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ACL Fest interview: Toro Y Moi

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Ramon Ramirez

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 6, 2013

I had Toro y Moi all wrong. Known to his friends in South Carolina as Chazz Bundick, the 26-year-old laptop composer isn’t a re-blogging, obsessive compulsive curator that carefully reads with Twitter mentions in coffeehouses. He’s just a tasteful, thoughtful dude with an ear for composition. And whereas bedroom pop contemporaries like Noah “40” Shebib and Abel Tesfaye lean on their laptops to juxtapose samples, Chazz Bundick builds around live guitars and drums. This year’s “Anything in Return” is a sort of r&b hot tub victory lap full of Spotify standouts you slap onto playlists.

“The newer stuff I’ve been working is more instrument-based because the last record was more programmed,” Bundick says, “Even when I use laptops it’s more MIDI—I try to incorporate as much hardware as I can. I try to see what the trend is and go against that.”

Bundick also says he rarely reads his blurbs, and when he connected with Odd Future rapper Tyler, the Creator over the Internet a few years ago it was a handler-pushed collaboration.

“He tweeted about Toro y Moi and then our publicists met up and I offered to remix a song or something.”

The Internet age auteur did connect with another childhood hero over Twitter recently, “I reached out to Rivers Cuomo from Weezer on Twitter. It was cool. We met up and wrote some songs together. I don’t know what’s going to happen with them.”

Bundick flew into town this morning form South Carolina, he was hanging out with hometown friends at a wedding last night. He buys whole albums, got his undergrad in graphic design and still says he feels like he “does this music thing on the side.”

What makes Bundick a compelling, experimental producer—think Danger Mouse without the dramatic ideas and more of an affinity for slow jams—is what makes him a worthy festival act: Live drums, danceable songs, an energetic setlist and self-awareness.

“You wake up and you take care of your voice,” Bundick says, “I don’t think anyone at 5:00 p.m. is expecting a life-changing set. We didn’t even get a soundcheck today—that’s how festivals are, you just go in and you play. Festival sets are a little more curated, we’re not going to play the slower jams or the more intimate stuff. It’s more fun, but it’s hard to put people in a trance at festivals…It’s like you’re at a farmer’s market and someone walks past your stand.”

Bundick isn’t kale, though, and that’s why I can’t wait to check out his Bud Light stage apperance.