South Florida chillwave artist Millionyoung plays during Art Basel week
It was really only a matter of time before chillwave found its way to South Florida. A fledgling, blog-fueled movement, chillwave — also known as glo-fi or hypnagogic pop — is an offshoot of the synth-based psychedelia of albums such as Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. Chillwave, however, takes the sound in a decidedly tropical direction, employing synths and reggae-tinged percussion in service of the perfect summery soundtrack. Yet unlike many of the breakout acts thus far — Washed Out (Perry, Georgia); Universal Studios Florida (Seattle); and Small Black (Brooklyn) — Coral Springs' Millionyoung, the nom de plume of Mike Diaz, gets to enjoy summer weather year-round.
Diaz discovered this music and was drawn to it, as many were, via the Internet. The term chillwave was coined sarcastically this past July on the satirical blog Hipster Runoff and subsequently spread far and wide thanks to a clutch of excellent singles. The blog Transparent has since emerged as the go-to source for new chillwave artists, a place to track the movement's rising stars.
Fitting for music so deeply indebted to the laptop, chillwave has thrived in virtual space. Although few of the acts live in close geographical proximity, many list each other as friends on MySpace and remix one another's tracks. "These artists have all heard of each other," Diaz says. "They're all around the same age and drawing from the same pool of inspiration, making something dream-like and ethereal."
Though Millionyoung is very much a part of the burgeoning genre, the tracks from his two EPs (Sunndreamm and Be So True) tend toward the kinetic as opposed to the laid-back. "Cynthia" and "Weak Ends," in particular, flaunt danceable beats, more appropriate for club-hopping than serene sunbathing. "It's probably because I only go out at night," Diaz says, explaining his music's more nocturnal bent. "I'm so busy during the day that I can't really enjoy the beach that much."
Also, in somewhat of a break from chillwave's stage-shunning, bedroom aesthetic, Diaz is attempting to make Millionyoung an active live project. Though limited to four dates thus far (two in South Florida and two in New York City), Diaz hopes to become a more regular fixture in the coming months. Onstage, he offers more than mere keyboard stroking, describing his performances as a "hybrid of a DJ and live band set." He plays both live synth and guitar parts over the prerecorded tracks fed through his laptop. For his next local show during Art Basel, Diaz promises to add yet another new wrinkle: live percussion. Millionyoung is still evolving and taking shape — much like chillwave itself.
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