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Brooklyn Bodega #2: Talkin’ Shop w/ Toro Y MOI

6 Apr

Toro Y Moi is the sensational solo project of Chaz Bundick, 23 year-old Columbia, South Carolina native. Classification-wise, his music “belongs” to a genre dubbed Glo-Fi (or Chillwave, as coined by Hipster Runoff, but I rather prefer Glo-Fi, for the sun-kissed warmth and haziness it implies). The genre is known for homegrown sampling, looping, synth layers and electro drumbeats.

Hypnotic compositions display Bundick’s melodic, unassuming voice on his debut record Causers of This(Carpark Records, February 2010). His tastes are multifarious.  He evokes Dilla  (on the tracks “Freak Love’”or “Fax Shadow”) or New Edition (on “Causers of This” or “Low Shoulders”), just as he does Daft Punk or The Specials (“Imprint After”). He listens to 80′s & 90′s pop music as a reference point, and indeed his music embraces classic pop structures. That’s what it is about his sound–he feels familiar, but never-before-heard at the same time. Like you’ve discovered something in a thrift shop, used ‘n worn, timeless ‘n classic, yet completely brand new.

Each track beckons us to create our own blurred images of the past. Backseat of your parents’ car watching the world outside the window. Languid Coney Island afternoon captured on a Super 8 camera. Polaroids, vinyl scratching, nonsensical projector slides, vibin’ with a pretty girl at a dimly lit house party. Lighting firecrackers with your homeboys, as Chaz does in the video for “Talamak” :

Toro y Moi “Talamak” music video from Jon Casey on Vimeo.

After Chaz sent some mp3′s to music blogs, his rendition of Glo-Fi started buzz on notable music sites Pitchfork and Gorilla vs. Bear. And things have taken off for him. He’s signed to Carpark Records for a two-album deal, the second will be released later this year.

The handsome, soft-spoken cool-rider  was chosen as one of Paper Magazine’s “Beautiful People 2010.” He’s on tour (currently with the New Zealand’s Ruby Suns), but was on hiatus after he played a show at Brooklyn Bowl on March 26, where unfortunately, his laptop, passport, and even some clothes were stolen. He’s since replaced his computer and started his tour in the Midwest. Some of the tracks weren’t salvageable, but when asked about it, Chaz says, with that same chill vibe you’ll hear in his music, “I’ve started rewriting.”

In an interview with Nandini Nessa of Brooklyn Bodega, Toro Y Moi  discusses Hiphop, growing up mixed race, and how not to get your stuff jacked in Brooklyn.

BB: What do you want your music to invoke in the listener?

TYM: A sense of space. I want people to feel like its a big sound, but its a personal kind of thing. There’s textures in the sounds, which i appreciate when i listen to headphones or big speakers.

BB: I hear elements of Dilla, some new jack swing–it’s evident you’ve got a love for R&B and Hip Hop. Which Hip Hop artists have influenced your sound?

TYM: A lot of the Stone’s Throw crew.  They’ve been so with it for so long,  before anyone caught onto what they were doing.  When i found out about them they weren’t that huge yet. Dilla, Aloe Blacc…people like that and definitely some current stuff– like Drake.  It’s so hard to not like Drake… (we laugh) Young Money is doing a good job. I listen to a lot of pop music, mostly. Now, i listen to a lot of stuff that came out of the 90′s & 80′s.

BB: Do you rap?

TYM: No, I never really tried to rap–

BBTrey Songz or Tupac?

TYM: I would definitely sound more like Trey Songz than Tupac. I’m not that big a guy…

BB: How tall are you?

TYM: 5’7″

BB: Me too.

[We laugh]

BB: Currently you’re in Columbia, South Carolina. Despite the [post-Brooklyn Bowl computer theft], any plans on moving to Brooklyn after your lease runs out in August?

TYM: I have friends in cool places, and I don’t know where I want to go . West Coast or East Coast–I’m definitely more keen on the East Coast.  Probably gonna be some major city, or some college town. Nothing too random. New York, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles.

BB: How have your folks influenced you? Do they like your music?

TYM: Yeah, they do. I turned my mom on to some music blogs, and she posted something that Hipster Runoff had posted on her MySpace, and I was like, I didn’t even send you that! My dad was from a small black town in Virginia, and we’d always go back there, have soul food Sunday dinner.  At my mom’s house we’d have Filipino style dinner, lumpia, siopao. When you’re Asian–this isn’t so PC–you can go the “white way”, or the “black way.” You always get picked on in school when you’re brown and you like “white people music.” People are so closed-minded about that kind of stuff, but people that try to go both ways are the ones that break the stereotypes.

BB: Your next album with Carpark records is slated for release later this year. What can you tell us about the tracks on this record? How’s it different from Causers of This?

TYM: Definitely going be more live instruments. Some of the songs i was working on were from samples on the old computer. I’ve started rewriting since I lost a good amount of stuff. I saved a lot of the sessions, the recording sessions.  I had the most recent files backed up.

BB: What’re you gonna do to prevent more of a stuff getting jacked on your next trip to Brooklyn?

TYM: Never put your stuff in a Volkswagen Golf, ’cause you can break into those cars really easy by just rigging the windows down with a crowbar.  And I’m going to keep the stuff locked in the trunk.

BB: You mentioned in an interview at SXSW: Your vices are chocolate & girls. What kind of chocolate and what kind of girls?

TYM: I like um…all girls. Let’s see…chocolate, definitely dark chocolate 50% or higher, almonds sometimes. Girls, hm, I dunno. ( laughs) They’re all good.

CHECK OUT TORO Y MOI (Opening for Caribou) IN BROOKLYN ON MAY 7 @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg.


Brooklyn Bodega #1: Little Dragon Performance Review

29 Mar

Hi Bright Liners,

I’ve started writing articles for Brooklyn Bodega, a website devoted to exploring Hiphop, art, culture, politics, as well as curating the annual Brooklyn Hiphop Festival. There’s so many forces in the conversation.  I’d like to bring to the table the  influences different genres of indie music have on Hiphop, interviews with artists and thinkers and creators who can incite dialog and shifts in the status quo.

Whew. For now, here’s a start. Little Dragon performed at The Music Hall of Williamsburg and Mercury Lounge last week, and I wrote a performance review for Brooklyn Bodega:

And check out Little Dragon’s video for “Swimming” off their new album Machine Dreams. Yukimi Nagano’s father, Yusuke Nagano created the vid!

photo courtesy of Matthew Drazin,