Chaz Bundick cuts new groove with Les Sins alter ego

By Copy Editor

Gliding his fingers across his mixing board, Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind the electro grooves of Toro y Moi, knows how to make people dance.

He has been creating music under an alter-ego moniker, Les Sins, while simultaneously creating his well-known chillwave tunes, and he released his work Nov. 4 in his first album, Michael. Bundick distances himself from his Toro y Moi roots by delving into his Les Sins style, and he even went as far as asking his friend, Nate Salman, to provide the vocals on the album’s most Toro-esque track, “Why.”

Bundick said his new work allows him to let loose on stage, something that does not come as easily when performing as Toro y Moi. Taking the stage as Les Sins requires him to worry about only two things—whether the music is loud enough and the crowd is grooving on the dance floor, he said. After making a stop in Chicago on Dec. 5 at SmartBar, 3730 N. Clark St., Bundick is continuing on a national tour to Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.

The Chronicle spoke with Bundick about his new approach to music, recording songs without lyrics and his minimalistic album artwork.

THE CHRONICLE: How did you decide what the first Les Sins album artwork should look like?

CHAZ BUNDICK: I wanted the album cover to be pretty underwhelming. I almost didn’t put Les Sins on it—I was just going to put that picture of the blow-up guy with “Michael” on top of it. But I figured I should put the name of the artist on there. That was the main inspiration—to make it look boring. “Less is more” is what I was thinking just because I was sort of shy. I don’t know, what is a house record supposed to look like? I had no clue where to start.

What prompted you to make Les Sins an official artist name and release Michael?

It was having the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do without having to mess with the Toro name, sound or fanbase. I could make a house track or a hip-hop beat that would not affect the Toro fanbase. It was just for fun, really.

Why change the sound from the pop songs of Toro y Moi to the house-based dance music of Les Sins?

I kind of got … not bored, but I’m just interested in a whole bunch of stuff aside from pop music. I like to express myself in as many ways as possible. It’s just like making a painting or a drawing in a different medium—it’s finding another approach and staying interested.

What is it like to produce work as Les Sins?

When I work on Les Sins stuff, I have a dance track or hip-hop sound in mind, and I’m not worrying about if it’s going to be accessible enough. When I work on Toro, I’m strictly thinking pop songs. I’m not thinking [that] I’m going to get people dancing. It’s really easy—differentiating [Toro y Moi and Les Sins] in my mind, that is.

What are some big inspirations you cite for Michael?

Four Tet, Motor City Drum Ensemble, stuff like that—more contemporary house [music]. But then there’s also classic artists like Frankie Knuckles and rave-y stuff from the ‘90s and everything really.

What has been your proudest Les Sins moment so far?

The past few weeks I’ve been touring and doing Les Sins stuff and DJing. It’s really fun to finally be able to go out and play my own tracks and watch people dance. It’s a different experience from Toro because Toro is a little bit more high stress when it comes to a live performance. There’s so many more things you have to think about, as opposed to just thinking about if it’s loud enough and if people are dancing. It’s really fun to be able to go out and play music like that.