The music of Toro Y Moi exists in a module of refined and effortless flow. Outwardly, the R&B, pop, and hiphop strands form a smooth, hook-laden archipelago. Inwardly, the beats and synth-based compounds contain spirulina, an audible form of the blue-green algae high in danceable minerals. Chaz Bundick is the man, mind, and voice of Toro Y Moi. Like his music, there's an illuminated ease to him, a scholarly calm. In January, he released his third full-length album, Anything in Return—52 minutes of lyrical, icy electronic pop and sanctum-funk.
In the first single, "So Many Details," Bundick sings with his higher register, "You send my life into somewhere I can't describe." Then the thickened beat drops out, leaving delayed tubes of keyboards to aerate. The breakdown's image is of Bundick floating through deep space in a terrarium. There are mosses about him, palm trees, and lilacs. Holographic butterflies flap through the warm, damp air. Bundick stands next to a small, pellucid pool, gazing out of a window into the endless black envelope of the cosmos and the void. And he's okay with it all. Bundick spoke while en route from Atlanta, Georgia, to Carrboro, North Carolina. He was not in a terrarium, although he did sound tranquil.
How are you able to effectively incorporate synths into your music? You do it well. How do you approach your sounds?
Really, it's just messing around until I find the right sound. A lot of times, I'll hear something in my head and try to emulate that, whether it be a monophonic or a polyphonic kind of sound. I guess it's intuition. Nothing too calculated [laughs].
Where do you start working on songs?
Usually at home, I start finding sounds. The first song I wrote for the album was "Rose Quartz," and it took a long time to finish because it went through so many stages. It was a process of remixing myself over and over until it got to a space where I liked it. Once I found the vibe for "Rose Quartz," it set the mood for the rest of the album. "So Many Details" was started on tour as a hiphop beat I'd been working on. When I got home, I decided to sing on it, and then it turned into the single. I don't remember what goes through my head when I'm writing, really. I get into a certain zone where I don't remember what's going on.