Chillwave – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Genres Glossary

I. What is Chillwave?

Chillwave is a genre of music that emerged in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It is characterized by its dreamy, lo-fi sound that often incorporates elements of electronic music, synth-pop, and indie rock. The term “chillwave” was coined by the music blog Hipster Runoff in 2009 to describe a new wave of music that was characterized by its laid-back, relaxed vibe. Chillwave is often associated with summer vibes, nostalgia, and a sense of escapism.

II. Origins of Chillwave

The origins of chillwave can be traced back to the early 2000s, with artists like Washed Out, Toro y Moi, and Neon Indian being credited as pioneers of the genre. These artists drew inspiration from 80s synth-pop, shoegaze, and ambient music, creating a sound that was both nostalgic and forward-thinking. Chillwave gained popularity in the indie music scene in the late 2000s, with blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork championing the genre.

III. Characteristics of Chillwave

Chillwave is characterized by its hazy, atmospheric sound, often created using synthesizers, drum machines, and effects like reverb and delay. The music is typically slow-paced, with laid-back beats and dreamy melodies. Vocals in chillwave music are often soft and ethereal, adding to the overall dream-like quality of the genre. Chillwave songs often evoke a sense of nostalgia, with themes of longing, escapism, and summer romance.

IV. Key Artists in Chillwave

Some of the key artists in the chillwave genre include Washed Out, Toro y Moi, Neon Indian, and Small Black. These artists were instrumental in shaping the sound of chillwave and gaining popularity for the genre in the indie music scene. Other notable artists in the genre include Memory Tapes, MillionYoung, and Craft Spells. Chillwave has also influenced a new wave of artists in the indie and electronic music scenes, with artists like Tycho, Com Truise, and Brothertiger drawing inspiration from the genre.

V. Influence of Chillwave on Other Genres

Chillwave has had a significant influence on other genres of music, particularly in the indie and electronic music scenes. The dreamy, lo-fi sound of chillwave has been incorporated into genres like synth-pop, shoegaze, and ambient music, creating a new wave of artists who blend elements of chillwave with their own unique styles. Chillwave has also influenced the aesthetics of music videos, album artwork, and live performances, with artists embracing a retro, nostalgic vibe in their visuals.

VI. Criticisms and Controversies surrounding Chillwave

Like any genre of music, chillwave has faced its share of criticisms and controversies. Some critics argue that chillwave is too derivative, drawing too heavily from 80s synth-pop and other genres without adding anything new or innovative. Others criticize chillwave for its lack of substance, with some artists accused of prioritizing style over substance in their music. Additionally, there have been debates within the music community about the authenticity of chillwave, with some questioning whether the genre is a genuine artistic movement or simply a passing trend. Despite these criticisms, chillwave continues to have a dedicated fan base and remains a popular genre in the indie music scene.