Chad Valley is the unlikely side project of Hugo Manuel, who plays and sings in a great Oxford band called Jonquil. It’s unlikely for a number of reasons, that weird name for a start. The songs, like the anguished autotune and afterparty funk of new song “Anything” or the multi-tracked yearning of “Acker Bilk” are a sharp R&B and Ibiza-inspired left turn from Jonquil’s gentle bohemian orchestrations. I spoke to Hugo about all the music he’s been making and producing recently. There is a lot of it.
Download: Chad Valley, “Acker Bilk”
You’re named after a classic toy company. Do you own any of their stuff? They have a wicked globe I wish I owned.
I actually had no idea it was a toy company for ages! A friend of mine used it as a pseudonym for a while, so I kinda stole it from him. I thought it was made up; it seems such an unlikely name for a toy company that’s been around since the 19th Century. I think Chad Valley should make surf boards. Much more apt.
Why did you name a song after Acker Bilk? He has an excellent name…
A bit like the Chad Valley name… it just sounds so unlikely, and so weird. I actually really don’t like his music at all, it like being slowly drowned by boredom.
Download: Chad Valley, “Anything”
What’s happening with Jonquil?
We’ve actually just signed to Dovecote Records in the states, which we are really thrilled about, and there will be a new mini-album out in November called One Hundred Suns. It’s the first time anything of ours will be released stateside, having released a couple of albums and an EP in Europe. Jonquil is like my family, and I have little affairs with other things from time to time but it always comes back to Jonquil in the end; it’s what started this whole “being-in-a-band” thing for me.
The new Foals album is a lot like a Jonquil album. Do you think they copied you?
Absolutely, we taught them everything they know. They would still be playing in 7/8 if it wasn’t for us. Seriously though, if Foals sound like Jonquil or vice-versa it’s only because we all hang out and play records to each other and inevitably get inspired by the same stuff. We all fell in love with Chic together for example. We had like two greatest hits LPs which we would just spin over and over again.
You and Yannis from Foals produced a great song for Wap Wap Wow. How did that come about?
Me and Yannis have been huge fans of Rose’s stuff for ages, and we realised that with the studio we built in Foals’ old house, we were pretty well set up to record her and produce something pretty special with her. There are a few more cuts from that session that will see the light of day eventually, and I think me and Yannis will be working on more stuff together in the future, if the right thing comes along.
Download: Wap Wap Wow, “The Round”
This is what FADER’s New York staff knows about Oxford: “the school and also there’s crazy architecture, I think?” I’ve been there and all I can really add is “Inspector Morse.” What is Oxford really like?
Oxford is half amazing and picturesque and half pig-ugly. There are lots of idiots there, and a small number of awesome people, but just enough to make a “scene” of sorts possible. We have a collective of like-minded musicians here. We are called Blessing Force and we have ritualistic meetings in a pub afterhours and chant and shit like that. Pet Moon, Trophy Wife, Fixers are all involved. We are taking over the world.