Toro y Moi first came on our radar during the reign of Chillwave, lumped in with the likes of Washed Out and Neon Indian by music critics who were quick to put him in a box without much thought.
Five years later, Chaz Bundick continues to surprise and impress, exploring a sea of genres. His sound is whatever he is interested in at the moment. And at THIS moment, he’s interested in guitars.
Last night, Toro y Moi played their entire new album front to back, weeks before release, for 200 invited guests as part of KCRW’s Apogee Sessions series.
Backstage before the show, the rhythm section (Patrick Jeffords on bass and Andy Woodward on drums) commented that it was their debut of these songs, seeming nervously excited about the opportunity to share the entirety of “What For?” in this live setting.
Chaz has this artistic confidence – combined with charming awkwardness -that makes him a somewhat unlikely frontman, but he seems more and more willing to step into the spotlight with each release.
This show found him playing a guitar instead of standing behind keys, as we’re used to. Host Jason Bentley commented that Chaz was performing with just a laptop when he first saw him and that he has enjoyed “watching the evolution of someone highly original”.
Whereas his last record “Anything in Return” had a 90’s dance and R&B influence, “What For?” is more psychedelic pop. The first single, “Empty Nesters”, being a perfect example.
Chaz said it’s fun to “jump around, try to experiment and see what’s out there that’s still unexplored.”
He said that, texturally, the guitar had been absent from his previous work so, after releasing a dance record under his other moniker Les Sins and assuring fans his love for electronic music was still intact, he felt more free to dig into the guitar as his main instrument.
He says he still has the jitters because he hasn’t played the guitar in front of people for 5 or 6 years.
He seemed perfectly comfortable to me, especially on songs like “Lilly” that unfold with an Isaac Hayes meets Pink Floyd kind of vibe.
KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez has been gravitating towards the moody funk of “Buffalo”, while I was really impressed with “Spell it Out” and “Run Baby Run” and excited that my first experience with those songs was seeing them live.
The session was engineered by Bob Clearmountain and will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Friday, April 3.
KCRW’s Apogee Sessions featuring Toro y Moi hosted by Jason Bentley
All songs from the new album “What For?” (played in order from start to finish)
01. What You Want
03. The Flight
04. Empty Nesters
07. Spell It Out
08. Half Dome
09. Run Baby Run
10. Yeah Right
Toro y Moi:
Chaz Bundick – vocals, guitar
Andy Woodward – drums
Anthony Ferraro – keys, backup vocals
Patrick Jeffords – bass
Jordan Blackmon – guitar
**ALL PHOTOS by JEREMIAH GARCIA