California based artist, Chaz Bundick’s moniker Toro Y Moi is multi-faceted, constantly evolving and breaking new ground with each release. A pioneer of chillwave from the late-noughties, Toro Y Moi has since transitioned effortlessly between dance, instrumental hip-hop and psych rock, drawing upon an array of left-field influences. Coming from a punk and indie rock background, Chaz Bundick is one of the most prolific artists around, with seven releases as Toro Y Moi, alongside side-projects Les Sins and Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattsons 2.
A creative in the truest sense of the word, Bundick’s creative output extends to visual art and graphic design, which he has shared through producing his own album covers and merch. As if it wasn’t enough for one plate, he also runs record label, Company Records, an imprint of Carpark Records, where he wears the many hats of producer, curator, and A&R. 2016 saw Toro Y Moi tackle the ambitious feat of creating a concert film in the middle of Trona in the Mojave desert in California – in one day.
We managed to grab 10 minutes with Chaz before he heads back to Australia in a few months time to chat about filming Live in Trona, his multiple creative projects and the appeal of timelessness.
You really are one of the most prolific artists around, with Toro Y Moi and your side projects but also in visual art, graphic design and as a producer. Has that always been the case or have you found these different outputs and interests along the way?
I feel like being creative is a great outlet for how you feel and it helps you change and let go of things. I don’t really write in a journal, you know. I feel like making music is kind of my favourite of all creative types, I think it’s something I’m just always going to be doing. If I’m just screwing around making ambient music or sitting down to write Toro songs, it’s just something I want to keep doing.
The visual aspects of your output are always so cohesive and distinct, what kinds of places do you draw inspiration from in terms of aesthetic?
I guess I’m drawn to things that are simple in design as far as everything goes from clothing to dishes to cars. I tend to go towards design that is a little bit more timeless, you can’t tell exactly what era it’s from because as a material, it’s always contemporary.
You worked with Harry Israelson on Live From Trona, what was it like working on such a huge project together and how did it all come about initially?
Yeah that was cool, it was such a crazy experience at the same time. Pretty much, we set out to do that and kind of just did it. It was a year long logistical thing and I can’t believe everything just kind of worked out. It was an experience that I’ll definitely always remember because it was the most bizarre thing to do. To see it out now is even more surreal.
It was all shot in one day right? What was the whole experience of that day like?
Yeah, it was pretty much like being on the moon, or mars. It was seriously just us in the middle of the Mojave desert. You had to drive ten miles down a dirt road to get to it. The dirt road is on a flat desert plain, it’s not even over some mountains or anything. You just drive straight off the road for ten miles. It was so weird.
Why were you drawn Trona for the location?
Just because it was a nature spot in California. California is a very symbolic thing for the American free thinking approach to things. We wanted to do something in California because of the close connection to psychedelic rock in America. It would resonate with the right people to be the audience that the film was trying for. It’s very Americana, that’s why we picked that location.
As someone who is constantly creating, and with multiple musical projects like Les Sins and with Mattsons 2, do you separate these different projects in your mind when it comes to writing?
Everything sort of splits up afterwards. If I end up singing on it, I’ll try and make it even more Toro or something. If I end up not singing on it or it’s becoming less poppy, I’ll push it in a more Les Sins direction. It’s kind of this fluid thing. I never start a fresh song and think, “I’m going to make a dance track for Toro”. I just see what happens really.
You recently announced you’re heading back to Australia in a few months time for a five date tour – you’ve kind of expanded your live band over the last few years, what’s your live set up looking like for these shows?
This will be like the Trona set up, it’s going to be a six-piece.
With such a large back catalogue of music to draw from, how do you go about planning a set for a tour like this, especially with multiple festival shows?
We kind of just tend to pick the songs that excite us the most at the time.
You’ve been to Australia a couple times now, there anything you’re keen to see or do this time around?
It’d be fun to see some more music out there, maybe go to some shows on my day off or something. That or maybe some nature stuff, I’ve never really had the chance to do that.
Toro Y Moi Australian tour dates below.
TORO Y MOI TOUR DATES:
PERTH: Sunday March 5 @ Perth Festival, Chevron Festival Gardens. Tickets on sale now.
SYDNEY: Mar 09 Oxford Art Factory
Fri, 10 March – The Zoo
NSW: Saturday March 11 @ Pitch Festival.
Melbourne: Sunday March 12 @ Pitch Festival.