Toro Y Moi is a full-time job for Chaz Bundick, who dedicated himself to music after finishing a graphic design degree at the University of South Carolina. His chilled-out electronic demos earned attention around the world, and has since been sharing them onstage. His second LP Underneath the Pine expands chillwave further and funkier.
“We're busy promoting the record,” said Bundick. “We've got Europe, then a short thing in Asia... Then later Australia and Brazil. It's pretty crazy. It sounds cheesy but how people react to music is universal. It's cool how similarly people react to it.”
Bundick tracked everything on the latest record himself, this time resorting to live instruments instead of samples and loops as building blocks. There's a much different energy here as result; disco grooves and flower power swirl around the album. Bundick's layered falsetto is the only thing that keeps this record in the 21st century, basking in reverb like only indie bands today can.
“It's my new religion, I can't stop listening to that stuff,” said Bundick about '70 sounds of funk, soul and R&B. “It was just a matter of time before I got to play it.”
2010's Causers of This cut-up and transformed that influence with effects patches, but here smooth bass and electric keyboard lines take a more literal reproduction of that funky music. From the disco jam “New Beat” to the Procol Harum-style “Divina,” Toro Y Moi is all about the '70s ass-shaking – now done in high-waisted pants as vintage as the sound.
Playing with a band to flesh out his self-recorded solo material gives this hip dance party live energy. With the writing for Underneath the Pine largely done between touring stints, new Toro Y Moi keeps things the way the crowd likes it – upbeat and big.
“It's written with the live show in mind,” said Bundick about the new record's sound – one much more designed for a band than Causers of This. “We're all longtime friends, so it feels like we've been a band for a long time. When I started getting exposure I wanted to get the band together as soon as I could.”
Two solid full-length records in just over 12 months legitimize the hype, especially in a microgenre where it's rare to make it past a trendy EP. Underneath the Pine does chillwave live, bringing disco into mix in the best possible way.
“If I had a choice I'd always use live instruments. Effects can make [live instruments] sound electronic, but you can't really make electronic music sound live,” said Bundick. “It's really boring staring at a computer screen all day, with this record I really wanted to have fun.”
As far as writing and production goes, for now Bundick is keeping the fun to himself. He did all the work on the last two albums, and things will most likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.
“There's the pros and cons of working by yourself and with people,” said Bundick. “I'm into the idea, but right now I'm just doing my stuff."