Beautiful People 2010: Toro y Moi

"Bar bands, jam bands and country music." That's how Chaz Bundick, aka Toro y Moi, describes the music scene in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. "That's what shaped me," he says, "Seeing what everyone else was like and knowing that I didn't want to be like that."

The negative reinforcement certainly seems to have paid off: Toro y Moi made a splash in the electronic music scene this summer (thanks in large part to a series of mentions on the music blog Gorilla vs. Bear) with his hazy, sample-textured sound. But growing up in the musical hinterlands of America may have been a stroke of luck for Bundick, whose debut album, Causers of This, hit shelves in February. For one thing, he wasn't up against a whole lot of competition. "You're a big fish in a small pond. It's pretty easy to get noticed."

Fortuitously, one of Bundick's buddies at the University of South Carolina was another up-and-coming electronic musician, Georgia native Ernest Greene, better known as Washed Out. They began cross-pollinating as only two culture-starved artists can, finding inspiration in each other and other artists. "He showed me [the album Geogaddi by] Boards of Canada," recalls Bundick. "And I saw heat waves melting wax. Melted records -- that's what I saw when I heard that stuff. So I try to portray that haziness."

Besides his atmospheric, undulating sound, Bundick has garnered attention for his second trademark: innovative samples, featuring everything from Italian disco to Krautrock. "I don't think there's any genre I wouldn't touch," he reflects. "If it sounds good, it's worth a shot to see what it sounds like sampled and messed with."

ALEX LITTLEFIELD

Chaz wears a sweater by H&m, shirt by Calvin Klein Collection and glasses by See Eyewear

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