Toro y Moi on Sound Exploration and "Boring" Top 40 Radio

This year has brought not one but two Toro y Moi albums, both interesting and fantastic. Fully shedding his chill wave image, Chaz Bundick (the man behind the project) released the guitar-driven full-length What For? and Samantha, a mixtape that features recordings from 2012 to the present, showing how much Bundick has evolved since breaking into the indie scene years ago. Toro y Moi will bring his diverse take on pop to the Gothic Theatre on Wednesday. In advance of his show, we spoke to the musician about the state of pop music, his recording process and his love of visual art. 

Isa Jones: You released two albums this year, and they are very different from each other. You’ve started to bounce around a bit, soundwise. Do you still think about an overall sound and genre when working on an album, or is it just whatever feels right at the moment?

Chaz Bundick: I’m not too concerned about staying within a certain genre. I always want to explore different genres. That’s the main goal, really, is to explore different sounds.

It can be hard for an artist to change sounds like you do, because fans can feel like it’s not Toro y Moi anymore. Do you worry about that at all?

I’m not too concerned about that, honestly. As long as the music’s good, that’s all that matters.

I read a recent interview where you mentioned you’re bored of pop music, which is interesting, since What For? is a fairly poppy album. Are you trying to do something different with pop?

When I said that, I was referring to Top 40 and radio. The radio — for a second, it was kind of interesting when Kanye or Drake would put something out. But now I think it’s getting dull again. It’s just pop music, it’ll always have its moments.

Are you still bored with it?

Yeah, with Top 40 music, definitely. I think it’s lacking at the moment. I feel like it needs to have time, and stand the test of time to see if it’s good or not.

So you still record in your home studio. Why do you keep going back there instead of working elsewhere?

On What For? I had my band play on it, but, yeah, it was still home recording. I'm always trying to switch it up somehow, just to change the process. But the best part about recording at home is that you can do it on your own time and schedule. Plus it’s free, and there’s just less pressure.... A lot of people get confused about what a studio could be or should be, but it’s just nice to record at home.

Let’s talk about Les Sins, how did that project come about?

I started that just to open the door, so I could produce dance music and instrumental production and not have to worry about songwriting being associated with it. I enjoy electronic music and just making beats and stuff like that, so I don’t necessarily want that to be under the Toro umbrella. I wanted to open it up a little bit.

Are you still working on that project, or is it on hold for Toro stuff right now?

I'm taking a break right now, but I still have plans to work on it.

You’re a graphic designer by trade. When you’re creating, do you still think visually, or have you adjusted to just focusing on sound?

Yeah, for the most part I do think visually, that’s how my main way of thinking — visually. When it comes to music, though, I tend to make moog boards and color palettes to follow, but I don't do other visual stuff until the music’s done.

Do you have plans to do more visual art?

I do, yeah. That’s next up on my itinerary. To focus on visual art, paintings, screen printing, that kind of stuff.

Do you help design your music videos?

I don’t shoot them or write the concepts, but I do help the directors. I guide the aesthetic of it, like what kind of film or what kind of cameras, what kind of color scheme should be in it — that kind of stuff.