Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, 24-year-old Chaz Bundick (aka Toro Y Moi) has been toying with various musical projects since early adolescence. Having spent his formative years playing in punk and indie rock acts, the protean Toro Y Moi project has been his vessel for further musical exploration since 2001. In his latter years studying graphic design at the University of South Carolina, Chaz became increasingly focused on his solo work, incorporating electronics and allowing a wider range of influences—French house, Brian Wilson’s pop, 80s R&B, and Stones Throw hip-hop—to show up in his music. By the time he graduated in spring 2009, Chaz had refined his sound to something all his own, and music journals across the board touted his hazy recordings as the sound of the summer.
Chaz started off 2010, which would prove to be Toro’s flagship year, by releasing his debut, Causers of This, in February. He toured extensively in support of the album, adding two more members—a bassist and drummer—to his live show, and steadily accrued more supporters and acclaim. Summer saw the release of the “Leave Everywhere” 7”, and in fall he issued a 12” single under his house music moniker, Les Sins. Always a prolific creator, Chaz used the sparse downtime between tours to prepare and record his sophomore album.
Having spent the year listening to film composers like Françoise de Roubaix and Ennio Morricone, Chaz returned to his parents’ home in Columbia, the birthplace of many Toro tracks of yore, to bring his new ideas to fruition. The result of these sessions is Underneath the Pine, a deeply personal album that sees him putting down the samples and electronics and relying completely on live instrumentation.
Out on February 22, Underneath the Pine is a record evocative of R. Stevie Moore’s homespun ruminations, David Axelrod’s sonic scope, the spacey disco of Mandre, and the pervasive funk of his first record. It’s a new phase for an artist whose diverse curiosities make his music difficult to classify.