The downbeat: 3 artists to listen to for a chill-out mood


Senior Sophia Johnson discusses music in her column for the Wildcat Chronicle.

By Sophia Johnson, Columnist

A break during the hustle and bustle of daily life can be hard to come by. Finding a safe space in music is a great de-stresser, and can help your mind’s productivity. With a diverse list of “chill-out” or R&B artists, I guarantee a smooth relaxation experience. 

While the concept of chill music has been around for decades, the “chillout” genre of music started to appear in clubs following the dance revolution of the early 1990s. Electronic dance music began to be seen less frequently in the music scene following the Criminal Justice Act of 1994, legislation that was presented in the UK after a large number of unlicensed rave parties swept the nation. This law prohibited outdoor gatherings where amplified music was present. In doing so, music fans introduced the idea of “chill” music, or ambient style, which takes a lower profile, with soothing rhythms and little to no repeating beats, unlike typical rave music. 

If you are looking for an artist to groove to but still have a laid-back mood… 

Haitian-Canadian entertainer Kaytranada made history at the 2021 Grammys, winning  Best Dance/Electronic Album for his newest studio album, Bubba. Not only that, but he became the first Black producer to win the award, as well as the first openly gay producer to win in that category.

Kaytranada’s stage name means, “a chant or rally-cry.” His music style was mostly inspired by New York’s then- emerging hip-hop scene in the 70s and late 80s. While Kaytranada has been producing music since the early 2010s, the 28-year-old is thriving in the music scene the past couple years with popular collaborations with fellow artists, Kali Uchis and Anderson. Paak. Kaytranada has an unbeatable stage presence that incorporates disco and funk styles with chill-style beats unlike no other on the music scene today. 

Style: Inventive, funk-meets-electronica sound

SJ’s Favorite Chill-Out Song: What You Need – song by KAYTRANADA, Charlotte Day Wilson

Photo by Kaytranada

If you are looking for a motivational type of chill mood…

Jhené Aiko is an LA-born singer-songwriter who has been in the music industry for most of her life, racking up many accomplishments. She started off in the hip-hop/r&b scene, teaming up with artists in the early 2000s like Big Sean and Childish Gambino. After giving birth to her daughter in 2008, Aiko’s music has mellowed a bit, along with her media presence. Her third studio album, released in 2020, Chilombo, “earned three Grammy Award nominations including Album of the Year,” as per DefJam Records. With Aiko’s new-found spiritual journey, she incorporates healing and freedom for herself while preaching peace to her audience. Her gentle vocals and contemporary/alternative R&B production bring comfort when listening.

Style: Psychedelic neo-soul with a restorative girl-boss feel

SJ’s Favorite Chill-Out Song: song by Jhené Aiko – Summer 2020

Singer Jhené Aiko got her start with the group B2K. (Photo by Entertainment Weekly)

If you enjoy nostalgia, with a still mellow feel…

Coldplay is a British alternative rock and pop band that has been active since 1996, and consists of four musicians, led by Chris Martin. The group met at University, then wrote their first release for a major record label 4 years later, a fact which is truly impressive, as is  their track record of awards and studio albums(9) . They produced their best music in the mid 2010s with albums Mylo Xyloto (2011) and  A Head Full of Dreams (2015), which both contain some of the best chill songs ever written, such as “Paradise” and “Adventure of a Lifetime.” As Coldplay still continues to tour, even after their 20th year anniversary as a band, they have truly become a household name in the world of relaxing music. 

Style: Ambient meets progressive rock with a pinch of electronic

SJ’s Favorite Chill-Out Song: song by Coldplay – Speed of Sound

British band Coldplay has been singing together since 1996. (Photo by The Upcoming)

In a study done at Vaughn College on the effects of chill music on the brain, researchers found alternative-style “chill” music “helps the front lobe in our brain to focus – those flaws or low hums can also put the brain in the mindset to focus. The relaxing effect and perfect tempo keeps listeners engaged without making them sleep.”

If you have never tried listening to chill-style music, I suggest diversifying your music taste by exploring through the artists and their music above.