Chaz Bundick is still getting used to the whole success thing under his Toro Y Moi moniker. The Columbia, South Carolina native released his first LP, Causers of This, a year ago and has already followed up with his sophomore effort Underneath the Pine. Already receiving amazing reviews, the 24-year-old singer/songwriter wasn’t trying to gain musical success under his bedroom musical project, but the laidback musician is allowing the cards to fall where they will and enjoying the chance to follow his dreams. We got to talk to Chaz about his name, music and the new album. Check it out:

First off, why did you pick Toro y Moi as your stage name?

It’s something that I made up when I was 15 in the car. It was pretty much nonsensical. Kept the name for nine years or something. Felt it worked with my projects.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing right now?

Hopefully I’d be doing graphic design somewhere.

So how did you first become interested in music and when was it that you realized you wanted to make it your career?

I’ve been playing piano since I was eight, then started playing guitar when I was 12. I didn’t like practicing and going to lessons and stuff, so I eventually started memorizing my pieces until I started to also memorize cover songs like stuff from Weezer. I then started writing my own stuff after.

But I think I really wanted to make it my career as soon as I started with Carpark. Music was always a goal and my dream but it was not the first route I wanted. Design was my backup plan I guess you could say; it’s still a backup plan. Ever since I knew it was possible to become more recognized with music, I worked harder and harder at it, so I guess if I had to say a year, it would be since 2009. That’s when I really started to make my presence as a professional musician more prominent.

How would you say Underneath The Pine differs from your prior release?

The main difference is there’s no samples involved and it’s just all written in a more linear approach when it came to actual songwriting. Similarities would be its influences; it was definitely influenced by a lot of disco and funk and soft rock from the ’70s.

Would you say that you have particular Toro Y Moi musical elements you always try to put in your songs?

I’m not sure; I try to keep changing. I know that I’m in a certain phase right now in the type of style I like to sing in. Still, I feel you should always keep changing as an artist, but right now lyrically, I’m still in same spot as the last album.

How does the new release showcase your evolution as an artist?

I don’t know, I guess I just try to stay open to a lot of different types of music. I know for this one, I was definitely more interested in ’70s rock and psychedelic music for this album.

When you first started to make music, what were your original intentions and have they changed since then?

I really didn’t have that many intentions. I’d just put my music on a couple of burnt CDs for friends and emailed it to a couple of blogs. I wasn’t trying to make it in music. I had a different band back then and was mailing out demos with songs with them. But then again, my musical goals weren’t originally with Toro Y Moi; it’s always been my personal bedroom project that really snowballed in a good way. But I’m ready to tour and do this professionally. Back then, I wasn’t really motivated to make Toro Y Moi my main music project but it ended up happening

What does the title Underneath the Pine represent?

I felt like it fit the tone of the album. It sort of had a sentimental meaning and was somewhat metaphorical. It’s really just referring to where I want to be buried when I die, which is home in South Carolina. It’s not exactly as literal as it seems…“under a pine tree.”

What did you want your fans to get from the new release?

I guess I was just trying to go for a less compressed sound. I felt like my older recordings that were guitar-based and piano-based were very rough and I just wanted to get better at recording when it came to making this record. I didn’t want the second record to be a step below when it came to sound quality.

Where’s your favorite place to record and why?

Probably at home. It’s actually the only place I’ve ever recorded. I tried studios with other bands, but it’s not the same thing. With Toro Y Moi, I’m recording and writing at the same time, which means I’d have to take up a lot of time in studio to get something done. Even if could get a studio, I’d feel more comfortable at home still.

In three words, describe your music?

Psychedelic, R&B and pop.

Which is your favorite track on the new album, and why?

Probably “Go With You,” since it was the first song I wrote with a key change and was proud of it. Like I felt it was a successful key change that didn’t sound awkward.

Who are your musical inspirations?

I like Arthur Russell, Caribou, Weezer; I like a lot of ’80s stuff, too.

What bands are you currently digging right now and are in heavy rotation in your playlist?

I’ve been into a lot of Odd Future Wolf Gang they’re really awesome. Also listening to a lot of Trey Songz and a lot of hip-hop and R&B. I also listen to some songs I haven’t released yet that I’ve been working on. Not sure if I’m going to wait for the next album and might give them out for free or something.

You’re currently going on tour. What city are you most looking forward to playing in and why?

I guess out of the tour, the most notable stop is SWSX because of its craziness. It’s like summer camp since you’re in just one spot for a few days with your friends and it’s a just really cool experience.

What can fans expect when they go see you live?

Specifically, a more psychedelic rock influence will come out in my shows. The live drums help out with new songs just because it’s so much louder. I’ll be performing stuff from both albums.

What’s the rest of 2011 have in store for you?

New songs, collaborations and maybe some remixes…it’s hard to say. Definitely a lot of touring, too.


Check out our review of Toro Y Moi’s Underneath the Pine here!

Words: Kristie Bertucci