SYNTH POP? CHILLWAVE? IT’S ALL ABOUT CHAD VALLEY
Hugo or Chad, what do you prefer?
I normally say to people they can call me whatever they like. Call me Chad if you like or you can call me Hugo. I quite like Chad, to be honest.
I’ve always used one only name. What are the advantages to having a performing persona, if any?
Well, it’s an interesting question. I never really thought about using my own name for my music because I feel like if you use your own birth name, it’s kind of definitive, sort of “that’s the music you do”. I like to move and explore, so if I use another name, I could free myself. I’m like Madonna (laughing).
I was gonna say “like a chameleon”, but Madonna is a good one too…
Like a chameleon of Madonna.
You’ve been interested in music since you were a kid; where does this come from?
In my house they were really keen on me and my two brothers to learn instruments and to sing. I used to go to church just because I could sing there and it was there where I started learning about music, in my church group. We sang hymns and religious songs. I quite liked it, which is weird for a young kid.
Can you remember the first song you ever sang?
Mmmm… I remember when Lion King came out. I guess I was 8 years old. I used to sing the songs of the top of my voice in my room; it’s amazing music. I listened to it recently and, well, it wasn’t as great as I remembered, but still…
There is a word that I have been able to read in every article written about you and in every interview; “chillwave”. I’m not an electronic music expert whatsoever, but seems that there are many critic voices to what chillwave is or whether there is a chillwave scene or not. Could you please enlighten me in all this?
My thoughts on this matter is just… it doesn’t really matter. It’s such a little niche thing; we’re maybe talking about a dozen bands. I’m happy to people to use the term and it’s vague enough so it doesn’t pigeonhole you. It was much more relevant a couple of years ago; now the bands that were doing it sound pretty different, as myself, I think. I’m not that fussy about describing music.
Also, I could read a description that I found really nice; some said you’re the face of the English new romanticism.
Oh cool, I like that! I can take that.
Do you feel that Britishness in your music?
That’s a really good question. It’s weird because pretty much all my life I’ve preferred American music; I was into Sonic Youth, grunge stuff, New York sounds… I always thought the music scene in England was lacking something; having said that, when I listen to British bands from the 80s, I always feel the inspiration that comes through them, so don’t know, maybe… in all honesty, in England we’ve always had more appreciation for electronic music. In the USA is nearly a new thing, not to say it doesn’t happen there, but it is looked under a different perspective.
Isn’t it easier to just call your music synth pop or electronic pop?
Yes. When I go over to America and they ask me what kind of music I make, I always answer “synth pop”. Everybody knows what I mean; they always say “oh like Eurythmics”… and it’s not really far of. My music, well, it’s pop and it’s got synths, so it’s synth pop. Chillwave… what is it, in reality? Chilled out and it’s like the sea? I mean… It’s nonsense.
Tell us about that amazing concept, the “yoghurting”.
(Laughing) Yeah, yoghurting… When I write a song, usually the vocals and the cords come first; I never write lyrics until the very end. So what I do is what my friends call “yoghurt”, which is like not saying anything, but making sounds. Often when I’m going to write lyrics I listen to that “yoghurting” I did and I take the odd word that I do actually pronounce. It will be 80% sounds and 20% words. I was a little bit embarrassed at the beginning, but when I heard other people doing the same, it realised it wasn’t that bad.
Mmmmm… we’re big fans of Barbie Girl by Aqua too. Any covers of that amazing song in mind?
Not really… though it is a tune. Who knows (laughing).
Interview: Ane Guerra