As I try to move my empty water bottle with my mind I’m reminded of music from my past. Dusty eighties R&B vinyl’s from some sexy jheri curl band leaning against the wood paneling on my basement floor, on the television some man in a Hawaiian T-shirt is trying to sell me timeshare, his bad spiel is suddenly interrupted by a vintage 80’s porn with mullets and feathered hair do’s just going at it, but it all seems connected in some way. Ah yes…the physical manifestation of neon pumping from the speakers in my television. Starslinger, Com Truise, Onra, Washed Out, Memory Tapes, TOURS and Blood Diamonds…don’t know who they are? You will or maybe you wont. Chillwave or Glo-Fi lives at the edge of your mind, popping up like a memory of times long gone and if you wrap your mind around that then you’ve taken the first steps to understanding what Glo-fi is. That’s right it’s time for you 30 somethings to harness that bit of your past you were afraid to remember. It’s alright… I’ll remember it for you. The genre itself isn’t anything new, we’ve just added a few variants to it, one of them being a knack for sampling the shit out of 80’s R&B and giving all the mixes the lo-fi tape analog treatment the people from our time tried to hide but dem hipsters eat up. Groups like The System, Surface, Cameo and Mtume are “some” of the colors Chillwave artist work with. The “Glo” in Glo Fi is probably referencing the candyland glam (strawberries,raspberries…all those good things) and wet chessy sexiness that was usually associated with eighties R&B or it just sounds pretty. The “lo” well that’s the analog or non digital sound they achieve. No particular band can be referenced as being the source, but I will say this the trip hop group Boards Of Canada‘s influence is prevalent in all of it. They were the ones who began experimenting with raw analog and moog sounds in the mid 90’s and blending them with breakbeats. They even recorded on analog most of the time to really push the nostalgia just one step further. B.o.C contained a primarily Zeerust sound (that particular kind of datedness which afflicts things that were originally designed to look or sound futuristic.) With that they blended heavy basslines and samples usually from very obscure sources, but always something that had that element of 70’s childlike whimsy. As their popularity grew  trip hop groups like The Avalanches and Preface 73 formed bringing with them that same feel, but with more emphasis on hiphop/acid jazz. It would be bands like this that beginning hipsters listened to and took those break beats from their four fathers and pitch them down, dirty them up and wet the holy hell out of the vocals. The whole use of 80’s R&B is kind of a new thing and funny considering they aren’t tweaking anything but the low-end on most of the songs, keeping it’s structure and vocals for the most part completely intact. Royalties up the wahzoo? I think they’ve been able to avoid paying the original artist by giving most of the tracks away through websites. However there’s a storm coming Mr. Wayne. Some say shoegaze music help usher in Chillwave. I say shoegaze helped usher in everything slow and in saying that it’s more of a feel than true artistry like shoegaze, that has made Chillwave the monster it has become. For the most part it’s spawned because it’s an internet art form. There’s no real region in the U.S that is the hub of Chillwave. Chillwave artist are like the new methlabs and they are everywhere and they’ve been able to spread their doctrine via Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Everyone’s doing it and they don’t really seem to care if they have an audience or not. Just surfing Facebook I’ve come across several Chillwave artist some with twenty friends others with thousands, but all good. Guilty pleasure or serious career, they’re all bound by the common thread which for most is their parents supply of eighties vinyl. Now let’s talk about some of the visuals. Keeping close to the grassroots style of lo-fi music making, videos have been springing up all over youtube for these artist. Using old school techniques or techniques that are made to look old school, but is being done on pro software, they’re creating some visually noisey masterpieces from 80’s prom footage,Dance Party U.S.A episodes,vacation videos, commercials and the ever popular Beyond The Mind’s Eye series. Cats like Dreaming Android Films and David Burkhart are some of the VHS to digital, copyright dodging, hooligan’s laying waste to the Chillwave scene with footage the likes of which you’d like to forget.  Again this style of video making was one adopted by fans of B.o.C when youtube was a neophyte. You see B.o.C had no videos so fans took it upon themselves to create them using vintage television footage. NASA footage, 8mm home films etc. These were spliced and with that fans were able to take B.o.C’s music one step further. Don’t believe me? Just search youtube for B.o.C songs and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Maybe I am sourcing B.o.C as the beginning of Chillwave. I think It’s undeniable when you consider chillwave has incorporated everything about B.o.C’s esthetic into their movement. Maybe that’s the reason B.o.C hasn’t put out an album in awhile. Maybe they already know that it’s time to let theses yewts have the conch and in doing so they’ll take it in a new direction. I don’t know whether Chillwave artist have even heard of B.o.C, chances are they haven’t, but probably heard them somewhere and never thought to pursue the matter, but instead take that sound and make it their own. Hey…it happens. Why all this talk about chillwave? Well I found an excellent site on Tumblr yesterday and spent five straight hours downloading everything on it MR NONSENSE MUSIC is highly recommended for Chillwave aficionados and the like. Since then I knew I had to write this. Below I’ve posted some music and some videos. Feel free to explore the world and I hope I was able to clear things up for ya in case you were wondering, but you don’t have to take my word for it (Levar Burton). Oh and another sign that Chillwave/Glo-Fi/Hypnogogic Pop has come to fruition, checkout the movie Drive with Ryan Gosling. Tons of chillwave music in that one.

Published by Jeffrey Lamar

I’m an actor,musician and writer who's blended his love for all three into this blog.


  1. I sure as shit listened to a lot of B.o.C and Bibio (not to forget Ariel Pink) before starting to make chillwave; but i’ve always loved the lo-fi style, Guided By Voices might still be my favourite pop-band ever and the Mountain Goats’ ‘All Hail West Texas’ has been on my mp3-player for 4 years now and my favourite shoegaze band is Astrobrite.

    One thing in your thesis doesn’t apply to me though; I’ve always kind of disliked the eighties and there’s almost nothing in my parents’ vinyl that’s from that period. The ‘love’ for the 80s came after Com Truise entered my life.

    I’d like to hear what others have to say about this.

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