Cover: Toro Y Moi | Art + Internet Issue | Summer 2011

Toro y Moi by Andrew Paynter

Interview by Lauren Downing
Photo Credit: Jordan Blackmon

On the surface, it wouldn’t appear that chill wave darling Chazwick Bundick, better known as Toro Y Moi, and Justin Bieber have all that much in common. Yet, in talking to Chaz, I felt a wave of schoolgirl hormones wash over me as I stumbled over my words and floundered in awkward pauses. Like many a Bieberphile, I was crushing hard.  If I were to break it down, those similarities begin to even out with the obvious differences (the principle difference being the haircut): they both released their first studio recordings in 2009, Chaz loves Doritos and the Biebs has been photographed eating them a time or two, they’re both of the male sex, they’re both insatiably cute and they’re both under the age of 25.

I mean, they’re practically brothers…  But really, the point of all my jesting is that, like my middle school crushes, the allure of Chazwick Bundick—despite his rising fame and abounding critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork.com—is that he is still just that boy-next-door with his lighthearted sense of humor, humility, eclectic music taste and affinity for being home.  But despite his humblingly normal-guy traits, Chazwick Bundick has moved mountains in the music industry, playing a pivotal role in cultivating the chill-pop movement that began gaining steam in 2009. And while I hesitate to further label him as this or that—as his music is constantly evolving—I, like a dreamy-eyed high school girl, find myself getting lost in his atmospheric albums the same way I would melt into Sofia Coppola’s wistful movie soundtracks.  That being said, does anybody know where I can get a Chazwick Bundick poster to hang over my bed…? All crushing aside, I was able to catch up with Chaz on the tail end of his 2010-11 tour to talk about the aforementioned Justin Bieber, Doritos and his AMMO.

L: What’s your AMMO?
C: Probably to get home. Just the motivation to get back to friends and family, so I guess really it’s my relationships with people.

L: Have there been any particularly important relationships in your life that have motivated you to make music?
C: Yeah, all my close friends, family…my girlfriend.

L: Aside from your family connections, do you remember a certain song, track or artist from your childhood that really inspired you?
C: The Blue Album by Weezer, definitely.

L: What was it about The Blue Album?
C: That was the first album that I really connected to musically and lyrically.

L: Are there any aspects of The Blue Album that resonate with your music today?
C: I don’t make anything as rock or as pop nowadays, but I still listen to it to this day. So on some level, it’s there.

L: When did you first start making music?
C: When I was 15 I started recording tracks…about 4 tracks to begin with.

L: Were you doing this with friends or were you working solo?
C: On my recordings I was by myself, but at that same time I was with my band…some friends in high school. So on the side, I was coming home and recording Toro Y Moi stuff.

L: What does Toro Y Moi mean anyway?
C: It’s a mix between Spanish and French. I just made it up when I started recording because I needed a recording name…it was made up randomly.

L: With your most current album, what do you think you’re trying to say to people and what do you want people to hear when they listen?
C: I guess I like people to hear the different styles and influences I draw from. I kind of want people to think whatever they want to think about it. I just like to go back and forth with different styles of music and recordings.

L: Can you elaborate on those different styles?
C: There’s obvious things like punk and soul and jazz, but there’s also psychedelic music and soundtrack stuff.

L: So when you said that people can pick out anything they want to hear, you weren’t kidding?
C: Yeah, I really am influenced by a lot. I try to take what I can from everything.

L: Who’s on your iPod now?
C: Kanye West is playing right now in the car. Justin Bieber…

L: Justin Bieber?!
C: Yeah, I just downloaded My World 2.0. That, and I just downloaded the Soulja Boy Mixtape 2, but I haven’t listened to it yet. And I just got the new Lil Wayne Hemoglobin. I don’t know what it sounds like, but I’ve got that in the car right now too.

L: And what’s in your closet at the moment?
C: My closet?

L: Yes.
C: Clothes [Laughs]

L: [Laughs] Are there any designers or labels you’re particularly into at the moment?
C: Oh yeah. I’d definitely have to say Baron Wells. They always make good stuff. The brand is made by a few guys from New York. They pretty much provide us with shit to wear live. They’re a really high end fashion brand. They make button up shirts and slacks and ties and suits and stuff.

L: So you like being properly dressed?
C: Yeah, you know, I don’t mind dressing up.

L: And finally, what’s in your lunchbox? Are there any foods you can’t stay away from?
C: I can’t stay away from Doritos.

L: Which flavor?
C: Probably Pizza Supreme.

L: How have you dealt with your rise to fame in the past couple years? Has it changed you or your music in any significant way?
C: I’m still in that transition stage. It’s getting weirder and weirder. On this tour alone, I’ve experienced crying fans, stalker fans.

L: How do you deal with the criers?
C: It’s sort of unreal, I don’t know why people are crying. I’m still in that position where I feel like I would cry to a musician. It’s really nice to know that your presence can make someone feel that way.

L: Is there any downside to the public recognition?
C: The only downside I guess is that it can get a bit hectic. The craziest was in El Paso. It was ridiculous. There wasn’t anywhere for us to hang out and we were bombarded the whole time. It was crazy and there was no downtime, but it was fun.

L: I saw on your tour schedule that you’re getting ready to head back home. Is there anything about getting home you’re particularly looking forward to, being that home is your AMMO?
C: Sleeping in my own bed and sleeping in. There’s no sleep on tour.

L: And what’s next for you?
C: Next, I’m just going to make more music as soon as I get home. I’m trying to get another album out by the end of the year. After that, I’m going to try to do some collaborations, maybe some remixes, I don’t know.

For more on Toro y Moi, click here.