but the opportunity to cloak the listener and the artist from the outside world and into an experience like no other.

 

S: What qualities or metrics do you use to evaluate records?

P: For me it’s always been taking a step back and seeing it not just as music, but as an entire presentation of the package in itself; a tangible form of physical evidence that allows you to really feel what the artist was trying to convey to the listener. From the artwork, jacket quality, record quality, inner sleeve artwork, and other odds and trinkets that might come with your purchase, I evaluate records on everything you get and feel when slicing it open for the first time.

I’m a big fan of basically “preserving” art/music in a collection. Adding onto what I said in the previous question, it’s also a way to forever hold the true intentions of the artist. I will always judge a record not just on how it sounds (which yes, is obviously the most important and concrete necessity), but on his or her journey towards creating that piece and the final product.

Bottom line, vinyl is such a fun experience with friends and family or also on a personal, lying-on-your-bed type of day. I just find the whole thing to be really fun and have never been this huge, super picky audio-head who needs to listen to everything in the perfect setting with the perfect speakers/headphones, etc. I just like groooovin’ out.

 

S: What are examples of successful or unsuccessful preservation?

P: As weird and unprofessional as this may sound, I think preservation is more subjective of a procedure than anything else… Yes, there are concrete and simple ways to care for your records lol but it all comes down to if you’re having fun, most importantly.

I definitely do take good care of my records for the most part. I keep everything alphabetized, clean the records with my record brush on each listen, and handle them with care on and off the player (for a while I didn’t – I was seriously sloppy all the time I didn’t know I was holding them wrong or anything at the time). I think that’s a pretty solid way to preserve them for a good amount of years.

So that being said, I would just look up simple, basic ways to take care of them. But don’t drive yourself crazy, they’re supposed to be played and spun. I don’t care if I have a record that’s worth $1,000, if I like it then I’m going to play it till the grooves wear out. That’s what they’re for. There’s no point in preserving them if they’re just going to sit there! play ‘em and have fun.

 

S: Are there any particular threads you’ve identified in vaporwave records? In other words, is there a subgenre or sound that you feel is better represented on wax than digital or cassette format?

P: I’ve always found that longer, ambient and atmospheric works such as 2 8 1 4’s 新しい日の誕生 or telepath’s A on vinyl kind of defeats the purpose of how the albums were supposed to be listened to. The reason for this is because albums that put you in such a relaxing state of mind obviously deserve to be listened all the way through, so the concept of getting up and flipping the record just when you’re starting to fall into that dreamy vapory trance kind of defeats the crucial benefits of the music. Yes, it can sound incredible quality-wise, but this flaw is definitely a buzzkill.

That being said, albums like HIRAETH, stuff by Flamingosis (I still always consider him to be Vaporwave/Future Funk even though he’s really not lol), and マクロスMACROSS 82-99’s A Million Miles Away always seemed to work better with the vinyl treatment. Those types of albums are so exciting, so upbeat and have distinct cuts and breakout points from song to song that flipping the vinyl doesn’t necessarily interrupt your experience with the tracklist.

 

S: What’s the reception from the vaporwave community been like?

P: The reception from the vaporwave community has been amazing to me. It’s incredible how passionate fans of the genre really are. They’ll tell you when they like something, when they disagree, and everything in between. It’s a true community. Despite the fact that we’re all pretty much online, it’s definitely a meeting place of genuine feelings and lucrative thinking.

I’ve always been a big believer in true creator-to-audience interaction, and always told myself if I ever started a YouTube channel I would try and respond to any comment or message anyone sent towards me. If they’re taking the time out of their day to respond to something I created, I must give them that time and respect back. I think that’s a great goal to strive for these days if you really want success, the goal of true connection. We live in such a digitally cluttered, social media-heavy world that ironically leaves a lot of us feeling lonely despite the never-ending pseudo connectivity these sites or apps provide us. Having content creators who actively saturate themselves within the community or niche they’re talking about is what I’m all for instead of just being someone who makes video after video constantly counting their views as if they’re just some “high score” or something… That’s not for me. The only way I can grow is with the bond I have with the vaporwave community, and with the intensity they provide really makes it an exciting place to be.

I want to be there for everyone who has been there for me on this entire journey. We takin’ over baby, long live vaporwave!

 

S: One of your most popular videos is the one on the MACINTOSH PLUS pink record from OESBEE, which at the moment has over 32,000 views on YouTube (which is incredible). What effect do you think that the record’s controversy has had on physical vaporwave releases – if any? What about the vaporwave community?

P: I think the effect the record’s controversy has had on physical vaporwave releases is that it’s making labels and artists know we seriously care about this music and won’t be pushed around, despite how “underground” or “little” our community may be compared to other musical genres and communities. We definitely ain’t going down without a fight!

I’ve never been one to exploit or provoke drama anything like that, as I think those are just a cheap way to rake in some views or attention and paint the wrong picture/message for the people, but the unavoidable controversy the pressing has created has definitely been way more than just “drama” talk. It’s become a sort of showpiece on how to go about physical releases properly and how successful they really can be if executed right.

All the problems with the FLORAL SHOPPE pressing have paved a path for future labels and releases and shows how to do it right and properly. With the seemingly constant release of new, exciting, or classic vaporwave cassettes/vinyl records getting pressed these days I know that labels will do everything they can to provide the cleanest, smoothest process of getting these physical releases into the hands of the listeners. Especially if they wanna make dat good guap $$$.

