Ariel Pink: Chill wave?
Ariel Pink: Chill wave?
Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly

Where Did the Word 'Chillwave' Come From?

Bet no one ever realized that the hipster label "chill wave" started out as a joke on the Internet, and was earnestly followed up by every single blog in America. Thanks, Hipsterrunoff!
The blog A Kid Who Tells on Another Dead Kid is Dead traces its history here.

Though the term "Chillwave" is tagged in an earlier article that talks about Neon Indian on 4/20/09 (Carles gives Neon Indian's album a  7.267 out of 10), there is no appearance of the term in the text of the post.  Chillwave's first appearance in print looks like 7/27/09, in which Carles is searching for an appropriate name for musicians that...

...have a chill project, that is somewhat 'conceptual' but also demonstrates that ur band has 'pop sensibilities' or something. Not sure what the 'ceiling' for these types of bands are. Seems like they will probably have to build their 'live brand' as being something that is 'artistic.'...

Carles then goes on to bulletpoint possible genre labels for such bands, which included...

post-AnCo rock
Kewl Boring Music
Music 2 smoke weed 2
Synth Computer Pop Atmospheric Wave
Conceptual Blog Core

After the hilarious brainstorm, (WaveWave being my favorite), he settles on the now-eponymous Chillwave...

Feel like I might call it 'chill wave' music in the future. Feels like 'chill wave' is dominated by 'thick/chill synths' while conceptual core is still trying to 'use real instruments/sound like it was recorded in nature.' Feel like chillwave is supposed to sound like something that was playing in the background of 'an old VHS cassette that u found in ur attic from the late 80s/early 90s.'

And with Carles' hilarious jab at sub-sub-genre categorization, "Chillwave" itself became a sub-sub-genre.  And that's just where the story starts.  Since its unlikely birth, the c-word has come to represent a slew of self-aware bands, cloying affected imagery, as well as other cultural underpinnings.  I'll talk a little bit more about the genre, its bands, and its fans in the upcoming days.


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