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It’s important to clarify this because I see synthwave music being posted here sometimes.
Chillwave is in fact older than synthwave. This confusion, that seems to have spread to the point even reputable bloggers such as Iron Skullet fall for this mistake, is due to the fact there is a “chill” subgenre of synthwave. Like there is a “dark” subgenre of synthwave (darksynth) that is sometimes wrongly called darkwave (which is a subgenre of goth that is also older than synthwave itself).
Chillwave is an offshoot of the 2000s‘ Indie movement. As indie rock artists experimented more and more with sampling and synthesized sounds and digital effects, in a DIY environment (most used soft synths and computer plugins rather than physical vintage synths), the genre took form. I do wish the mods pinned a post with a direct link to the Wikipedia entry on the genre, as well as a small list with the pioneers of the genre.
Chillwave is also a direct ancestor of vaporwave (and thus, vaporwave is also unrelated to synthwave, even though there’s some overlap with the *visual* aesthetics).