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Not to be confused with Coldwave, a French variant of post-punk.

Chillwave (originally called glo-fi or hypnagogic pop;[3] also dream-beat[13]) is a subgenre of bedroom pop[1][2] characterized by a faded or dreamy retro pop sound and use of lo-fi recording techniques, effects processing, vintage synthesizers, and other attempts to loosely emulate 1980s electronic pop aesthetics as well as engage with notions of memory and nostalgia.[10][6][14] Shoegaze (along with dream pop) is considered the genre's direct antecedent.[15][16]

The popularity of chillwave reached its peak in mid 2010, with the vanguard represented by the artists Neon Indian, Washed Out, and Toro y Moi.[16] The term chillwave, which originated from the blog Hipster Runoff in 2009, was criticized for being nebulous and arbitrary, and after the style was the subject of much discourse on websites like Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork, it fell out of vogue.


The term chillwave was coined in July 2009 on the Hipster Runoff blog by Carles (the pseudonym used by the blog's author) on his accompanying "blog radio" show of the same name. Carles invented the genre name for a host of similarly sounding up-and-coming bands.[6] Kevin Liedel of Slant Magazine listed the genre's characteristics as "faded soundscapes, dreamy lyrical reflections, and warm, anachronous instrumentation meant to invoke the analog glow of late-'70s/early-'80s slow jams."[17] Eric Grandy in 2009 wrote in The Stranger, "The genre's great unifying theme is a kind of fond nostalgia for some vague, idealized childhood. Its posture is a sonic shoulder shrug, a languorous, musical 'whatevs'."[18] Jon Pareles in 2010 wrote in the New York Times, "They're solo acts or minimal bands, often with a laptop at their core, and they trade on memories of electropop from the 1980s, with bouncing, blipping dance-music hooks (and often weaker lead voices). It's recession-era music: low-budget and danceable."[9]

The genre is also an example, according to writer Garin Pirnia, of shifting the idea away from defining a musical movement's birth in part by a specific geographic location, as is historically done, to focusing instead on how the groups became linked and defined through various outlets on the Internet. Pirnia wrote in 2010 (quoting Alan Palomo of Neon Indian), "Whereas musical movements were once determined by a city or venue where the bands congregated, 'now it's just a blogger or some journalist that can find three or four random bands around the country and tie together a few commonalities between them and call it a genre.'"[6]


See also: Dream pop

Discussing chillwave In 2011, Pitchfork's Nitsuh Abebe writes that, since at least 1992, the genre has existed for the same principal reason: "stoned, happy college kids listening to records while they fall asleep."[19] He explains:

... something that could pass for today's "chillwave" has existed, in wide and steady circulation, at just about every moment for 20 years, and mostly as such a rote and staple sound that nobody would even think to name it specifically. At some points it'd have been considered "dreampop" (some of those Washed Out vocals are a dead ringer for Slowdive), or "ambient" (see: Darla Records' late-90s "Bliss Out" series), or compared to Boards of Canada (see: Casino Versus Japan), or tagged as "indietronica." But I'm pretty sure it was always, always happening.[19]

An earlier example of chillwave may be identified with the Beach Boys' song "All I Wanna Do" from their 1970 album Sunflower.[20][21] Observers[weasel words] have noted that Panda Bear, especially his 2007 album Person Pitch, foreshadowed the movement proper. Panda Bear's technique, however, placed an emphasis on looped found sounds and sound collages as opposed to chillwave's emphasis on vintage synthesizers and synth programming.[22][self-published source][23] The band Animal Collective, which includes Panda Bear, is also noted as foreshadower of the movement.[24][25] Boards of Canada were also inspirational to the development of chillwave.[26]

Criticism and decline[edit]

George McIntire, of the San Francisco Bay Guardian described chillwave's origin as in the "throes of the blogosphere" and called the term a "cheap, slap-on label used to describe grainy, dancey, lo-fi, 1980s inspired music" and a "disservice to any band associated with it."[27] Grantland's Dave Schilling argued that chillwave was a "made-up genre", writing:

It really only existed from the summer of 2009 to the beginning of 2011, around the time when no one was sure how much of Hipster Runoff was a gag and how much was sincere tastemaking. ... [The music] could have been thrown in with existing genres like shoegaze or dream pop, but by creating a term from nothing, it revealed how arbitrary and meaningless labels like that really are. It wasn’t a scene. It was a parody of a scene, both a defining moment for the music blogosphere and the last gasp. Sites like Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork bought into it for a while, and sincere think pieces in traditional media publications like the Wall Street Journal asked, "Is Chillwave the Next Big Music Trend?"

