Chaz Bundick, better known as Toro y Moi, has been dominating indie music airwaves since 2010 and releases his third studio album Anything in Return this January. We spoke to the Berkeley resident about life in the Bay Area, his new sound and collaborations with hip hop.
When did you move to Berkeley?
Over a year ago. My girlfriend goes to grad school here. We met in South Carolina and moved out together.
Do you find the atmosphere for making music different in the Bay Area than it was in South Carolina?
Not too much. Granted, Columbia’s my hometown and I have a lot more friends but I hang out with different people here than I would if I was back there.
Other than that, with the internet you have access to tons of other music and stuff. I don’t find it much different in the creative process. It definitely affects the music indirectly.
I might feel better out here. There’s so much more to do, I eat so much better food and there are better outdoor activities. That kind of makes my morale better and in return that sort of makes my music better.
Your new album Anything in Return maintains your indie chillness but also has a more poppy sound to it. How did your style change so much for this album?
I’ve always been interested in contemporary music and a lot of people get the idea like I’m only focused on retro, disco, boogie and stuff like that. It’s just another thing that I like to do. It’s sort of the other side of the pendulum in a way. Just where I’m at right now.
You’ve done an art instillation with listening parties in a few cities for the album. How did the idea for a print for each track come about?
I really wanted to do something special for the album release. I didn’t want to do an album preview online or something. The idea popped in my head and I was drawing in my sketchbook and I ended up drawing the layout. And I thought “hmm, this might actually work” so I called the label and my manager and they sort of helped it happen.
A few of them will be released with the album as well. I want to start focusing more on my visuals.
Your live shows are very upbeat and dance music-oriented, how is it such a different vibe than your recorded material?
I think when I come to the live show what I like to see most is musicianship. Having a tight band and a really strong rhythm section is the most important thing for the musical performance.
On my recordings that’s my chance to do whatever I feel like showcasing. In the live performance you can see how naturally the song comes to life.
Toro y Moi “So Many Details” (Remix ft. Hodgy Beats)
Your new remix with Hodgy Beats puts a totally different hip hop spin on your music, are you trying to collaborate with others more?
Well I’ve known him for a little bit now and I thought it would be something really fun to do because I’ve never really worked with a hip hop artist before.
I think it was a learning experience and when we were doing it in the studio it was super relaxed and no pressure or anything. There’s no marketing thing behind collaborating, it’s just for fun really.
Any favorite spots in the Bay Area?
Yeah The Cheese Board here in Berkeley is my favorite.