Ariel Pink was born on June 24, 1978, the son of Mario Z. Rosenberg and Linda Rosenberg-Kennett. His father, a gastroenterologist, was born in Mexico City and his family is Jewish. His parents divorced when he was two years old. Rosenberg was raised in the Beverlywood area of Los Angeles. In his youth, he attended Beverly Hills High School and later entered the California Institute of the Arts studying visual art. After dropping out, he joined a Hindu ashram before focusing on music, wanting to "hide my personality, I could sing in different voices, use cover pictures that looked nothing like me".
Working at a record store, Rosenberg developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the pop canon, listening and absorbing everything from Michael Jacksonand '80s radio pop to more obscure, experimental music, such as R. Stevie Moore, Throbbing Gristle, Can and death metal. He has cited The Cure – particularly their early albums – as his favorite band of all time.He started writing songs at "around age 10" and has since recorded over 500 songs in various shapes and forms on hundreds of cassette tapes, the majority of which have never been released.
Rosenberg's early recordings, often conspicuously DIY, foregrounded a distinctive lo-fi sound that has since gone on to inspire various artists and styles; he has been described as the "godfather of chillwave." His approach subverts the common privileging of songwriting over production, making the recording medium and sound texture a large part of the artwork itself.After receiving attention in early discussions of hauntology in music, the "hypnagogic pop" label was coined to describe him and similar sounding acts from the late 2000s. Pink produces and plays almost all of his own music, and, in his early days, was noted for creating drum sounds and effects using his mouth.Despite having a low profile in the mid-to-late nineties, his self-recorded music was considered to be influential on the development of the DIY culture in music.