[Interview] Chad Valley Talks Tacos And New Music
Hugo Manuel, under the pseudonym Chad Valley, played at Exit/In on his latest tour in the US. His music is described as dreamy electro-pop, and in my opinion, explores elements of the 80s. I had the opportunity to see him with Chill Witch, someone I’ve been looking to see live for a while, and KROVI.
Chill Witch opened the show with heavy songs, donning a beaded wig covering her face. During her performance, she brought out a dirty dancer. It was a girl in lingerie with tape over her nipples, and she was twerking and dancing around the stage. It was definitely interesting, but after my pre-show experience with Chill Witch, I wasn’t surprised. I ended up meeting her during my interview with Hugo before the show, and she nicknamed me ‘Superbabe’ in a very awkward exchange. I say awkward because I’m probably one of the most awkward people to exist and she caught me at the perfect time. Nonetheless, I would check her out again. I like her vibes.
After Chill Witch was a duo named KROVI. To be completely honest, it just wasn’t my thing. It looked as if the lead singer was wearing a belly shirt and that’s all I could focus on for most of the performance. It was great if that type of sound is something you like. There was a lot of echo in his voice with kind of an 80s cloudy club music type of sound. I’ll definitely listen again, but it’s situational for me. There was a guy in the very front, out of his mind in some capacity, dancing his heart out. So between the belly shirt and the dancing guy, I was pleasantly occupied.
During the openers performance, Chad Valley was in the crowd mingling with his fans. Legitimately hanging out with them talking about Nashville, his music, their lives. That’s something I always like to see. When he plays, he always has colored light beams behind him that seem to be coded to change with his music. The venue had a very chill ambiance about it. He was truly a one-man show. Once he finished people chanted for an encore, which disappointedly didn’t happen. Before the show, I got to talk to him about his tour, new music, and tacos.
When you started Chad Valley you were still in JONQUIL. Why did you start Chad Valley?
Basically, I was I think frustrated is a strong word, but I was kind of frustrated with being in a band and the whole situation of having to decide things by the group, in a democratic way. It was fine. We had a great time being a band. We were a good democratic band, but I’m a bit of a control freak and I just like having my way. The easiest way to do that is just to be my own band. Not to allow any other people, basically. So that’s where the impetus came. I started doing it and I had a day job and it was just in the evenings from my computer. My synths and stuff. I would just make stuff for fun and it was not with any intention or anything serious. I just made music just as a sort of fun hobby. A thing to do. Then pretty quickly it sort of took off. I was very happy to let that happen. Sort of see where it took me.
The last few years you have played at SXSW and you are scheduled to perform this year. What is your favorite thing about playing the festival?
Playing there is pretty hit or miss. It’s a weird... It’s pretty… I don’t know. It’s hard work. You don’t necessarily get paid for anything. So you’re spending money to be there, and you might play a show to ten people. You know, even like pretty big bands sometimes go there and they’ll play a show and there will be some other things happening next door and no one is at their show. So, you know, it’s weird.
I don’t love the shows that I do play there, but I do love being there. I love the experience of being surrounded by music and being somewhere where people are from all over the world in the music industry. Bands. Just musicians from all over the world are there in this one spot. It’s overwhelming and it’s just crazy and wild. You know, it’s a great time. This year is going to be my fourth SXSW. It was twice when I first started probably about five years ago, and then I took a three-year break. Now I’m just doing one show there this year. Before I’ve played like ten shows.
I did it once with JONQUIL and Chad Valley. So JONQUIL played like seven shows and Chad Valley played seven shows. So I have done fourteen shows in four days. It was insane. Then I went on tour afterward. Like an endurance test. Like how much can I fuck up myself? It was terrible. So this year I’m doing the opposite. I’m doing one show. I’m actually only there for three days this time cause I’m going to Mexico afterward.
Speaking of Mexico, you’ll be playing your first show there on March 13. What are you looking forward to most?
I mean everything. The whole thing is exciting. It’s not something I thought was gonna happen just because people in the industry are like it’s really hard to get shows down there, or it’s like people have always advised me against it. I just went and booked these shows myself. Just a DIY style. I know I’ve got fans there. They keep writing to me on Twitter and stuff, and I can just make this happen. I’m going there by myself, and it’s going to be a bit of a wild adventure. I’m not quite sure what to expect.
Your last album, Entirely New Blue, was released at the end of 2015. Do you have anything new that will be released anytime soon?
I do. I just about finished an album just before the tour. I finished writing it and I just need to sort of put the final touches there, and I’m hoping to get that out in late fall or winter kind of time. So it’s going to be out before the end of the year.
When promoting your US tour, you mentioned that you would be trying different taco truck on your tour. What has been your favorite taco truck thus far?
I did say that didn’t I. That’s easy. It wasn’t a truck, but it was in San Diego, actually. I’ve got some friends who live there and they’re real foodies. So they were just like hey we know the spot. Apparently, it started in Tijuana and branched out in San Diego, just across the border. So it’s about as legit as I think you can get without being in Mexico, basically.
I had these tacos al pastor, which were just… They blew my mind, actually. That was actually incredible. I pretty much stick to Mexican food when I’m in the south. At least in the states that border Mexico. So we did from Texas to New Mexico and Arizona and California, and then we headed up to the Pacific Northwest and it was like I’ve had Mexican food every day for the last two weeks. After a solid two weeks of Mexican food, we got off to Portland and I was like I want a burger and fries.
Have you played in Nashville before?
I have once. It was like three years ago. I was supporting JR JR on tour. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. as they used to be called back then, and we played at Mercy Lounge, I think. About three years ago, and it was awesome. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to come back. We had a great time. It wasn’t my headline show, it was their audience, but it was a packed out show.
So yeah, I’m excited to see how it goes tonight. It’s a big venue for me. I normally play small places. So, I’m not expecting it to be full, but that’s totally fine. It’s not about the number of people. It’s about how cool they are. It’s not about how cool they are it’s about how appreciative they are. You know, audiences vary so much just in their personality. It’s really interesting touring around the country. Different. And it has a lot to do with the day of the week. If you play late on a Saturday night people are probably more likely to be drunk. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes you play to audiences and they’re just silent and they don’t talk at all. Like we played in Phoenix, Arizona and it was the quietest audience ever. They just did not say a word. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t know what to think. So yeah, it’s very interesting. I can’t wait to see Nashville’s audience.
Photos by Garry Walden for Bullet Music