It never could have been a proper trend, because it was transparently manufactured.[15]

According to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's Reed Fischer, Pitchfork's 3.8 rating of Millionyoung's Replicants (2011) signaled that the genre was "dead", remarking "over the course of this 309-word baby of a review does Larry Fitzmaurice actually mention the actual recording he's listening to. ... What many artists didn't realize (but will come to find out when they get stinker reviews) was that they had to release their chillwave 1.0 projects by December 31, 2010."[28] By 2016, Neon Indian's Alan Palomo described labels like chillwave and vaporwave as "arbitrary" and noted that he "couldn't have been more happy" about the chillwave descriptor falling out of favor.[29] Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick publicly expressed ambivalence toward the genre, saying, "I felt like it did its thing, and once it became a thing, people stopped caring about it, even the artists [making it]... I like the fact that I'm associated with it. It's cool. Not a lot of artists get a chance to be a part of some sort of movement, so I guess in a way I'm super flattered to be considered a part of that."[30]

List of artists[edit]




  1. ^ a b Harris, Lev (August 11, 2011). "Life, Leisure & Loads Of Reverb: An Interview With Washed Out". The Quietus. 
  2. ^ a b Phaneuf, Whitney (January 9, 2013). "Toro Y Moi Eases Into Adulthood". East Bay Express. 
  3. ^ a b Weiss, Dan (July 6, 2012). "Slutwave, Tumblr Rap, Rape Gaze: Obscure Musical Genres Explained". LA Weekly. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hinkes-Jones, Llewellyn (15 July 2010). "Downtempo Pop: When Good Music Gets a Bad Name". The Atlantic. 
  5. ^ a b c d Turner, David. "IS INDIE ROCK OVER THE WHITE MALE VOICE?". MTV News. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Pirnia, Garin (13 March 2010). "Is Chillwave the Next Big Music Trend?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Despres, Sean. "Whatever you do, don't call it 'chillwave'". Japan Times. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  8. ^ Cornelis, Kris. "Q&A: Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick on Being 'Straight-Up Tired of Music'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Jon Pareles (2010-03-21). "Spilling Beyond a Festival's Main Courses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  10. ^ a b Whiteley, Sheila; Rambarran, Shara (January 22, 2016). The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality. Oxford University Press. 
  11. ^ Pounds, Ross (June 30, 2010). "Why Glo-Fi's Future Is Not Ephemeral". The Quietus. 
  12. ^ Lhooq, Michelle (December 27, 2013). "Is Vaporwave The Next Seapunk?". Vice (magazine). Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ Cragg, Michael (October 16, 2010). "Neon Indian: Psychic Chasms". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved August 21, 2015. 
  14. ^ Keenan, Dave (2009). "Childhood's End". The Wire (306). 
  15. ^ a b Schilling, Dave (April 8, 2015). "That Was a Thing: The Brief History of the Totally Made-Up Chillwave Music Genre". 
  16. ^ a b Eady, Ashley (February 14, 2014). "Chillwave: Has The Next "Big Thing" Arrived?". WRVU Nashville. 
  17. ^ Liedel, Kevin (11 August 2013). "Washed Out: Paracosm". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Grandy, Eric. "Triumph of the Chill". The Stranger. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (July 22, 2011). "Chillin' in Plain Sight". Pitchfork. 
  20. ^ "Song Premiere: The Bright Light Social Hour "All I Wanna Do" (Beach Boys Cover)". Relix. March 14, 2016. 
  21. ^ Polinice (November 25, 2013). "Gli Uomini del Capitano: pezzi scritti dai membri secondari di una band". Polinice. 
  22. ^ Slothbear, Indy Rock Reviews [sic] ::: Panda Bear - Tomboy/Slow Motion 7", SPOTBLOG, July 23, 2010.
  23. ^ Brent DiCrescenzo, "Bros Icing Bros: Which Mellow Act Is the True King of Chill?" Time Out Chicago, July 15–21, 2010: 20.
  24. ^ a b c d e The Decade in Music Genre Hype - Page 3 - Music - New York - Village Voice
  25. ^ Hawking, Tom (January 14, 2015). "Why Do Animal Collective Suddenly Sound So Dated?". Flavorwire. 
  26. ^ Fallon, Patric (June 10, 2013). "Deep Inside: Boards of Canada 'Tomorrow's Harvest'". XLR8R. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  27. ^ McIntire, George (February 26, 2013). "Just chill". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  28. ^ Fischer, Reed (February 21, 2011). "Pitchfork Uses Millionyoung to Declare Chillwave Dead". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. 
  29. ^ Prickett, Sam (April 11, 2016). "Neon Indian's Lurid Nightlife". Weld for Birmingham. Retrieved 2016-05-06. 
  30. ^ Prickett, Sam (October 13, 2015). "Toro Y Moi asks the big question: What For?". Weld for Birmingham. Retrieved 2016-05-06. 
  31. ^ Kelly, Zach. "Millionyoung Be So True EP". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Adam Kivel (April 20, 2012). "Toro Y Moi – June 2009". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  33. ^ Mettler, Mike (March 31, 2015). "Interview: Tycho (Scott Hansen) on touring, digital vs. analog". Digital Trends. Retrieved December 29, 2016. Ambient chillwave maestro Tycho always has his head in the clouds — something the man also known as Scott Hansen takes as quite the compliment. 
  34. ^ Hathaway, Aaron (March 25, 2015). "Tycho's ethereal chill-wave mesmerizes Majestic". The Badger Herald. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Photos: Lotus and Tycho at Red Rocks, 09/17/16". The Denver Post. September 19, 2016. Retrieved December 29, 2016. Electronic jam band Lotus and chillwave producer Tycho performed at Red Rocks on Saturday, September 17. 
  36. ^ a b c Sherburne, Phillip (January 5, 2010). "Hey Dude, You Got Chillwave In My Glo-Fi". Rhapsody. Archived from the original on March 24, 2010.