Toro y Moi reminisces on the past while looking to the future on Mornings with Maia Bilyk
December 7th 2022
One of indie’s most eclectic and most loved acts Chaz Bear, AKA Toro y Moi, is no stranger to FBi Radio. The stalwart of chillwave and serial collaborator made his way back to the studio for the first time in more than five years in the wake of his new album MAHAL and a headline show at the Metro Theatre. Chaz caught up with Maia Bilyk on Mornings to talk switching up his production, targeting boomers with his new record, and fond memories of FBi.
Chaz has been visiting FBi for almost ten years and still remembers the first time walking through the station doors. He’s watched the station grow and develope alongside his illustrious career.
“I personally just love seeing the station evolve, every time I come back it’s more professional, and the branding is a little bit more visible. It’s really cool, you went from murals on the wall to like nice logos and lights on the walls, and it’s cool to see y’all doing well.”
Chaz is someone who cannot sit still when making music. Across seven studio albums, he has tackled a plethora of microgenres (à la Yves Tumor) but always with a distinctive Toro y Moi stamp steeped heavily in psychedelia. Across his global tour, Chaz is still searching for inspiration.
“The stuff that I probably have been finding more out about recently is choral music. When I was on tour in Europe, there were a couple of cities where I stumbled across a cathedral and occasionally there was a choir singing. And that kind of stuff really got me thinking about those tones. But other than that I’ve been really into ambient music and music that makes you listen for the space.”
Toro y Moi’s latest studio album MAHAL is typically genre-bending, delving into psych-funk in a far looser way than ever before. The album is as free of pre-recorded samples as possible, full to the brim with live instrumentation in a new production challenge for the South Carolina-born producer.
“There are these two sides of Toro, there’s the sample-based or almost loop-based, and then there’s the more free-form songwriting side of my art, that’s kind of traditional. I came up in the DIY home recording music world, and before I even had the ability to make electronic music or loops I was just doing guitar music and piano music, so to keep that practice going brings a lot of joy. It’s not about being the most commercially accessible sound but it’s just about a practice really.”
No matter the musical realm Chaz tackles or the constant experimentation in the studio, Toro y Moi’s distinctive spirit shines through across all his work. But maturation has meant a shift from music made for a car stereo to something a little more Hi-fi.
“There is a give and take that comes with maturing your sound. You have to sacrifice some of the artsiness and you have to think about a broader universal sonic palette. That was what I wanted to try to achieve with this record: how could I make something that, honestly, boomers would enjoy in their nice house or something… A lot of my records I make for cars or clubs, so this one was just made for home speakers and bookshelf speakers. Really just made to sit in the background while you’re making dinner.”
With collaborations with everyone from Flume to Tyler the Creator to Travis Scott to Blood Orange, it’s no wonder Maia was keen to get the scoop on who’s next in line for Toro y Moi.
“No one really. I did just send some stuff to Eyedress, so we’ll see what’s going to happen. He’s the homie – I don’t see any point in holding back any secrets these days. It’s kind of like, any buzz is good buzz now.”
Want more? Watch Toro y Moi’s triumphant return to our studio below!