The members of Cero have just finished recording their radio show, “Night Drifter,” when I meet them at the InterFM897 studios in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. When I walk into the studio, one of the group immediately points out my T-shirt, which has an air-brushed depiction of a beach at sunset with the word “chillwave” spray-painted across it.

Chillwave was a style of music popular on music websites at the start of the decade, and one of many micro-genres that enjoyed the fleeting attention of indie music aficionados. The group’s members list off a number of blogs, bands and buzzwords from the era, but the most striking thing about our conversation is that Cero, a band that has charted on Japan’s painfully mainstream Oricon album charts, is incredibly knowledgeable about niche music cultures — a rarity among Oricon’s usual acts. Then again, the band used to be one of those niche takuroku (bedroom recording) acts not too long ago.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.