In June 2009, Greene graduated with a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of South Carolina and was unable to find a job as a librarian. Greene moved back home to the rural town of Perry, Georgia and started producing songs in his bedroom studio. He soon won the favor of a number of influential music bloggers after they found his music on his MySpace page. His style has been identified with the Chillwave movement. He has identified hip hop as influencing the way he writes songs. The first two Washed Out EPs were released in August and September 2009. Washed Out made his debut New York City performance (his second live show ever) at Santos Party House. He has since performed at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival and his song "Feel it All Around" is featured in the opening sequence of the TV series Portlandia.
In April 2011 it was announced that he had been signed to Sub Pop. His debut album, Within and Without, was released on July 12, 2011. The album peaked twenty-six on the U.S. Billboard 200 and eighty-nine on the UK Albums Chart.He has been chosen by Battles to perform at the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas festival that they co-curate in December 2011 in Minehead, England