Toro Y Moi set for 2013 UK tour with third album Anything in Return
Him and his spectacles were at the forefront of the chillwave trend but South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick, aka Toro Y Moi, prefers jumping in and out of music’s pigeonholes
‘I want to make music that people should hear, not what they want to hear,’ says Chazwick ‘Chaz’ Bundick, the South Carolina native who records a selection of boundary-pressing intelligent dance tracks under the alias Toro Y Moi, amongst many others. It’s as good a mission statement as any for a 26-year-old whose new album Anything in Return has shifted focus away from his previous days at the forefront of the genre rather awkwardly pegged as ‘chillwave’ and into a new dimension of lithe and upbeat electronic pop.
Bundick describes the new album, his third, as a combination of its predecessors Causers of This (2010) and Underneath the Pine (2011), the former a largely electronic record which subsumed its obvious willingness to give up the funk beneath a strata of techy, glitch electronica, and the latter one which strode in entirely the opposite, more analogue direction.
‘I’ve been interested in dance music for a while,’ says Bundick, a quietly-spoken and sometimes taciturn interviewee who answers with thoughtful diligence when he gets into his stride. ‘I just wanted to go back into that room for this record, especially because the last one had much more of a live feel, with everything played live. I was listening to a lot of house music when I made this one, a lot of funk music. Specifically, like, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Floating Points, Lonnie Liston Smith, a lot of Talking Heads…’.
Some of these influences are more apparent than others on, for example, the glorious house shuffle of ‘Say That’ or the futurist broken beat of ‘So Many Details’. Bold steps have clearly been made by a young man who started out playing piano then writing on guitar in his teens, and who freely admits his earliest musical experiences were trying to emulate the sound of Pixies and Weezer. ‘I wasn’t really into electronic music until I went to college,’ he says, ‘the first guys I got into were Daft Punk and Digitalism, RJD2 and J-Dilla.’
How did the big breakthrough towards being the artist he is now arrive? ‘I got a laptop when I went to school and a friend of mine gave me a program,’ he recalls. ‘It was mind-blowing to see what it could do, I’d never seen it in my life.’ Referencing his more dancefloor orientated side project Les Sins, however, he says that electronic is much more difficult than analogue.
‘It’s really hard making electronic music,’ he says. ‘You’ve got to add all those elements it doesn’t have, it’s just more challenging in a way. You have to give it rhythm and life, and give it organic characteristics. It’s very tedious work, it’s not just clicking buttons, it shouldn’t all be just four on the floor. It’s harder than just picking up a guitar and writing a song, but I enjoy it.’
For now, Les Sins and his other experimental project Sides of Chaz are on hiatus while the current full band Toro Y Moi live tour extends across the summer. They’re not gone for good, however. ‘I don’t think that any songwriter should be biased towards anything,’ he says, ‘we should be into exploring all forms of music. All music has its own history, and it might sound like it’s simple but it has to make sense. It may sound like a bass drum to you, but it could have taken the artist two hours to find that sound.’
Toro Y Moi play the Art School, Glasgow, Sat 8 Jun. The album Anything in Return is out now on Carpark.