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Oct.15 Cover - Toro Y Moi
Written by Jhoni Jackson   

ImageChaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi: King of the Hipsters?
He’s Really Too Busy to Care

Is there any insult more hackneyed right now than calling someone a hipster? Pretty much everyone denies they fit the tag, and half the time it’s a black-as-night pot throwing out the disparaging remarks. I mean, who fucking cares, right?

Some people do. Internet trolls, for sure. Sensitive or defensive people on the receiving end, maybe. Not the guy behind Toro Y Moi, though. If we’re acknowledging the existence of that too-cool sector, then Chaz Bundick is easily one of its primary figureheads – and unabashedly so. But, surprisingly, when we spoke just ahead of his current tour, he was so damn casual about his hipness that I nearly forgot it. I wasn’t bothered; it all read so natural I didn’t cringe once. And we even talked about the 35mm film that’s apparently a standard request on a Toro Y Moi concert rider.

“It’s funny because we have three or four photographers in the band, so we always just fight over the film,” Bundick says. “But the only thing we’d probably ever do is probably just make photo books out of them. It’s kind of the only thing. I mean, every once in a while we’ll see a photo that could maybe be applied in a different design application, but it’s usually just for fun photos...We’re all obsessed with analog and film; there’s like a special quality that stuff holds. It’s just nice to support those types of industries.”

Okay, maybe I mentally snickered a couple times. Maybe I pictured him wearing a heavily wrapped scarf despite the presumably hot LA weather. That he moved there from Columbia, S.C., a few years ago is fitting; where else, besides Brooklyn, of course, should a high-level hipster operation be headquartered?

Seriously, though – Bundick is an incredible musician. He’s prolific, having churned out a full-length nearly every year since 2007’s Woodlands demo, yet manages to never repeat himself. Toro Y Moi is a perpetually evolving project; it caused the coining of the chillwave genre, then stretched beyond it to include a broader range of styles. His sophomore album, Underneath the Pine, mixed in disco nuances, mellow jazz and touches of off-kilter piano pop, among other ingredients. His fourth and latest LP, What For?,  released last April, is his first guitar-centric effort. It’s not heavy by any stretch; instead, guitar is delivered in ecstatic, futuristic bursts over easygoing chords, oftentimes blended with elongated synth.

Maybe that’s not a drastic departure from the Toro Y Moi blueprint, but it doesn’t quite fit within it, either. It was unexpected. Bundick’s personal interests may be a little predictable, but his work as musician is certainly not. He’s continually trying new things, then moves on to another new thing quickly. In fact, he’s already unveiled another collection, this one a free download, titled Samantha. The 20-track release features collaborations with his old pal Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, plus new buds like Rome Fortune, Kool A.D. and Nosaj Thing.

“I just did that mixtape thing; that was a passion project,” he says. “I’ve been recording bands too, on the low, trying to get stuff ready for Company Records, and that kind of stuff.”

So far, there are three artists on his label: Experimental electronic pop artist Vinyl Williams, a subtly psychedelic-leaning singer-songwriter, Keath Mead, and Bundick's side-project, Les Sins, which feels like a history lesson in drum-and-bass, techno, funk and house all at the same time. There's no arguing that Bundick doesn't keep busy.

“When I’m home, I’m just, like, working all the time. I’m kind of trying to work a little less so I can have my sanity still; I tend to just work too much and not really give myself any time to relax,” he says. “I’m just obsessed with what I do.”

Part of why Bundick transitions into the next project so quickly, one might guess, is because he's very much aware of the overwhelming abundance of other music. He doesn’t seem bothered by that, necessarily, but believes it affects how his own work is received.


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