In a world where music genres often intertwine like vines, blurring the boundaries between distinct categories, a new sound has emerged, capturing the essence of a generation – welcome to the realm of Zoomer Gaze.
This genre, a modern descendant of the 80s Shoegaze, resonates deeply with Gen Z, reflecting their digital upbringing away from any set subcultures and towards a landscape of unprecedented musical diversity.
Shoegaze, for the uninitiated, was born in the 1980s, and was a fusion of punk’s distortion with the dreamy vibes of psychedelic rock – think white noise turned up to eleven and distorted into beautiful crescendos. Bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Sonic Youth were early trailblazers. However, it was My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 album Loveless that truly defined the genre, followed closely by Slowdive’s iconic Souvlaki, released in 1993.
Fast forward to 2009, and the internet played a pivotal role in Shoegaze’s revival. Online forums like 4chan’s music board /mu/ and Rate Your Music became hubs for discovering new artists, shaping the tastes of a digitally native Gen Z. These platforms were the real tastemakers before streaming algorithms took over, sparking discussions and debates that influenced a generation’s musical preferences.
The early 2010s saw a surge in moody indie music, setting the tone for the decade. Artists like Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, MGMT, and Lana Del Rey dominated the scene. This era wasn’t just about mainstream music; it also saw the rise of “doom scrolling” YouTube music – a genre characterised by its late-night, introspective vibe, perfectly encapsulating the digital experience of that time.
This brings us to Zoomer Gaze, a genre that encompasses the revival of Shoegaze and grunge, shaped by the online experiences of Gen Z. These Zoomers are not just fans of one specific genre; they embrace a vast array of music from different eras and subcultures. The internet’s influence has blurred the lines between these genres, leading to a broad musical topography.
One might wonder, what exactly is Zoomer Gaze? It’s the sound that resonates with the Gen Z crowd, a mix of Shoegaze’s dreaminess, grunge’s raw energy, and a touch of hyperpop. A music that’s both atmospheric and emotionally charged, appealing to a generation that grew up with the internet as their playground.
Artists like the 18-year-old Quannnic, with his TikTok hit ‘Life Imitates Life’, exemplify this Zoomer Gaze sound. They mix various genres to create music that’s not just aural but also visually aesthetic, mirroring Gen Z’s online experiences and creating a distinct identity.
Zoomer Gaze gigs are gatherings of fans who share not just a love for a certain sound but also a cultural and aesthetic connection. If you’re not absolutely au fait with this scene, you’ll be at a total loss to understand even a relatively basic conversation between two gig-goers. This genre is more than just music; it’s a community, a collective experience that defines a generation.
As we move forward, Zoomer Gaze will continue to evolve, driven by Gen Z’s innovative spirit and the endless possibilities of the digital world. It’s a testament to how music can transcend traditional boundaries, creating a unique, unifying sound for a new era.
It might be hard to believe for even Millennials, let alone Gen X or Boomers, but Zoomer Gaze is not just a genre; it’s the soundtrack of a generation. Despite its lack of clear boundaries as to what can be placed in and outside the genre, it’s been embraced with just as much love by its adopted generation as any previous wave of music.
As we drive deeper into this odd world of blurred genres and collective experiences, one thing is clear: Zoomer Gaze is here to stay, echoing the complex sentiments of a generation, with their penchant for postmodern irony and an incomprehensibly large new vocabulary.