The musical division of Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick
Sometimes we become so trapped within the narratives of our favourite artists’ compositions, that we find ourselves shocked at the thought of them falling for another style of music that differs from their own. We immerse ourselves so deeply into their art, it’s as if we’re tricked into believing that it’s the only shade of the craft that they know. Whilst this mentality is a strong implant, it is occasionally counteracted by those artists experimenting with a variety of materials to help permeate their message/s. Artists like Chaz Bundick.
Most well known for his work under Toro Y Moi, we’ve grown with the artist through the dreamy pop haze of Causers Of This (2010), its punchier follow-up Underneath The Pine (2011), Anything In Return‘s (2013) crispy RnB demeanour, and the psychedelic approach to What For? (2015).
Somewhere along the way, Bundick introduced us to his club appropriate dance project Les Sins, and most recently Plum – a spaced outlet for Bundick‘s personal contribution to the sonic realm of ambience.
Ending 2016 with a remarkable live 13-track record & filming in the dusty, desert landscape of Trona, Los Angeles, as well as news of a collaborative record with The Mattson 2, and the exciting Toro Y Moi return to Australia for the huge inaugural Pitch Music Festival this March in Victoria, the world of Chaz Bundick is looking pretty spectacular.
In saying that, as if we wouldn’t jump at the opportunity in having a chat with the man himself? A short but very sweet one, nestle in the creative entity that is Chaz Bundick.
You’ve offered a few dimensions of sound to the Toro Y Moi brand. Do you consciously try and make each record sound different, or is it something of natural progression?
It’s definitely a little bit of both. It’s really just trying to find that balance of changing enough, but also changing in a certain kind of way. With Toro, the whole point is pop songs. It’s never going to be too obscure, you know? That’s why I have other monikers; for other outlets and other styles of genre. So I feel like with Toro songs, I want to change with other genres, but I also want to keep some sort of level of accessibility to them, just because I love making pop music [laughs].
So I think it is a conscious thing, but at the same time, I’m always looking at what isn’t being done, and if I should go there or not. Like, I’ve contemplated making country music before, and I’ve made some country songs back in high school when I was really into Bright Eyes [laughs].
I was going to ask about your other projects too. So you’ve just started Plum, and have Les Sins in your back pocket. When you first began writing for these projects, was there any initial desire to make them Toro songs, or were they always going to be separate entities?
They all sort of start out open, and eventually, if I sing on it, I’m like, “Okay, that’s Toro,” which is kind of how Plum happened. “This can’t be Les Sins, this can’t be Toro, this will just be ambient stuff.”
But also with Toro, I like to include all little different sides of me, I guess.
Does it get tricky juggling these different projects? Does each warrant a different mindset?
It’s not even mapped out like that, it’s just like, I’ll be working and will think, “Oh wow, I’ve got a good amount of stuff with my vocals on it,” or, “Oh I’ve got a lot of stuff that’s really dancey.” That’s kind of it how it goes.
Really, nowadays with pressing it to physical release, it’ll be on the shelf for a while actually done, so you have to be patient. Once you release it, you’ve got to stay cool for a second [laughs].
Could we expect more from Plum and Les Sins in 2017?
Hopefully! Maybe. I want to, I don’t know yet.
You also released a live record last year – Live From Trona. Not in front of a live audience, but the Trona Pinnacles, could you explain the concept behind this recording?
That was a passion project for my director, Harry and I. We pretty much just wanted to do a live music film that sort of had its own little motifs and weird things. We just wanted to make it our own project where we could art direct everything.
We chose the desert, because we wanted it to be in nature. The whole goal was to make something really simple and shoot it in high quality.
What was the experience like recording in the desert? It looks incredible.
Yeah it was breathtaking. It was trippy, it felt like being on the moon the whole day.
You’re releasing a record this year under your own name, with The Mattson 2. How was Star Stuff birthed?
Star Stuff pretty much just happened by chance. We had a mutual friend, and the Mattsons had to borrow an instrument, so they came over and I hooked them up. I was really into their music, and we kind of just kicked it off talking music stuff. We pretty much decided to just jam, so I played some bass stuff and keys over their songs. We kind of just did it in an old jazz style.
I think they’re really doing some amazing, great jazz stuff, that’s sort of in the same vein as like Badbadnotgood, real contemporary jazz type stuff. I just thought, yeah I’d be honoured to work on a record with those two, so I got a chance to produce that, and it’s coming out in March.
What’s it like working on an entirely collaborative album? Is your own songwriting routine affected much?
Well I guess the first thing I figure out is, “Where do they want this song to go? I hear it going this way. Are you into the opposite, or into that?” That’s sort of what my role is working with those dudes; or with anyone really. I help them figure out what it is that they’re hearing a little bit more. Or if there’s a chorus or something that they can’t figure out, maybe I’ll try and go find it or something.
You’ll be performing at Pitch Festival this year in Victoria. Their debut event, what are you looking forward to for that performance?
I’m pretty stoked to play at it. I don’t know too much about the festival, but I think it’s going to be fun.
Chaz Bundick & The Mattson 2 will release their collaborative effort, Star Stuff on Friday, 31st March via Company Records.
Catch Bundick as Toro Y Moi at both Pitch Music Festival happening at an undisclosed site in Victoria from Friday, 10th March until Monday, 13th March, as well as Sydney’s Days Like This Festival at Randwick Race Course on Saturday, 11th March.
Words by Hannah Galvin.