Toro Y Moi [Interview]: Going The Way You Wouldn’t Expect

04/20/2011

Toro Y moi interview

“When you’re Asian–this isn’t so PC–you can go the ‘white way,’ or the ‘black way,’” Chaz Bundick explained to writer Nandini Nessa of Brooklyn Bodega, “You always get picked on in school when you’re brown and you like ‘white people music.’ People are so closed-minded about that kind of stuff, but people that try to go both ways are the ones that break the stereotypes.” Chaz Bundick, more widely known as Toro Y Moi, grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, the descent of a Filipino mother and African American father. After speaking with Bundick over the phone, it appears that it has always been important for him to go against expectations.

“Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?” we asked. In many of the interviews we’ve read with Chaz Bundick, his laconic responses suggested he may well be an introvert. Even on both occasions when we previously spoke with him after his performances, his soft-spoken demeanor only affirmed our suspicions.

“Both,” he replied as he explained that one of the biggest misconceptions people have of him is “that I’m shy because this is just how I talk.” Misconceptions seem to be an issue for Bunkdwick.

With the success of Causers of This, Bundick shared a side of his music most people, until then, weren’t accustomed to hearing. In his formidable years, he played in an indie and punk rock group called, The Heist And The Accomplice, with three schoolmates. The electronic side of Causers of This was Bundick’s private bedroom experiment. Whether or not he’d admit this, we doubt he had ever suspected this side project would launch his career.

After submitting a few of these side-project tracks to a blog, a buzz grew around Bundick, in anticipation of Causers of This. Around the same time he signed to Carpark Records with the agreement that he’d release two totally different albums.

For me, Causer of This, was more the experimental album doing electronic stuff.  Underneath The Pine was more going back and revisiting what I’m used to. I think people decide what kind of artist you are, which I think is an interesting experience.

Causers of This quickly labeled Bundick as a “chillwave” artist. “For me, Causer of This, was more the experimental album doing electronic stuff. Underneath The Pine was more going back and revisiting what I’m used to. I think people decide what kind of artist you are, which I think is an interesting experience,” explained Bundick.

The album’s lo-fi vocals with 80s disco and funk influences mirrored a growingly popular sound, but Bundick distinguished himself inserting hip hop beats with a new-jack swing. While fans awaited Underneath The Pine, Bundick faced his reoccurring struggle, how should he deal with expectations?

Halfway through Underneath The Pine Bundick scrapped the album. “I felt like taking it in the more folksy direction people weren’t going to see the transition,” he explained, “People might not think it was the same artist.” Admittedly he wanted this distinction, yet worried about retaining fans. Instead, he took the style which he compared to “Elliot Smith’s fuller sound” and infused it with some of the 80s disco and funk that was characteristic on his debut to create a smoother transition.

With Underneath The Pine it appeared Bundick had to comprise by deleting the original half of the album. When we asked if he would create a new moniker for this style of project he replied, “I don’t know if I would make a different moniker. Maybe I would go by Chaz Bundick.”And just when it appeared you knew what to expect from Toro Y Moi, Chaz Bundick went a different way.

Music mentioned in this interview by Chaz Bundick accompanied by the context:

1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Current discovery from reading blogs) entitled “How Can You Love Me” [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/lsgnihiaj2.mp3]

2. Arthur Russel from Calling Out of Context (An instrumental and electronic artist that influences his style) entitled “Get Around to It” [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/kc9ixclu23.mp3]

3. Wacka Flacka “In The Paint” (Music that gets him excited to go out in light of him not being shy and liking to socialize) [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/bdurnmnr9s.mp3]

4. A Tribe Called Quest from Midnight Mauraders (First hip hop album he ever owned) entitled “Award Tour” [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/ytlznpl4f2.mp3]

5. Blink 182 “Aliens Exist” (When asked what is a guilty pleasure, which he replied, “I’m not really ashamed of anything.”) [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/ki7k7hasy6.mp3]

6. Lonnie Smith from Expansion (Influence for Underneath The Pine) entitled “Shadows” [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/dqzjis41hx.mp3]

7. Daft Punk’s “Face to Face” (Influence for Causers of This) [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/q2oysz8y7h.mp3]

8. J Dilla from Donuts (Influence for Causers of This) entitled “Mash” [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/ledvnny6rh.mp3]

9. Elliot Smith “Nightime” cover of Big Star (Comparable sound to the original style of Underneath The Pine) [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/m4pf6813vb.mp3]

10. Toro Y Moi “Freak Love” (A song that his friends said “Oh that’s the hip hop influence” which he noted as the black style of his music) [audio: http://www.box.net/shared/static/zjd3y4ocfp.mp3]