Toro y Moi is the stage name of Chaz Bundick, an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and graphic designer. He was born Chazwick Bradley Bundick on November 7, 1986. Toro y Moi was one of the first musicians to be referred to as chillwave due to the deep, relaxed sounds of his 2009 track “Blessa,” but that label was quickly dropped as each subsequent record and project taken on by Chaz Bundick (later Chaz Bear) veered off in an unanticipated direction.
No matter what musical genre he explores—’80s R&B, house music (on the Les Sins side project in 2014), space age pop, prog, or guitar-heavy power pop (as on 2015’s What For?—Bear is never content to stay to one formula when he might experiment.
Bear’s intrinsic melodic abilities and sonic shape-shifting demonstrate resistance to genre shifts and sonic zigzags, whether they are used to delve into the mainstream zeitgeist, as on 2017’s modern R&B-inspired Boo Boo, or veer off into the funky psychedelic realms of 2022’s Mahal.
In 2001, Bundick began recording in his Columbia, South Carolina, bedroom under the moniker Toro y Moi. His musical efforts were influenced by the various sounds of funk, soul, and new wave that he had grown up hearing in the house.
Contemporary musicians like Beach House, Dilla, and Animal Collective continued to produce music as he continued to record. Bundick played in bands and produced numerous records on his own. Carpark Records, however, was drawn to the Toro y Moi recordings, and in 2009 they issued the “Blessa”/”109” single.
The dreamy, lo-fi tunes served as the prototypes for chillwave, and Toro y Moi, Neon Indian, and Washed Out — whose Ernest Greene was Bundick’s boyhood pal — were seen as the forerunners of the emerging genre. The murky, homemade “Causers of This,” the debut Toro y Moi album on Carpark, was released in 2010 and received favorable press coverage as well as support from some notable figures including Kanye West.