The Origins of 10 Chillwave Band Names


So, bros, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about chillwave recently. For one thing, we’re kind of amazed that so many bands can create such similar music and all continue to earn rave reviews. (Today, for instance, Pitchfork graced Best Coast with an 8.4 and the title “Best New Music” and depressed us with the reminder that Bethany Cosentino used to be part of the awesomely out-there Pocahaunted.) Something else we’ve been wondering about is where all their beach-/California-/color-/water-themed band names came from. Did Wavves issue a memo back in 2008? Are the more recent acts copying the older ones? Are they all nostalgia trips? After the jump, we collect the stories behind 10 chillwave band names, directly from the mouths of the artists themselves.

Best Coast : “I had a friend who I went to college with in New York who was also from California – we would text message each other and be like, “Hey, are you back on the best coast yet?” It’s just funny, and I do think the west coast is the best coast. I wanted to have a name that proves that I think California is great… [O]riginally I called it Sundried, and then I was like, ��That’s a stupid name.’ I made a MySpace, and I couldn’t think of a name, and I just called it that. 2 or 3 days later I came up with Best Coast and it just was a much better name.”

Neon Indian: “That’s the one band name I can’t actually take credit for. When I started Ghosthustler right out of high school, my old friend Alicia decided to do mock retaliation and was like “Well if you’re gonna start a band called Ghosthustler, I’m gonna have a band of my own and it’s called …fucking Neon Indian,” but she didn’t play any instruments so the Myspace page just sat there for a few years. And when I started writing material for Psychic Chasms, given that so much of the lyrical content was centered around that particular period of my life, it just made perfect sense to name it after this make-believe band that existed sometime in high school. And even then I think it suits certain elements. I think that a lot of people are looking for some kind of contemporized, psychedelic music that implements much more newer elements instead of just like, a guitar with some delay on it doing crunchy riffs. People are looking for more electronic elements and that’s sort of what I’m trying to incorporate. So it’s kind of its own little nod to this tribal, psychedelic aesthetic that people are trying to tap into. Stuff like Animal Collective and Panda Bear. It’s kind of a reference to that.”

Washed Out:Pitchfork: Is there any meaning behind the name Washed Out?Ernest Greene: Not really. I guess I just heard it a lot, and it somehow fit. For the longest time, my MySpace was just my name, and I guess it was really a couple months ago that I changed it. There’s no real meaning behind it. I’ve heard some people say it kind of mirrors the aesthetic of the tunes, but I’ve never really thought about that too much.

Toro Y Moi: “I thought of it when I was in 15 and wanted it to be as random as possible. I thought it was cool that there were two languages in the name. I had no idea I would still have it and would at some point need a story behind it. I had a conversation yesterday about how hard people find pronouncing it. I’m not sure why.”

Memory Tapes: “The first name I had was Weird Tapes, which I got from this Hawkwind bootleg series. Memory Cassette was supposed to be a feminine alter-ego to Weird Tapes– that name came from old computers and synthesizers that had cassette memory. The full-length will come out as Memory Tapes, which is obviously a combination between the two.”

Surfer Blood: “Surfer Blood was kind of randomly generated by TJ, who has a bad habit, well, a wonderful habit actually, of butchering colloquialisms and creating new things that no one really understands and don’t make a lot of sense. We were on the road, heading to a show in Gainesville, we had to leave early in the AM, so we just threw some wet clothes into our bags. He had this funny surfer backpack form High School. Back then, he had the spiked hair and the bleached tips and all that stuff. He’s not like that anymore, he doesn’t surf that much anymore, but he used to be really into it. So I was making fun of him for it, I used to make fun of kids like that all the time back in high school. He was ragging on me too, and somehow out of that we came up with Surfer Blood. We both liked it right away, we knew it would be a song title or something. Then, when it came time to name the band, it fit really well with the music, it was just perfect.”

Small Black: “I was living in Portland with my friend in a house that didn’t have heat. We were very cold one night and there were raccoons running around in the house. We were coming up with band names and for some reason my friend came up with that. It was always going to be the band name once I heard it. The music became like the band name, rather than the reverse: Trying to name something that you’ve already created.”

Wavves:Prefix: So the name Wavves came from the time you jumped off this forty-foot cliff near San Diego known as “The Arch?”Nathan Williams: Yeah. I’m not too excited about water now. I trampolined off it, fully clothed. I was a teenager and had a lot of beer that night.

Beach Fossils: “Whenever I’m reading I make a list of words I like. Usually they’re words that aren’t as clear as Beach Fossils, but when you’re choosing a band name it needs to be something that people can remember. It’s kind of unfortunate because at the same time there was a lo-fi beach theme going on so we ended up getting lumped in with that. Now that’s phased out some maybe people will stop associating us with that genre.” [Ed. note: “Phased out”? Someone must have forgotten to tell Pitchfork…]

Delorean: “It was just watching TV or something. I can’t remember, really. Igor went “Hey, Delorean’s a cool name.” We went, “OK.” I didn’t really know much about it, whether it was an actual car or not. I found out later. Pretty silly and simple. I think it works for us. It’s just a name, but I kind of feel it familiar and I like it.”