Clubbers' Decktionary: Chillwave
A guide to the myriad genres of clubbing, from Devil Disco DJ Hobbes
aka glo fi, proper noun.
Generally down-tempo to mid-tempo (ie 80–120 bpm) danceable American indie/electro-pop style; usually made by solo artists with a laptop or small outfits; predominantly influenced by 80s analogue and electronica, late 80s/early 90s shoegaze (hence the ‘nu gaze’ strand) and ambient, plus some 60s psych and folk.
Origins Allegedly coined by Carles, the author of scathingly satirical US blog Hipster Runoff, the term is a controversial one. Its main proponents claim it isn’t a genuine musical scene/genre so much as a geographically disparate bunch of artists who have been pigeon-holed by bloggers and critics in that perennial rush to identify a hip new trend. Most of these acts have been around for three or four years, but 2010 was credited with a ‘summer of chillwave’ by the US critics. Panda Bear (founding member of acclaimed Baltimore/New York psychedelic indie band Animal Collective) and LA’s Ariel Pink have both been identified as forerunners of the scene, while Baltimore outfit Beach House may also have had an influence via their self-titled 2006 album.
Key figures New Jersey’s Memory Tapes is one of chillwave’s biggest stars, alongside Texas’s Neon Indian and South Carolina’s Toro Y Moi, although all three have either directly disputed the tag or seemed keen to shrug off its shackles. Com Truise, also from New Jersey, and Georgia’s Washed Out, also a close friend of Toro Y Moi, are hot on their heels, while Ohio’s Teengirl Fantasy flirted with a similar sonic palette on their debut album, 7 AM. New York’s Twin Sister, Small Black and Warm Ghost have all also been affiliated with the style.