Review of the Year 2016: musician Toro y Moi


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In our ninth Review of the Year interview, we chat to Chaz Bundick about his stellar year and how he’s working on developing his creative output more and more.

We’ve long been fans of South Carolina-born Chaz Bundick AKA Toro y Moi for his ability to fuse music with his other passions of illustration and graphics through his music videos and other creative work. Working as a musician and visual artist, 2016 has been a whirlwind of opportunities offering Chaz the time to develop his skills as a creative. Among the painting, drawing, mural making and other visual projects for music festivals and other projects, this year brought about one Chaz’s most ambitious projects yet – a live concert film and album shot in the Mohave desert.

Created in collaboration with director and photographer Harry Israelson, Live From Trona was shot from sunrise to sunset in just one day. With the sand and the blue sky as the backdrop, the camera crew, dolly tracks, lighting and sound equipment is all on show and the film celebrates the joys of live performance as Chaz sings and plays instruments in the blazing heat.

In terms of his music, Chaz announced new side project called Plum in September, with a debut release under a new moniker as part of Leaving Records’ Modern New Age series. Last month, the artist also announced the release date of March 2017 for a new Toro y Moi album, which sees him collaborate with twin brother rock duo the Mattson 2. Here Chaz reflects on the year he’s just had and how he’s been working on honing his personal aesthetic.

What was your creative highlight of 2016?

I think one of my favourite projects this year was working on our Live From Trona film.

I think making a live music film is something that really lasts over time. Because there were limitations like the weather or time, it added an element of difficulty that made it magic.

What was your lowlight of 2016?

This year I decided to focus more on my visual art work. So if anything I wish I got to focus a little more on painting and drawing but I’m still very satisfied with the amount of work I was able to accomplish in that realm. 

What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?

Does exhaustion, insomnia, dementia, and being anti-social count?

Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?

One of my favourite projects to work on was the mural I did for Feels V, an amazing music festival based in Oakland, Ca. They trusted me to come up with something that was their vibe and I think we hit it right on the dot. 

Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?

I guess going back to music stuff, I always thought that live albums were incredible. I’m pretty proud of the LP version of Live From Trona.

How has your work evolved over the last 12 months? 

I feel like every day I get a little bit closer to honing in on my aesthetic or style for both visual stuff and music. Its hard to balance timelessness with contemporary without it being too obvious or kitschy but it helps to not think about it really.

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?

Breathing. No joke, relax homie.

Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?

Jordy Van Den Nieuwendijk wins.

Describe 2016 in five words…

The upside-down face emoji.

What are your hopes for 2017?

To make it out alive despite all the BS life throws at you. 

Supported by Google

At Google, we believe that design is critical to product excellence. That’s why we’re proud to support INT in its effort to champion a broad and inclusive community of creative makers and thinkers with the annual Review of the Year.

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About the Author

Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca Fulleylove is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and culture. She is also senior writer at Creative Review, having previously worked at Elephant, Google Arts & Culture, and It’s Nice That.

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