Toro y Moi, aka Chazwick Bundick, has a new album, What For? and it’s far removed from 2010’s seminal chillwave debut Causers Of This and even his last foray, the “electronic R&B” Anything In Return.
What For?, led by the shoegazey single Empty Nesters, is Californian retro rock. As it happens, Bundick used to gig in an indie outfit in his native Columbia, South Carolina before embracing laptop music. (He notably befriended Ernest “Washed Out” Greene at school.) Ironically, Bundick’s chillwave continues to influence hip-hop and he has a fan in Tyler, The Creator, the pair collaborating on 2012’s (leaked) Hey You.
Bundick is hard to pin down sonically. In November he presented a house album as Les Sins entitled Michael. Music Feeds caught up with Bundick, who most recently hit Australia with his band for 2014’s Big Day Out, to discuss his latest project and his next move.
Watch: Toro y Moi – Empty Nesters
Music Feeds: What For? is your fourth album as Toro y Moi and distinct from anything you’ve released before, with its summery, psychedelic, surf rock feel. Were you consciously going back to your indie roots or, conversely, rebelling against people’s perceptions of you?
Chazwick Bundick: It was a little of both. I’ve been wanting to get back to making guitar-based music for a while now – it was just finding the time to do it.
MF: In some ways this feels like your “Californian” album. Would you agree? How settled are you in Cali?
CB: Ha! I guess – I did make it in California. I’m about as settled as can be.
MF: What For? is clearly a personal album, but the lyrics are open-ended, even ambiguous. What kind of headspace were you in when writing it?
CB: I feel like the lyrics are pretty clear, but I understand how they can come off as ambiguous. I wanted to focus my lyrics more on my observations rather than my feelings, but still have them be relatable without it having to be obvious. That way the song can be about whatever you want it to be about.
MF: Reviewers have come up with seemingly random reference points to describe the album, such as Teenage Fanclub! Have any bugged you out?
CB: Nice – I like them [Teenage Fanclub]. I have one of their albums. I don’t really read the reviews, so I’m not sure who they’ve mentioned, but I have stated before that I listened to a lot of Big Star, Nazz, Weezer and Tim Maia.
Listen: Toro y Moi – Buffalo
MF: With Toro y Moi, you’re not merely producer but also frontman, despite coming across as shy and retiring in interviews. How comfortable do you feel in that role, four albums in?
CB: I usually come off as shy and retiring because the questions are either boring and/or cliché. If someone were to actually ask me a question with substance, maybe they’d get a little more out of me! I love where I’m at as a musician and performer – I couldn’t ask for a better band and crew.
MF: Late last year you aired your first album under your clubbier guise, Les Sins, in Michael. Will you do another?
CB: I’m not sure yet.
MF: At one stage you were working with Tyler, The Creator – a big fan of yours! Is there any chance of you collaborating again?
CB: There’s a chance. I was glad he asked me to help out with his newest album [Cherry Bomb].
Listen: Les Sins – Taken
MF: Around the time of your last album, Anything In Return, you indicated that you’d like to do more production work for R&B and hip-hop acts. Is that something you still aspire to do?
CB: Yeah, I’d love to do that. I’m just holding off until I find the right person.
MF: You had a track, New Beat, synced for the Magic Mike movie which is kinda funny. You’ve also directed your own videos. Have you been approached to do any original film scoring?
CB: Not yet. I would like to score a Wes Anderson or Coen Brothers film, though.
MF: What are your Australian tour plans behind What For?
CB: Not sure as well – I think we might head that way next year.
Toro y Moi’s latest album ‘What For?’ is out now via Mistletone Records.
Watch: Toro Y Moi – Lilly