Dream-pop musician, Chad Valley, took some time to document a few moments out of his life with the La Sardina before checking in with us to tell uswhat he's been up to. Based in Oxford, he's unveiled several stunning releases over the past few years with a dreamy aesthetic sweeping over his sound and imagery. He will be playing live at our Live Friday event this Friday, July 26th at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Before checking him out there, check him out here...
A little bit dream-pop, a little bit throw-back, Hugo Manuel – alias Chad Valley- has tapped into a timeless style that has has me swooning and thinking about high school dances of yore. You know, like when they turn on the smoke machine and there are just a few couples on the dance floor because no one knows who to ask to dance, so you just sort of sway in your spot? Like that.
Maybe it’s best to let Chad Valley and his music speak for themselves…
Your name is Hugo Manuel and you work under the name Chad Valley—what do people call you? Is there a special significance to your Chad Valley alias?
People call me Hugo, its the name I’ve had for 27 years now, so its kinda stuck. The only people who call me Chad are people who think its my real name, and I’m down with this – its nice to take on a new identity and be this other person for a while. That was the main motivation for choosing an alias that sounded like a person’s name. I wanted to step out of being Hugo Manuel and be able to ignore myself as I made this music. I think it helped.
You have a very dreamy sound and aesthetic. What are some of your biggest visual/musical influences?
Dreamy is the best word. I love the idea that music can sound like a dream; that it can have that lucid, otherworldly feel to it. Visually I think its hard to really get influenced visually by music. Its pretty bullshit when someone says that they are. I sometimes have an image in my head, like say the image of a an 80s Madonna-type girl cutting a rug on the dance floor, but these images are informed by music firstly. So its not like a see a beautiful mountain and think to myself ‘I want to write a song now’. Musically, there is a huge list of influences. I’ve been a very fickle music fan throughout my life and I’ve gone through lots of different phases. So I could claim that Godspeed, Queen, Hall & Oates, Richie Hawtin and Terry Riley have all had a huge influence on my music, although it wouldn’t show.
A lot of your album art and press photos look like they were shot on film. Is that the case?
Yeah when the offer of being shot on film is offered to me I always jump at it. Its a lot like (well, exactly like) the battle between digital synthesis and analogue – the analogue always has a warm human connection that you lose with digital, but digital can do things that analogue can’t. When it comes to synths I always stand up for digital because that was the first synthesis I learnt and I love the tinny, crystal sound. But when it comes to photography I pretty much always opt for film
I’m probably going to embed a Soundcloud song around here—which song do you wish I’d feature from you and why?
I’d like to see Manimals. Its the last track on Young Hunger so I think it gets a little overlooked.
You have quite a few music projects going on at any one time (Jonquil, Chad Valley and Blessing Force). How does that affect your work and artistry?
I like to keep myself busy and I just hate saying no, so I’ve ended up with a lot on my plate! It means I have to constantly work and I don’t know whether that is detrimental, but I am happy with where I am at the moment. Jonquil is my baby that I’ve been with for 7 years now and everything that I’ve learnt about being in a band, being creative and being savvy with the music industry as stemmed from that.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the things you photographed for us?
Its mostly stuff from tour in the USA a few months back and some from Japan earlier in the year. I have to be honest, I am a very shy photographer. i love to be inconspicuous when I’m abroad. I hate being a tourist. So walking around snapping things is not the most comfortable for me, so I usually go for the bleak and weird things. The kind of things that are very normal to a lot of people, but weird when you are on the road and seeing a ton of new shit day in day out.
Have you had much experience with film prior to this experience?
None whatsoever. It was actually a real headfuck, I kept looking at the camera after I’d taken a shot to see what it looked like. But its awesome seeing it all in one go, some time after the trip. I love that aspect of it. The suspense!
What’s next from you, sir?
Writing a lot over the summer from my sweltering room in North London. Then back on tour in the autumn. All will be revealed soon.