Behind the music of Generation Z, explored through the sound of the band chilldspot

It’s been two years since a group of four high school students in Tokyo released songs that overwhelmed us with their advanced level of music in 2020. Chilldspot’s presence in the music scene has spread far and wide, and are thrilling audiences all over Japan. Their presence at music festivals is also significant; once you see them live, you can’t help but be intoxicated by their sound.

Although we’ve been seeing them perform more at large music festivals and events, if you think about it, they’ve only recently turned 20 years old. Yes, they’re the youth of Gen Z and beyond.

In this interview, we asked how they came to form the band, what kind of music inspires them, and how they make their music their own. We spoke with the vocalist and guitarist of the band, Hiyune.

Born in 2002, Hiyune is the vocalist and guitarist in the Tokyo-born band chilldspot. They released their 1st EP while still attending high school, in November of 2020. In September 2022, they released their third EP Titles, and their song, “Like?” was chosen as the theme song for the sixth installment of the TV Asahi series “Azatokute Nani Ga Warui No?” In addition to Hiyune, chilldspot is a four-piece band consisting of Kozaki on bass, Ryozan on guitar, and Justin on drums.
Instagram:@chilldspot_official / @hiyune_

I formed a band to make the most of my original music

——First, please tell us how chilldspot came to be.

Hiyune: In the beginning, I accompanied myself singing and wrote original songs. But since I had no understanding of DTMs and my guitar skills were lacking, I wasn’t able to make the most of my songs. That’s when I decided to form a band.

——That means the band began with your solo career. Which artists influenced you to start performing with a guitar to accompany your vocals?

Hiyune: As for singing original songs with guitar, I was inspired by Aimyon, Sakura Fujihara, and Remi (Matsuo Remi) of GLIM SPANKY, who all sang while playing acoustic guitar. In terms of original music, the answer is simply that my mechanical ineptitude made me give up on making music on DTMs. So instead of using a computer, I chose to use a guitar to write. Besides, computers are too expensive for middle/high schoolers; a guitar was easier to get a hold of. Now I can manage DTMs, but I still make demos with my guitar. I guess it suits my personality.

——Then you wrote original songs and came up with the idea of forming a band.

Hiyune: Yes. I started writing songs in my first and second years of high school. The first song I wrote is called “Yoru No Tanken”. After that, I continued writing songs on my guitar, and during the winter of my second year of high school, we started writing songs as chilldspot.

chilldspot “Yoru No Tanken”

——How did you assemble the members?

Hiyune: The first person I invited was Kozaki, a childhood friend from elementary school. Then, I recruited Justin, who was in the same after school band club as me. Ryozan went to a different high school, but we were fortunate enough to play in the same band at a joint music event for schools in the area. I liked him ever since that experience playing together. And that’s how I asked each person to join the band. At the start, all I did was invite them to play my original songs with me. We were just doing it to genuinely have fun as a band.

——But the band grew in name, and is now often described as having a strong likeness to black music-based bands such as Nulbarich and Kroi. Were those funk and R&B influences the band’s sonic roots from the start?

Hiyune: Not really. I made the songs on the first EP, the youth night thinking that it was J-pop. I personally wasn’t aware of any black musical influences while making it, but my band members and people around me often mentioned that parallel, which surprised me. I guess all the members like listening to Nulbarich and Kroi, so perhaps we were all naturally influenced by them.

——I see. So it’s not like you researched black music at all?

Hiyune: I didn’t. I wasn’t even conscious of it. I mostly only listened to Vocaloid music all throughout middle school. But once I started high school, I was moved by GLIM SPANY’s “Orokamono Tachi” and thought that Nulbarich and Suchmos were cool, that I imitated their singing, fell in love with their melodies, and learned their lyrics. I do believe those influences have made me more versatile.

Our strength is that we aren’t bound by genres

——I see. It’s not that you absorbed influences from Suchmos and Nulbarich in real time, but you did it in such a way that’s unique to your generation. Currently, chilldspot has become a major presence as a band and in the scene. Compared to when the band was first formed, what do you do as a band now, and what kind of things do you plan to communicate musically?

Hiyune: I think our roots have stayed the same. I just want the members to keep having fun. However, the more the band grows, the more our sensibilities change as we expose ourselves to more music. Therefore, I think the music that we want to make has changed since we first started. Our strength is that we aren’t bound by genres in this age of subscription services where you can listen to music without being restricted to a singular genre. We want to incorporate whatever music we like in that moment into our music and express it as chilldspot to the fullest extent. Also, in terms of scale, we used to enjoy playing among our friends, but now that we’re performing on larger stages more often, I’ve developed a clear desire to become a band that’s suited for such venues and to create a groove that envelops the entire crowd. We’d like to grow in that area.

