Seapunk: Deep Diving the URL

By Laura Li

This past year and a half the internet was washed over by psychedelic aquatic imagery and countless blue manes. Brooklyn-based internet extraordinaire Lilinternet had a nocturnal vision about a “Seapunk leather jacket with barnacles where the studs used to be” and tweeted about it. His social media possé added a hashtag, and an already emerging underground movement was baptized in salt water. The rest is cyber history, and the road to mainstream is short in the digital age, but mysteries of the tropicult remain to be answered.

The micro-genre quickly gained momentum, echoed overseas and swum further into the physical world forming record labels, fashion brands and Seapunk themed parties, but backlash was twice as swift and many claimed rigor mortis for the infant style before it was fully-grown. The ADD-infused, ambiguous humor of nautical youth makes it easy to write this movement off as a deranged and self-referential URL sect, but it also suggests the possibility we’re not seeing the full ocean view, perhaps because we need a slightly perverted, utopian double vision.

What can be perceived as the last obscure hiccup of a desensitized, hedonistic youth with nothing to say, do or feel and therefore only aestheticized extremities left to explore, just might also be the rebellion we should want in the materialistic and disconnected flood of crisis vacuums our culture floats around in. Seapunk is indeed about disturbing and transgressing constructs of beauty, ideals, physicality, authorities, gender and surface, whether intended or not.

It builds on the anarchistic ways of Cyberpunk and the sea is, as we know, deep. More so, the maximalistic blue clutter seems insistent on splashing out positivity in the form of bright colors, dreamscapes, spiritual symbols and happy mammals.

If we exist in an exponentially digital and post-physical stage of being, we also have infinite possibilities of reshaping reality with our minds. Our imagination should if ever be on fully accelerated speed. But Seapunk seems to be one of the only articulated efforts of fully merging inter and outer realities to embrace a new elastic realm that is spacious, wet and planted with palm trees.

Maybe it’s the ultimate meaningless decadence. Maybe it’s an avant-garde attempt to evolve the human species. Subcultures are never treasured before long after they die out.


We had a chat with internet kid and Seapunk empress Zombelle about it to dive a little deeper.


Zombelle: I’m video chatting Rafa Dejota on my iPhone while I’m talking to you lol

Li: How cyber! How are you feeling today?

Zombelle: Ha! Very well. Happy.

Li: The term Seapunk arose from a surreal dream. Can you recall your last vivid dream?

Zombelle: I had a dream the other night where my father and I got into a yelling match, but I think lots of people have that dream at some point. I actually lucid dream but I’m always so responsible. I won’t do anything I wouldn’t do in this life. I don’t know if I should try to break through that or just appreciate it as a reflection of me being true to myself.

Li: Some girl wrote that Seapunk is dead on your wall the other day – is it?

Zombelle: Haha yeah I saw that. No, of course not. I’m pretty sure she just wanted attention. Most haters do. But I love my haters. They’re a reflection of myself. Just like you or my cats. How could Seapunk ever die? Does anything die? Doesn’t it just evolve into something less and less recognizable than the original until it becomes its own avatar?

Li: Seapunk definitely seems to have a life of its own now – do you encourage the different mutations or does it feel like a loss of control?

Zombelle: I’m not bent on controlling anyone else’s creative content or style be it music or fashion- the creative control comes in when any of these things are directly a representation of me or a project I’m involved in. For instance, Coral Records, Ultrademon‘s label – that is an example of when output is controlled in effect to keep a level of high quality content. Lot of producers email asking to be on Coral or “why won’t you put me out? I love your label,” but it’s not an open door policy. There is an intention. So, here’s some advice and please try again. So those people can’t say that they’re on Coral Records – the original Seapunk music label founded by the original creators of the Seapunk movement – but there are handfuls of new labels being created by fans of what we have done and definitely calling what they are doing Seapunk. Whether or not I agree with them on that is irrelevant. Seapunk is a feeling, an attitude and an expression – who am I to judge that? It just spider webs on and on outwardly from there. There is no control. The information is free. Anyone can get there. It’s just, how far are you gonna go with it? There are people who do things as a trend because they’re bored and there are people who do things as a trend because they truly feel it.

Li: You’re answering my questions before I ask them.

Zombelle: They call that Psypunk!

Li: So what happens to the ones that feel it?

Zombelle: Some reach an inner part of themselves just through the channels a new inspiration has taken them to. Seapunk for some is a fresh inspiration or motivator. An expression, like I said, that can open new pathways, hopefully leading to a broader, more open and positive outlook. Positivity is very important and I don’t mean that with any tone of irony.

Li: Do you think the brightness and positivity of Seapunk is a reaction to or escape from the dark shadows of a culture that seems to be obsessed with crisis?

