10 Songs, 30 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“You know how people are always just wearing spandex now, or, like, running shoes? We just want to be comfortable all the time, no one really wants to wear work clothes.” The internet’s promise, Chaz Bear, a.k.a. Toro y Moi, explains to Apple Music, is that everyone should be able to work from home in sweats; the downside is that we’re always working. It’s that conflict that inspired Bear (the singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer previously known by his birth name, Chaz Bundick) to make Outer Peace, his sixth studio album. “People bash technology for messing things up, but my career is taking off because I’m able to reach fans through the internet. It’s kind of like this weird love-hate relationship.” After a year’s sojourn in Portland, where he recorded 2017’s Boo Boo, and a move back to his home base in Oakland, Bear wound up in rural Sonoma County, writing most of the record over a couple of weeks, and striking that balance of solitude and connection. What resulted is the kind of perfectly chill set of house- and disco-driven electro-pop and experimental funk and R&B tunes that both soundtrack and examine labor in 2019. “It’s not like a love/heartbreak record,” he says. “It’s more of a you-can-do-it, motivational, life-is-hard-because-all-you-do-is-work record.” Let Bear explain, track by track.

“Fading”
“The end line is ‘Everything is fading/I guess I gotta have that faith in.’ It’s about how things get really scary and sometimes the only thing left to do is just have hope.”

“Ordinary Pleasure”
“The main theme [is] how it feels to get older and feel older. I wanted to talk about the different pleasures in life, and how it’s the simple things that I crave—not fame and money.”

“Laws of the Universe”
“This is one of those songs for the younger generation—the freelancers, the ones that are really just working their own hours. It’s about how the choice is yours, really.”

“Miss Me” (feat. ABRA)
“ABRA came over to my studio in Oakland, and we worked that song out; it’s about missing someone—she wrote it. She kind of had it all in her head already.”

“New House”
“Pretty plain and simple: It’s about wanting a new house—all of the pressures. I feel like a lot of people everywhere, not just the Bay, can relate to this feeling of wanting to keep up with these societal norms—or wanting to check out.”

“Baby Drive It Down”
“The drive that I had in mind was the Bay Area to LA. The line is like, ‘Six-hour drive through the CAFO/I don’t need the beef.’ A lot of people who make that drive—they’ll understand. You’re driving through these giant CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations] with the stinky cows. And also, it’s just like a nice, upbeat track to drive six hours to.”

“Freelance”
“This being the lead single, I wanted, off the bat, to have people know where I’m coming from. It’s a big call-out to the designers who are building the apps, building our graphics, shooting, and recording music—the people that are keeping the cultural pinwheel spinning.”

“Who I Am”
“I never became aware of who my audience was until I started showing my face, and I was like, ‘OK, well, it seems like a lot of brown kids resonate with this.’ So I have this identity crisis and I find myself code-switching a lot. It’s about trying to be OK with not feeling like one single person. When we see shows like Atlanta or movies like Sorry to Bother You, they’re talking about [that] stuff but in an entertaining way. I kind of wanted to approach music that way.”

“Monte Carlo” (feat. Wet)
“This is one of [my] first real hip-hop tracks—specifically because it talks about a car, but the whole thing about the car is that it’s from 1987. I actually drive a 1988 pickup truck, so I still am in that mindset of nostalgia. Because I don’t want to go straight to a plastic car yet. I like my metal car and I like turning the key and waiting for the heat to warm up.”

