Chaz Bundick is already a well-known name in the world of indie music under his Toro y Moi moniker. His style of psychedelic bedroom pop has been a hit since his first release, the chillwave classic "Blessa" off of Causers of This in 2010. Since then, he's done his best to wriggle out of definition and mature his sound, culminating in the more upfront and electrified Anything in Return last year, an album that cheated house and even UK garage influences as it veered into synth-pop territory.
That latent electronic vibe has now blossomed into the forefront under Bundick's newly launched musical alter-ego Les Sins. Michael, the debut album, definitely has strong electronic elements, but it's not a dance pseudonym by any stretch. The influences alluded to range from Four Tet to Nine Inch Nails to Motown.
At the KCRW Masquerade in Los Angeles last week, between sets by Bonobo and Tokimonsta, and amidst a collection of the most lavish and conceptual Halloween costumes I have ever seen, I found Young Chaz, dressed as a hot dog, and grilled him on where his musical perspective developed from.
"When I started making music I was really into the whole Saddle Creek movement: Cursive, Bright Eyes," he says. "That whole scene was was pretty inspirational when it comes to production, just the weirdness and the quirkiness of it all, just this innocent sort of sound. I was 18 in college when I started getting into darker music or even electronic music, also lots of Stone's Throw, Madlib, J Dilla and still indie rock like My Bloody Valentine and Weezer."
Despite the dance-floor ready numbers on his album, club music has never came into his purview. "I don't really pay attention to it that much," he explains. "I don't pay attention to too much of one genre really. There so much of it now I kinda just like to absorb as much as I can." He never found his way to the rave, either. "I missed those. I'm not even in that world. I would love to, but I think I'm past that point in my life where we get a rush for going to one…I'm from South Carolina – there's not really that kind of culture there. And I didn't leave South Carolina until I was like 23."
The Les Sins name isn't even about exploring any one genre in particular, it's about freedom in general: "It's nice to have different monikers so you can have that weight taken off, feeling like you have to make money. With Toro, it's at the point of no return. We're all living off the tours now and it's my main source of income – so it's a business now! It has to be big, it has to be better every time. When it comes to making a different moniker I don't have to worry about that – it's strictly for fun."
"I remember I was a sophomore in high school and I told my teacher – 'Aw Tony Hawk is a sell-out!' and she was like, 'Why do you say that?' and it was me being stupid and young…And now I've learned what a dumb comment that was because that's just a man trying to make money for his family. There is really no such thing as selling out, the only thing is making bad music."
And hey, happy Halloween!
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Managing Editor - @JemayelK