Despite its wet name, Chill Wave has one humble leader.


Toro Y Moi – or Chazwick Bundick – is a mere 23 years old and has already been credited with near enough creating, or certainly co-creating, an entire genre that seems to be sweeping through the minds and record collections of every music fan around at the minute – the now ever-familiar ‘chill-wave’. He is reserved, timid and gently spoken. His fragile hush and sunken head often almost resembling that of a naughty boy been called to the headmasters office, this is clearly someone who is more comfortable in front of an instrument than an interviewer. However, once we get going he opens up and that timid nature transforms into nervous energy, which subsequently turns into enthusiasm and humble gratitude.

Catching up in the middle of his European tour, it’s clear he is somewhat bewildered by his success. “Ah, it‘s crazy,” he says. “I mean it‘s fun, but it‘s a totally different lifestyle.”

Chaz is fresh out of college, recently graduating with a degree in graphic design (he does all his own artwork too), so has gone from student to touring artist, travelling the world within a very short time span. He gently sips on his coffee as I try to plough through a lukewarm red-stripe before it becomes plain warm. He ultimately seems relaxed to the point of ambivalence, yet still somewhat pensive. So is he comfortable with being labelled as one of the pioneering artists of the chill-wave movement?

“I’m comfortable with it and it doesn’t really bother me but I don’t know if it’s the right description [for my music]. It’s very broad; all the artists that have been clumped into that [genre] are all so different. I mean there is similarities in the production and influences but the actual songs I feel like everyone has their own thing going on.”

We talk of his new single ‘Leave Everywhere’ and I mention its more rudimentary, garage-esque approach compared to the electronic disfigurement that was ‘Causers Of This’. It seems the laptop is being sidelined and the guitar fore-fronted in his new musical ventures. “The next album is not at all like the last album,” says Chaz. “I‘m starting songs with guitars or piano, no samples or anything like that.”

So how was the writing process approached for the first record in comparison?

“It started with a rhythm, either with a drum sample or something I programmed really quick and then I would try to get a feel and go from there.”

And does the speed that you write and record mean that we can expect the new album this year?

“Erm, yeah, around winter”.

Although Chaz now has a live touring band after feeling “uncomfortable” and “naked” when doing his solo laptop sets, he has still played everything himself on his new album. Learning piano from the age of eight and guitar from twelve it seems music has run through his blood for years. “My mum forced me to play piano and I hated it,” he winces “but I’m pretty glad she did now! Then drums and guitar were my personal leanings.

“At the start, I naturally gravitated toward the guitar because I was rebellious and really into punk music, but now I’ve gone back to the piano.”

It seems both ambition and progression are elements never far from the front of Chaz’s mind. Having been handed the responsibility to figurehead an entire genre he is willing to leave it behind before it’s even really made any lasting impact. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either plain restlessness or Toro Y Moi’s creative driving force, although Chaz says, “It‘s sort of both. On the new album I‘m definitely trying to create newer sounds.”

This determined and progressive mindset could also extend to the constant tampering and disfiguring of tempos and structures on his debut album, ‘Causers of This’.

“I‘ve always tried to do stuff like that,” he says. “I track the vocals and then I cut and paste the layers a lot.”

But do you have clear visions of what the songs will sound like beforehand?

“Oh yeah.”

Often it is spoken of people’s personalities mirroring their music (kinda like dog owners looking like their pets), and to some degree this is almost exactly true of Chaz Bundick. Toro Y Moi’s debut is tantalizing. It teases and tricks the listener into thinking he is going down one road and then throws him down another at the nearest unsuspecting fork on-route, or simply stalls him still. In many senses the album embodies manipulation as much as it does creation – a behavioural tool as much as an art form – and when speaking to Chaz he is often the same, giving you glimpses or promise of an avenue he’s about to go down and then stalls. I often wonder if his persistent intention is to leave me constantly questioning and analysing, much like his album does. Subtlety and an unrelenting sense of understatement seem to sum up Chaz pretty well, which coincidently is a more than apt description of ‘Causers Of This’ too. And it’s refreshing to encounter someone who seems so content just being immersed in the creative process of making music – anything that comes as a result of that is a bonus… or a curse.

There is not a shred of pomposity or ego that rears its head throughout our encounter, just meek reflection and careful thought. It’s clear his ambitions are reflected in his current listening habits. Chas is a fan of film score composers, right now, and that clearly yet quietly proclaims the grandiose intentions and ambitions of this rising young artist.

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