Music, Qatar

Qatari Vaporwave: Bloodburn’s “Disk Of Dreams”

Jassim a.k.a Bloodburn speaks about his interest in this nostalgic micro-genre

Cameron’s World is a web-collage of text and images excavated from the buried neighborhoods of archived GeoCities pages (1994–2009) by Cameron Askin that inspired Bloodburn's website design

Bloodburn's early experiments with a microgenre defined by nostalgia are intriguing, verging on paradoxical. Music editor Ben Wheeler spoke briefly with Jassim about his vaporwave visions, local inspiration, and plans for future nostalgia creation. 

The opening page of Jassim a.k.a Bloodburn’s Geocities-styleGeocities-styleGeoCities was a popular web hosting service founded in 1994 that let people create and publish websites for free based on a theme or interest. website reads: “Sit back, relax, and enjoy that nostalgic breeze.” The phrase helps to highlight this young Qatari musician’s interest in early internet culture and vaporwave, a movement from the early 2010s characterized by styles of visual art, internet memes, and electronic music that warp, distort, and are inspired by the aesthetics of smooth jazz, elevator, R&B, and lounge music from the last decades of the 20th century. In Bloodburn’s case, the fascination with this microgenre is exceptional on two levels: first, the musician is too young to experience actual nostalgia for the initial source material or even the initial “wave” of vaporwave itself, and second, it is safe to say he is the first and most likely only Qatari vaporwave artist, mixing aspects of his own experience and culture into the visual and aural presentation of his creations. 

Bloodburn's Arabic vaportrap inspired album “Disk of Dreams”

Ben Wheeler: Can you describe your musical background? How did you get started and what were your early musical influences? 

Bloodburn: I was pretty interested in music—when I was a kid I used to make some music using a program called FL Studio, which was pretty bad. It had bad mixing, stock sounds and what not, but then I took it to the next level by sampling, adding synths, and all this type of stuff.

BW:What's the music scene like in Qatar? Growing up there, what influenced your musical thinking and how did it affect your path as a musician? 

BB:The scene here mostly revolves around Middle Eastern music; a lot of people grow up playing the oud and even do some ar-razifar-razifIn Qatar, the dance is typically performed by a single male and involves wielding a sword in hand on the dance floor. (which is basically a type of dance we do in the Middle Eastern culture). Although the internet has caused more broad musical influences, I have an idea to hopefully start sampling some oud music and put it into one of my songs in the future.

BW: What drew you to vaporwave/early internet culture? What about it is appealing to you?

BB: I think what drew me into vaporwave is its concept, which is really great. It's basically about screwing up 70s, 80s, and 90s music. Even the vaporwave graphic design really does have its charm for me since I was born in '02. Windows XP was one of the first operating systems I used and the Luna look is really beautiful—that’s why I put it on the Disk Of Dreams album cover.

BW:I noticed قرص الاحلام (Disk of Dreams) features Arabic in the album artwork, unlike some of your other albums that are just in English—is there a reason for this or is it just a coincidence? 

BB:I guess it's because my main language [Arabic] is really interesting when it comes to its script. I also planned Disk of Dreams to basically be an Arabic vaportrap inspired album. That's why you can hear some samples of Arabic ads on the album.

BW:What do you see for the Qatari music scene moving forward? Any particular artists we should look out for? 

BB: I think when it comes to artists and Qatari music, for example there is Dana Alfardan. I know it’s not exactly experimental but the way she mixed orchestral music with Arab music is very interesting. 

Bloodburn's first vaporwave album “The Human Install”

BW: Where would you like to go with your music? What are your aspirations moving forward? 

BB: I basically want to touch on some things I never touched on before, for example, Michael Jackson really inspired me to sing, as you can hear in my recent songs. I am even interested in hip-hop, which is a wild genre, and heck, I would love to score a big project like a film or a game. There is a lot I haven’t done in music that I'm interested in doing in the future.

BW:Where does the name “Bloodburn” come from?

BBIt's just a username that came to mind back in 2017 and I’ve been using it since. 

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Qatari musician and game designer.
Ben Wheeler
Senior Editor at EastEast. Experimental musician, сomposer and musicologist, co-founder of Mountains of Tongues organization. He performs regularly at venues and festivals around the Caucasus and has contributed to the soundtrack and sound design for multiple independent films. He also organizes the annual Caucasus All Frequency Festival, and hosts and produces the podcast Caucasus All Frequency.