How are sounds connected to sight? Artists use album covers, videos, installations and art works to strengthen their audio message or to create whole new layers. Seeing sounds concentrates purely on the aesthetics of an artist. We talk to the American musician and artist Toro Y Moi about his album covers, newest videos and tendency to connect sounds with colors. As a graphic design graduate and artist Chazwick Bundick can’t help but incorporate his personal aesthetics within his sounds.
Can you remember your first creative expression?
Toro Y Moi: When I was drawing as a kid. A pinnacle would be the first song that I wrote. It was a pop punk song. But the first song I actually recorded and thought was great was when I was fifteen. It was on an acoustic guitar. I looped a drum machine and it was really weird sounding, kind of like Toro y Moi. It was a pretty cool experience. It’s a weird experience to hear something captured. That’s my favourite part of making music – recording. Going back, hearing what you did and knowing that you are able to keep it forever. That’s pretty cool.
Your most recent album cover »Anything in Return« are photos of yourself, which your friend re-worked. You wanted to reference a photograph of Paul McCartney wrapped in a quilt. Why reference this photo? What is its importance?
Toro Y Moi: It’s an iconic image. I think photos of public figures doing something with their hands or with an object is how you get a memorable photo. I wanted to make something memorable. People will be like »Is that the cover where he lifts his bed sheet and holds his glasses?«. I didn’t want it to be some random, mysterious photo.
The Harry’s created your last two videos »Say That« and »So Many Details«. Can you tell me a bit about your work with them?
Toro Y Moi: They are good friends of mine from New York City. They mostly do a lot of fashion stuff and look books. I like their work and asked them to work with me. They’ve got good taste – very straight forward and beautiful stuff.
It’s a weird experience to hear something captured. Going back, hearing what you did and knowing that you are able to keep it forever. That’s pretty cool. How much were they involved in the videos’ concept? Is your work with them the start of a continuous aesthetic?
Toro Y Moi: It was pretty much all them. I had some ideas I threw in there.
In »Say That« the minimalistic movements of yours perfectly create a bridge between audio and visual. How did you work out this concept?
Toro Y Moi: That was The Harrys’ idea. They had the video concept before I picked the song. I just felt it was the best song for the idea and it just worked. I don’t know how the reaction would have been if it would have been a different song. It’s a dancey track but it’s not a dance song. There is some emotional stuff going on behind it. It made sense to me to not make a video that was just a bunch of flashy lights. It was the first time that there was the video concept before I chose the song. I really liked the process. Maybe I’ll do it again.
Can you tell me a little something about your past album covers?
Toro Y Moi: »Causers of This« was more of an ambient, darker vibe so that’s what I tried to do with the cover. The whole underwater look was inspired by the sounds of the record. The font for that was a 90s reference. »Underneath The Pine« was definitely a 70s thing where I was referencing a lot of sexual 70s record covers. The color palette for that also matched the sound. The album was very poppy, bold and very straightforward and that’s what I wanted the album cover to emulate.
It’s almost like you work is affected by synesthesia – binding sound with color.
Toro Y Moi: I can definitely see colors when I hear sounds. Some things sound warm or cold. For sure. That’s something I really like to do: matching the sounds with visuals.