I mean, just recently PLUS100 Records just dropped their Mana Pool vinyl edition, and everyone seems to be so excited on how everything was executed. They ordered, they got them, and the records sound and look great; a 1-2-3 process that really should be looked up to when promising such important releases to the fans. And same with the I’ll Try Living Like This 2xLP pressed by Quiet Earth Records. I even have first-hand experience with that bad boy. I ordered it and it was like here in a week, a completely different process from the problems everyone seems to be experiencing with OESBEE and the FLORAL SHOPPE pressing.

The FLORAL SHOPPE vinyl pressing is and will always be a massive piece of vaporwave history. Despite its controversy the pressing does sound great and for the actual, physical record and overall package itself I think OESBEE did a great job on that. Let’s see what the future holds!

 

S: Another popular video of yours describes the “addicting” nature of future funk. Are there other subgenres with any particular qualities – addicting, alienating, etc. – that you’d like to discuss in future videos?

P: To be specific, one video I definitely want to make is a complete breakdown of telepath and how he has mastered this hypnotic, repetition style of vaporwave sound, and in that video dive into the hypnotic qualities of ambient, atmospheric-style vaporwave itself. I haven’t really spent a lot of time talking about telepath on my channel and I really should, he’s been such a massive influence on the entirety of Vaporwave, and I think a really long discussion-style video would be fun as hell for me to make and awesome for my subscribers/viewers. If I make a video about telepath and the hypnotic effect of this style of sound, I want to do it right… Spend the time and really make a great video about this topic.

 

S: What’s the future for Pad Chennington?

P: I have a ton of stuff planned for the channel, and for myself as well. I’m currently in the process of moving and staying at a family member’s house until my next place is ready, so I have packed away all of my records into storage (I know, I’m dying inside). That being said, I’m going to take a small break from vinyl reviews for a little while and focus a lot more on my Vaporwave Essentials Series videos, interview videos, discussion-style videos and more.

I’m also hoping to get 10,000 YouTube subscribers soon as I’ve made it a personal goal for myself and to my followers that if I hit that number, I will purchase and review the infamous Hit Vibes red vinyl pressing, regardless of how much it costs at the time I hit that number. That’s going to be an incredible video to make. So, if you’re reading this, please subscribe to my channel so you can watch me throw hundreds of hard earned dollars away for a giant red frisbee 🙂

I also want to start performing live and do everything from DJing live vinyl sets to promoting and bringing together some of the biggest vaporwave and future funk artists live. I’m primarily focusing on New York City, as not only do I reside there but I think vaporwave and future funk sets would be an incredible aesthetic and background track to an already incredible setting… Like, imagine a rooftop bar in Manhattan, everyone’s drinkin’ having a good time, the sun is going down and I start playing some “You wanna loooove meeEeEeE, in youuuur car… you won’t get faaaar”… An inevitable, feel good time!

I am trying to release my own music as well, don’t know when I’ll get to that as I’m seriously so clogged with my home life, actual job, and other stuff I want to do for the channel. If I produce some tracks I really want to spend the time to make them good!

In the end, I’ll always make the content I feel like making in the moment, it’s the most fun for me and the most authentic way to really have my audience know what I’m vibing out to or feeling for at the time being. I also always love getting recommendations for reviews or video topics and will always listen to my viewers requests, they oftentimes provide a topic or discussion I might have not thought about doing that would be a great piece to create. Thank you all seriously so much for that… Buckle up y’all cause we just getting started!

 

S: What inspired the decision to explore video games in your other videos?

Video games have always been a huge part of my life, from being an active part of the Super Mario 64 speedrunning community to collecting retro games back in the day, I’ve always been involved in more than just playing the games but trying to take things to the next level.

With the over-saturation of video game creator content on YouTube (not saying a lot of it is bad, I just think there is a loooot), I always wanted to bring my passion for gaming into my channel as well but more so talk about the aesthetics and feelings we get from video games that are important to us rather than the traditional fun/quirky YouTube video game review we see on countless channels. Classic N64, Sega, and many other games have this undeniable aesthetic we can all relate to and it’s almost like we all grew up in the same neighborhood playing these games with one another. Video gaming has always brought people together, just like music.

 
S: What video games in particular – retro or modern – do you believe foster community-building? Additionally, although we don’t play at each other’s houses on co-op mode anymore (and I’d like to be told I’m wrong), what mechanics or features do you believe facilitate player interaction?
P: As much as people are getting sick of them, I think Fortnite and all these battle royale games are huge for the gaming world. We all know everything is going to be battle royal before you know it lol but it’s so damn fun! Playing Fortnite with my friends has caused us to interact in an Xbox party for the first time in like years, I think the last time we really all chilled at our homes and spent a night communicating on our headsets was like the Gears of War 2 days… good times, good times.

Competitive gaming and speed running are absolutely huge and extremely underrated in terms of how powerful their respective communities are. I suck at Super Smash Bros. Melee (but if you tryna get that stain come Falco ditto me bruh) but it is absolutely amazing watching that community create so much hype and lore for their top players. It feels like you know them in real life. And watching some of my favorite speed runners – like RWhiteGoose from the Goldeneye speed running community or Cheese, the current World Record holder for the Super Mario 64 120-Star category – is such an incredible time… watching players come together and discuss new strategies, routes, and more.

All of these, in one way or another, are modern-day mechanics/features that facilitate player interaction. Yes, it might not be a literal piece of hardware but the power of creative content, streaming, competitive play, etc. all create something so much larger than we ever could have done back in the day sitting on our couches playing Nintendo 64. The gaming world truly is a thing to dissect, it’s brought so many people together.

 

Check out more Pad Chennington videos and subscribe to the channel here. See below for his video on the vinyl edition of HIRAETH by 猫 シ Corp.:

 


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