Chaz Bundick doesn’t really talk much, but that doesn’t influence his music. His project Toro Y Moi has, for the lack of a better description, absolutely fucking exploded since its inception in 2010. With two excellent albums already under his belt, and the fresh EP Freaking Out out on Sept. 13, it’s not too surprising he’s been dubbed by many as a leader in the so-called “chillwave” movement. And suddenly, that’s put him an interesting position, as some music fans might look to him as a voice for the burgeoning genre, a representation of what that type of music exactly stands for and what it’s trying to accomplish. But, Chaz isn’t this. Or at least he doesn’t seem like it. Instead, he comes off as a mild-mannered, quite shy, early 20-something college graduate who’s just doing what he wants to do — and in his words, it’s simple: “making stuff.”
How did the songs on Freaking Out come to be?
I recorded these when I was listening to a lot of ’80s pop and R&B, but I also just wanted to work on stuff right after I finished Underneath the Pine. I was just trying to change it up. At that time, I was doing a lot of stuff on piano and I wanted to get back to the computer and make electronic beats again.
How do you feel the music on Freaking Out compares to Underneath the Pine or Causers of This?
I just like to constantly make stuff. What I see is like a pendulum. I have my electronic stuff, I have my music instrument stuff, and I like to go back and forth like that. Also, I like to see what’s going on in music and in the music exchange. I think a lot of musicians are trying to stay ahead of the curve, and that’s what I like to do. So if everyone’s doing electronic, I want to do something different. If everyone’s doing live music, then do something different.
Do you listen to a lot of current music then?
In a way. I like to see what’s going on, but I don’t really listen to a lot of current music for inspiration.
So it’s like research! Making sure you’re not doing what everyone else is doing.
Yeah, that, and I can see the climate. And I can see if there’s anything out there that I like. I like to listen to and find music a lot, all the time. I don’t know, though, I’m just pretty picky about what music is.
So does that translate to your own music?
Yeah. I get anal about my ideas. I’m pretty quick to throw something away. It’s like working towards something that I’ve been trying to emulate and find, like certain chord progressions. I’ll keep doing stuff until I find it. It took me awhile for me to get into the groove for Underneath the Pine because it’d been awhile since I recorded stuff on piano and guitar and used actual instruments. It took me a good month of sitting down and figuring out what I wanted to do.
Do you have a preference between these two different worlds — the traditional world and the laptop game?
If I had to pick… I know that a huge set with five instruments is probably easier to — well, I don’t know. It’s hard to pick because both mean something to different people. Fans appreciate both.
Well, in other words, what is it that attracts you to the laptop and what attracts you to the piano?
I guess what attracts me to the laptop is the way you can work so fast. You can work so fast on the laptop with cut and copy and paste and all that stuff. But when you work with a live instrument, you just record all the way through. It’s a much better rewarding feeling and you feel like it’s 100 percent you. If you mess up in a recording, pending on how you feel or how it sounds, you might want to keep it. Or, you fuck it up and do it again. So I like both. I don’t think I’d want to mix them together though because it wouldn’t feel as rewarding. Like if I were to record a loop on guitar and just copy paste shit, I’m not playing the whole way through.
How do you feel each world — laptop and live instrument — has influenced the other?
It’s hard. I don’t know. I feel like what influenced Underneath the Pine was finding stuff that I wanted to sample for Causers. A lot of the things I sampled for Causers ended up being the main musical inspiration for Underneath the Pine. Synths and electronics have always appealed to me. I also like to do more softer songs. I really can’t say though. With Underneath the Pine, I really tried to mix soft songs, upbeat songs, so it’s hard to say. I like to keep mixing it up.
How are you feeling about this bigger venues on the upcoming tour?
Yeah, the venues are bigger. It feels pretty cool, and honestly, it’s been kind of a dream of mine, you know? Webster Hall. Those types of venues. I don’t really have any opposition to it and I think it’s flattering. I know there’s some people who might claim we’re not a big club type of thing, but, you know, it’s what it is. I’m excited.
Photo Credit: Patrick Jeffords