Who is Toro Y Moi? Who is Les Sins? They’re actually both the same person: musical genius named Chazwick Bradley Bundick.
I’m going to go ahead and get this out the way: Chaz Bundick a.k.a. Toro Y Moi is easily one of my favorite musical artists of my generation. Period. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple… I have yet to hear a song from him that I dislike. I’m being very sincere when I say that I believe the critically-acclaimed artist Toro Y Moi is one of the most gifted musical talents born in the 1980’s. Bursting into stardom while still in college, fueled by the popularity of the musical movement that he himself helped inspire, Chaz decided to put his graphic design career on hold.
In 2009, Toro Y Moi and his friend, University of South Carolina classmate Ernest Greene, a.k.a. Washed Out, were ironically two of the major forces credited with reinventing the nostalgic sounds of an entire genre: labeled as the often chuckled about, haze-happy chillwave. After releasing his LP debut, Causers of This, from his bedroom, Bundick was determined to be bigger than a “blog artist”. Toro has stated that 2011’s psych-funk follow-up, Underneath the Pine, and much of his work after his overnight success, like his 2013 album Anything in Return, was a reaction to how he’d initially been viewed when he decided to pursue this musical career that kinda unexpectedly formulated itself out of his college bedroom.
“I was trying to be like, ‘I’m not just a kid behind a laptop. I really like to play all these instruments.'” – Toro Y Moi
Growing up as Chaz Bundick.
Toro Y Moi was born Chazwick Bradley Bundick on November 7, 1986 to a Filipino mother and an African-American father in the college town of Columbia, South Carolina. Raised as a bi-racial kid in the south, he had a bit of trouble finding out where he fit in, socially.
“Growing up in South Carolina, there weren’t too many Asian kids. At school, the black kids were like, ‘You’re not black’ and the white kids were like, ‘You’re not white. It was really confusing as a kid to see all the black kids hanging out at this table and all the white kids hanging out at that table. It was fine, though. I just hung out with the kids in my neighborhood. I had black friends and white friends. I think I started just bonding all that with music.” – Toro Y Moi | Art Nouveau Mag
Although Chaz’s multicultural make-up may have burdened him with his fair share of challenges within a society that still has racial identity issues, he made the most of his situation. Finding his social comfort zone with skaters, music-lovers and fellow eclectic individuals in his own neighborhood, Chaz started to develop character traits and interests that would eventually lead him to his passion. As Chaz grew more in love with music and art he found an outlet to convert his social dilemmas into a sonic experience, which is why I think Chaz’s music is so diverse. Toro Y Moi has stated on many occasions that early in his career he was just making music for fun and giving it out for free. “There was no intention for it to be anything more.” This was perhaps most evident when he entered the University of South Carolina to pursue a degree in graphic design instead of pursuing music full-time with one of the bands he formed in high school with friends. Though he would stay in school and graduate with the aforementioned degree, during his time at SC, he couldn’t tear himself away from music completely. After befriending upperclassmen, the electronic musician Ernest Greene/Washed Out, Bundick began to further explore his passion for creating sounds; integrating innovative production techniques and new technology.
“Why” became an instant favorite after I first heard it, and I wrote it down to include in our next Field Trips Forever release (coming soon). Though you cannot buy the album Micheal until tomorrow, thanks to NPR, you can live-stream the debut album by Les Sins now! Click Here and check it out! After Tuesday 11/4 you can purchase Micheal here.
“I didn’t expect it to take off like this, but I was totally wanting it,” he says. “I’m glad it happened.” – Toro Y Moi on the success of his music career so far.
Many can make the argument that Chaz Bundick is growing into one of our generation’s most dynamic conceptual artists. It is awe-inspiring as you listen, realizing that he does EVERYTHING: creating his own album artwork, directing his own videos, playing all the instruments you hear on his albums, mixing and mastering his records while also writing his own songs. His awkward wall-flower demeanor, and unusual aversion to celebrity and luxury just makes him that much more intriguing. Could we be witnessing a genius of our time?
History proves that most geniuses, from Einstein, or Tesla, to John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and even Prince, have personalities that include fluctuating levels of peculiarity. But, this is all subjective. A genius is bizarre to others, yet they feel nothing is wrong with themselves, and everyone else is strange. What matters most to a genius is their passions and their work, and in Chaz’s case: the music. Could he be our generation’s Prince? Maybe. I admit, that is a very lofty goal, and an audacious comparison. But, however ridiculous the claim is, if you take away the high-heels, and polarizing differences in chosen attire, there are glaring similarities between Chaz Bundick and the man who made Purple Rain: an autonomous work ethic and copious productivity. Both artists have been able to transcend and dissolve racial barriers; being bi-racial men in musical genres dominated by artists who are a bit, umm, monochromatic, they have been able to defeat obstacles with their enigmatic musical talent. Now all Chaz has to do is continue making great music, and hopefully I won’t look like a fool for making such comparisons. I’m pretty sure early in Prince’s career, someone called a writer foolish for calling the Purple One from Minnesota a genius… I guess only time will tell if Toro Y Moi proves me right, and becomes one of the artists that define our generation.