The name Chaz Bundick probably doesn't mean that much to many in its own right, yet under his chosen moniker of Toro Y Moi he's been responsible for some of the most uniquely innovative music released this year. If debut album Causers Of This helped instigate the "chillwave" label he and associates Washed Out and Memory Tapes find themselves tagged with, current single 'Leave Everywhere' suggests there's also a more conventional side to his songwriting too. And then there's the album's worth of unreleased demos that first got bloggers frothing at the mouth this time last year, not to mention his previous guise as frontman for then hotly-tipped foursome The Heist And The Accomplice.
Next week sees the start of Toro Y Moi's most extensive European tour to date, taking in several UK dates along the way including a Drowned In Sound show at The Harley in Sheffield. Before the long haul begins, DiS managed to fire some questions at the affable Bundick. Take it away....
DiS: This time last year you were virtually unknown outside of several internet blogs and zines. How does it feel to be cited as one of the most unique and original artists to emerge in 2010?
Chaz: It's such a great feeling, last year had an amazing uprising of good music – it seems almost unreal.
Your name is translated as "Bull And Me" in Spanish. Do you see any characteristics of the bull in the way you approach and write music?
I guess I could find an analogy in that. You know at a bull fighting match, when the matador has the bull charge at him and then the matador stabs the bull in the back? I guess I could see myself taking on, or charging at, a project and not really seeming to care about the consequences.
A lot of the demos that first appeared online in June 2009 still haven't seen the light of day in terms of an official release: 'Ektelon', 'Girl Problems' and 'Eden' being three songs that spring to mind. Are there any plans to release any of these and are there any other "works in progress" that may surface over the coming months?
That's definitely a goal of mine. I want those songs to have an official home whether people are into it or not – I know I've got a few weird ones out there. An example of that is the single 'Carpark'I just put out, 'Leave Everywhere'. Those recordings are from 2006, so they weren't going to be on the next album. I just wanted a proper home for those recordings, but yes, we are planning on doing something special with that 'June 2009' demo.
Your album Causers Of This has received rave reviews in just about every publication on both sides of the Atlantic. Do you pay much attention to such praise and by the same token, would it bother you if a negative review appeared at some stage?
It's good to know what publications reviews are in, but as of reading them I try not to. They can only feed your ego or make you feel like crap, so either way it's negative. But as of a bad review bothering me, not really. Sure, my feelings may get hurt or flustered but I'd let it go – nothing's worth pouting over.
Video: Toro Y Moi 'Talamak'
Looking back at the album, which songs are you most satisfied with?
I'm pretty satisfied with all of them but the ones I like the most would be 'Minors', 'Lissoms', and 'Fax Shadow'.
On the flipside of the coin, if there were any songs you could change, re-record or replace on Causers Of This, which would they be and why?
I guess it would be 'Imprint After'. I like the song, but I'd probably use different instrumentation.
A lot has been said about your relationship with Ernest Greene of Washed Out and you have collaborated with him musically in the past. Do you see yourself working with him in the future and if so, what musical direction do you envisage such a project taking?
We've talked about doing stuff together for future releases. He has a lot of amazing ideas and he really motivates me to think more about how I approach my work. I think that together we'd maybe make something we're both satisfied and excited on.
As with Washed Out, you seem to have been pigeonholed - unfairly in many ways as there's an awful lot of depth and variation to your music - as part of the "chillwave" movement/genre. How do you feel about that?
I'm not bothered with genres. We make titles and labels so that it's easier to refer or relate to, but I think Ernest said it pretty well when he described it as "naive dance music."
Listening to songs like 'Blessa' and 'Fax Shadow', I'm intrigued about how you manage to reproduce such sounds in a live environment. Is it as complicated as it seems planning a show and are there any songs which you wouldn't play live for any particular reason?
Surprisingly, all the song we've played off of Causers... turned out really fun and different for us. What I like most about being in a band is the live, visual connection and what I mean is when I watch a band I pay attention to eye contact between the musicians, how one member keeps tempo, things like that. What we've tried to do is make the songs as freeform as possible while still being true to the original song. We all rely on eye contact, which is why we moved Andy, the drummer, to the front. I don't think there isn't any song we wouldn't at least try to work out for a live situation.
Going back to your new single 'Leave Everywhere', it is very different to anything on Causers Of This. Do you see guitar-orientated pop as being a direction you will return to and pursue more regularly in the future?
I could see myself incorporating more of those elements. I think working inside a laptop to create music is a fun and great way to work but, I get bored easily and I have to change things around every once and a while. What I like most about analog recording is that you have to approach the parts differently and keep a layout in your head of how and when the song changes.
You've already stated that you're planning to release another album later this year. How is that process looking and are you still on schedule?
It's turning out really well. It looks like it should be out by winter 2010 or early 2011 at the latest and because of touring, I'll be wrapping up the final stages in September. I recently bought a Rhodes and it's really changed my style of playing keys. I've been referring to artists like Chick Corea for inspiration.
You're about to embark on a mammoth 35 date tour taking in Europe including the UK and a Drowned In Sound show in Sheffield. How do you prepare for such a jaunt and is there any place on the tour that you're particularly excited about visiting/playing?
I am super excited! This is my first time going to Europe and I can't wait. I think the Caribou tour really helped us shape up as a band and help us step our game up to go over there. We're excited to meet up with our friends and make new friends.
Video: Toro Y Moi 'Blessa'
Looking back on your time as singer/songwriter in The Heist And The Accomplice, do you see that as a transitional learning curve towards where you're at now musically, and would you ever consider writing and playing with that band again in the future?
I think in that band I fell into a template and I would often get stuck with ideas. With Toro Y Moi it's easy to go from a song like 'Leave Everywhere' to a song like 'Fax Shadow.' I feel that I'd like to keep progressing and moving and to do that you have to go all the way. I'd love to write music with other musicians someday soon. Right now for me, my focus is on Toro Y Moi but, it'd be fun to play in The Heist... again.
Finally, you're also quite an accomplished graphic designer. If you had to choose between the two, music and graphic design, which would you see yourself settling into long term and why?
I could see myself getting into both as a long term hobby because they are probably my two biggest passions, but they have their pros and cons. With music I can still do design so I'd rather have my music as a main career and be able to design my album covers and merchandise. So far things are working out.
'Leave Everywhere, the new single, is released on 19th July on Carpark records.
Toro Y Moi is on tour throughout July:-
11 Canterbury Lounge On The Farm
12 Birmingham Hare and Hounds
17 London Lovebox Festival
18 Brighton Freebut
19 London Camp
27 Nottingham Spanky Van Dykes
28 Sheffield DiS presents @ Harley
29 Glasgow Captains Rest
30 Manchester Deaf Institute
31 London Field Day