Three albums deep into a critically-acclaimed career as Toro y Moi, Chaz Bundick is getting bored. “I’m sort of getting tired of doing R&B and funk,” Bundick says of the genres that have fueled his success. “So I’m trying to see, exactly, where it can go from there.”
An hour before he and the live-band members of Toro y Moi instigated a dance party at Washington’s Sasquatch! Music Festival on Memorial Day, Bundick explained that the popularity of the musical movement he helped inspire – the synthesized electro-R&B and funk that was once known as chillwave – has encouraged him to explore different musical avenues.
“I don’t like to do what’s popular,” he said. “If electronic music is popular, I don’t want to do that kind of music. I mean, I’m constantly making electronic music, but I’m not going to release it.”
As he begins to plot a follow-up to January’s Anything in Return, Bundick says he’s been channeling his inner teenager. He’s picked up skateboarding again. He’s listening to Stone Temple Pilots again. And he’s tempted to make a rock record.
“I feel like it’s time for guitars to make a comeback,” he told Rolling Stone. Here, Bundick talks about his next move, his first job and the living, breathing Postal Service.
Do you have any hobbies? Do you golf?
I want to start golfing. I used to play tennis. I want to get better at tennis. I like to draw a lot. I want to get into woodmaking.
Why do you want to get into woodmaking?
I like to make furniture.
Have you made any of you own furniture?
I’ve done a couple tables in my house and, like, my desk. There’s nothing big. It’s just simple design stuff. My interest in design lead to my interest in furniture design, even interior design, all types of design. I feel l like that’s something I would want to do later on.
Looking forward, you‘re not just thinking music, music, music?
No, ’cause I really want music to sort of stay a hobby. I don’t want to get jaded doing music. I need to make sure I have something to go back to when I get bored and tired of music. ‘Cause that happens all the time to musicians.
Do you have a day job when you go home?
No. Music is definitely my focus, and I’m aware that it’s my main source of income. But I’m not trying to rely on it. The way I’ve been doing it ever since I started making music is it was always a hobby. That’s what I liked about it. And I don’t want to get bored doing it. And it’s gotten to that point before, too. When I was working on Underneath the Pine I was definitely sort of overwhelmed.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I’m slowly trying to get started with the new album. But I’m trying to figure out where it’s going to go, really. I’m experimenting with guitars, full-band stuff. It is nice to have a song that’s not full of funky synthesizers or that doesn’t reference the Seventies. Everyone’s doing that.
You sound kind of restless.
I like to work. I’ve told my girlfriend so many times that I’m a workaholic. I know this is not a hard job. People say it’s a hard job, but there are so many jobs that are harder. So I feel like I have to sort of make up for it, and to push myself to work harder.
What’s the hardest job you’ve ever had?
Probably my first one. I was 15 and I worked at Chick-fil-A. My job was to bread and fry the chicken. I had long hair, and the stink would just permeate my hair. I was just, like, hating it. It was so weird to work at a place that wasn’t full of people similar to you. It’s not like working at a coffee shop or a bookstore or a design firm. You’re working with people that have no interest in you, people that are lost. It was a shock, like, Oh, I guess this is what the real world is, or whatever. Your co-worker is this 30-year-old dude who lives at his mom’s house and couldn’t read.
I feel like when I’m at a music festival or a concert, it’s very homogenous. Is that your experience, too? Do you try to reach a different audience?
Yeah – I mean, I don’t try to. But I think it’s definitely a natural characteristic of music. It doesn’t matter what type of person you are, you can just end up being attracted to a certain type of music. I grew up listening to a lot of rock and indie rock and the grunge stuff. But I never really listened to funk or hip-hop or R&B until college. I guess it just took that long for it to speak to me. Really, for the longest time I thought R&B was so boring, because I didn’t understand it.
Are you going to stick around tonight to watch the Postal Service tonight?
I’m trying. I saw their live show at Coachella. It was interesting. I’m not sure if I’m used to seeing it full band. It was ingrained in my mind as solely a recorded thing.
I feel like there’s a lot of music like that that doesn’t make sense live.
I am afraid of that myself. That’s why I’m constantly changing my sounds. I mean, Causers of This was not supposed to be played live. I just made that in my bedroom. I didn’t know it was going to get that big. There were a couple of songs we keep because people want to hear them. But I’m sure someone out there understands that it’s probably best that they’re not played live. It might ruin it for you. Or it’s just not the same.
I’m kind of obsessed with McCartney and Ram right now. Do you listen to that old stuff?
I want to go in that direction, probably, for the next record, just sort of indie-esque, Beatles-type. But I don’t want it to be some mundane pop music. A lot of people try to do the Beatles thing and it just sounds like an Apple commercial or something.
It seems like everyone nowadays is really into that whole R&B thing. It’s all about the major seventh chords and minor seventh chords. I want to try to do some music where it’s very simple, and you just take it for what it is, and sort of see where it goes.