Zombelle: I don’t think escapism is very healthy. I’ll speak for myself. I don’t find escapism to be healthy for me. Maybe it works for some. Something often said is “create your own paradise,” but I never intend this to be a nudge towards escapism. Seeing things with a broader scope, digesting information, thinking for yourself. Knowing yourself, having a relationship with yourself and recognizing the things you don’t like and making any small efforts to change those things for the better or to create a new outlook heavy with positivity hence not allowing the negativity bring you down. Okay stop, this isn’t a “you’ve got your roseys on” thing, but I honestly believe it is better to laugh than to cry and if I can create my world or environment to my liking, I’m going to try my hardest to do that.



Li: What do you think Seapunk has changed?

Zombelle: Since Seapunk everything has looked a lot more interesting and even more beautiful. It brought a relatable vibrancy to the world. And I can’t deny there is irony or sarcasm, even sardonic tones within the Seapunk community. That’s simply an online plague.

Li: Do you think it’s difficult for people to take something seriously that is also humoristic? Positivity seems to provoke people. It has to be ironic, so they can ridicule it.

Zombelle: Well they’re probably self-proclaimed “realists,” or pessimists, haters, antagonists? But isn’t it also intimidating to not understand something? Like maybe they think it’s uncool to think you have a higher self. But also aren’t we all just in it for the lolz?

Li: Thinking you have a higher self surely involves a greater amount of responsibility.

Zombelle: This is going to rub wrong but most people are stupid. Internet or not. There have always been ignorant people. It’s easier to laugh at something than to try to understand it.

Li: A year ago you described Seapunk as a meta-texture. Can you elaborate on that?

Zombelle: lol. No.

Li: What is important and meaningful to you?

Zombelle: Right now my cats are important to me because they’re keeping my feet warm during this Chicago winter. I don’t put much importance in possessions cause it’s a waste of energy. I like to laugh. That’s really important to me. Life is full of meaning. From it I can pull any meaning I want. For some reason this feels really personal and I don’t know what else to say because it’s so vast.

Li: I’m not trying to be personal, I’m trying to get a closer definition of the Seapunk beliefs from your point of view, because most people still perceive it as this hollow, superficial trend...

Zombelle: Most people are superficial. They’re just seeing what we do through the same superficial lens they see themselves through.

Li: So they could learn something from Seapunk?

Zombelle: I don’t know if they can learn from Seapunk. They could learn a lot by reading a book. Seapunk isn’t something meant to DO anything to anyone. But if someone approaches it and is moved by it or thinks they “get it” or they feel a connection, they might in turn learn something new about themselves from that experience. They might discover some new music they like or some new clothes they wanna get into.

Li: What if a lot of the critics are the well-educated, well-read ones and the ones taking Seapunk on are those who are shallow and don’t take it further than that?

Zombelle: How do you know they are well-educated? How do you know who’s shallow? And well-educated in what? By whom? Someone “well respected”?

Li: I follow your point. What would be different if the world were one unified Seapunk cult?

Zombelle: A book I really like that goes into answering your question is Terence McKenna’s Food of the Gods. That answers it far more eloquently than I could.

Li: Yes, that is an interesting read.

Zombelle: If the world were one unified Seapunk cult the earth would be covered in water.

Li: Is part of the Seapunk approach a praise of nature – an effort to surpass anthropocentricity?

Zombelle: Everything is a praise of nature, even that which destroys it, and yeah to surpass that “man first, human planet” mentality would be interesting. I wonder how THAT would change things!

Li: What are your thoughts on the world’s post-apocalyptic new beginning?

Zombelle: I always go straight to the land being swallowed by the oceans. Huge foreign bodies of water freak me out. I won’t even go in the ocean waters at the beaches. I just like to sit and watch the waves from afar. It’s terrifying. And I just think about it maybe someday happening… Not to say that it will. And from there I don’t know what would happen, I guess it depends on the planets and the universe by then. Polar shifts or whatever. It’s up to them, I have no idea what or when cause I’m not a prophet. But I think about that sometimes.

Li: So the empress of Seapunk is terrified of water, that’s interesting. Would you say you’re diving into your fear then, metaphorically?


Li: Ha, me too, and the Magician.

Zombelle: Haha, I would’t go that far but maybe that’s justified? “Dive into your fear” haha, so good. But yeah, there’s all kinds of things to dive into and my bio-survival imprint is in check so I’m not afraid it will kill me, I find it majestic and comforting.

Li: What’s at the bottom of the sea?

Zombelle: At the bottom of the sea is the top of a floor. At the bottom of the sea is The Abyss and you can for real breathe water, not like when you saw the movie and tried to breathe the pool water just to see.




Artwork by Kevin Heckart