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Vulture’s Brief History of Chillwave

“I am the undisputed creator of the genre name,” Carles, the enigmatic blogger behind Hipster Runoff, is telling Vulture via Gchat. “The term 'chillwave' did not exist until I created it.” He’s indisputably right: Chillwave — a catchall term for recent practitioners of fuzzed-out, dance-ready, nostalgia-inducing tunes — was born out of a Hipster Runoff blog post in the summer of 2009, then gained unlikely legitimacy via Wall Street Journal and New York Times coverage. Now, the micro-genre’s holy trinity — Washed Out, Toro y Moi, and Neon Indian — is spearheading a second wave of much-hyped album releases. In fact, just this week Washed Out’s Within and Without copped Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music tag, with the ‘Fork declaring, “Despite being the butt of jokes … chillwave as an idea and a sound is here to stay.” Unbelievably, goofily, Carles was right: Chillwave is “the first successful genre launch in 10-20 years.” To mark the auspicious development, Vulture traveled to the far indie-rock corners of the Internet and powwowed with Carles himself to bring you this: the story of chillwave.

Photo: From top right: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic (Neon Indian), Erez Avissar (Panda Bear), Adam Weinberg (Washed Out, Toro y Moi).