On The Road, For The Record: Toro Y Moi
Toro y Moi, also known as Chaz Bear, has been off the road for a bit and is now back, as he prepares for the release of his new album Outer Peace, which is due this January via Carpark Records. The album was written and recorded in the Bay Area and slightly veers away from his past releases. With a bit of funk influence and a change of tone, Chaz commands the attention of his audience; his live show is filled with bright colors, lots of movement, and an electric crowd grooving to the beat, in response. In the van, on his way to Brooklyn, Milk caught up with the musician to quickly chat about what he’s missed about life on the move.
So welcome back to the tour life, we’ve definitely missed you. What have you missed?
Probably just meeting people; it’s probably my favorite part about tour, I’m finding other creatives and other musicians, and just having them show me around the city or giving me the scoop about what’s going on around them.
For those of us who don’t know, can you describe what a typical day on tour is like? For example, you’re in Brooklyn right now—what did you do today?
Well, I’m still in the car, a van with eight people. We left Boston this morning at 8:30 ish, and we’re about to pull up to Brooklyn now, and then immediately I go to get my hair done and we start a soundcheck.
You’re there for a few days, So what do you want to do in your downtime?
It’s tour so there’s only work being done, really. So my downtime is full of interviews and press. But yeah, it feels good; it’s not like a downer or anything, but there isn’t any downtime here.
Do you have a favorite city or a favorite venue to perform in?
My favorite city probably might be San Francisco, or to perform in, probably Atlanta.
Uh, the audience in Atlanta just really connects with the music and they really put out really good energy. It’s really nice.
What do you like about San Francisco?
San Francisco has always been a romantic city. Before it was my home base, I even just felt like it was amazing because it has a California vibe, but it wasn’t too Hollywood.
I used to live there, there’s so much beautiful nature. It’s insane.
That’s probably one of my favorite things about the Bay Area too, the nature.
You said that a lot of your time is kind of based on work and actually being on tour, but are there any spots outside the venue that you are able to go to or that you would like to return to you?
Um, there is a bar occasionally. Just the other day was my birthday and I went out in Detroit, made some friends, and they took us to a cool bar inside of this new hotel. It’s pretty cool to see that kind of stuff pop up around cities, especially like Detroit, that are up and coming. I don’t know, I feel like, if anything, it’s usually food or drinks.
You said that Atlanta has a really amazing audience—is there a specific show or audience that you’ve had the most memorable interaction with?
I’m a bit weird. I don’t really interact too much with the crowd, but I do think that the energy that they put out, lots of singing along, lots of arms in the air, lots of dancing; that’s what I really feed off of.
Totally. What would you say is the biggest misconception about being on tour?
I’m not sure what other people think about tour, honestly. What do you think about tour? Do you think it’s fun?
I mean that’s kind of why I created this series. I feel like people don’t really know much about what it’s like to be on tour. But almost every musician I’ve asked this question to so far has said that people think you just jump in a plane and you fly to your next location, but people don’t understand that you’re like in a van with eight other people for hours on end, especially in the US.
I guess if anything, there’s just no privacy. There’s no alone time. You kinda just have to find it when you can, and sorta be okay with it.
You’ve gone through several evolutions, sonically and artistically, and even personally with changing your name, how has your live performance changed over the years?
Yeah, it’s definitely gone more and more in a pop direction. So I feel like the show is becoming a little bit more of a performance, and less like four random dudes just playing instruments together; it’s more of a show.
Before you go on stage, how do you get in the zone?
Vocal warm-ups, and then I have some throat spray, and then I just get in the zone. That’s really it.
What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when this tour ends?
Probably hang out with my wife and dog. Just go chill, go to the water.
What kind of dog do you have?
He’s like a Basenji mix.
Last question—is there any advice that you can offer up to up-and-coming musicians who are going on their first tour?
Drink lots of water.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from the road.