Toro Y Moi

“Whenever you give something to someone you shouldn’t always expect something in return.”

Interview by Brenda Bosma, photos shot by Christopher Schreck in Brooklyn, USA

Have you ever been asked where you see yourself in five years’ time?

Oh yes! I’ve had management ask me that before! And other interviewers, of course. I don’t think it’s such a weird question. I ask myself that all the time. It’s good to keep that question around.

Is there anything you want to check off before turning 30?
Well, I see myself doing music stuff still and I totally would want to release an art book of some sort. Hopefully I’ll be a bit more successful. I’m not really materialistic. I own a car, I hope I can keep that, but if not, that’s okay. I guess I’ll probably have another album out. Chances are that it’s not electronic at all. I don’t know yet, but I’m hoping to make something completely different. I get bored pretty easy. I just bought an acoustic guitar, so we’ll see. I’ve got four years to do it!

You sort of started the whole chillwave genre. What kind of wave would you like to start next?
I can see how waves or trends start and why people pick up on them, but I’m not really out to start one.

Maybe when I’m 50.

What’s the meaning behind the album title Anything in Return?
It’s a reference to trying to be a better person. Whenever you give something to someone, you shouldn’t always expect something in return. I guess it has to do with the mechanisms of Karma. I’m trying to be a good person.

Were you a bad person before?
Well, I used to be a little bit more apathetic when it came to stuff in general. Things just sort of happened for a reason and that was that. Now I sort of know I can control things a little bit. I also started becoming more opinionated, like on political issues. I guess I am more and more finding my way in having my own opinion about things. Five years ago I didn’t really stand for anything.

What are your qualities as a person?
Friends always describe me as being really productive and creative. Apart from music, I like to cook, draw, do photography. Generally I like to make stuff. I just sort of feel like doing something all the time and feel guilty when I’m not. That’s probably why I work so much, ‘cause I’m never satisfied with what I’m doing. I’m always pushing it further.

That’s funny, because your music has a laidback quality – I can imagine it’s great for back-seat make-out sessions, for instance, or for reminiscing. Do you ever sit still and think about what you’ve accomplished?
I’m constantly thankful and appreciative of how far I’ve gotten. It comes in waves, though. Right now I have the feeling I’m on the way up.

Can you think of a low point?
That would be the time when I went through a big break-up. It was pretty messy. That was also during a time when all of my friends moved to another city. I had to meet new people again. That was a low.

How did you get on your way up again?
Making music. That makes me feel good. And less alone, even though I like being solitary every once in a while.

Is there anything you would want to change or get a second chance at?
If I changed anything, I don’t even know if I would be where I am now. I like where I am now, so no, not really. I also don’t have any tattoos or piercings I regret, because I don’t have any!

Favourite book you’ve read in the past year?
Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace.

Several. Stuff by Mac DeMarco, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear, Mount Eerie.

Samsara, a documentary shot in 70mm about the wonders of our world.

And your most memorable moment?
About two months ago we did a South East tour. I grew up in South Carolina. Going back to that area is always like a special feeling, you know?

Toro y Moi plays on 24 January at MC Theater in Amsterdam. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members.