After the hipster-approved wave of chill recently descended into our peripheral view with acts like M83, New Look and Chad Valley, Middle Boop Mag couldn’t help but wonder, what exactly is chillwave?
We caught up with one-man show Chad Valley, formally Hugo Manuel in order to answer these questions down at his stomping ground of Oxford. Hugo has toured with Friendly Fires, released two EP’s and is set to release a highly anticipated debut album sometime this year. Hugo is also one third of electronic band Jonquil.
Why did you choose Chad Valley over Hugo Manuel, which I think is possibly one of the coolest names I’ve ever heard?
I never thought Hugo Manuel was a cool name, people find the Manuel bit really hard to pronounce. I guess I use it as an alter ego. It’s very beachy and surferey, I had that sort of imagery in my head when I was making the music. Chad does seems like a very surfer boy name, I like the fact that a lot of people think I’m actually called Chad though, it’s quite funny.
How do you feel about the words chill and wave?
It’s not like I hate it, I just don’t really like to be lumped into the category of just being chill wave, but it doesn’t annoy me as much as everyone seems to think. I love using synths and sampling 80’s pop yeah, but I never purposefully try to sound like anything.
My first EP sounded very beachey and summery, but I’d describe it more as more Lo-fi. I just try to make music that’s rooted in pop. I’m really into traditional song structure. In regards to chill wave, I haven’t really thought what it is that I want to be associated with, but I do like the whole surfer, beach and holidays imagery. This interview is at a stage in my career where it’s hard to say. I’ve just finished a new album and it’s quite different from my previous stuff.
Oh really wow!
Yeah I haven’t really told anyone yet.
Brilliant, breaking news for us then?
Yeah pretty much. I’m just finishing it off now and it’s very different to my previous stuff. I’m really, really happy with it. I think and want the album to shock fans, but hopefully in a good way.
What was it like touring with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Friendly Fires last year?
It was so much fun touring with Orlando (T.E.E.D), I know him from Oxford. We went to the rival secondary schools but have always been friends. He has always been the DJ to have at your party. Friendly Fires’s live show was incredible; I watched them nearly every night.
Hugo has recently just arrived back in the U.K after a number of slots at SXSW. So how was it?
It was really good, I went last year as well, but SXSW is kind of gruelling for musicians. I played loads of shows but it was quite weird, like the whole thing about SXSW is, it’s so awkward. It was cool, but everything was just so commercialised, everything and everyone is sponsored by this or sponsored by that. It’s definitely a completely different experience playing live over there, people can’t wait to come and talk to you after the show.
How does an American crowd differ from a British crowd?
Americans are so open, they’ll just come up to you afterwards and be like ‘hey, that was great’ which I love because you don’t get that when you play in England. When you play smaller gigs, you can just walk off stage into the crowd, so yeah in America people just really want to talk to you. They love to see a British person in America.
What is your take on the current influx of dance music into the mainstream?
Everything is very electronic, there’s a hell of a lot of really awful pop music, and I actually really like it. I think pop music is in a really good place, pretty much everything that Rihanna or Beyoncé release I really like. Even some of Katy Perry’s stuff (laughs) which is weird because I’ve grown up thinking pop was such a dirty word with bands like Steps, that will never even be ironically cool or good in a retro way. I think when people look back that this period, over the last five to six years, they’ll agree that it’s been a very interesting time for music.