——I think the genre-less incorporation of music has become chilldspot’s musical style. What kind of music are you currently listening to?

Hiyune: I’ve been into alternative-leaning music. I listen to Sasha Alex Sloan and Maggie Rogers a lot. I think the songs “Like?” or “BYE BYE” from our EP Titles were heavily influenced by them. Other artists I listen to include Claire Rosinkranz and Beebadoobee. I like the lo-fi sound of Arlo Parks and Rex Orange County, too. Even though they’re not considered alternative, I like their sound quality.

chilldspot “Like?”

——The EP Titles gave me a general impression of alternative and grunge. Now I know those artists were your inspiration!

Hiyune: Yes. But I’ve always liked alternative and grunge. I think the song, “Ningentte” on our first EP really rocks. That’s why we personally feel we’ve always been consistent! Instead of trying something new or out of the ordinary for every project, the members are flexible enough to adapt to what I’m into at that time.

chilldspot “Ningentte”

How to retrieve and internalize the overflowing amount of information

——That’s true. Your stance hasn’t wavered since your debut in 2020 when you were all still attending high school. The members of chilldspot are classified as Generation Z, and you’re just now entering your twenties. What do you feel are the differences in musical expression between your generation and past generations?

Hiyune: This is neither good nor bad, but I think my generation’s weapon is that we’re able to absorb things quickly. We’re in an environment where we can listen to different music via subscriptions, which then helps us obtain ideas. Although it’s easier to acquire, the problem is that it’s difficult to internalize and make the most of that information.

Nowadays, even if you don’t have the sheet music for a song you’re interested in learning, you can easily find the tabs for it. Instead of copying that tab, learning it by ear can help you internalize it and develop your musical expression better. There’s a lot of information you can absorb, but you have to choose your own path of hard work to retrieve the information as your own. I think that may be the difference between us and our predecessors’ generations.

——The fact that information is so readily available makes other aspects all the more difficult.

Hiyune: Exactly. If you wanted to make songs on your own, you could use a DTM, and you can look for band members on the Internet. The time it takes to act on something that you thought of is very quick. For example, if you go viral on TikTok or another social media site, you could even sign with a major label. Taking action and it immediately leading to virality might also be a Gen Z characteristic.

Music that’s not aiming to trend, but that we can confidently say is good

——As you mentioned, more and more young artists are becoming famous through social media. Recently, many artists have been releasing so-called “viral-aiming” music. How does chilldspot relate to that?

Hiyune: We’ve never been particularly conscious of going viral because of our belief that we want to make music that we can have fun with. It would be great if the music we like to make was accepted by social media and resulted in an influx of listeners.

——So ultimately, the basis of chilldspot is to enjoy yourselves, first and foremost.

Hiyune: Yes. If we can’t make fun music that we think is good, I don’t believe our listeners would enjoy it, either. Even if there’s not much response from the listeners, the fact that we made something that we can confidently say is good is incredibly encouraging. That’s why we want to do our best to create what we love now, without making any compromises.

——Please tell us what chilldspot’s and your personal goals are for the future.

Hiyune: It used to be vague, but now that we’ve performed at various festivals, I have a clear goal of wanting to be a band that suits a big stage. It’s not simply that we want to be more successful, but the consensus of the members is that we want to increase the number of listeners we have so that one day when we perform at a big venue, we’ll be a band that doesn’t look inferior to the stage.

As for my personal goals, performing as a guest with Elephant Gym at Fuji Rock left an impression on me. (At Fuji Rock Festival ‘22, Hiyune performed as a guest performer on the song “Shadow”.) It was the first time I sang with a band other than chilldspot, which was a different kind of excitement for me. I felt that singing live with a hand mic suited me well. I’d like to write songs that would allow me to do that in the future, and I’d also like to do solo music. But there’s no point in doing what I want irresponsibly, so I want to challenge myself when I know I can take it on properly.

Elephant Gym “Shadow (feat. hiyune from chilldspot)”

■New Single(Digital)
get high
Streaming release: 12/16

Photography Shinpo Kimura
Text Ryo Tajima
Translation Mimiko Goldstein


Shuichi Aizawa

Born in Miyagi Prefecture. After editor of street culture magazine and catalogs, he joined INFAS Publications in 2018. After working in the editorial department of “STUDIO VOICE”, he currently belongs to the “TOKION” editorial dept. Currently, He enjoys parenting.