Toro Y Moi Stops by Our Office, Conducts Interview and Participates in Photo Shoot
Bigger, better, plusher.
The artist better known as Toro Y Moi stopped by Death and Taxes last week for an informal visit. The subsequent interview focused on “Underneath The Pine,” Chaz Bundick’s new album from the future. If taken as a bellwether, then the gestalt of 2011 should spell out a wonderland of musical advancements.
Due out the 22nd of February on Carpark Records, this sophomore effort should give a push to one of two things. Either it will rocket Toro Y Moi into a higher sphere of distinction among indie composers, or other chillwave groups will scramble to keep up with him. These 11 songs shake the tawdry, boring elements of last year’s genre off in favor of incorporating jazz and disco seamlessly into the margins of serious relaxation.
Thanks for dropping by today, Chaz. Did you just make it to the city?
Chaz Bundick: Yeah, we flew in here yesterday at seven—landed at JFK.
What’s kept you in the south? Plenty of other southerners have made the pilgrimage up to New York City.
CB: It’s just that I’ve never really had a chance to move. Right when I got out of school, I pretty much started touring and stuff, so there was no reason to move, really. Rent’s cheap down there, too.
Is it isolating in South Carolina?
CB: Not with technology, the Internet, all that. Media is everywhere these days, so it’s not really “backwoods.” Unless you lived in the backwoods without a cellphone.
“Underneath The Pine,” your new sophomore album, evokes a sense that you turned away from the buzz and trends popular at the moment, and instead it sounds as though you dug into Dad’s old record collection and found some older genres for direction.
CB: Yeah, there’s definitely an early-70s influence in it, and the 60s, but I just got interested in music I wanted to sample before. It’s sort of like a challenge for me—and not like a statement—just to show people I like to do things traditionally, too.
And would you go on to say that you wrote with more complexity and depth?
CB: Yeah, I would say so. When I record analog or traditionally, I don’t feel comfortable or at ease just playing something four times, and another part four times, and another part four times; I feel more inclined to be spontaneous and change parts up if it’s just one take, and I’m doing a bass line or something.
Improv on the spot, like a jazz set?
CB: I’ll definitely go back and overdub if I hit a bad note or something. It’s definitely influenced by jazz, and I wanted to try something different.
The direction of this album veers between moments of disco and psychedelic rock without abrupt stops. Did you approach it as a trip from point A to point B?
CB: Not as much as “Causers [of This],” which people can listen to in one piece. But for this album I just wanted to do something different—keep a theme going, but not connect the songs. So there are motifs going on, and themes, I keep referring back to in songs.
Critics liked to peg you in with the chillwave genre when responding to “Causers,” going further to mention that you focused less on locations and activities than the mood shared by Small Black and Memory Tapes. With “Underneath the Pine,” was it your M.O. to leave that association in the past?
CB: Production wise, it’s not going to hit as hard as digital music can these days. But I think what I was going for mood-wise was just a wide spectrum, from folk influence to disco. So yeah.
So was the germ of an idea that began this project to spread your wings into becoming more of a mature composer of music?
CB: I wanted to make an album that is better and more enjoyable in a live setting. So that was one of the main things I was keeping in mind. And knowing it was going to be in a live setting, knowing who was going to be playing what parts—with “Causes” I wasn’t really expecting it to be played out in festivals and getting a full band together to play those songs. This is made for live performance and a band. It’s going to be exciting to play.
Photos by Joey D’Arco