BUSAN, South Korea – There’s no better place to listen to chill-wave than a beach town, but whether lauded chill-wave pioneer Toro Y Moi had this in mind when he booked a June stop in Busan is anyone’s guess. Regardless, Busan music fans have something to look forward to this Hump Day, when the North Carolina native will be making a stop at Interplay.
Toro Y Moi, or Chaz Bundwick, as his mother calls him, sent listeners into a blissful otherworld with his debut release, Causers of This, in 2010. This year’s follow-up, Underneath The Pine reached that pinnacle of hipster cool, Pitchfork’s distinguished title of Best New Music.
Few chill-wave artists have been able to produce albums as organic-sounding and well-received as Toro Y Moi has. While many artists in his genre seems locked in to gauzy synths, lo-fi production and endless reverb, Toro Y Moi sets his sound apart by skipping style like a stone. Here, he’s channelling 80s nostalgia. There, he may as well be soundtracking a really funky acid trip. And through it all runs a constant stream of danceable synth.
It comes as no surprise then, that Chaz Bundwick’s influences are wildly diverse. Among his influences are Atlanta rapper Wacka Flocka Flame, Weezer, Sonic Youth, and Elvis Costello.
Growing up on a musical diet of his parents old vinyl and tape collections, he created Toro Y Moi from his bedroom at age 15, and still uses only a small setup to create his work — although on his second album he’s upgraded to using live instruments as opposed to just computer programming. A graphic design student, Bundwick brings a deliberate cinematic feel on his albums, and as he said to the The Guardian: “I feel like film composers are the best songwriters, because they know how to convey emotion and feeling just by changing a couple of chords.”
Indeed Bundwick’s music has the ability to mould the listener’s feelings into a kaleidoscope of happiness, yearning, innocence, and even a little sorrow. His music is highly personal, but its also hugely relatable, with lines like “I found a job, I do it fine/ Not what I want, but I still try” (from ‘Blessa’ on Causers of This) that resonate with so many of this generation’s disaffected, recession-era experiences.
With gorgeous synths, fused sounds and an amazingly contemporary, yet heavily ‘70’s influence, the sound has been described as “pastoral, acoustic plucks and synth drones with rhythmic purpose making retro chic sound somehow futuristic” by Pitchfork Magazine. And it has cemented Toro Y Moi’s place as the number one chill wave darling of the moment.
Although Bundwick says he’s all for “being in a genre”, as it “helps people relate to his music”, there’s just no simple way to characterize the wavy mélange of trippy, floaty beats and visceral lyrics except to say that it’s brilliant, a sentiment evidenced by his tracks instantly becoming remix fodder all over the blogosphere, and his infinite co-signs by various artists, magazines and other hipster authorities of cool.
Performing live, this “multi-instrumentalist” blows out his warm analog sounds with a live band made up of home town friends, sometimes re-imagining his sounds adding and changing things as the mood takes him, treating his fans to music that works equally well on a computer and in front of a crowd.
Bundwick’s skill base is as wide as his influences are: having put out a spine tingling, yet weirdly pretty remix to Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creators teen angst rap-anthem ‘French’, and working on Les Sins, a new dance-wave outfit. He also takes analog pictures and posts art regularly on his Tumblr and Blogspot sites. Yet, music is still number one on his agenda, he says, and he just wants to make music he loves to hear.