INTERVIEW: HUGO MANUEL OF CHAD VALLEY

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Over the summer we recapped Chad Valley’s (real name Hugo Manuel) set as part of our Northside Festival coverage. Last night Hugo was back in New York to support Chad Valley’s new mix-tape Peace and Understanding and to kick off his latest North American tour. We caught up with him before the show for a quick interview where we talked about what he packs for tour, getting a passport in 48 hours, and his love for American “slice culture.”

Words by Conor Riley
Photographs by Justin Fulton

The last time we saw you, was at Northside. You said when you got there you had accidentally flown to Newark..
No, the thing was I was meant to fly into Newark but on the previous day, but my passport went through the washing machine and got destroyed and they wouldn’t accept it at the airport. I had to somehow get a passport in 48 hours, and there were all these storms, and I landed in Newark at 10:30, and was somehow on stage at 11:30. I literally got to the venue at quarter past 11, had a drink and ran on stage.

What drink did you have?
I’m sure I had a lager, that would be about right. That’s the most stressful 48 hours of my life. Getting a new passport. I had to go through unofficial tunnels to get that. It’s a real passport, but it was kind of funny. At the end it was great.

So everything this time around is pretty smooth then?
Haha, yeah I’ve been in New York for about four days now, so I gave myself a buffer this time around.

Speaking of being on the road, what do you pack with you for tour?
I’m reallly good at packing. I never forget shit, ever. But then again I don’t really have that much to remmeber. I always bring six days worth of pants, socks, shirts, whatever, six of everything. And my computer and my phone and my passport. Sometimes a couple books to read.

Are you reading anything currently?
Nothing, actually. I haven’t read anything good in a while (laughs). I do have the David Byrne book about cycling, I can’t remember what it’s called (Bicycle Diaries). I started reading it a while ago and I found it really annoying. I’ve still got it in my bag. I take it with me everywhere, but I’m never picking it back up.

Have you brought anything back from tour that you especially love? Any great tour artifacts?
Yeah for sure. Last tour I bought a very cool drum machine, an Oberheim DX, which back home is quite rare. It was really fucking cheap over here. I found it in New Jersey at this place Three Wave Music. It’s a massive warehouse full of synths, drum machines, and old musical gear. It’s pretty much heaven. I’ve only been once, but if I go back I’ll definitely buy something.

3O6A6165-7Hugo wears the Cheap Monday Robert jacket, OAK slouch hoodie in bone, and an A.OK beanie in black (coming soon).

So, you get asked about the name Chad Valley in almost every interview you’ve done…
Good, so that means you’re not going to ask me about it in this one right?

No I’m not (laughs). But I wanted to bring up something you said once, I think it was in Interview magazine actually, where you said that you chose not to work under your real name because it felt too definitive, and I really appreciated that because it opens the door to experimentation and not feeling tied down to any one idea. Can you see yourself adopting different names for future projects? And going off that, how do you know when something you create is right for the Chad Valley moniker versus a project under a different name?
That’s a very good question. I never considerd using my own name. Even when people say “you’ve got a really cool name, Hugo Manuel,” yeah it’s not quite John Smith, but I would never want to use my real name. To answer the first part of your question, I don’t mind Chad Valley being pretty exploratory and going off on tangents. I can imagine in 10 years time I will have made six Chad Valley records and be doing free jazz. That’s cool with me, I don’t mind evolving under Chad Valley over time. If I was going to do something with other people, or make a complete U-Turn, yeah for sure. I’ve actually got another project called Turks & Caicos which is like my dance music thing I’ve been doing. So that’s happening. And my other band Jonquil. So I’ve got three things already, that’s kind of enough now.

Is there a different creative process for each project?
It’s the same process. There’s oftentimes where I’ve started writing something thinking it would be a Jonquil song and it ends up being a Chad Valley song, that’s happened quite a lot. I don’t know what it is, it’s just a feeling. I’m always writing something to a brief. When you write an album you have to write 12 songs that sound good together, and are a good representation of what I want to show to the world. Everything I write I think of it in context of other songs. I just write whatever comes to my head, so I’ve got a lot of stuff that I know doesn’t work with the other songs, and maybe at some point I’ll have a project where it will become relevent. I continusialy go back to my old work and sample old songs. It’s all one big mess.

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What are you currently listening to?
Theres a thing called Will Powers I discovered recently, from the early 80s maybe? It’s electrofunk, with spoken word stuff all over it. It’s weird and pretty out there, but the base of it is a solid funk album. The new Daft Punk record I think is one of the best things that’s happened for ages in music. I love the vast majority of the tracks there.

Speaking of the new Daft Punk record, brings us to the subject of collaborations. You’ve collaborated with an endless amount of artists such as Twin Shadow and Active Child. Is there anyone that you’ve been dying to collaborate with but haven’t yet?
Well there are always the dream collaborations that will never happen like Joni Mitchell or Bjork or something, but there are people that I’d like to collaborate with that could eventually happen. When I was doing my last record I was talking a lot with Tom Krell from How To Dress Well. You know who I love? Caroline Polachek from Chairlift. Her voice kills me.

What are you favorite things to do when you come to New York?
Eat pizza. It’s such a novelty for me. We don’t have “the slice culture” in England. I’ve got a lot of friends here, so it’s normally the case of catching up with people, seeing friends, and walking around Manhattan. I enjoy getting lost. I’m not much of a good tourist. I don’t go for the touristy things. I feel like a real New Yorker at this point.

Thanks for making time for us, Hugo.
Thank you for not asking about my name not actually being Chad Valley.

Chad Valley returns to New York on October 29th for a show at Glasslands in Brooklyn.

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