“50-50” (feat. Instupendo)
"'It’s a skateboarding reference: a 50-50 grind. The line at the end [“50-50 fail/Fuck it/I’ma die flying”] is about how we all are just jumping for it and there’s a chance we could die. We could just fly off the rails, or we can land it and ride this shit out.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“You know how people are always just wearing spandex now, or, like, running shoes? We just want to be comfortable all the time, no one really wants to wear work clothes.” The internet’s promise, Chaz Bear, a.k.a. Toro y Moi, explains to Apple Music, is that everyone should be able to work from home in sweats; the downside is that we’re always working. It’s that conflict that inspired Bear (the singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer previously known by his birth name, Chaz Bundick) to make Outer Peace, his sixth studio album. “People bash technology for messing things up, but my career is taking off because I’m able to reach fans through the internet. It’s kind of like this weird love-hate relationship.” After a year’s sojourn in Portland, where he recorded 2017’s Boo Boo, and a move back to his home base in Oakland, Bear wound up in rural Sonoma County, writing most of the record over a couple of weeks, and striking that balance of solitude and connection. What resulted is the kind of perfectly chill set of house- and disco-driven electro-pop and experimental funk and R&B tunes that both soundtrack and examine labor in 2019. “It’s not like a love/heartbreak record,” he says. “It’s more of a you-can-do-it, motivational, life-is-hard-because-all-you-do-is-work record.” Let Bear explain, track by track.

“Fading”
“The end line is ‘Everything is fading/I guess I gotta have that faith in.’ It’s about how things get really scary and sometimes the only thing left to do is just have hope.”

“Ordinary Pleasure”
“The main theme [is] how it feels to get older and feel older. I wanted to talk about the different pleasures in life, and how it’s the simple things that I crave—not fame and money.”

“Laws of the Universe”
“This is one of those songs for the younger generation—the freelancers, the ones that are really just working their own hours. It’s about how the choice is yours, really.”

“Miss Me” (feat. ABRA)
“ABRA came over to my studio in Oakland, and we worked that song out; it’s about missing someone—she wrote it. She kind of had it all in her head already.”

“New House”
“Pretty plain and simple: It’s about wanting a new house—all of the pressures. I feel like a lot of people everywhere, not just the Bay, can relate to this feeling of wanting to keep up with these societal norms—or wanting to check out.”

“Baby Drive It Down”
“The drive that I had in mind was the Bay Area to LA. The line is like, ‘Six-hour drive through the CAFO/I don’t need the beef.’ A lot of people who make that drive—they’ll understand. You’re driving through these giant CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations] with the stinky cows. And also, it’s just like a nice, upbeat track to drive six hours to.”

“Freelance”
“This being the lead single, I wanted, off the bat, to have people know where I’m coming from. It’s a big call-out to the designers who are building the apps, building our graphics, shooting, and recording music—the people that are keeping the cultural pinwheel spinning.”

“Who I Am”
“I never became aware of who my audience was until I started showing my face, and I was like, ‘OK, well, it seems like a lot of brown kids resonate with this.’ So I have this identity crisis and I find myself code-switching a lot. It’s about trying to be OK with not feeling like one single person. When we see shows like Atlanta or movies like Sorry to Bother You, they’re talking about [that] stuff but in an entertaining way. I kind of wanted to approach music that way.”

“Monte Carlo” (feat. Wet)
“This is one of [my] first real hip-hop tracks—specifically because it talks about a car, but the whole thing about the car is that it’s from 1987. I actually drive a 1988 pickup truck, so I still am in that mindset of nostalgia. Because I don’t want to go straight to a plastic car yet. I like my metal car and I like turning the key and waiting for the heat to warm up.”

“50-50” (feat. Instupendo)
"'It’s a skateboarding reference: a 50-50 grind. The line at the end [“50-50 fail/Fuck it/I’ma die flying”] is about how we all are just jumping for it and there’s a chance we could die. We could just fly off the rails, or we can land it and ride this shit out.”

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.5 out of 5
11 Ratings
11 Ratings
mike_a_trivisonno ,

Snowball iMac

So retro. Haven't seen a snowball iMac in years!

Hunter lynz ,

Can’t wait!

Digging freelance and just preordered the clear vinyl. I’m 16 and it’s the first physical record i’ve ever bought. I really appreciate people like chaz who prioritize physical media in this day and age.

RocknRollaZero ,

I CANT WAIT!!

Gonna be so epic!

More By Toro y Moi