It was December 21st, the end of the Mayan calendar, and supposedly, the entire world as I knew it. I went through the checklist of things that I must do before I didn’t wake up the next day to find a near-Earth object had obliterated us. Then I remembered I was supposed to interview Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind electro-synth-pop, or chillwave, solo project Toro y Moi.
I dialed the number given to me by his publicist and tapped my pen nervously on my laptop until he answered the phone.
“Is the world going to end tonight?” I asked him.
“No, I don’t think so” he replied, though sounding a little uncertain.
“If we find out we all get to live tomorrow what does the future of Toro y Moi look like?”
“Umm…tomorrow? I don’t know, probably get some Christmas shopping done I guess.”
This guy is good.
He is calm, almost too calm. But what was I expecting? If the world did indeed end that night he could have looked back in satisfaction on two full-length LP’s, and handful of EP's and another upcoming album, Anything in Return, slated for release in late January. He has also been busy in Los Angeles recently; having performed at the legendary streaming concert series Boiler Room TV a couple of weeks ago. A week later I saw him DJing while Dam Funk laid down live vocals in Hollywood. Stones Throw founder and L.A. champion Peanut Butter Wolf stood front and center to cheer them on. Most of us couldn’t say we did anything close to that before the apocalypse. For Chaz this was just December.
Toro y Moi, So Many Details (official video)
Born and raised in South Carolina, Chaz is a very “normal” guy. By normal I mean he is humble, and not so eager to talk about himself like one would expect most people in his position to be. In fact, he’s so normal, he likes Frank Ocean, he grew up listening to Weezer and At The Drive In, and he lives Berkley, California. Don’t we all?
What stands out about him, though, is the universality of his music, and I suspect it has something to do with his diverse taste in music and willingness to embrace all styles and genres.
“I’m influenced by everything from electronic to psychedelic rock,” he tells me. “I try to appreciate everything. Whenever I listen to Top 40 radio, I know that it’s not intended for me. I am not into that music, but I understand and appreciate it.”
Having grown up playing in indie bands, Anything in Return features sounds resemblant of indie legends Modest Mouse and Pinback. Tossed with a little funk and California physhadelia, the album is a genre in itself. And, in an era where so many sub-genres seem to dominate the American music market, it is highly accessible to the average listener.
“I was just trying to make it really poppy and not some terribly deep album. I wasn’t trying to make an album that was hard to grasp.” Chaz explains, agreeing that genres nowadays are mixing, and hinting that electronic is more about method than it is genre.
“A lot of musicians work off of laptops so inevitably they are going to be making a lot of electronic music. I think right now the general thing everyone is into is R&B and Hip Hop. I am curious to see when this is going to be over and people will be more into rock and stuff.”
Wherever music ends up as the 21st century trudges on, Toro y Moi will probably be ready for it. If you read this the world did not end, leaving you no excuse to not get Anything in Return, out January 22nd. In fact, put in on your list of New Year's resolutions.
Written by Aashiq Nazim