Toro y Moi's take on the beautiful and the mundane

The chillwave band seeks peace and finds its psychedelia groove

Instagram ready.

Instagram ready.

Photo by Andrew Paynter

Catch Toro y Moi at TBD Fest on Friday, September 18, in the Bridge District, on Riverfront Street in West Sacramento. Three-day, general admission tickets cost $209 plus service fees. More at

In Toro y Moi’s video for “Lilly,” frontman Chaz Bundick stares at tomatoes, eggs, cabbage and other generic groceries at a grocery store. The scene is beautiful. Classic-feeling. The actions are extraordinarily mundane and yet extraordinarily poetic.

“The most everyday activity can look really nice to me, because that’s kind of not my life anymore,” Bundick says. “I’m always just sort of in a daze, staring at the most normal things. My average every day is just dealing with a lot of noise—like physical noise and metaphorical noise—so I find peace in a grocery store.”

The visuals correspond perfectly to “Lilly,” a song about days all feeling the same and finding appreciation for that fact of life. Off Toro y Moi’s latest album What For?, “Lilly” shows Bundick finding his ’60s-psychedelia groove.

Bundick is often cited as one of the harbingers of chillwave—you know, like that song from Portlandia. But lots has happened since his solo bedroom-project days in the early 2000s. Now, Toro y Moi is a full-fledged, world-touring band. It’s also one of the Friday headliners at this weekend’s TBD Fest, along with Tyler the Creator, RL Grime and Death Grips.

Yet Bundick’s sound has never stayed stagnant. If anything, he’s become known for versatility. What For? is quite the departure from Toro y Moi’s 2013 R&B and electro-soul album Anything in Return. What For? sounds way more rockin’, with subtler notes of disco, funk and psychedelia. Bundick points to American pop bands like Talking Heads and Big Star, as well as Brazilian soul and ’70s-era French jazz fusion, as influences this time around.

Toro y Moi fans were likely perfectly pleased with getting one full-length album in 2015. But then, Bundick released a free 20-track mixtape called Samantha in late August, featuring collaborations with Washed Out—you know, the guy who did the Portlandia song—and several other artists. It was totally unannounced.

“I still have a huge passion for electronic music and making hip-hop beats—that’s something I’m always going to enjoy doing,” Bundick says. “That’s why it was free—it was just for fun.”

If What For? is Toro y Moi’s most indie rock music to date, then Samantha is the band’s most pop. But neither are the direction Bundick plans to take with the next Toro y Moi record.

“I just want to get weirder,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s gonna get Flaming Lips-weird or anything, but I definitely want to get weirder and a little more complex.”

Nothing too obscure has been written yet, though. At TBD Fest—Toro y Moi’s first-ever Sacramento appearance—Bundick will deliver an indie soul reprieve from the festival’s dance-heavy lineup with his five-piece band. Though bandmates arrived after Bundick created Toro y Moi, they’ve become essential.

“They’re not just hired guns,” Bundick says. “We’re a tight family.”

Bundick has known his bandmates since childhood, growing up in Columbia, South Carolina. Even though Bundick recently moved out west to Berkeley, they all remain tight. Maybe it’s because of their friendship, maybe it’s Bundick’s democratic view on finances.

“That’s the big deal with bands: money. Bands are always fighting over it,” he says. “My solution is just to split it evenly—everyone is paid exactly the same, whether it’s merch or shows. Everyone’s happy as long as the music is good.”