When you come out of the womb and your mama names you Chaz, life is going to be pretty cool. Mr. Chazwick Bundick is a child of the south, who from the sound of his uber laid-back synth melodies, must have grown up poolside, full pitcher of sweet tea attached at the hip. The electro-musician goes by the moniker Toro y Moi-- playing Mon/12 at Bottom of the Hill-- and fully embodies the chillwave scene at its core, with layer upon layer of ambient wonder. And of course, Chaz is way chill.
Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Bundick layed low and created music in his bedroom as a young guy, taking inspiration from his parent's luscious vinyl collection. Electronic and experimental elements of late '70s new wave combined with his favorite artists, Animal Collective, Sonic Youth, J Dilla, Flying Lotus, and Daft Punk, for an antiqued space sound.He likes to think of himself as a composer, as opposed to a songwriter, producing complex layers of buried bass, fairytale melodies, surf guitars, and bewitching vocals.
His latest LP, Causers of This [Carpark, 2010] was released in February and is a total treasure box; a more electronic take on the usual beach soundtrack. Toro y Moi's whimsical songs sound like they're floating 10,000 leagues under the sea; cool, calm, and unaffected by gravity. Funny, because I soon find out that the guy doesn't like water.
Talking to Bundick over the phone was interesting-- his mellow, musical stylings are a definite reflection of the 23-year-old's unhurried, aloof temperament. Setting up the stage for a Philadelphia performance that evening, Bundick causally answered a few questions about life as a Southern Chaz and avoiding the sharks that loom.
SFBG: I read in a previous interview that if you could be any animal, it would be a dog or a shark. So, what kind of canine?
Bundick: I like French Bulldogs, black Pugs, mutts, Jack Russell Terriers and wieners.
SFBG: And what about sharks-- I hear they freak you out.
Bundick: Well, I'm not a fan of jumping in the ocean. The water has to be clear, with light sand. I grew up going to a beach that had unclear water and I didn't like going in-- I like to see what's in the water. I'm also afraid of sting rays. My friend stepped on one. And jellyfish.
SFBG: Funny, because your sound is so easily compared to ocean-characteristcs. Yet you're not an ocean fan.
Bundick: If I had to choose between living in the mountains or the beach, I'd definitely choose the mountains.
SFBG: So what's your music-writing process like? Do you dream of wooded slopes, crystal-clear streams and mountain lions?
Bundick: When I write songs I literally lock myself in my room. I won't go out or talk to anyone. I go into songwriting mode.
SFBG: For how long? Like a day? A week?
Bundick: Weeks or months. I think the longest was two months of not talking to anyone-- OK, well, not in a crazy person way. That would make for a cool story, but basically, people ask me to hang out and I say, no sorry. I mean, I see my parents and stuff.
SFBG: So what have you been listening to while on tour?
Bundick: Let me grab my iPod and see...lots of soul and funk. Some weird house music. Riz Ortolani, an Italian composer from the '70s who wrote the music to the movie Cannibal Holocaust. They show animals being killed-- it's bad. It was banned in a lot of places. Oh, and no, I didn't watch it. My friend did. He told me. I wouldn't watch it.
SFBG: What have you been doing in between shows?
Bundick: Working on interviews. Drawing in my sketchbook.
SFBG: What do you like to draw?
SFBG: Uh, what? That sounds boring. Explain.
Bundick: I like to draw numbers. Particularly the number two and the number five. Sometimes the number three. I'm not obsessed...I went to school for design, so I like the work with the shape and counter space, their arms and feet and different fonts.
SFBG: Wow, that actually makes sense. So what now?
Bundick: I feel kinda weird. I feel like I might be kinda sick. And so I drank a bunch of orange juice and now I've got that gross, too much orange juice feeling.
I didn't have any orange juice today, but I think I understand the feeling. Maybe he should've added a little vodka?
Toro y Moi w/The Ruby Suns and dreamdate
Mon/12, 8:30pm, $10
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th Street, SF