Toro Y Moi Interview

Chillwave and the art of production

The growth of the internet has made the world a far smaller place.

Musicians on opposites of the globe can collaborate, sharing ideas without ever speaking to each other in real life. Music can spread around the world in a few hours, spawning numerous micro-genres.

A new group of producers from Europe and North American have given rise to the term ‘chillwave’. Including such diverse talents as Washed Out and Neon Indian, the blanket name for such disparate producers has caused no end of controversy.

However if it helps spread the word about artists such as Toro Y Moi then the blog pixels will have been worthwhile. With his album ‘Causers Of This’ gaining a cult following, Toro Y Moi is set to embark on a raft of new projects, including some dance productions and even – shock horror – an acoustic effort.

ClashMusic tracked down the producer on his recent UK tour.

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How did you begin making music?
I started around when I was 15. I started piano when I was 8. Liked playing piano but not learning it and taking lessons, so that led to me making up my own.

What drew you to electronic music?
The idea that music was made with computers. I liked that you could change sounds knowing what and how it was changing. And lastly, I love knobs and buttons.

Toro Y Moi – Talamak

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How do you go about picking samples / constructing tracks?
I remember when I first sampled something I found a song that sampled the same song and i really brought me down. That just made me dig deeper. Sometimes I like to sample same BPM stuff but the best results are from stuff that’s not sync’d up right.

What is your opinion on the ‘chillwave’ logo?
Its chill.

Are you surprised at how far your music has travelled?
It’s truly amazing to see how your songs can travel. From your bedroom to being in front of thousands of people in Europe. Very thankful and willing to keep up with the pace to make this experience the best.

Do you find much in common with other ‘chillwave’ artists?
I do, I think we all sort of approach electronic in a similar way. But, I definitely think we all have our own unique style. And they’re all nice guys.

When did you being working on ‘Causers Of This’?
I started back in the Winter of 2008/9 and then finished up around Fall ’09. It took forever because I was writing it between tours.

How long did the sessions take?
All-in-all about 2 months.

Do you work completely alone?
Yeah, unless I ask someone to come and do some vocals or something like that.

Toro Y Moi – Blessa

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How autobiographical is your music?
I try to make it as straight forward as possible. I got tired of writing music metaphorically and poetically because I thought I wasn’t good at it. I still feel my lyrics could get better.

Is there much of a support base for your music in your hometown?
Yeah, I couldn’t thank Columbia, SC and all my friends there enough for being so supportive.
Everyone from college kids to local crust punks, old and young, have come up to me and congratulated me. The south is the best.

You are working on a new album already, how does it differ/ compliment ‘Causers Of This?’
Well the big difference is that the next album isn’t electronic. I wanted to see if I could make
songs similar to what i’ve been doing but without being electronically altered. But it’s a
different sound over all I think.

Does changing from electronic to acoustic instruments alter the way you write songs?
Of course, when you record electronically you are literally writing and recording at the same time. But for a lot of this album I record the parts, look at the wav file, and that’s it. I want it to remain the way I recorded to preserve character and to be true to the process.

You have also launched a new dance project Les Sins – why is this?
I wanted to start making dance music to see if I could do it. I love all house music and electronic music styles and I just want to something like that, that’s my own.

[Photo credit Bryan Bush]

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