Toro! Toro! Toro!9/23/2015
Toro y Moi (Columbia, South Carolina-born Chaz Bundick) is not the kind of guy for whom general labels mean much. In a way, that is good. Bundick is credited as one of the founding fathers of the sound described as “chillwave.”
But to look back through Bundick’s catalog — there have been five Toro y Moi albums — you find a surprising amount of diversity. There seems to be neither real rhyme nor reason to the progression of the albums. Instead, with the benefit of hindsight and a music marathon, you get the clear sense of a young man following the whim of a given moment.
“I’m still into all those albums and still make songs in different genres,” he said in a phone interview. “I don’t think I’m going to stop making all those songs. I just feel like those types of songs should just be on their own albums with each other. I wouldn’t want to put all those different types of songs on one album. I’m constantly switching sides, going back and forth between things.”
Even still, his release earlier this year of his latest album, “What For?,” serves as a noticeable departure. This album is funky, synthy and full of guitars, energy and more life than just about anything he has released previously.
“When I hear these songs back, I’m not cringing at the lyrics. They make me smile,” he said. “With the earlier stuff, and because of the genre it was in, I wasn’t able to be that playful without it sounding cheesy. That genre has so much heavy melancholy emotion in it, and this one is so much more playful. I can say silly stuff. Even when we’re playing some of the old stuff live, I’m like, ‘Oh man, this is so funny.’ ”
Bundick wonders aloud about the path of pop music today, at times sounding positively old man-ish with his “kids these days” lamentations. But really, he is just frustrated. Instead of pushing for something bigger and new, he looks across the commercial music landscape and sees only a litany of acts rushing toward the safety of mediocrity.
“There isn’t really anything that’s making me into pop music right now,” he said. “I really appreciate what Drake does, but then again, I’m really bored of Drake and Kanye being the only ones to do something different. I’m really hoping someone out there will push the limits of pop music. For a second, I thought The-Dream was going to take it further once he got a little bigger after ‘Love King,’ and then he sort of went missing. Nothing right now is really appealing. I kind of wish there was a band that was big on Top 40 — like a legit band, even if it was a one-hit wonder. Where are the Third Eye Blinds of right now? It’s strange that there’s no one doing a solid rock song either. It just seems like everyone is going electronic right now.”
It can come off as an ironic complaint from someone whose current total output has more in common with electronic music than rock, but his point can still be taken as valid. At least he’s trying.
“I like to go opposite of what is popular,” he explained. “That’s what I’ve always tried to do. I’m not saying that I’m successful at that. I’m just saying that’s what I aim for.” CV