Chad Valley is the solo project of Hugo Manuel, best known as the prime mover of indie-folk act Jonquil. Manuel is also a key player in Oxford’s self-created Blessing Force scene, a loose network of mutually supportive bands and artists that includes former Jonquil members Trophy Wife. Peddling a drastically different agenda from his Blessing Force buddies, Chad Valley sees Manuel trading Jonquil’s guitars and polyrhythms for an upbeat bass-driven sound. Yearning, intimate lyrics and chiming synth hooks captivate those who imagine summer as a less ephemeral season.
Manuel chose music over a career in paint making, the family business. More than seven years with Jonquil has given him the time and space to develop both his song writing and production skills. Chad Valley’s sound is a skewed take on The Dream's R&B delivery with a definite debt to the percussive tendencies of Scandinavian Balearic of Studio and The Tough Alliance. Manuel is also building up something of a reputation as a remix artist, with dramatic, disco tinged versions of tracks by fellow Oxford music makers Foals and Fixers as well as Italian lo-fi wizard Banjo or Freakout.
Chad Valley was initially branded as the UK’s answer to Washed Out, the Chillwave counterpart across the pond. Manuel managed to silence the critics with a well-received debut EP on Cascine Records in late 2010. A series of shows throughout the summer and autumn bookended the EP release and confirmed his skills as a live performer. Manuel plays confident and controlled sets with a pitch-perfect vocal delivery, trumping any suggestions that Chad Valley is merely a bedroom endeavor.