Published Jan 30, 2013Toro y Moi just dropped what might be his best album yet with Anything in Return, a sprawling collection of danceable electro-pop that functions as an all-in-one summary of the songwriter's strengths. Speaking with Exclaim!, the man also known as Chaz Bundick explains that the album represents his return to electronic production.
"I knew I didn't want to do something like Underneath the Pine again, meaning traditional instruments with no programming or computers," he says, speaking on the line from Amsterdam. "I knew that I wanted to go back and start messing with electronics and sampling — experimenting more with electronic production. I tried to incorporate the two, pretty much."
He goes on to add that some of the songs began as dance tracks, and it wasn't until he earmarked them for Toro y Moi — as opposed to for his club-friendly Les Sins project — that they took on their finished shape. "I'd try to make it a Toro y Moi song, whether it be singing or [making it] a little bit more catchy," he says. "With Toro y Moi, I like to focus on the pop aspects of songs, and with Les Sins it's definitely more of a dance-y thing."
In creating hook-filled songs, Bundick says that he hopes to remove some of the stigma that surrounds pop music, and he notes, "Pop music really has a bad rep, especially in the States. A lot of that Eurotrash pop stuff sort of just numbs everybody's skull. I wanted to play around with idea, of having dance-y pop music that's not trashy."
He achieves this goal on standout cuts like the bittersweet "So Many Details" and the gradually building "Rose Quartz," the latter of which begins with a soporific swoon before locking into a slinky groove that's punctuated by retro-sounding vocal samples.
The songs on Anything in Return came together following the songwriter's move from South Carolina to California, where his girlfriend goes to school. And while he still doesn't know many people in the Bay Area, where he now lives, he's been inspired by the region's rich musical climate and by his own domestic situation.
"We live together now," he says in regards to his girlfriend. "That can be a big change, but it also kind of feels good in a way to do that for the first time. Especially at this age . It's a sign you're growing up, becoming an adult."
These situations worked their way into Bundick's domestically oriented lyrics, which contain confessions like, "I can pick a fight with you / I recognize you're on my side" (from "Cake"). The singer jokes that his lyrical approach may change in the future, laughing as he says, "I could pull the Paul McCartney card and start writing about fake characters if I wanted, or I could just become a rapper and sing about money and women and power."
In the coming weeks, Bundick is taking a break from life in California by hitting the road in North America. This includes a stop in Montreal on February 16 and in Toronto the day after. Peruse the schedule here.
Read Exclaim!'s review of Anything in Return here, and read our full interview with Bundick here.